2020 Reading Challenge: I have read 45 of 50 books (updated weekly, well hopefully weekly!).
View all my reviews on Goodreads

Snow Crash
Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I LOL'd twice in the first five pages but overall it wasn't a great sci-fi for me. Maybe because I have read Ready Player One and The Gamer before!


Indistractable
Indistractable by Nir Eyal
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I liked the part on raising indistractable children.
Rest was skippable - I’ve already learnt these over the years; would’ve been super helpful 5 years ago!

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Clean Code
Clean Code by Robert C. Martin
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is the first book you should read when you're starting out as a developer.
Pro Tip: Read the first 10 chapters; skip the rest!


Dark Matter
Dark Matter by Blake Crouch
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The best sci-fi I've read so far!
Tackles some real questions along the lines of are you happy with your life / what if / the road not taken.
You wouldn't be able to put it down; just read the first chapter!!


The Obstacle is the Way
The Obstacle is the Way by Ryan Holiday
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Could've been a blog post.

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Alice in Wonderland
Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Loved Alice's curiosity in this short and sweet adventure! And life lessons are thrown around here so casually.


Shoe Dog
Shoe Dog by Phil Knight
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Loved the candid account of everyday struggles. It’s motivating to see someone’s behind-the-scenes (while the system tends to focus only on the highlight-reel!) and I wish more people share their stories.

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The Pragmatic Programmer
The Pragmatic Programmer by David Thomas and Andrew Hunt
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

You can make this book your mentor! Some great advice here, viz. Your Knowledge Portfolio, Estimating, and many more.


The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

First of all: Don't Panic! It's a quick read and will make you wonder about the ultimate question. Why? 42. So long, and thanks for all the fish.


Who Owns the Future?
Who Owns the Future? by Jaron Lanier
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

With more and more jobs getting automated, this book posits an economy of micropayments that compensates people for original material they post to the web.

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The Catcher in the Rye
The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

It's a coming-of-age story where we get a good look inside a teenager's mind. The writing is in the form of a narrative and it might take some time before you get accustomed to Holden's thoughts.


Remote
Remote by David Heinemeier Hansson and Jason Fried
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Pick this up if you need to convince your manager (or even yourself) on the benefits of remote work, which includes access to the best talent, freedom from soul-crushing commutes, and increased productivity outside the traditional office. It also debunks various myths, for example, innovation only happens face-to-face, people can’t be trusted to be productive at home, company culture would wither away, etc.

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Don't Make Me Think
Don't Make Me Think by Steve Krug
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It's a nice introduction to UX and you'll be tempted to read more! The language is easy and you can read quite a bit in one stretch. It'll motivate you to do usability testing and also keep accessibility in mind. It also provides great insights into how we use the web today.


To Kill a Mockingbird
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Lee takes time to set up the background for the story well; quite well now that I think about it. I was well-invested into the characters, especially the way how Atticus raises his children. Written from an innocent child's point of view, the book deals with themes of race, morality, class, gender, etc.


The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I avoided this book for the longest time, because the title seemed clickbaity! However, it contains some really great guiding principles for life including the importance of keeping promises, empathy, etc.

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The Elements of Style
The Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr. and E.B. White
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The content is presented as a handy reference of dos and don'ts. Terms like split infinitive and gerund made me feel nostalgic for the grammar classes back in my school days.


How to Win Friends & Influence People
How to Win Friends & Influence People by Dale Carnegie
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I could relate to many situations where I mishandled them in the past. The ideas presented in this book are simple yet effective. I've seen them work for many people, including myself. Don't just treat them as life hacks! If you're praising, do it sincerely. I'm pretty sure I need to revise it.

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Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future
Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future by Ashlee Vance
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

In a world where the best minds of our generation are thinking about how to make people click ads, Musk is on a quest to start a colony on Mars! Love him or hate him, he certainly deserves respect for pushing clean-tech and humanity forward.


On Writing Well
On Writing Well by William Zinsser
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Writing is everywhere. You might as well learn how to write well. Topics like science and sports are also within your reach if you enjoy learning. William teaches us, among other things, how to structure a piece and write about people and places, with numerous examples. An element of surprise refreshes and delights readers. Be confident. Resist using an exclamation point! Add humor subtly.


Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert M. Pirsig
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

It was a very heavy read. Maybe because it's a weird mix of fiction and non-fiction. Or maybe because I'm simply not ready for philosophy yet.

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Hyperbole and a Half
Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I thoroughly enjoyed Allie's voice and her illustrations, especially the ones involving dogs. It's pure gold. Oh, and did I say I laughed a lot? My only regret is that I finished reading it too soon. Please don't do that. Savor it.


Antifragile
Antifragile by Nassim Nicholas Taleb
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I really liked the concept of antifragility. Having read The Black Swan, I knew Taleb's style. I find him hard to read but the content is presented in myriad applications. So I skimmed it, making lots of notes along the way. These include the need for redundancy, stocking up for emergencies, the barbell strategy, having skin in the game, etc.

