Saturday, January 2, 2016

Books I read in 2015.

I was not an avid reader during my college days. Not surprisingly,  I read less than 20 books until 2015. In May 2015, I moved to Chennai from Bangalore.  I live at Porur, Chennai and my job location is at CIT Nagar, Chennai. As expected, it takes 2-2.30 hrs average commute back and forth every day. Luckily, there is a through AC bus from my place to the office location. I started using my commute time for reading books. Later, I developed this as a daily habit. Below are the books I read this year, in the order I finished, with a link to Amazon. Feel free to share your favorite books in the comments section below.

One of my friend, who was preparing for CAT exam recommended me this book. This is a workbook, which has a lot of exercises. After reading this book, I can feel the change in my reading speed. I took 15-20 days to finish this book, completing one or two exercise in a day. I highly recommend this book for improving reading speed, especially for people who are preparing for IELTS, GRE, CAT etc.

2. Zero to One, Peter Theil.

This book was written by a guy who has co-founded Paypal and Palantir Technologies. This caught my attention.  It starts with the following lines-

"Every moment in business happens only once.

The next Bill Gates will not build an operating system. The next Larry Page or Sergey Brin won’t make a search engine. And the next Mark Zuckerberg won’t create a social network. If you are copying these guys, you aren’t learning from them.

It’s easier to copy a model than to make something new: doing what we already know how to do takes the world from 1 to n, adding more of something familiar. But every time we create something new, we go from 0 to 1. The act of creation is singular, as is the moment of creation, and the result is something fresh and strange."
If you are planning to start-up, then this is a must read book.

3. Who Moved my Cheese?, Spencer Johnson

This is a short book, we can read it in a few hours. This is short tale, teaches us how to deal with changes, which happen in our personal and professional life.

4. The Miracle of Mindfulness, by Thích Nhất Hạnh

This book was written by a Buddhist monk. Mindfulness is a form of meditation, which suggests us do live in a present moment. For example, while washing dishes, we should think about only washing dishes, and not to think about something else.

5. The Theory of Everything, by Stephen Hawking

This book contains seven lectures. He explainded about the big bang to black holes in simple and understandable manner. In the first lecture, he explainded about the history of the universe. Then in the next lessons, he explained about black holes, big bang, quantum mechanics etc. Finally, he added about how we are trying to find a unified theory that will include quantum mechanics, gravity, and all the other interactions of physics.

6. The Fault in our Stars, by John Green.

After reading a few books in different genre, I chose this fiction book. I came to know about this book through my goodreads friends'.  The story is about struggle, fight, love, death.

7.  Wings of Fire, by Dr APJ Abdul Kalam

During my 10th grade, My friend vijayanarayanan and I got the tamil version of this book as a prize in a quiz competition. In my 11th grade, I read the tamil version of this book. Recently, after the death of Dr APJ Kalam, I decided to buy the english version of this book, and read it twice. Such an inspirational book from a great man. In this book, he shared his life experiences from school days to various missile launches. It shows how dream can achieve great things. 

8. Ignited minds, by Dr APJ Abdul Kalam

In this book, he has written about various interactions he had with students all across the nation. Also, he suggested his ideas to make a better India. 
“Thinking is the capital, Enterprise is the way, Hard Work is the solution.” - Kalam

Inn this book, authors clearly explained the relationship between our brain and exerice. They had used more neuroscience words to explain their concepts. I felt little bit bored while reading. However, the message is exercise is the single most powerful tool to optimize our brain function.

10. The Last Lecture, by Randy Pausch

This book was written by Randy Paush, who was a  computer science professor at Carnegie mellon. He was diagnosed with cancer. He had a very short time to live. So, he decided to deliver his last lecture, which was about achieving your childhood dreams. Here is the youtube video link of the original lecture 

11. Siddhartha, by Hermann Hesse

This is a novel which deals with a spirutual journey of an Indian man. The man left his house and family to attain Nirvana state. In the middle of his journey, he experienced love, hunger, passion, greed, hope, and pain. However, finally, he gains wisdom and inner peace in a riverside. The author himself spent his time in India and wrote this novel.

12. A mind for numbers, by Barbara Oakley

I came to know about this book through a Coursera course (Learning how to learn) which I have taken earlier of this year. This book explains how learning happens, effective ways of learning, and concepts like chunking, einstellung effect, different modes of brain etc. My only regret is I should have read this book during my school days.

13. Steve Jobs, by Walter Isaacson.

I purchased this book in my college days, but I failed to read it fully. Now, this year, I again started to read this book. He was a super genius and greatest businessman of our era. This is the most engaging book I ever read. 

“You should never start a company with the goal of getting rich. Your goal should be making something you believe in and making a company that will last." - Steve Jobs

14. Turning Point : A Journey through Challenges, by APJ Abdul Kalam.

His book Wings of Fire covered his life till 1992. In this book, he shared his various experiences and interactions with many people, and his ideas on developing villages, e-governance etc.. He also added some of his own poems in this book. 

This book divides into two parts. In the first half, he shared his experience and struggles in a death camp. In the second half, he explained about various healing techniques, which arose at that time. According to his psycology theory, a man can find meaning in three different ways 1) by creating a work, 2) by experiencing something, 3) by the attitude we take towards unavoidable suffering. 

16. The Guiding Light, by APJ Abdul Kalam

In this book, he shared his favorite quotes from his favorite books. Here is my review of this book. 

17. The Hard thing about hard things, by Ben Horowitz

In this book, he shared his experience on hiring, firing, selling, when to quit, etc. After reading this book, I personally felt that this book has all the answers to the tough situations in business.

18. My Journey: Transforming Dreams into Actions by Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam.

This is the fourth book of him, which I read this year. This book is a collection of his recollections, in the form of short stories.

19. Don't make me think, by Steve Krug

If you are a web developer/designer or UI/UX/Usability Engineer or Product Manager, then this is one of the must-read books. This book teaches us how to develop a product in a more engaging way.

20. The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs, by Carmine Gallo

Gallo did a great job in analyzing steve jobs presentations. This book teaches us how to create a simple and memorable bottom lines, and how to deliver an insanely great presentation in a more engaging way. I purchased this book during my college days. I read it again this year.

21. Lean in for Graduates, by Sheryl Sandberg

After watching her TED Talk, I decided to buy her book. This book has a lot of practical advises for the people who are in the workforce. In addition to that, she also added a few more points which might helpful for college graduates.

 Maybe this year (2016), I should explore a few more genres. Also, I'm planning to write an individual book review. Happy New Year :) Happy reading :)

Lean In for Graduates
The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs
Don't Make Me Think, Revisited: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability
My Journey : Transforming Dreams into Actions
The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers
The Guiding Light: A Selection of Quotations from My Favourite Books
Man's Search for Meaning
Turning Points: A Journey Through Challenges
Steve Jobs
A Mind for Numbers: How to Excel at Math and Science
The Last Lecture
Spark!: How exercise will improve the performance of your brain
Ignited Minds
Wings of Fire: An Autobiography
The Fault in Our Stars
The Theory of Everything: The Origin and Fate of the Universe
The Miracle of Mindfulness: An Introduction to the Practice of Meditation
Who Moved My Cheese?
Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future

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