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I would like to know which books lobsters read in 2018 and more importantly which would you recommend ?

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    I read Neal Stephenson’s Anathem and loved it. Blew my mind. It did take a while to get going, though. But totally worth it.

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      Anathem is really wonderful, I would suggest it too.

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      Books I enjoyed in 2018 and think are worth reading include:

      • [fiction] Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality; basically the Harry Potter universe except Harry is taught the scientific method from a young age, which leads him to approach magic in a completely different way. I never thought I’d like any fan fiction, but this was really amazing!
      • [non-fiction] Sync: The Emerging Science of Spontaneous Order; this book examines the phenomenon of synchronisation, looking at examples from nature and from man-made machines. It’s very accessible and a fairly easy read, while going into enough detail to be thought provoking.
      • [fiction] Old Man and the Sea; I think this is one of Hemmingway’s shortest stories (which is why I read it). I found the book very powerful and worth the time.
      • [fiction] The Kite Runner; Another very popular book about somebody who grows up in 80’s Afganistan, sees the transition from it being a peaceful country to it being a war torn one, and then moves to the US as a refugee. It was probably one of the most moving books I’ve ever read, and I want to read ‘A thousand splendid suns’, which is by the same author, soon.
      • [non-fiction] Whole Earth Discipline: An Ecopragmatist Manifesto; A rather opinionated take on climate change and politics. Makes very strong arguments for technological solutions to climate change such as nuclear power and GMO’s, though it is controversial in the field for precisely this reason. It’s quite long, but I really enjoyed it.
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        Loved the Kite Runner, can indeed recommend that you read more of the same author. It does get a bit “same, same” after a while. So I also recommend reading a few other authors before you come back.

        The Old Man and the Sea, funnily enough, didn’t really fascinate me. Might have to read it again.

        Your last book reminds me of “The Wizard and the Prophets”, which I haven’t read, but was paraphrased in the Freakanomics podcast episode “Two (Totally Opposite) Ways to Save the Planet (Ep. 346)”. Found it thought-provoking and irritating – but in a good way. Quote from the podcast description: “The environmentalists say we’re doomed if we don’t drastically reduce consumption. The technologists say that human ingenuity can solve just about any problem.”

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          +1 for Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality. That and the concept of rationality from Yudkowsky changed the way how I look at the world.

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            I put off reading harry potter and the methods of rationality when I first heard of it because of it being sold as fanfiction, but it might be my favorite book.

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              Absolutely, I can’t recommend it enough!

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            Read two doorstoppers over the summer and I wholeheartedly recommend them:

            • Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace: sort of a memed on book at this point, but it really does affect you. In one of his interviews, Wallace talked about how despite being so materially fulfilled, how he and those around him were ultimately unhappy. This theme was very significant in the book and I found it to be quite poignant and led to self-reflection. The first ~200 pages are difficult to get through because so much information is thrown at you, but almost everything harmoniously fits together by the end which makes for an extremely rewarding, and due to Wallace’s prose and humor, fun, reading experience.

            • Master of the Senate by Robert A. Caro: describes the Senate career of Lyndon B. Johnson and broadened my insights both in a political sphere and a more personal one. One of Caro’s main theses in the book is that the Senate, by design, is extremely resilient to change. However, Johnson managed to push a civil rights bill through the Senate, the first since the Civil War era. This ties into the personality aspect of the book and how Johnson managed to appease both gung-ho egalitarian liberals and the staunchly racist Southern Democrats to get what he wanted done. You come out with a better understanding of how power structures operate and how they are to be navigated.

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                • To Save Everything, Click Here: The Folly of Technological Solutionism by Evgeny Morozov. I wish I could force everyone working in tech to read this book. It was published in 2014 but could have come out yesterday. Largely, its about the moral consequences of technical decisions large companies are making.
                • The Foundation series by Isaac Asimov. I somehow had this idea of Asimov’s corpus being full of stodgy, hard to read sci-fi, but I was dead wrong. The world he builds is amazing and the series reads well.
                • The Earthsea Series by Ursula K. LeGuin. If you haven’t read this, do it now. Don’t wait.
                • The Takeshi Kovacs series by Richard Morgan. I just so happened to read this at the beginning of the year before the Netflix series came out. If you liked that, the books are even better. If you’re looking for cyberpunk fiction, this will scratch that itch.
                • 1Q84 by Haruki Marukami. I don’t even really know how to describe this book. Look for fantasy, scifi, time travel, love, critiques of religion, so much going on here. Highly recommend.
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                  I have to chime in to also suggest trying something by Murakami

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                  Basically every elixir book I could get my hands on. Out of all of them “elixir in action” was my favorite. Now starting on rust with “the rust programming language”. Other then that I read through a couple marketing books in preparation for launching my saas.

