Category Archives: Books

Books 2020–2023

I’m a few years behind in posting my book lists, and past few years a good amount of my book reading time shifted to other mediums. I have been rediscovering the joy of books so here’s what I read the past few years as a motivation to myself to pick it up more in 2024.


  1. The Gift by Hafiz
  2. I hope this reaches her in time by r.h. Sin
  3. Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown
  4. Exhalation by Ted Chiang
  5. Deceiving the Sky: Inside Communist China’s Drive for Global Supremacy
  6. Zero: The Biography of a Dangerous Idea by Charles Seife
  7. Caves of Steel by Isaac Asimov
  8. High Growth Handbook by Elad Gil
  9. The Naked Sun by Isaac Asimov
  10. What You Do Is Who You Are by Ben Horowitz
  11. Gideon Falls 1: The Black Barn by Jeff Lemire
  12. Gideon Falls 2: Original Sins by Jeff Lemire
  13. Gideon Falls 3: Stations of the Cross by Jeff Lemire
  14. What if I Say the Wrong Thing? 25 Habits for Culturally Effective People by Vernā Myers
  15. The Most Important Thing: Uncommon Sense for the Thoughtful Investor by Howard Marks
  16. Wool by Hugh Howey
  17. Trillion Dollar Coach by Eric Schmidt and Jonathan Rosenberg
  18. Powerful: Building a Culture of Freedom and Responsibility by Patty McCord
  19. Awareness: The Perils and Opportunities of Reality by Anthony de Mello
  20. How to Know Higher Worlds by Rudolf Steiner
  21. No Rules Rules by Reed Hastings and Erin Meyer


  1. Broken Stars by Ken Liu
  2. The Body Keeps Score by Bessel van der Kolk
  3. Broadbandits by Om Malik
  4. How to be Antiracist by Ibram X Kendi
  5. The Reason I Jump by Naoki Higashida
  6. Billionaire Wilderness by Justin Farrell
  7. Antarctica: What Everyone Needs to Know by David Day
  8. San Fransicko by Michael Shellenberger
  9. Antarctica: An Intimate Portrait of a Mysterious Continent by Gabrielle Walker
  10. At the Mountains of Madness by H. P. Lovecraft
  11. Delirious New York by Rem Koolhaas
  12. This Is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone
  13. Fallen Leaves: Last Words on Life, Love, War, and God by Will Durant


This year I ended up mostly reading AI and machine learning academic papers, attempting to “learn AI deeply” as I asked people at the State of the Word that year. Started a bunch of other books but these were the only two I finished.

  1. 4000 weeks by Oliver Burkeman
  2. A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. Guin


  1. Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin
  2. Belong by Radha Agrawal
  3. Excellent Advice for Living by Kevin Kelly
  4. On That Note by Michael Wolff
  5. Unreasonable Hospitality by Will Guidara
  6. Surely You’re Joking, Mr Feynman by Richard Feynman
  7. Permutation City by Greg Egan
  8. Seven Brief Lessons on Physics by Carlo Rovelli
  9. Damn Good Advice by George Lois

All book years: 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020–2023.

29 Books in 2019

As a follow-on to my lists in 2017 and 2018, here are the books I completed this year. I’ve linked all to the Kindle edition except the Great Mental Models, which is so gorgeous in hardcover you should get that one, and the The World is Sound isn’t available as an ebook. Bold are ones I particularly enjoyed or found myself discussing with others a lot.

  1. The Pilgrimage by Paulo Coehlo
  2. 21 Lessons for the 21st Century by Yuval Noah Harari
  3. No Longer at Ease by Chinua Achebe
  4. Imagine it Forward by Beth Comstock
  5. The Great Mental Models Vol. 1 by Shane Parrish
  6. Why Buddhism is True by Robert Wright
  7. There Will Be No Miracles Here by Casey Gerald
  8. Less by Andrew Sean Greer
  9. Bad Blood by John Carreyrou
  10. nejma by Nayyirah Waheed
  11. Trust Exercise by Susan Choi (also on Obama’s book list, and based on the high school I went to, HSPVA)
  12. Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World by Jack Weatherford
  13. The Way to Love by Anthony de Mello
  14. The Fifth Agreement by Don Miguel Ruiz, Don Jose Ruiz, and Janet Mills
  15. Empty Planet by Darrell Bricker
  16. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
  17. How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk by Adele Faber and Elian Mazlish
  18. Make it Scream, Make it Burn by Leslie Jamison
  19. A Short History of Progress by Ronald Wright
  20. Conscious: A Brief Guide to the Fundamental Mystery of the Mind by Annaka Harris
  21. The World Is Sound: Nada Brahma: Music and the Landscape of Consciousness by Joachim-Ernst Berendt
  22. The 15 Commitments of Conscious Leadership by Jim Dethmer and Diana Chapman
  23. Finite and Infinite Games by James P. Carse
  24. Four Soldiers by Hubert Mingarelli
  25. Working by Robert Caro
  26. Attached by Amir Levine and Rachel Heller
  27. Skin in the Game by Nassim Nicholas Taleb
  28. The Devil’s Financial Dictionary by Jason Zweig
  29. How to Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy by Jenny Odell (also on Obama’s book list)

What’s interesting is that if you were to purchase every single one of those books, it would be about $349. You could get them all for nothing from your local library, even on a Kindle. The money I spend on books is by far and away the best investment I make every year — books expand my mind and enrich my life in a way that nothing else does.

