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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TheAdamAndCheonMar 24, 2021

Seveneves was spectacular, by far one of my all-time favorite books. To each their own, I suppose.

dejawuonJune 14, 2021

If you liked Seveneves you'll probably also enjoy the Three Body Problem trilogy!

ccakesonAug 4, 2021

Seveneves by Neal Stephenson is a great one

davidwonMar 24, 2021

Is that still true? Honest question.

Cryptonomicon did such a wonderful job of capturing a certain something from the 1990ies. I haven't enjoyed his more recent books as much. Seveneves was depressing. Dodge had really bad reviews and I haven't bothered with it.

shpongledonJune 14, 2021

I'd recommend some of Stephenson's earlier works: Snow Crash, Cryptonomicon, Reamde, Anathem are all great. I actually think Seveneves is one of his weakest books.

the_bigfatpandaonJune 14, 2021

I have just started reading Seveneves, really enjoying it so far.

This is my first (proper) science fiction book. I have been told that Foundation series is a must read. Any recommendations will be appreciated!!

shpongledonJune 14, 2021

I haven't read Fall, because one of my buds told me it was even worse than Seveneves :/

renke1onJuly 23, 2021

* Seveneves (I haven't read much else from Neal Stephenson, but I've heard good things)

* Children of Time / Children of Ruin (both really good)

* Remembrance of Earth's Past (even the fan fiction one is good)

* A lot of stuff from Alastair Reynolds (House of Suns being my favorite)

* Classics like Tau Zero, The Forever War etc.

* A Deepness in the Sky / A Fire Upon the Deep

Although not all of these are strictly considered hard scifi, I guess.

Btw, I love it when somebody asks this question every now and then on HN. Lots of stuff for one's (ever growing) reading list.

the__alchemistonMar 25, 2021

My favorites are The Diamond Age and Anathem, but thoroughly enjoyed Seveneves and Dodge.

I almost dropped Dodge 1/4 of the way in due to it being to dull. I thought Stephenson had lost his edge. Stuck through it, and loved it! It tackles a collection of related issues that are relevant today, and I think will continue to become more so in the near future, especially for the HN crowd. Ie his concepts of a post-truth-future, cultures emerging and isolating using controlled access to information etc. Speculative neuroscience too, ie how the brain constructs a cohesive model of the world.

Dodge seems to be the most polarizing Stephenson book.

the__alchemistonJuly 23, 2021

I agree, re The Three Body Problem. It's a fun story, but not hard sci-fi in the way Stephenson etc are. I also enjoyed the dive into mid-century communist China - it was a jarring, immersive journey into living-memory history I hadn't learned about before.

I think Diamond Age was my favorite overall Stephenson story in terms of both story and neat scifi concepts, but all of them were enjoyable. I agree on Seveneves chars all being forgettable. Dodge (The most recent one) had perhaps the dullest start, but I really liked the Dodge, Corvis, and Daisy characters.

andyjohnson0onJuly 23, 2021

I wasn't aware that it was a meme. My comment was based on my own observations from reading a number of his books.

> Yes, the novel ends and it's obvious that the characters' lives keep going. Lots of authors do that. Real life often doesn't have endings or clear resolutions.

The characters lives do end with the end of the book (unless there's a sequel). You can certainly imagine how their lives might proceed, but a satisfactory ending doesn't preclude that either. Drawing together the elements of a story, completing the arcs, creating some kind of resolution: these are part of the storytellers craft.

With Seveneves I thought he just ran out of steam. It felt like leaving a film ten minutes before the end and stumbling out into the daylight. Pretty dissatisfying at the end of a long book.

lglonMay 13, 2021

Great recommendations here. One pet peeve I have is that the term science fiction is used a lot in these types of discussions when the more accurate term in my opinion would be speculative fiction, sometimes with some real world science bits thrown in for either convenience or broader appeal.

