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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mattsoldoonAug 10, 2021

Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir (author of The Martian) goes into the relativistic effects as well, and it includes a crazy (made-up) fuel that could make it possible. Great easy read: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/54493401-project-hail-ma...

croddinonJune 30, 2021

This is actually a similar idea to the latest novel by Andy Weir (Author of "The Martian"), "Project Hail Mary", which is great and I highly recommend if you liked "The Martian".

shellerikonJune 30, 2021

I was hoping this article would be about "The Hail Mary" which is an amazing book by the author of The Martian that involves a starship. I listened to the audio book and basically binged the last quarter of it. It's rare to find something so good I prefer it over streaming TV shows & movies.

dotancohenonJune 1, 2021

I cannot recommend audio books highly enough. I've been promising my daughter to read Harry Potter for years, but only with the audiobook have I been able to fit it into my schedule. I also finished The Martian on audiobook, which was probably the most riveting book that I've read since childhood.

DataGataonMay 10, 2021

Serialized fiction is basically how many many classics came to us. Today, lots of online fiction, like Andy Weir's The Martian or Scott Alexander's Unsong, starts out as serialized fiction that comes out in sections. The episodic model for books isn't novel.

brian_cloutieronAug 10, 2021

Significant Digits is a quite good sequel (by a different author): http://www.anarchyishyperbole.com/p/significant-digits.html

The Martian and, recently, Project Hail Mary, are written in a completely different style but manage to hit many of the same buttons.

ai_iaonJune 14, 2021

For space sci-fi fans, I highly recommend the new book by Andy Weir, Project Hail Mary. Andy Weir is the writer of The Martian.

Similar story line but detailed enginnering skills.

vlonJune 7, 2021

There is a bit more character development in new Weir’s book - Project Hail Mary, but it still is a great book. Not as great as The Martian, but solid second.

anitilonJune 8, 2021

Andy Weir was on the 'Imaginary Worlds' podcast recently for anyone interested [0]. He's nominally plugging his latest book, but most of the interview is about how he came to write The Martian (when he was a software developer by trade)

[0] https://www.imaginaryworldspodcast.org/episodes/weir-science

sbierwagenonJuly 23, 2021

The Martian by Andy Weir, if you haven't seen the movie yet. If you have, he's had another similar novel out recently, Hail Mary.

ChrisMarshallNYonJuly 21, 2021

That’s how Andy Weir did The Martian. It’s also how Isaac Asimov wrote the first two or three Foundation novels.

The Screwtape Letters (C. S. Lewis) were done that way.

Lots of prior art. Also, it makes the books easier to read.

spidericeonAug 10, 2021

> It’s why The Martian is one of my favorite movies (and book, of course)

It's funny because even though the book was so loved because it was so rational, and human's actually acted how humans would act in that situation, Hollywood STILL couldn't resist making tweaking the end slightly to make it over the top and impractical. Thus we ended up with Mark Watney flying around like Iron man in space with a hole is his space suit.

Still a great movie though. But a better book.

the__alchemistonAug 4, 2021

Thanks for the tip on REAMDE - it and Dodo are the ones I haven't read.

I'll add Fall; or, Dodge in Hell. It's Stephenson's most recent book, and has nice scifi and (HN-crowd-relevant) societal concepts. Beware of a very slow opening.

Also: Project Hail Mary. Similar to The Martian in the right ways. More ambitious, with all its benefits and plausibility traps.

KineticLensmanonJune 7, 2021

Weir himself has discussed the varying characterisations in the Martian, Artemis and PHM. In an interview at [0], he says:

Well, my previous two books, The Martian and Artemis (which are also available for sale!) feature characters whose personalities are based on aspects of my own real personality, Mark Watney [from The Martian] has a lot of my own personality traits and Jazz Bashara [from Artemis] who is a Saudi woman living on the moon, believe it or not, her personality is based on largely the way I was when I was her age.

