Last updated: August 2018

Read - Highly Recommended

Read - Recommended

  • Lessons of History - Will and Ariel Durant
    • The concept behind this book is pretty interesting. Will and Ariel Durant spent 50 years writing eleven volumes, 10,000 pages of The Story of Civilization. Lessons of History is supposed to be a 100 page summary of the greatest learnings from that work.
    • Despite the interesting concept, I didn't really get much value out of the book. Most of what the authors said felt fairly obvious to me.
  • The Score Takes Care of Itself - Bill Walsh
    • I don't follow American Football, but apparently Bill Walsh is considered one of the most influential coaches in the history of the sport. He took the San Francisco 49'ers from a failure to winning the Super Bowl, multiple times. This book talks about his philosophy for running the 49'ers.
  • Rig Ship for Ultra Quiet - P. Andrew Karam
    • A light read about life in a US nuclear submarine during the cold war. Focuses mostly on day-to-day life on the submarine - what the food is like, the living quarters, maintenance of the nuclear power plant, and so on. I found it really fascinating.
  • Letters from a Self-Made Merchant to His Son - George Horace Lorimer
    • Letters on life and business written by a pork packing merchant to his son. I was never able to figure out if this was a work of fiction or if the letters are real. There's also a second version - More Letters from a Self-Made Merchant to His Son.
  • Advice for a Young Investigator - Santiago Ramon y Cajal
    • Advice on a scientific career from the father of neuroscience. Many of the ideas are applicable for an engineering career as well.
  • Not much of an engineer - Sir Stanley Hooker
    • Autobiography of an engineer who worked for Rolls Royce designing aircraft engines around WWII.
  • The Tiger - John Valliant
    • True story about a man-eating tiger who starts terrorizing a Siberian village in the Russian Far East in the 90's. Really immerses you into the environment.
    • The story about the man-eating tiger by itself is probably only 20% of the book. The rest is filled with digressions to provide context for the setting - the poor economy of the far east, the tribes who live and hunt there, the state of tiger conservation in Russia, and so on. Still, I enjoyed the digressions, and they added value to the story.
  • The Machinery of Life - David S. Goodsell
    • This book gives a fantastic intuition for cellular mechanics. I've written more about it here.
  • The Name of the Rose - Umberto Eco
    • Historical fiction about murders in an Italian monastery in the early 14th century.
    • Like in The Tiger, the story itself is simple, and a lot of time is spent providing background details - the concept of apostolic poverty, the relationships between various orders of the catholic church, the power that inquisitors held at that time, etc.
  • Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World - Jack Weatherford
    • Temujin went from being a young boy whose family was expelled from their own tribe, to becoming Genghis Khan, ruler of the largest empire in the world. This book describes his rise to power and the growth of the Mongol empire after this death.
    • The story of the Mongols is very different from the typical stories of powerful conquerors. The Mongols were not particularly technologically sophisticated, neither were they well educated. Despite this they were brutally effective in destroying their enemies, many of whom had better weaponry, larger armies, and far more wealth.
    • This really reinforced to me a point Machiavelli makes in The Prince - a powerful and loyal military is the most important requirement for a successful nation state, everything else is secondary.

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