HackerNews Readings
40,000 HackerNews book recommendations identified using NLP and deep learning

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Clean Code: A Handbook of Agile Software Craftsmanship

Robert C. Martin

4.7 on Amazon

43 HN comments

Designing Data-Intensive Applications: The Big Ideas Behind Reliable, Scalable, and Maintainable Systems

Martin Kleppmann

4.8 on Amazon

34 HN comments

The Martian

Andy Weir, Wil Wheaton, et al.

4.7 on Amazon

27 HN comments

The Pragmatic Programmer: 20th Anniversary Edition, 2nd Edition: Your Journey to Mastery

David Thomas, Andrew Hunt, et al.

4.8 on Amazon

27 HN comments

Snow Crash

Neal Stephenson, Jonathan Davis, et al.

4.3 on Amazon

24 HN comments

The Mom Test: How to Talk to Customers & Learn If Your Business Is a Good Idea When Everyone Is Lying to You

Rob Fitzpatrick and Robfitz Ltd

4.7 on Amazon

22 HN comments


Frank Herbert, Scott Brick, et al.

4.7 on Amazon

20 HN comments

Seveneves: A Novel

Neal Stephenson, Mary Robinette Kowal, et al.

4.1 on Amazon

20 HN comments

Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams

Matthew Walker, Steve West, et al.

4.7 on Amazon

19 HN comments

Project Hail Mary

Andy Weir, Ray Porter, et al.

4.7 on Amazon

18 HN comments

Never Split the Difference: Negotiating as if Your Life Depended on It

Chris Voss, Michael Kramer, et al.

4.8 on Amazon

18 HN comments

Brave New World

Aldous Huxley

4.6 on Amazon

16 HN comments

Thinking, Fast and Slow

Daniel Kahneman, Patrick Egan, et al.

4.6 on Amazon

16 HN comments

The Design of Everyday Things: Revised and Expanded Edition

Don Norman

4.6 on Amazon

15 HN comments

A Pattern Language: Towns, Buildings, Construction (Center for Environmental Structure Series)

Christopher Alexander , Sara Ishikawa , et al.

4.7 on Amazon

15 HN comments

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AlbertCoryonAug 13, 2021

Bingo. These (the authors) are people with no ideas of their own, but they still need funding. So they "classify" other people's ideas and make some nice graphics.

Read "Thinking Fast and Slow" (which, to their credit, they do list as a resource) and skip the rest of their grant seeking.

AzzieElbabonJuly 12, 2021

Interesting, I never considered "Thinking Fast and Slow" and " "Persuasion" to be psychology books or I would not have read them

nicclonMay 19, 2021

Agreed. If you haven't read it, check out Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahnema (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thinking,_Fast_and_Slow).

klelattionJuly 8, 2021

No doubt there are a lot of "self help" books that are a scam - but that's true for a lot of genres.

A lot of the criticisms seem highly dubious e.g. is this really true?

> The entire business-focused self-help industry is built on the fallacy that successful people read a lot of books.

Altogether seems more like a rant than reasoned criticism.

BTW the list of books cited as an example of the 'scam' includes "Thinking, Fast and Slow" - reasonably sure that reading this is a lot more worthwhile than reading this particular post.

AlbertCoryonJune 30, 2021

"Software estimation" is not a specialized problem. Rather, it's just an example of what Daniel Kahneman calls "the planning fallacy." The same phenomena we see with software occur in many, many other fields.

Read "Thinking, Fast and Slow" where he talks about estimating the time to create a new textbook.

qwerty456127onJuly 12, 2021

Is "Thinking, Fast and Slow" by Daniel Kahneman really worth reading the whole book? I feel like I understand the phenomenon it describes (and I believe a page or two is more than enough to explain it), I'm glad somebody described it popularly and attracted attention of wide audience raising their awareness. But reading a 500 pages book is a huge investment of time and mental energy. What's there one might find worth it?

calnyonAug 13, 2021

I found Daniel Kahneman’s Thinking Fast and Slow persuasive on this question. I don’t have a psych or neuro degree, but Crudely speaking and possibly butchering it: the mind reflects two types of thinking, which Kahneman terms System 1 (fast) and System 2 (slow). System 1 is closer to instinct and helps us respond quickly in, for example, fight or flight situations. System 2 requires significant mental effort to more thoroughly analyze things like complex math problems. It’s easier to coast on System 1 thinking. The book provides examples and much better and more in depth explanations. There was a replication controversy about some of it, but still very worth reading I think.

alok-gonJuly 12, 2021

I feel exactly the same for many books. If a book summary on Wikipedia, etc., neither surprises me nor teaches me anything new, I have little motivation to read the book.

There's an 'Ask HN' thread on "high signal to noise ratio" books: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=10027102 I note that "Thinking, Fast and Slow" is also listed here.

Wikipedia itself is of course lovely for high information density and is my go-to resource.

quietbritishjimonAug 3, 2021

I like the advice in Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman about estimating, which is not specific to software but still very applicable to it:

Start with a known past project that is in some way similar in magnitude and adjust from there. For example, "this is twice as complex as some other project I did, and that took 2 months so this one might take 4 months". Most importantly, resist the temptation to say "although 1 of those 2 months was because of unexpected thing X so I shouldn't include that". Overall, it's highly flawed, but much less highly flawed than anything else. This is called "reference class forecasting".