39 Books in 2018

Here’s what I read in 2018, in chronological order of when I finished it, as promised in my birthday post. I’ve highlighted a few in bold but in general I was pretty satisfied with almost all of my book choices this year. I’ve put a lot more time into the “deciding what to read” phase of things, and have also had some great help from friends there, and have been trying to balance and alternate titles that have stood the test of time and newer au courant books.

  1. Hot Seat: The Startup CEO Guidebook by Dan Shapiro
  2. The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera (audio)
  3. A Higher Standard by Ann E. Dunwoody
  4. Extreme Ownership by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin (audio)
  5. The Boat by Nam Le
  6. Charlotte’s Web by E. B. White
  7. Nonviolent Communication by Marshall B. Rosenberg
  8. How to Say Goodbye by Wendy Macnaughton
  9. When Things Fall Apart by Pema Chödrön
  10. Soul of an Octopus by Sy Montgomery
  11. Poor Charlie’s Almanack by Charlie Munger and Peter Kaufman
  12. Sam the Cat by Matthew Klam
  13. The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran
  14. The Vegetarian by Han Kang
  15. The Paper Menagerie by Ken Liu
  16. After On: A Novel of Silicon Valley by Rob Reid
  17. The Conquest of Happiness by Bertrand Russell
  18. How to Write an Autobiographical Novel by Alexander Chee
  19. Ficciones by Jorge Luis Borges
  20. Black Box Thinking by Matthew Syed
  21. Darkness Visible by William Styron
  22. Tin Man by Sarah Winman
  23. Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari
  24. Let My People Go Surfing by Yvon Chouinard
  25. Pachinko by Min Jin Lee (Update: On Obama’s 2019 book list.)
  26. Homo Deus by Yuval Noah Harari
  27. The Lessons of History by Will & Ariel Durant
  28. Stories of Your Life and Others by Ted Chiang
  29. So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo
  30. Three Body Problem by Cixin Liu
  31. How to Fix a Broken Heart by Guy Winch
  32. Sum: Forty Tales from the Afterlives by David Eagleman
  33. Exit West by Mohsin Hamid
  34. Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed
  35. Farsighted: How We Make the Decisions That Matter the Most by Steven Johnson
  36. Severance: A Novel by Ling Ma
  37. On the Shortness of Life by Seneca
  38. It Doesn’t Have to Be Crazy at Work by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson
  39. Notes of a Native Son by James Baldwin

Books in 2017

Here’s what I ended up reading this year, in roughly chronological finishing order. (I usually have 3-4 books going on at once.)

  1. Tools of Titans by Tim Ferriss.
  2. The Art of Stillness by Pico Ayer.
  3. Out of Your Mind by Alan Watts (audiobook, really a series of lectures).
  4. Book of Five Rings by Miyamoto Mushashi (audiobook).
  5. Do Not Say We Have Nothing by Madeleine Thien.
  6. The Best American Short Stories 2016 edited by Junot Diaz.
  7. Feynman by Jim Ottaviani.
  8. My Gita by Devdutt Pattanaik.
  9. From Plato to Post-modernism: Understanding the Essence of Literature and the Role of the Author by Louis Markos (another lecture series).
  10. The Rules Do Not Apply by Ariel Levy.
  11. The Story of a Brief Marriage by Anuk Arudpragasam.
  12. All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr.
  13. Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life by Héctor García and Francesc Miralles.
  14. When Hitler Took Cocaine and Lenin Lost His Brain: History’s Unknown Chapters by Giles Milton.
  15. Widow Basquiat: A Love Story by Jennifer Clement.
  16. 32 Yolks: From My Mother’s Table to Working the Line by Eric Ripert.
  17. Identify: Basic Principles of Identity Design in the Iconic Trademarks by Chermayeff & Geismar.
  18. Catching the Big Fish: Meditation, Consciousness, and Creativity by David Lynch (audiobook).
  19. The Upstarts: How Uber, Airbnb, and the Killer Companies of the New Silicon Valley Are Changing the World by Brad Stone.
  20. The Leavers by Lisa Ko.
  21. Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel. (Update: On Obama’s 2019 book list.)
  22. Girls on Fire by Robin Wasserman.
  23. The Executive’s Compass by James O’Toole.
  24. Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom.
  25. Dance of the Possible by Scott Berkun.
  26. The Lifecycle of Software Objects by Ted Chiang (short story).
  27. Tribe of Mentors by Tim Ferriss.
  28. After On: A Novel of Silicon Valley by Rob Reid.
  29. Principles by Ray Dalio.
  30. The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman (audiobook).
  31. The Undiscovered Self: With Symbols and the Interpretation of Dreams by C.G. Jung.

A fairly random selection, and hopefully I can get a few more in next year.

All book years: 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020–2023.