Year in books - 2014

At the starting of the year 2014 I was determined to read more book. I am forming the habit to read more often now. Previously I used to indulge myself only in novels but I realized that they won't do me much good to expand my knowledge about various other things, so I started reading books on different topics. Following are some of the books I read (completely or partially) during 2014.

...On startups

Zero to One is a great book about what goes in the formation of a startup with the intention to change the world. It emphasizes on betting on big ideas instead of taking something that is there and building on top of it. These days in Silicon Valley we see less of startups that intend to actually change the world and more of the startups that just want to build something that they can sell it later to some big company and cash out.

Lean startup goes against the conventional wisdom of creating or running a startup. This is the book that has changed startups in the valley to take a more customer and data driven approach and evolving the idea on which the startup is based. I agree with many of the things it suggests but this book is a little in contradiction with Zero to One and I wonder what will be the middle ground of both of these great books.

...On existence

We all question about the purpose of our existence. The book Mans search for meaning is by a survivor of the holocaust who was a psychiatrist by profession before being a prisoner in the camp. In it he describes that the thing that made people go through the atrocities of every day was not how much physical pain one can endure but how much sense of purpose one had. In it he describes logotherapy which is that finding meaning of ones life is one of the most important things and is the cause of many of internal conflicts we have.

The Alchemist is about fulfilling our personal legends (our dreams). We all have dreams but we suppress those dreams because of many reasons. The character faces the same problems but he overcomes it and goes on a journey to fulfill his dream, he faces many defeats but remains resolved. A quote that defines what I've learnt from the book

“Tell your heart that the fear of suffering is worse than the suffering itself. And that no heart has ever suffered when it goes in search of its dreams, because every second of the search is a second’s encounter with God and with eternity.”

...On technology

If you wana learn a new language then I would recommend to learn Elixir, and the book I would suggest would be Programming Elixir. Elixir is a functuional language (it's about time we all should learn functional programming) and is based on Erlang VM so it has all the goodies of concurrency and distributed system of Erlang but better syntax and more features. The author Dave Thomas just doesn't teach the language but also talks about how the mindset of functional programming can make programs more elegant and programming more fun.

If you want to get one book of design patterns get Head first design patterns. By looking at the book it might look silly but the method that it uses to teach design pattern is unconventional and very fun, why couldn't every book be like this.

I have an interest in distributed systems but didn't know where to start. This short book Distributed system - for fun and profit is a great introduction. The appendix also contains further things to read after it.

...On dystopia

Dystopian stories have a purpose and that is to warn the society about a bleak future. 1984 is a classic dystopian story. Things that were disclosed by Snowden make this a must read as it seems like that the society we are living is slowly moving to what George Orwell envisioned.