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                    As always, my full list is here: http://kitakitsune.org/raw/doctene_knihy.txt

                    This year is the first time I’ve done writeup on books I liked in english: Books that changed my point of view.

                    I would definitely recommend:

                    Best book this year so far was definitely Mastery.

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                        I just finished Annihiliation and I’m dying to get to the rest of the trilogy. I loved the pacing and the style. I am always looking for SF with sociological / biological themes and this delivered on both.

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                          I didn’t enjoy the other two as much as Annihilation. They were very well written (of course), but just not my thing really.

                          If you haven’t read Borne by the same writer, I can highly recommend that. It’s one of the best books I’ve ever read. Possibly the best.

                          You might find some more books that you like on my profile: https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/25834255-andrew

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                          I liked Iron Sunrise better than Singularity Sky, but YMMV. (If you haven’t already read it, definitely pick up Accelerando.)

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                            I liked Iron Sunrise better than Singularity Sky, but YMMV. (If you haven’t already read it, definitely pick up Accelerando.)

                            I actually just looked in goodreads and I only rated Singularity Sky 3/5. I normally really enjoy Stross! I’ll give Iron Sunrise a try. It’s weird, I do remember enjoying Singularity Sky actually. Not sure why I rated it so low.

                            Accelerando! I’ve been holding off on reading that for years, maybe because it’s so “mainstream” :) I’ll add it to my list right this moment. Thanks for the recommendation!

                            By the way, Glasshouse by Stross I really enjoyed!

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                            Wow, great list!

                            I’d look at Ken MacLeod’s Fall Revolution trilogy, and most stuff by Paul McAuley (Quiet War especially).

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                              Thanks! I’m adding Fall Revolution to my list right now! It looks right up my alley.

                              I actually have Quiet War in my list but stopped reading it in 2017 for some reason. I’ll have to have another look.

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                            The Organized Mind - this book takes a look at how modern advances in neuroscience can help us leverage the way the brain works to be better organized. I need all the help I can get on this score, and found the book both useful and insightful.

                            The Tao of Seneca - Stoicism has some real lessons to teach for tech workers and/or entrepreneurs. The idea of ‘fear setting’ is incredibly powerful and totally worth knowing about as a tool for culling imposter syndrome among other things.

                            Rise and Kill First - This is a history of Israel’s secret targeted assassination program. Some super interesting lessons here on the wisdom of using brute force tactics versus more finessed options.

                            The Ghost - This guy really was the archetype rogue intelligence officer. In the course of his storied career he carried out mass suriveilance operations on the American public, was involved in various coup and assassination attempts and in general did all the things we’re assured that the average intelligence operative doesn’t do.

                            The Wolves at the Door - This is the story of Virginia Hall, one of America’s most accomplished spies during WWII. Despite losing her leg in a hunting accident before the war, she ran one of the most successful spy rings first for the Brits in the OSS and then later for American intelligence.

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                              It’s been a slow year for me:

                              • Musashi - Yoshikawa
                              • 12 Rules for Life - Peterson
                              • Slaughterhouse Five - Vonnegut
                              • What is the point of equality - Anderson (it’s a journal article, not a book, but still worth a mention)

                              I’m about to finish Vol 1 of The Gulag Archipelago, too.

                              I’d highly recommend all of them.

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                                I’m almost finished reading The Phoenix Project and I can highly recommend it. It’s a fictional story that follows the main character as they transition a company from waterfall to agile basically

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                                  My book-reading took a deep dive this year. I’m seeing more and more that I find the bite-size chunks of Twitter and timesinks of YouTube are sucking up more of my time and attention.

                                  Partly this is because I figured out I can just read on my phone or tablet, but I still find physical books more congenial.