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Head First Design Patterns
Head First Design Patterns by Eric Freeman and Elisabeth Robson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I always wanted to formally study design patterns. Like algorithms, you just need to know of their existence. If you understand their usage, there's no need to memorize them. I loved this book's style of delivering content; so conversational and full of visual examples. All technical books should be like this! Just read "How to Use This Book: Intro" and you'll know what I'm talking about.


Adulthood Is a Myth
Adulthood Is a Myth by Sarah Andersen
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Adulting sucks, and this is a nice reminder that you are not alone. As an introvert, this hit the spot at so many levels: the evergreen question of why are you so quiet, making excuses for not picking up the phone, people trying to help without you asking, and many more!


Losing My Virginity
Losing My Virginity by Richard Branson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I loved the first half; the second half not so much. The diversity of Branson's businesses and his willingness to try everything once are commendable. Oh screw it, let's do it!

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Understanding Comics
Understanding Comics by Scott McCloud
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

It's a comic book about comics.


Homo Deus
Homo Deus by Yuval Noah Harari
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

After reading Sapiens last year, I was looking forward to reading this - another thought-provoking one from Harari!

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No Hard Feelings
No Hard Feelings by Liz Fosslien and Mollie West Duffy
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

No one talks about emotion at work! Liz and Mollie present actionable ideas for making life better. The future of work is emotional so we might as well begin to work on it.


Steal Like an Artist
Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleon
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Everything's a remix! Everything that needs to be said has already been said. But, since no one was listening, everything must be said again. This book came to me at the right time. If you're picking this, pair it up with The War of Art.


Digital Minimalism
Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Skip the first half! The second half has practical advice to incorporate into your life. I've already been doing most of them hence the low rating.

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Show Your Work!
Show Your Work! by Austin Kleon
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

"All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer." ― Ira Glass


Prisoners of Geography
Prisoners of Geography by Tim Marshall
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is a good primer on geography and politics. It's not meant to be read in one sitting; the information can be overwhelming! Keep a map handy for better understanding.

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Algorithms to Live By
Algorithms to Live By by Brian Christian and Tom Griffiths
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Optimal stopping tells us when to look and when to leap. The explore/exploit tradeoff tells us how to find the balance between trying new things and enjoying our favorites. Sorting theory tells us how (and whether) to arrange our offices. Caching theory tells us how to fill our closets. Scheduling theory tells us how to fill our time.


Design as Art
Design as Art by Bruno Munari
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This made me realize that the world of design is quite vast and I've just scratched the surface.


12 Rules for Life
12 Rules for Life by Jordan B. Peterson
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Some of the analogies are good. It started out strong but the book is way too long for its content.

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Rich Dad Poor Dad
Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert T. Kiyosaki
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I resonated quite a lot with the ideas presented in this book. It's a nice introduction and you'll realize that there are a lot of things you don't know. Now I need a companion book to go deep into the financial world.


Tao Te Ching
Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

YMMV

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The Clean Coder
The Clean Coder by Robert C. Martin
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Although the content is similar to The Pragmatic Programmer, I liked this book more because a) it was written by Uncle Bob and b) it has a lot of personal stories. I loved the concept of wildly optimistic, nominal, and wildly pessimistic estimates. We tend to estimate projects optimistically; having the above 3 estimates laid out can help paint a better picture here.


Think and Grow Rich
Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

I tried hard to find any takeaways from this book. Not for me!


Influence
Influence by Robert B. Cialdini
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Robert explains the concepts behind manipulation techniques which are widely in use today. There are some heuristics we use in our everyday life to get by. They serve us right for the most part but leave us vulnerable to get tricked easily. Being aware of such tactics is a good first step to start recognizing them and remain uninfluenced.

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The 4-Hour Body
The 4-Hour Body by Timothy Ferriss
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I loved how actionable this is! Tim provides a low-friction approach to reap benefits; you don't need to read the whole book, just skip to the sections that are most relevant to your body right now. I made lots of notes along the way (skimmed the parts mentioning supplements) and have already started incorporating some of the changes in my day-to-day life.


On the Shortness of Life
On the Shortness of Life by Seneca
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

It's a good reminder that life is short, so do things that you love doing. There's no point toiling to acquire things you wouldn't enjoy for long. My main problem with this is that the language used is unnecessarily complex (both in terms of sentence structure and words). The book consists of 3 letters. The first is quite good and I'll probably read it again next year. Skip the second one, skim the third.

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Lean In
Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This has takeaways for everyone in the tech industry. For a preview, watch her TED talk. Sheryl doesn't rant or blame anyone for the current situation. Rather, she shares anecdotes acknowledging it and suggests ways we can improve the ratio of women in leadership roles. It's time to lean in!


Born to Run
Born to Run by Christopher McDougall
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I ran a 10k last year and was done with running. Reading this memoir has rekindled my interest. Now I want to push myself more. Half-marathon, here I come!


The Hard Thing About Hard Things
The Hard Thing About Hard Things by Ben Horowitz
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Ben goes deep into the struggles a CEO faces on a daily basis. Pick this up (along with The Culture Code) if you're already running a business or aspire to start one. It made me understand the reasons behind the processes at large companies.

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