Particularly in regards to Greg Egan since his books are really out there. I personally recommend Permutation City and Diaspora which I found both amazing (although most of his books are also very good). Seveneves is still on my to-read list, from a lot of reviews I got the impression that the first part of the book is very good while the second part goes a bit downhill. I'll still probably read it someday.

Another recommendation that's a bit more mainstream is the Expanse series which seems to really try to portray some of the real effects of space flight and gravity effects while, again, also throwing some more "out-there and not so realistic" stuff into the mix.

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.

bawolffonJune 14, 2021

> Foundation series is a must read

I love the foundation series, but it was written in a very different time. Don't expect well developed characters.

I haven't read Seveneves, but other stephenson novels tend to be him nerding out on some really big idea. If you like that sort of thing (and are ok with the author really going into the tech side of the idea) greg egan is really good.

Science fiction is a pretty broad field, with lots of different types of books that concentrate on different things, so its going to vary depending on what you like. At the same time, without more to go on, this thread will probably just be a list of every famous sci-fi novel ever (if that's what you're looking for, may i suggest picking some novels at random off the nebula award winners list? There are some exceptions, but most are quite good and its a little bit of everything)

throw1234651234onJuly 23, 2021

Neal Stephenson's earlier work has "more soul" - Snow Crash / Diamond Age actually has characters you care about and like, his later novels get increasingly more abstract, though even better in the technical sense. I think the only character I remember from Seveneves is the cannibal leader, that's it.

"A Deepness in the Sky" was REALLY good. The Forever War was good for the concept.

In short, yours looks like a great list I will come back to, thank you.

However, I do strongly dislike Remembrance of Earth's Past / The Three Body Problem - it's vastly overrated in my opinion and the characters make no sense. The best part of it was the intro to the first book which gave an interesting glimpse at history.

me_me_meonJune 14, 2021

I dunno what happened with Seveneves but its one of few books I decided not to finish. There are some books you get bored with or forget to finish, but this one made me drop it.

I have stopped reading Seveneves at the end of second act/part.

It has very interesting premises and nice world building. Stephenson throws all the right ingredients into a pot for an amazing story. Mass social pressures, countries at bring of wars but forced to work together, though choices to be made and there are not enough resources to save everyone...

...but the plots and characters are so poorly written that it actively took me out of the experience.

Most of the characters in the book are just 1 dimensional flags - driven by a singular purpose. They make such poor emotional decisions that the survival of the species depends on. And its not a random survivor 1803, its the leadership of the remaining humanity. Its almost comical when we get detail descriptions of the tech, and the space-station inner-workings, but the social fabric of it is paper thin and bland.

But the last nail in the coffin was the end of part two: the decision on the future of humanity decided via blackmail - do it my way or I'll blow us all up - what?!

If there was a handful of us and one person blackmail everyone to do something stupid ('because I want it this way - no debate, no pros and cons), I would agree to their demands and after they let go of the trigger I would bash their head in. The whole ethics goes out of the window when one crazy person can doom whole humanity concentrated in one place...

This could have been a great book, ends up being meh.

4/10 great setting, terrible plot

ben_wonMar 24, 2021

I really enjoyed Snow Crash; I felt that Seveneves was two completely different books that were coincidentally in the same universe, nether of which felt bad in isolation, but they definitely didn’t feel unified.

I wasn’t a fan of Quicksilver, but as that was the first historical novel I’ve listened to, and as it was award winning, I assume it must be more about my tastes than the quality of the writing?

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.

progreonMar 25, 2021

"Seveneves was depressing" - there's an understatement. Quite interesting sci-fi in it I thought, but did anyone really think a story about the end of the world would be a fun read?

Dodge in hell was more micro level depressing, he starts of by killing one of the main characters from a previous book after all. But I found it enjoyable over all. I think he managed to convey what he wanted with the book, and unlike Seveneves it was a quite fun read.

jobigoudonMay 22, 2021

Is this a reference to Seveneves by Neil Stephenson?
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