                                  From my blog -

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                                    • Jerusalem: The Biography — this is a secular history on the city of Jerusalem
                                    • Bad Blood — about the Theranos scam
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                                          I’ve discovered I can read books while working out on a treadmill, so:

                                          • [sci-fi] “K-PAX” by Gene Brewer, 3 tomes – written from the perspective of a psychiactric doctor researching the case of some guy with personality disorder who claims that one of his identities is from another planet named K-PAX,

                                          • [cs] “Continuous Delivery: Reliable Software Releases Through Build, Test, and Deployment Automation” by Jez Humble and David Farley – a little bit boring but useful info if you’re into building continuous integration infrastructure at your company,

                                          • [psychology] “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion” by Robert Cialdini – this nice book describes what are the popular tricks that are designed to make us buy stuff. Lots of nice every-day examples how the world (I mean other people) tries to take advantage of a normal person,

                                          • [security] “Spam Nation: The Inside Story of Organized Cybercrime — from Global Epidemic to Your Front Door” by Brian Krebs – Author describes his research in the russian (mostly) spam world,

                                          • [fantasy] “Chronicles of Amber” by Roger Zelazny, 5 tomes – what Game of Thrones could be inspired from,

                                          • [sci-fi] “Remembrance of Earth’s Past” by Cixin Liu, 2 tomes: Three-Body problem and The Dark Forest, didn’t get to read 3rd tome, but it’s a very nice novel of how Fermi Paradox could be played in practice,

                                          • [pop sci] “Supernormal Stimuli: How Primal Urges Overran Their Evolutionary Purpose” by Deirdre Barrett, a little bit boring but only because I’ve read few position of Richard Dawkins before this. A book about urges and loosing control over things,

                                          • [cs] “Programming Rust: Fast, Safe Systems Development” by Jim Blandy – very nice book about Rust language! Written in a way that allows you to overcome problems with the borrow checker :),

                                          • [cs] “Learning Scala: Practical Functional Programming for the JVM” by Jason Swartz – this one assumes you’re already programming in different languages and you already have experience with basic problems encountered in programming, but still interesting and pretty complete tour of Scala language,

                                          • [pop sci] “The Blind Watchmaker” by Richard Dawkins – some information overlaps with Selfish Gene by Dawkins, but still worth reading if you’re into getting facts about the environment we live in,

                                          • [memoirs] “Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness” by Susannah Cahalan – fragments of memory written by a woman who suffered from a pretty dangerous brain inflammation.

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                                            Re: K-PAX, you might not be aware that it’s based on a purportedly-true story. Robert Lindner wrote a collection of case studies from his history as a shrink. One of the most famous cases is of the pseudonymous “Kirk Allen” – a government scientist who had recurring dreams of is life on an elaborate and very consistent alien world, and delusions that this alien world was his real life while life on earth was a dream. Lindner claims to have begun to suffer transference – he believed “Allen” was indeed an alien at the time that “Allen” finally shook off the delusion. Brian Aldiss (& others) floated that “Allen” might be dipomat & army psychologist Paul Linebarger, better known as Cordwainer Smith (the author of the Instrumentality of Man stories, from which Frank Herbert drew heavy influence for Dune).

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                                              You gave me several interesting topics to pursue, thanks!

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                                            I haven’t had a lot of time to read this year, since deadlines at work have kept me from taking vacation. A lot of these books are ones I’ve been nursing for years – in particular, The New Weird and Politics and the Occult, both of which I started in 2014.

                                            Fiction anthologies:

                                            • The New Weird, ed. Jeff & Ann VanderMeer: a fantastic companion to The Weird, but shorter, & with some interesting analysis stuff (including a round table of authors – a transcription of a forum thread). Not quite the same level of variety as The Weird, but ultimately that means that a story is less likely to rub you the wrong way stylistically. Good stuff from Mieville, Barker, & Ligotti. Recommended, if you like that kind of thing.
                                            • Ghost Stories of an Antiquary, by M. R. James: James’ most famous stories, which often have a structure reminiscent of a Twilight Zone episode. Found some of the antiquarian stuff a bit stuffy & obscure.