I wanted to grow as a writer this time, so I made Rylan Grace’s personality not [be] based on my own. I created a new character out of whole cloth, not just using aspects of my own persona. So one thing I decided is that he’s conflict-averse and likes to stay in a safe environment (or something he considers safe) and being a middle school teacher is a safe environment. He doesn’t get a lot of adversity from the students. They look up to him because they’re not teenagers yet. He’s also a goody-two-shoes, so it makes sense that he would work with children.

In a separate interview (that I can't find now) Weir states that PHM was an attempt to write a character that evolves, unlike Watney, who in effect retains the same character (wise-cracking optimist) throughout the book.

[0] https://www.scifinow.co.uk/books/space-man-an-interview-with...

nkrisconAug 10, 2021

It’s why The Martian is one of my favorite movies (and book, of course). No evil, conniving, contrived antagonist designed to be hated. It’s just everyone working together against the most unforgiving antagonist of all: the universe itself.

I don’t want to watch movies or read books where people are just awful to other people, I can open the newspaper on any given day to find that.

herbsteinonMay 13, 2021

Seveneves by Neal Stephenson is a good starting point. Written by an author that knows how to write pop-thrillers with a very keen attention to the details in his books. It deals with the aftermath of the moon spontaneously breaking apart. No explanation is ever given to the reason. The first line of the book is:

> The moon blew up without warning and for no apparent reason.

If you're looking for something even harder there's one author to stands out. Greg Egan. Most of his books are created by modifying some part of relativity and seeing what kind of world would be the logical conclusion from that modification. From the blurb for his book "Orthogonal".

> In Yalda’s universe, light has no universal speed and its creation generates energy.

> On Yalda’s world, plants make food by emitting their own light into the dark night sky.

Every one of his books are this weird, and he has books worth of education material and graphics to help explain the mechanics of each universe he creates. He has also done some novel discoveries when it comes to superpermutations.

If you don't want to go quite that deep into it all, you could take a look at "The Martian". The movie is a fine piece of work, but the book is really amazing. It goes into a lot more details. Andy Weir, the author, even made sure the phases of Earth and Mars matched up so closely that you can figure out when the book is happening by inferring the travel times and communication delays.

Generally, you won't find much of this genre. Writing space opera (Star Trek, Star Wars, etc.) doesn't require too much. You have to have good characters exploring an interesting scenario, and then write it competently. Proper hard Sci-Fi on the other hand is incredibly difficult. It requires intimate knowledge of things like orbital physics and being able to infer what is and isn't possible within the next ~20 years. This is where most hard Sci-Fi is set because it grounds it the most. An analogous issue is that hard Sci-Fi often "expires". Stories written 30 years ago suddenly start sounding silly because technology developed in a new and at-the-time unexpected direction.

GekkePrutseronJune 8, 2021

Interesting. In my school days I saw many classes that would definitely give a lot of adversity. It required tough leadership sometimes from the teachers.

By the way I thought Artemis was his best book by far. It wasn't all about science and the story wasn't as limited as there wasn't a single isolated individual. I thought it was a really good book and I hope he comes up with a sequel. I suppose as people now know him for The Martian they want more of the same and Project Hail Mary certainly fits the bill.

BuildTheRobotsonJuly 1, 2021

Interesting. For context I loved The Martian and quite often use bits of the audio book to fall asleep to. Artemis wasn't bad, but there was a lot of interpersonal and stupid decision making in the lead up to critical events which I found a little annoying and contrived.

Hail Mary I started reading last night at my first comment. 7 hours later I'm about 50% of the way through and absolutely loving it. So far we seem to be doing the problem->fix cycle in the small and large scales with an interesting overarching plot. Looking forward to continuing.

elihuonJuly 1, 2021

I think the Martian was great the first time through, but re-reading it isn't as much fun when you know what's going to happen. I didn't enjoy Artemis as much the first time, but I think it holds up better at being interesting and entertaining even when you know what's about to happen.

Hail Mary I haven't read twice yet, but my take is that it fits somewhere in the middle.

narratoronMay 10, 2021

The Martian is probably the best example of an author really embracing the 21st century. You give the text of the book away for free on a website and make money off the people who want the audiobook, the movie rights, the kindle, etc. In the 21st century, entertainment is free, attention is expensive, so you have to give away your free entertainment to get attention and then sell the entertainment in more rarified mediums like movies, audiobooks, even kindle, that require higher production costs than writing a blog.

jillesvangurponJune 14, 2021

I'm currently re-reading Seveneves again. Great book. I even like the third part which many people have criticized. However, that might have actually planted the seed for this new book.

This book looks like it might be a bit in the same spirit in the sense that our home planet is abused a bit. Part three of Seveneves is about the aftermath of essentially terra forming Earth in the distant future after it gets destroyed in part 1.

People think about other planets when it comes to terra forming but of course our home planet might be the easiest one to practice on and doing so might get a bit urgent as we seem to be destroying it. Great premise for a near future science fiction novel.

If you are looking for recommendations. Ian Banks can be a bit hard to read but can be very entertaining. Arthur C Clarke wrote some awesome science fiction. More recently, The Martian (Andy Weir) was great. And Andy Weir just published another book that's on my list to read soon. The expanse series of books (James S. A. Corey) is a good read. 2312 (Stanley Robinson) is also worth a look.

And of course if you at all enjoyed Seveneves, you might want to read the rest of what NS wrote. Anathem is great. Snow Crash, the Diamond Age, and Cryptonomicon are classics at this point.

BLKNSLVRonJuly 23, 2021

Andy Weir also published Artemis in between The Martian and Project Hail Mary.

meowsteronJune 7, 2021

I recently heard Project Hail Mary mentioned. I didn't know Andy Weir wrote a third book until that moment. It's a great novel on par with The Martian, and after the success of The Martian, I'm surprised I didn't hear about Project Hail Mary sooner.

I use an adblocker and don't watch TV comercials. Does anyone know if Project Hail Mary was advertised? I guess that's one downside of not seeing ads.

gotodengoonApr 2, 2021

I was mostly treading water in my Portuguese practice for the past few years, before getting remotivated this year and making some decent progress.

I agree with many of TFA's points
> To learn a lot from reading, you need to read a lot, and for that you have to understand at least the gist of what you are looking at.

Reading was huge for me. After "speaking" the language for 5 years I finally read a full novel. I immediately noticed improvements in my writing and understanding. A few weeks later I finished reading a second novel and am now on to the third.

(I really recommend The Martian by the way, it seems like it's been translated a ton, and it's written in a mostly first person diary style so the tenses are fairly simple while being more engaging than kid's books)

snarkyturtleonJune 7, 2021

At the same time, you could tell that he deliberately didn't include those moments in The Martian because he's not comfortable writing from that standpoint. In Project Hail Mary, those moments seem shoehorned in and the voice turns back into being aloof and impassionate in the next sentence. Even the end of the book presented two options and he took the less emotional one.

daveslashonJune 8, 2021

I was watching a review of The Martian on YouTube a while ago. The reviewer was a young female, and her major complaint was that Mark Watney's character-voice just sounded like a middle-aged white American guy. I thought "well, he is ~ this isn't very valid criticism...". Perhaps not all readers identify with the main character, and that's a valid criticism, but I don't think it's a flaw of the writing itself. This same YouTuber had the same critique about Jasmine in Artemis. Yeah - that's fair criticism of the writing; Jasmine did sound like a middle-aged white American guy. If you can look past that, Artemis is still a fun, enjoyable read.

[Edit] Added sentence beginning with "Perhaps not all readers..." to clarify.

matsemannonMay 10, 2021

The Martian was released one chapter at the time. Same with Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality. As for the last one, it's felt that it was written as it was going along, with certain changes the author normally would have gone back to fix. Like stuff ending up not mattering, or certain inconsistencies in the world building.

But even for larger book series this happens. Like Wheel of Time, one can in an earlier book read about Lan sitting and sharpening his sword. Some books later it's mentioned that his sword never loses its edge. So in later versions of the first book it has been changed to him sharpening his knife instead.

But my guess is those things would happen on a larger scale when not having the opportunity to go back and edit previous chapters.

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