Last updated: Aug 25, 2023
Books I’ve Read
Bartleby, the Scrivener ~ Herman Melville
Read this because my favorite column in The Economist is Bartleby, which is named after this short story.
It was somewhat entertaining, but meh.
The Self-Driven Child ~ Ned Johnson and William Stixrud
Really loved this book. In part because it reinfoced some views (downsides of tech and social media, unimportance of school selection, benefits of exercise and sleep, etc.).
The premise of the book is to give children a sense of control and independence. That in turn would present many benefits: they'll experience less stress, improved mental health, better life outcomes, and a better relationship with them.
La Biblioteca de Babel ~ Jorge Luis Borges
Called “The Library of Babel” in English. Learned about this short story while reading an Economist article on AI and its possible infinite supply of disinformation.
I read it in Spanish, and the writing was too highbrow for my taste. But given the context I had on it and how short it was, it was enjoyable enough.
The Expectant Father ~ Armin Brott, Jennifer Ash
I’m pretty glad I read this book before my first child was born because I learned a ton and it made me better prepared. With that said, there were a few things I didn’t like.
First thing I disliked was how much of a butthurt wimp the author came across as. He spent a lot of time complaining about how much men get left out of the pregnancy process, stereotypes, gender roles, etc.
Second thing was the lack of statistical context in the majority of topics. It really makes my blood boil when someone says "research says x is better than y" without quantifying how much better, what the baseline is, and/or what the range is.
Lastly, the layout was not very friendly. The book has chunks of info in red boxes, but these often times interrupt the normal content, so you have to stop reading the regular content to read the red boxes, otherwise you will have to flip the page and hope to remember to go back to the red box later on.
Sapiens ~ Yuval Noah Harari
Despite the fact that I couldn’t put the book down and that I learned a bit, I consider this to be a bad book. It kept me hooked through annoyance more than anything else.
- It places facts and numbers in such a way to fit the author’s narrative.
- The author constantly contradicted himself (spent most of the book trying to argue—with flaws and contradictions—how hunter-gatherers had it so much better, e.g.).
- It intentionally and unnecessarily relies too much on provocation and controversy (spent too much time bashing western liberalism and other mainstream concepts and too little on explaining others, got political at times, etc.).
- It reflects many of the author’s biases (spent a ton on explainig buddhism and bashing christianity but almost none explaining other relegions, e.g.).
- It’s less about history and more about anthropology (note that the book’s subtitle is "A Brief History of Humankind").
- Potentially had many factual errors (like medieval war technology, e.g.).
- Was very simplistic and reductionist at times (like explaining the political ideologies of Democrats and Republicans).
Even though it might’ve been a less entertaining book, I ultimately think this book would’ve been much more useful if it was more didactic, more facts based, less narrative based, and more balanced on the coverage of topics. Otherwise, this is a dangerous read for someone reading it passively, without a critical mind, or without enough prior knowledge of each topic.
Starting Strength ~ Mark Rippetoe
I began strength training after discovering the StrongLifts 5×5 program. A while after, I saw the Starting Strength book in a co-worker’s desk and heard it mentioned in a couple of YouTube videos, so I figured this was the go-to resource for strength training and decided to get it.
What I probably enjoyed the most was the validation of choosing to invest in barbell based exercises. The other thing I really liked was how much human anatomy and physics are used throughout the book. I definetly grew my knowledge about human anatomy a good amount.
With all that said, the logic on why a low bar squat is undoubtedly better than a high bar squat (the more common one) seemed too forced to me. After investigating elsewhere for a few weeks, I convinced myself that the low bar squat is not evidently better, as the book says. I also found that the author is a bit controversial (and not just with his weightlifting opinions) and has this cult of personality going on. Because of this I had to make sure I took the rest of the book with a grain of salt.
Two editing errors I found:
- Page 182: "The
dashedsolid line represents power production".
- Page 281: "you have allowed
81 Little Lions ~ Immanuel deVillers
Great little Go book focused on the 9x9 board. Some key takeaways:
- Get good at life and death problems. Practice at least 1 per day, ideally 10.
- Make only 2 living groups. Additional ones are likely to die and cost you the game.
- Rarely good to try and run away.
- One to three point jumps are fine when there are no enemy stones nearby. Otherwise only one point jumps are safe and in some cases two point jumps.
- Useful to learn/memorize josekis, even if you can’t understand them.
Go: A Complete Introduction to the Game ~ Cho Chikun
Could’ve been my obsession with learning and playing Go, but really enjoyed this book and super excited to continue learning and playing. It interweaves the teaching chapters with cultural ones: history and adoption around the world, tournament scene, equipment, intelligence benefits, computer bots, and a ton of resources to continue learning and improving.
The only complaint I have is that the book has a few mistakes. The ones I found are:
- Page 88 (Chapter Eight: Life and Death): “
BlackWhite then makes a placement with 3, killing the black group.”