                                            Fiction non-anthologies:

                                            • Vurt, by Jeff Noon: wonderfully evocative & compelling worldbuilding, even if plot threads & background don’t exactly logically hang together – it indeed feels like the kind of world that would be built (and narrated) by folks for whom psychedelic feathers had replaced video games. A fast read. Recommend.
                                            • Dark State, by Charlie Stross: love the hardboiled spy stuff. If you’ve already read the previous books in the series, I don’t need to recommend.
                                            • The Labyrinth Index, by Charlie Stross: the Laundry books keep getting grimmer. This one was a lot of fun – nice to see Mhari humanized & Bob… not. Again, if you’ve read the previous books, I don’t need to recommend. Moreso than Dark State, if you’ve missed the previous books in this series, this one won’t make any sense at all.
                                            • Web of Angels, by John M. Ford: entertaining pre-Neuromancer work of fantasy-infused far-future cyberpunk, leaning on tarot imagery. Feels a lot like Cordwainer Smith. Full of interesting ideas. Recommend.
                                            • Annihilation, by Jeff VanderMeer: fantastic surreal horror. Recommend.
                                            • Authority, by Jeff VanderMeer: fantastic surreal espionage horror. Recommend.


                                            • Glut, by Alex Wright: an entertaining history of information technology, beginning with some dubious biology & spending much of its runtime engaged with the war between competing methods of library catalog numbering. It covers memex (to a greater extent than most other pop-science books on the subject, and even points out that memex was probably a partial rip-off of existing german microfilm machines Bush saw before the war) and hypertext before eventually moving on to the web. A good companion for The Information by Gleick.
                                            • Cataloging the World: Paul Otlet and the Birth of the Information Age, by Alex Wright: a biography of Paul Otlet, and a deep dive into his information organization systems. Entertaining & stimulating. A good companion for Glut.
                                            • Seven Languages in Seven Weeks: it took me substantially longer than seven weeks to finish this – I’ve literally been starting, stalling, and re-reading bits of it for years, but it was worthwhile. I’m a fan of this book’s method & style. Definitely recommend.
                                            • Graphs, Maps, Trees: Abstract Models for Literary History, by Franco Moretti: short & doesn’t contain much not already familiar to people who are into distant reading & related kinds of data representation, but remarkably accessible for a work of italian literary criticism.
                                            • Writing Space: Computers, Hypertext, and the Remediation of Print, by Jay David Bolter: one of the authors of StorySpace writes compellingly about the intellectual & cultural ramifications of internalizing the ideas of hypertext. I read the first edition, which predates the Web becoming the de-facto default hypertext implementation. Bolter doesn’t understand Xanadu, which I can’t blame him too much for (since nobody writing this kind of stuff during the 90s did). Nevertheless, he synthesizes some interesting stuff re: Walter Ong. Highly recommend.
                                            • Politics and the Occult: The Right, The Left, and the Radically Unseen by Gary Lachman: Informative, but a little dry. Primarily a historical account of the connections between occult/mystical/religiously-heretical groups of ll stripes and political movements of all stripes, with a focus on the Rosicrucians & Theosophists.
                                            • Aliester Crowley: Magick, Rock and Roll, and the Wickedest Man in the World by Gary Lachman: another dry & basically academic work – a biography of Crowley integrating the work & criticisms of other biographers. Despite the title, the massive posthumous cultural impact of Crowley is relegated to the last chapter & the afterword, and thelemic ideas & specifics of magickal practice are covered only when they directly pertain to Crowley’s documented behavior.
                                            • Food of the Gods by Terence McKenna: some beautiful manifesto-style poetic flourishes, probably-dubious anthropology, and weird logical gaps. Worth reading since it’s part of the canon, but keep a skeptical eye, obviously.
                                            • bolo’bolo: a fantastic and unclassifiable work – manifesto, anarchist political tract, utopian fiction, analysis & criticism, free verse poetry, constructed language manual, concrete plan for decentralized mass organization. Highly recommend.

                                            Manga & Comics:

                                            • Battle Angel / GUNM (complete series): full of interesting science-fictional ideas and political commentary. If the movie captures even a tenth of the appeal of the comic, it’ll be fantastic. Highly recommend.
                                            • The Lucifer & Biscuit Hammer (vols 1-7): a clever subversion of a certain genre of manga where ‘normal people’ are brought together to fight an ancient war using ESP. Might count as a deconstruction, in the same way as Evangelion, in that it diverges from genre expectations by taking genre rules seriously and following them to their inevitable ends. Deals with dark subjects without feeling grim or exploitative. I stalled on it only because frequent interruptions overlapped with a slight drag in interest.
                                            • Promethea: fantastic, evocative, moving, and a quick read.


