Books I read in 2017

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Anytime I miss my daily pills (typically in form of a physical book), I feel (very) feverish.

This is the product of avoiding such type of fever in 2017.

Elon Musk: Inventing the Future by Ashlee Vance: Everyone wants to be Elon Musk, but if you know Elon, odds are: you won’t want to be Elon Musk, that being said, I find him very inspiring.

Dying Every Day: Seneca at the Court of Nero by James Romm: More like a dual biography of both Seneca and Nero (Roman Empire, AD 54 to 62). Many history books are unreadable, this is different, I find it extremely readable.

SPQR: A History of Ancient Rome by Mary Beard: After several attempts (and, so you know, I tried Gibbon’s), I finally found a book that taught me about Ancient Rome. I can’t thank Mary enough!

Essentialism: The Disciplined pursuit of less by Greg McKeown: Important advice (I needed it), however, I decided to quit the moment the author mentioned the following words: “sunk cost fallacy”.

Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari: Great book, however, Dr. Harari’s atheistic positions are very flawed, riddled with uncountable assumptions, and often times stating his opinions as fact. I will love to watch him debate an apologetics.

Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow by Yuval Noah Harari: I read the sequel to Sapiens quickly, similarly, it is a fantastic read, not as good as Sapiens (FYI, regression to the mean); but it made me think a lot about the ‘future’.

On Sacrifice by Moshe Halbertal: If there is one philosophy book that filled my heart with joy this year, it is this one, one could say, analytic philosophy on ‘steroids’. Above all, Moshe took me deep. Much, much deeper than I have ever gone on the subject.

Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol S. Dweck: “As a man thinketh, so shall he be” Proverbs 23:7 There is nothing new about it, a decent book though.

Making Things Work by Yaneer Bar-Yam: A good introduction on complex systems, more like a text book read (which was not particularly helpful)

How We Know What Isn’t So: The Fallibility of Human Reason in Everyday Life by Thomas Gilovich: “It ain’t so much the things we don’t know that get us into trouble. It’s the things we know that just ain’t so”

The Worldly Philosopher by Robert L. Heilbroner: From Adam smith to Joseph Schumpeter – A guide into the evolution of capitalism. I am going to read this again.

The Course of Love by Alain De Botton: One of the few novels on my book list. You can start with  Alain De Botton’s talk on the subject on YouTube. Then dive into the book. I learnt a lot about love.

The Wisdom Paradox by Elkhonon Goldberg: Yet, some more evidences from a top neuropsychologist that we can change our brain: ‘biology’ is not fixed; but more importantly – the message about attractors and aging gave me some sort of relief, joy. Thank you Dr.Goldberg.

The Consolation of Philosophy by Alain De Botton: Beautiful read: It left me in thirst of more practical philosophy. Here is one of the many golds: “Money’s capacity to deliver happiness is already present in small salaries and will not rise with the largest (Epicurus, paraphrased, 306BC)”. Very empirical – the diminishing marginal utility of wealth.

So Good They Can’t Ignore You by Cal Newport: From the author of Deep Work. In this book, Cal butchered the following advice: ‘follow your passion’.

The Lessons of History by Will and Ariel Durant : “The present is the past rolled up for action, and the past is the present unrolled for understanding”.

Amino Acids and Proteins by Gordon F. Bickerstaff: I completed my PhD candidacy exam sometimes in the fall. This was one of the nice, short, neat book for revisiting some biochemistry basics.

David and Goliath by Malcolm Gladwell: There are advantages to disadvantages, and likewise disadvantages of advantages.

Power of Habits by Charles Duhigg : The bad news first: habits (typically) emerge without our permission. And the good news – we can hack this process.

Titan: The Life of John D. Rockefeller Sr by Ron Chernow: At 700 pages, this one is doorstopper; I got bored somewhere in the middle, I will probably pick it up again in 2018. I learnt a great deal about the calm, stinkingly rich John.

The History of the Yorubas by Rev Samuel Johnson: Another hell of a doorstopper (~700 pages), thanks to the late Rev’d (who wrote this book in 1897?), I am learning about the Yoruba culture, the Old Oyo empire of West Africa, amongst much, much other things.  Did I say it is Oyo-centric? Yes it is.

When We Ruled: The Ancient and Mediaeval History of Black Civilisations by Robin Walker: The minute this book shipped into my apartment, I knew I was biting more than I can chew. At 713 pages, it reads like a graduate student textbook in African history. But here is problem, I can’t stop reading it, as it contains so much goodies. It has everything on African civilization: Hausa civilizations, Moors, Songhai, Ethopian, Ife Kingdom, and the list goes on. But, right now, I am pondering on Ancient Egypt and her black origins -South, Ethiopia, Nubia, or whatever you what to call it.

Ideas of Great Philosophers by William S. Sahakian: I saw a copy of this book in an airbnb host’s library in Columbus Ohio. I rushed to buy a copy and I was not disappointed.

Obama: The call of History by Peter Baker: I love Obama, and this book is about his presidency. And I must say, the book is very well written.

Machine Learning: Algorithms and Applications by Mohssen Mohammed: When I picked this up, I quickly realized I needed to straighten up my maths. More like you realizing you need to learn how to swim when dropped in a 10 feet pool. It’s full of maths proof but very pitty. I learnt about Support Vector Machines the other day, tomorrow it will be K nearest neighbor.

Guns by Stephen King: Just plain, beautiful (very short) read. Damn! Mr King writes so well – this is my first time of reading him. And about the subject – Gun control in America –  it’s a simple one (in theory) but very complicated. Honey, I love this essay.

Deep Work by Cal Newport : After reading this again, I was convinced I needed to quit social media more often (as it disrupts my Deep Work, and most importantly, peace) Sweetie, as we speak, I am on a sabbatical.

Free Will by Sam Harris: After reading Sam Harris, I was compelled to look up some more philosophy papers. Afterwards I found myself leaping from one paper to the next (with nerve-wracking jargons) – all to no avail. I asked myself: what is the point of these metaphysical sophistications? If you feel you have free will, then you probably do (this is an over-simplification and there is a more philosophical precise way to put this. But, I will save myself (and you) the time). However, please and please don’t mention this to any hard determinist in your neighborhood.

The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway: “Maybe today. Every day is a new day. It is better to be lucky. But I would rather be exact. Then when luck comes you are ready”.

Life of Pi by Yann Martel: I did not finish this novel without occasional, soul-nourishing guffaws. But truth be told: the departure of Richard Parker made me sad. And so you know, Richard Parker is not a man, it is a Bengal Tiger!

The Stone Reader by the New York Times: 800 pages of The Times philosophical essay collections, I will read it again.

Leonardo di Vinci by Walter Isaacson: No need for introduction here, everyone knows Leonardo. However this book goes into so much details that it will bore you (in a good way).  My biggest take away is the obsession of the fellow on what he does, and his interdisciplinary approach to it. It is mind-boggling.

I think, therefore I laugh by John Allen Paulos: Shortest, brainiest book that has ever crossed my path. Anytime I read this book, I know I am missing out on more than half of the jokes. And that bothers me so much, it makes me sad,  so I have decided I will pick it up again.

Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe: It’s my first time of reading the classic. And I am very much aware: I came late to the party.



ShareShare on Facebook0Share on Google+0Tweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedIn0

4 thoughts on “Books I read in 2017

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *