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Books I have been reading since Mar 2014. Recommendations welcome.

Jul, 2014

What I talk about when I talk about running | Haruki Murakami

From time to time, I like to re-read books that I enjoyed very much. I borrowed this book from a friend when we were on a surf-cation in Virginia Beach for 4th of July, 2 years ago. I am going back again this year and I remembered how much I enjoyed the book the first time I read it. Reading it after running a marathon gives a completely different perspective on Murakami's part memoir on running. He has a simple way of capturing mundane day-to-day thoughts and lays them down in a delightful manner. Quite honestly, I don't enjoy his fiction work because I find it quite cuckoo and aimless - at least in this point in my life. This book still has the attention to detail that all of Murakami's books have, but this book also offers a certain depth into his character and way of thinking. He does a great job of beautifully immersing his "life lessons" into the prose, in a simple and approachable way. I wish more authors wrote more about themselves and their approach to writing and living because they have such a talent for expression that most others, albeit successful, don't.

Jun, 2014

Mortality | Christopher Hitchens

“It is better to burn down than fade away”. Christopher Hitchens didn’t say that, it was Kurt Kobain. I don’t know if dying young makes one legendary or vice-versa. Hitchens wrote this book after he was diagnosed with cancer. It’s a short read and those who know Hitchens know that his books are anything but short. He didn’t change his writing style, just that reality struck in the middle of writing this book. Possibly the most outspoken atheist next to Richard Dawkins, gives his views on how he faced cancer and faced his fast approaching, inevitable, death.

Getting Real | Jason Fried & David HH

The authors nailed it with the title of the book. After this short read, you start to notice the unbelievable amount of bureaucratic bullshit that modern day employees go through. The meetings, large volume of emails, year long estimates, strict timelines, technical jargon are all things we get used to after spending some time at a large company. This book does a great job at cutting out the unnecessary and getting real to focus on what truly matters - building a great product that everyone loves. True and tried practical tips that the founders of Basecamp have found over the years. Jason and DHH have an old school mentality when it comes to running a business. To give you a flavor – they insist on not growing a business too much – asking us to consider what the point of rapidly expanding a company size except for boosting one’s ego. (No, economies of scale don’t count in the software space). The book lays out a common sense way of running a business. You realize how uncommon common sense is these days in large tech companies. Great read. Will definitely go back from time to time.

May, 2014

Writing that works | Kenneth Roman & Joel Raphaelson

Apparently this is classic, but I didn't come across this book until recently. You make your money's worth just by reading chapter 2. The authors describe effective principles for clear and concise writing. The book focuses on business writing instead of creative writing. It is especially useful if you are a non-native english speaker. I wish I had read it before I joined my first job. Could have avoided all those embarrassingly long emails. A must read!

Rework | Jason Fried & David HH

Rarely a book comes along that is simple, yet so powerful. The creators of Basecamp talk about their thoughts on how a business should be run. It is rather unconventional, but feels completely obvious after you have digested it. It is a quick and easy read but packs a punch, just the way business books should be. Recommend it to any entrepreneur, manager or anyone who is curious about running a business or a team with a new set of rules.

Apr, 2014

Visualize This | Nathan Yau

It was a course reading for one of my data science classes in my MBA, but I went back and re-read it. More than half of the book is covered with code and I skipped over it because your actual implementation is usually fairly restrictive in terms of choices in reality. However, the book does an excellent job of giving a broad idea about all the visulaizations possible and a broad overview of industry grade tools. Visualization is a relatively new subject and this book gives you a good grounding if you ever plan on working with visualizations.

Mar, 2014

Arguably | Christopher Hitchens

Quintessential Hitchens. Brash, witty, condescending yet spacious observations on subjects that have been near and dear to him over the decades. Most people who have read Hitchens have polar feelings. You will either idolize or detest him. This book is no different. There are a lot of times that Hitchens assumes that the people reading his books know as much about subjects as he does and that's why he is a great writer's writer but for mere mortals like me, it takes a bit of brain massaging to get through.

Happiness | Matthieu Ricard

If you can get past beyond the corny title of the book, the material is discussed in a very intellectual tone and is quite inspiring. This is one of the best, if not the best, book on spiritualism I have come across. Matthieu lays out the Buddhist philosophy of training your mind to be happy in a very digestible manner directed at a modern audience.