                                            • The Shining by Stephen King. I was surprised how much of the dialogue survived into Kubrick’s film, since none of the characters did.
                                            • Mirrorshades ed. Bruce Sterling: my first exposure to this in 15+ years, and I was surprised by Egan’s entry being included. The last story, Mozart in Mirrorshades, I had forgotten entirely by the time I read Cory Doctorow’s take on the same idea some 5 years later. This collection is a lot more scattered and eclectic than Burning Chrome, or even The Ultimate Cyberpunk.

                                            Books I started this year but have not yet finished:

                                            • Occulture
                                            • Moderan
                                            • The Ultimate Cyberpunk (anthology), ed. Pat Cadigan
                                            • Boogiepop and Others
                                            • Nisemonogatari: Tsuhiki Phoenix, by NisoisiN
                                            • SICP
                                            • Fanged Noumena, by Nick Land
                                            • White Noise, by Don Dellilo
                                            • Narrative Machines by Jamie Curcio
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                                              I remember reading Vurt when it was first published and it still sticks with me. Jeff Noon tweets sometimes and the best of those are mini-novels on their own.

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                                                It seems pretty controversial – about half the reviews on goodreads were claiming that it was shallow & vapid. So, I only grabbed a copy after following him on twitter for awhile & liking most of his writing there.

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                                                Five Proofs for the Existence of God - Edward Feser: Goes through the classical arguments for God’s existence and points out the problems with some of the standard counter-arguments

                                                Zero to One: This book is very concise and to the point and gives a different perspective on the world : avoid competition, all successful companies are different, a small handful of companies radically outperform all other companies ( power law ) etc

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                                                  I’ve read a lot of books this year – I set a goal for 52 at the beginning of the year and passed it earlier this month. Of those, here are some of my favorites:

                                                  • [historical fiction] The Half-Drowned King and The Sea Queen by Linnea Hartsuyker. An action-packed fictionalization of the rise of the first king of Norway. It’s very well researched and close to reality, as far as I can tell. Really recommended if you like Bernard Cornwell (and especially if you like him but find a lot of historical fiction troubling when it comes to its treatment of women. Hartsuyker doesn’t shy away from the fact that the past was terrible for women, but also writes well-rounded women with agency.)
                                                  • [kids fiction] Abel’s Island, William Steig. A colleague with a Ph.D in literature told me this was her favorite book, so I had to read it. I read it to my 7-year-old and he loved it, and I found it to be one of the saddest and most thoughtful books I’ve read. If you like books where the protagonist lives by themselves and contemplates nature, you will love this.
                                                  • [fantasy fiction] Senlin Ascends and Arm of the Sphinx by Josiah Bancroft. These are delightful. An unlikely protagonist visits a steampunk Tower of Babel with his new wife. She disappears and he has to dive into the dangerous, crime-filled, and seemingly endless Tower to find her. The book cover says something like “the most unlikely hero since Bilbo Baggins” and that made my eyes roll, but dang if it wasn’t right. I can’t wait for the next of these.
                                                  • [literary fiction] Gilead, Home, and Lila by Marilynne Robinson. These three books, all telling the same story from different viewpoints, are some of the best American literature written. I haven’t stopped thinking about them since I read them. They are meditations on religion, family, loss, history, and more. If you have a strained relationship with your father, they will haunt you and make you cry. Highest recommendation
                                                  • [spiritual] The Way of Jesus: Living a Spiritual and Ethical Life, Jay Parini. Very thoughtful memoir/spiritual guide for those in love with Jesus and not so in love with Christianity.
                                                  • [classic] One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. I’m so glad I picked this up. I thought it would be incredibly sad and detail the misery of living in a Russian work camp, and I was right, but I didn’t know that it would be one of the darkest of comedies. I don’t want to give away the best part of this book by naming what makes it so good, but I highly recommend it.
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                                                    Why did this get downvoted?