My year in reading

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

My year in reading.
Shoe Dog by Phil Knight
I think most memoirs are mediocre and if it’s from a businessman then it even worse. Shoe Dog by Phil Knight is an exception to that. I started reading it while on a flight to Bangladesh past september. At first I thought I will read it couple pages and start watching something and fall asleep. Instead, I read almost the entire book on the flight to Bangladesh. The memoir of the founder of Nike, it’s really the story of a lost kid trying to find meaning in his life and it ends with him creating a multi-billion dollar company. The afterward is an incredibly moving reflection of a man looking back on his life. In one sentence I loved this book. https://rit.one/ioMXHG

Algorithms to Live By: The Computer Science of Human Decisions by Brian Christian and Tom Griffiths.
A common misconception about computers is that they produce single, correct answers to hard problems. The reality is that much of computer science concerns itself with approximating answers to hard problems, because the single perfect answer, if it exists, would come too late to be useful -- possibly after the lifespan of the universe. Brian Christian and Tom Griffiths' Algorithms to Live By: The Computer Science of Human Decisions is pitched as a combination of personal advice and business book grounded in the lessons of computer science, but it's better than that: while much of the computer science they explain is useful in personal and management contexts, the book is also a beautifully accessible primer on algorithms and computer science themselves, and a kind of philosophical treatise on what the authors call "computational kindness" and "computational stoicism." https://rit.one/X1dUU0

Marxism and the Philosophy of Language by V. N. Volosinov
Language has been defined in a number of different ways: as a mental organ, a cognitive ability, a state of mind, as a system of signs, a computational procedure, as means of communication, or means of describing experience, and many others. This is Volosinov's important work, first published in Russian in 1929, had to wait a generation for recognition. If anyone has interest in language then this is a must read book which is available online for free. https://rit.one/TnErFp

How to Read Literature by Terry Eagleton
In this book Eagleton has many interesting things to say – as it were, in passing – about Conrad, Milton and so on, in a series of thematic chapters that focus in turn on "Openings", "Character", "Narrative", "Interpretation" and "Value". There are some longueurs, as when he devotes four pages to an elaborative reading of the nursery rhyme "Baa Baa Black Sheep" in order to show why such an interpretation is under-justified by the text, but overall it's an amiable affair. Charming, too, to find that Eagleton is a kind of happy existentialist who finds support for such an attitude in modernist (and proto-postmodernist) literature. "Works of fiction like Tristram Shandy, Heart of Darkness, Ulysses and Mrs Dalloway," he remarks with cheering optimism, "can serve to free us from seeing human life as goal-driven, logically unfolding and rigorously coherent. As such, they can help us to enjoy it more." https://rit.one/jBIHTI

THE GENE An Intimate History By Siddhartha Mukherjee
His Pulitzer prize winning book The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer leads me to read this new book on the gene. The gene is, and is not, the determiner of our identity. It behooves us to accept this paradox and understand it. As we learn how our genome defines us, we also learn how we transcend our genome. The gene, in the era of recombinant DNA, has become an instrument of its own manipulation. We have gene therapies and gene editing. In what Mukherjee calls the “post-genomic” world, we will wield a power as exhilarating as it is treacherous. Simply put, “We will learn to read and write our selves, ourselves.” https://rit.one/m4drcT
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