He gave a really compelling explanation of why estimates are almost always underestimates by a significant amount, and this technique is the best defence against it, but I won't try to resummarise because I'll surely misrepresent it. But I do recall he gave an example where he and some colleagues were trying to make a school syllabus about deductive biases, and underestimated the effort required for their own project.

faeriechanglingonMay 24, 2021

He's a psychologist who wrote his book prior to the replication crisis in social psychology. I read "Thinking fast and slow" with a companion piece that detailed the most flawed parts of the book. I read that blog post before I read the book. There's basically no psychology you can read without some degree of BS in them so I love reading books which have already been thoroughly scrutinized. Some chapters were very well grounded, others like ch4 I didn't even bother reading.

I don't know where you got the impression that MOST of his research got undermined by that blog post when that blog post mostly took down a few chapters. If anything Kahneman impressed me for coming out of the replication crisis with not much more than a blown off limb. It would be great if Kahneman got everything perfect the first go of things but it was practically the point of his book that it's incredibly difficult to not make the exact mistakes that he ended up making.

The above posters general point is correct that the author doesn't really understand Kahneman's work, otherwise they would not have phrased things the way they did.

jessedhillononMay 22, 2021

This is true for native speakers of most languages, in my experience. I remember many years ago traveling Spanish-speaking countries and trying to talk to locals about some grammatical point, like use of the subjunctive mood, and getting very puzzled looks. This despite the fact that even three-year old children correctly navigate verb moods without knowing the rules.

This and other experiences convinced me that learning the formal rules of a language is perhaps not the best way to approach learning. Especially not if your intention is to speak to locals, rather than say, become a TV news announcer. I think the most critical skill of language learning is to get the "muscle memory" of the language, the reflex of subconsciously mapping concepts to words in your internal lookup table. This skill is even precedes IMO listening comprehension: naturally, when you're listening to someone speak, you'll miss words. But if your mastery of the language is sufficient to allow you to quickly guess what you would have said in the gap if you were speaking, then the error is survivable. I find that this seems to be how the brain works when listening to speech in your native language.

To correlate with Dan Ariely's "Thinking, Fast and Slow" it's the fast mode that's needed, whereas as a grammatical approach tends to emphasize and develop slow mode skills. Sometimes you need to go slow before you go fast, but given that children jump I without knowing the rules, I don't think it's necessary for language. (I also think too much is made about the supposed inelasticity of the adult brain re languages) I hope/expect with AI, there is a really interesting possibility around the corner for learning language in a simulated immersion environment. The Google and Amazon translation APIs seem, on paper, to provide at least 50% of what that would take.

allie1onApr 20, 2021

Wonderful tips. I never thought of 2 that way.

What I love is spaced repetition of the highlights. I don't do it time based though. I do it based on subject, and this gets a lot more powerful when it's more than one book on a subject.

For example - go through my highlights on Influence (Chialdini), Thinking Fast and Slow, Poor Charlie's Almanac, and think about how they complement each other.

Seeing the same subject from multiple points of view, sometimes conflicting, other times corroborating each other is very helpful to build a more wholesome base of knowledge.

btillyonAug 16, 2021

I maintain that it isn't just hard, it is computationally impossible.

We should all know that given a belief about the world, and evidence, Bayes' Theorem describes how to update our beliefs.

But what if we have a network of interrelated beliefs? That's called a Bayesian net, and it turns out that Bayes' Theorem also prescribes a unique answer. However, unfortunately, it turns out that working out that answer is NP-hard.

OK, you say, we can come up with an approximate answer. Sorry, no, coming up with an approximate answer that gets within probability 0.5 - ε, for 0 < ε, is ALSO NP-hard. It is literally true that under the right circumstances a single data point logically should be able to flip our entire world view, and which data point does it is computationally intractible.

Therefore our brains use a bunch of heuristics, with a bunch of known failure modes. You can read all the lesswrong you want. You can read Thinking, Fast and Slow and learn why we fail as we do. But the one thing that we cannot do, no matter how much work or effort we put into it, is have the sheer brainpower required to actually BE rational.

The effort of doing better is still worthwhile. But the goal itself is unachievable.

dash2onJuly 12, 2021

Thinking Fast and Slow is also a serious book. There have been some hits on how Kahneman wrote up priming, but few dispute he and Tversky have a big body of brilliant and rigorous research. They don't deserve to be on the same list as Freud, Sacks or (probably) Ariely. While those guys are interesting, all are rather less scientific. Cialdini I'm not sure about. His "Focus Theory of Normative Conduct" has been very influential but perhaps it is a one-trick pony?

SwizeconAug 3, 2021

Syntopic reading can be really rewarding. For example, once you read Thinking Fast and Slow, and a few of Taleb’s books, suddenly you notice implicit and explicit references in virtually every business book published later than those.

A similar effect can be found with Grit, Fogg’s Behavior Model, Superforecasting, and most Gladwel books.

On the coding side, I’ve only noticed this with Pragmatic Programmer, Clean Code, and maybe Phoenix/Unicorn project. Could I don’t read enough of those or they’re too focused on specific technologies instead of broad ideas … or I get too much of my technical reading from blogs and twitter. Those do get repetitive and you quickly find common patterns, but no titles to refer to.

godmode2019onJune 26, 2021

* Thinking fast and slow - how to think and make decision and how to consider bias.

* Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth - specialisation is for insects.

* Propaganda - 1928 book by the inventor of public relations and modern media. Know how they influence you.

* The war of art - being a professional. Honesty I don't think this book was written by a human this book completely changed my life and any other person I for to read this book had a similar experience.

I have more but I don't want to information overload anyone.

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