- Page 123 (Chapter Eleven: An Example Game): “Figure 3 (31-64)” is missing moves 63 Black and 64 White. They’re supposed to appear 2 rows below move 60 White (see “Figure 4 (65-80)” for exact placement).
- Page 134 (Go Books from Kiseido): “Most
uissues from #72 on are available and many earlier issues are also available.”
Circe ~ Madeline Miller
Was expecting this to be a Greek mythology version of Neil Gaiman’s “Norse Mythology”, but it felt more drama than action. Perhaps I would’ve enjoyed it more if I had been more familiar with Greek mythology. I did thoroughly enjoy the chapter around Pasiphaë and the bull.
Ready Player Two ~ Ernest Cline
Enjoyed the first book way more than this one. I liked the worldbuilding, but thought the ending was “meh” and that the book had too many “woke” / socially progressive elements.
The Ocean at the End of the Lane (audiobook) ~ Neil Gaiman
I’m pretty glad I read this as an audiobook, otherwise I’m not sure I would’ve finished it. I felt there was a lot of potential to expand on the magic, but instead it was just a bunch of bizarre stuff, a pretty underwhelming plot, and a very “meh” ending.
The Mysterious Affair at Styles (audiobook) ~ Agatha Christie
I thought I wouldn’t enjoy mystery books but this made me realize I do. The audiobook format wasn’t great though, specially the beginning of the book.
A Course Called Ireland ~ Tom Coyne
Went into this one for the golf, but it had a ton of Irish history which I found very interesting.
A Clash of Kings ~ George R. R. Martin
Continuing to enjoy the series!
Between the World and Me ~ Ta-Nehisi Coates
Went expecting to learn and be educated, but most of it I was already familiar with or the format of the book didn’t lend itself to that given that it was a letter to the author’s son. I also found myself disagreeing more often than not.
The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck ~ Mark Manson
Had me nodding throughout, even though I didn’t learn anything particularly groundbreaking. A lot of people would probably be turned off by the “bro” style of the author but I really enjoyed it and laughed a lot.
For some reason the thing that stuck with me the most for no particular reason was this part where he talks about the difference between fault and responsibility. That there are things that are not your fault but are your responsibility, and you shouldn’t deal with them by blaming and blaming and blaming whoever was at fault. Some examples he gives are:
- Someone drops a baby at your door, now it’s your responsibility to deal with it.
- Your partner dumps you, now it’s your responsibility to figure out how to stop being miserable.
Then he takes it to more touchy areas like life tragedies, disabilities, etc.
A Game of Thrones ~ George R. R. Martin
Background: I watched the first episode and the last season of TV series (was supposed to binge watch all seasons prior to the last one but no time) and thinking it was executed horribly, but I really got into the world. So after concluding that thre’s almost no movie or TV series that executes better than books, I decided not to go back and watch the rest of the Game of Thrones TV series and instead read the books.
Despite the language being somewhat hard for me to follow, I really got into it. Can’t wait to read all the books!
The Bullet Journal Method ~ Ryder Carroll
Some amazing organizational and productivity ideas. Fan of the minimalism and the technique, but wasn’t a fan of the more touchy feely stuff.
I bought notebooks and pens, used them for several months, but ended up switching to a digital version of BuJo.
Tiger Woods ~ Jeff Benedict and Armen Keteyian
Read most of it with a grain of salt—it’s always hard to know what’s fact and what’s not—but very insightful. Made me like Tiger less as a person, but more as an athlete.
Ready Player One ~ Ernest Cline
Loved the geekdom and how life would be if everyone had to live in a digital world. Definitely reading the sequel(s).
Norse Mythology ~ Neil Gaiman
Went in interested because I wanted to learn more about Thor, Odin, and Loki. What I really enjoyed was that you could read chapters as standalone.
Born a Crime ~ Trevor Noah
This is probably going to be one of my favorite books for a long while. It was pretty funny, learned a lot about South Africa, and it has a good few paragraphs about economic justice (pages 186-190, about the CD writer). The funniest parts were most interactions with his mother and the concert at a school with the kid called Hitler.
REMOTE ~ David Heinemeier Hansson and Jason Fried
Read this at a time when I was very opposed to working out of an office. The book is obviously very opinionated in favor of remote work, and not sure how objective it is, despite all the evidence they show.
REWORK ~David Heinemeier Hansson and Jason Fried Started: 2013/?/? Finished: 2013/Apr/21 Rating: ?
I can’t remember much of it almost 10 years later, but apparently I thought it was great stuff.
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone ~ J. K. Rowling
First book I remember comprehending from start to finish.
Viajes de Gulliver ~ Jonathan Swift
This is the book I remember the most out of all my child reads (I never finished most of them).
Colmillo blanco ~ Jack London
I remember reading this book for a 6th grade class, but recall very little. I do remember liking it a lot.