Ever since I was a kid, I used to read a lot. First came the comics, then the children's books, mystery and thriller novels. After that I read classics, young adult novels, and science fiction books. Gradually over the years, my interests shifted from fiction to non-fiction.
This is an attempt to keep a log of the books I've read over the years.
Being a Designer, I naturally have a soft corner for beautiful book covers. At times I have even bought different editions of the same book just because the book covers were irresistible. The Design of this page leans towards a more visual side – which is almost how actual bookshelves are.
This page is heavily inspired by Patrick Collison's Bookshelf and other similar reading lists by Aaron Swartz, Tiger Shen and Bill Gates. The data behind this page is from Goodreads, without which creating this page would not have been possible.
The top books in each genre are shown in a more prominent manner. Unrated books are the books which I haven't completed yet.
Over time, this page will (hopefully) be more detailed – where I not only list down the books I've read – but also write about the learnings from them.
These days, I tend juggle between multiple books at the same time. If the book gets repetitive, or if my interest wanes, I switch to another book without guilt tripping myself about incomplete books. As long as I'm learning something new, it is fine.
Broad category of books which includes topics like: Biology, Physics, Math, Sociology, Astronomy, and others.
My favourite kind of Science books are the ones where the author skilfully strikes a balance between in-depth explanation of the theories (with detailed footnotes and references), and simplicity and ease-of-understanding. Some great examples of such books are: Why Zebras Don't Get Ulcers, On Intelligence, and Whole Earth Discipline.
I also love reading about Technology, and it's impact on the world. Books about Computer Science, Internet, Robotics, Space, Energy, Artificial Intelligence are very fascinating.
Business and Management is not something that I'm very good at. Hence, I love reading and learning more about it. I also think that these are really important skills to have further out in your career.
An obvious but hard hitting thing I've realised is that – real life experiences in business and management teach you way more than what a book might. The best way to learn how to manage a team isn't to read a 400 page book on it. It is to actually go ahead and do it.
Fun quote: “Some people make things happen. Some people watch things happen. And then there are those who wonder, 'What happened?'"
Fun fact: Did you know that clicking on the first link in the main text of a Wikipedia article, and then repeating the process for subsequent articles, would 97% of the time lead to it's Philosophy article.
Philosophy books tend to have the most fascinating titles, synopses and covers. So, I end up impulsively buying a lot of Philosophy books. The thing that is both interesting, and not-so-interesting about them is that they tend to be more about the questions rather than the answers.
I used to read a lot of Psychology books back in college. I still very vividly remember reading about Stanford prison experiment and Milgram's experiment – and then spending weeks poring over the details about behavioral psychology over the internet.
Well written biographies are like good fiction books – having elements of character development and narrative arcs.
They are interesting because you get to read about how the person lived their lives, the decisions they made, and what impact it had on the world. Sometimes, I also read obituaries of famous people. I find them oddly inspiring.
I love self improvement books founded on solid research, rather than anecdotal experiences of the author. I usually end up leaving a lot of them midway because they fall in the category of could-have-been-a-blog-post. Essentially where central idea is introduced, and then re-iterated upon in dozens of different ways throughout the book.
Having said that, some of the books I've read (and enjoyed) in the past are:
Surprisingly, I haven't have read as many books on Design as I would have liked to.
In a way, it is understandable. Most of my understanding and knowledge about Design comes from other non-long-form channels like podcasts, blogs, conversations with other Designers and actual on-job experience.
Here are the few history books I've read over the years:
I love Science Fiction books which portray the future as inspiring and exciting rather than dark and gloomy. For this reason, dystopian Science Fiction novels aren't my thing.
I usually love reading hard Science Fiction books (which focus more on being scientifically and logically accurate.) Arthur Clarke and Issac Asimov are two authors I really admire because of the way in which they blend the accuracies of science and technology with beautiful storytelling.
In the past, I also used to write Science Fiction short stories. One of the short stories I wrote on r/WritingPrompts a couple of years ago has an eerie resemblance to The Three Body Problem series Liu Cixin. The Three Body Problem wasn't even translated to English back then. Such an interesting coincidence.
I intend to write more Science Fiction stories in the near future! Will be exciting to share it with the world.
Before the age of 19, almost all the books I read were fiction books. Good thing about reading fiction from a very young age is that it sets you up for a lifelong habit of reading.
It started with the comics of Tintin, Asterix and Archies – proceeded to reading dozens of simple books by Enid Blyton, RL Stine – gradually Hardy Boys and PG Wodehouse came in the picture – to be quickly replaced by the Harry Potter series – after which I moved to thrillers by Alistair MacLean, Steve Berry, Jack Higgins.
It might seem counterintuitive, but I've found that the lessons learnt from great fiction books are more deeply embibed than non-fiction books. Books like The Fountainhead, and Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality, Jonathan Livingston Seagull have probably taught me more than any non-fiction book has.