The past year, I was able to read 50 books. Some of which I read more than once.
Today, I will share with you what I think about all these books.
In general, I try to read books which I can directly apply to the things I am interested in – computer science, presenting, personal finance and personal development.
Apart from them, I read some fiction books as well, as I find some of them interesting. They help me sleep better at night.
But by the end of the year, I realized that there are lessons in some classical fiction books. That is why I tried reading some more uncommon books for me, such as “The Picture of Dorian Grey”.
I realized that you can learn all the things you read in self-help books, but they are hidden in the stories from fiction books.
The information is not so obvious, but if you look closely enough, you can see it.
So my goal for next year is to read some of those books as well.
Books from Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, Hemingway. Bad thing is, I’m not very good in analyzing texts, so I can’t see the lessons those books show me. But, hopefully, at one point I will be able to grasp the gems from them as well.
Now, let’s look at the list from 2017.
I have ordered the books according to genre and relevance to the themes covered (this far) in the blog.
I am a developer. I love programming.
But apart from programming, I love computers and everything around them. I don’t want to simply know how to create a program that will make me gain some money.
I am interested in learning the nature of this creature I am most interested in – the computer.
That is why this section is called “Computer Science”, not “Programming”.
Some of the books I read are not meant to make me better in my job and specialization. They are meant to teach me how the computer works and everything else around this beautiful masterpiece.
This is a book about learning how modern processors work. It covers topics from basic processor design, as well as concepts used in modern processors like pipelining, out-of-order execution, superscalar arithmetics, instruction sets, SIMD instructions and more.
If all the things I mentioned don’t ring a bell to you, then this is the book for you!
It’s a great introductory material to these topics. It’s one of the best computer science books I read this year.
In this book, the author takes us on a journey showing us the earliest computer science concepts found in Morse code and similar systems, all the way to modern day computing.
What he does, on the way there, is show us how to build our own computing system from scratch.
I enjoyed reading this book, especially the initial parts of it. But once I got to the moment of building the computer, I skimmed through those parts quickly as I don’t think that is the best way to learn how to build a computer – by looking at some schematics.
For a better approach, check out the next book.
But in general, it was a good book. It can be quite interesting for those who like studying computer science not just because they want to get a job in this area, but because they have genuine interest in it.
This is the best computer science book I have read. I feel extremely happy I accidentally found this book.
What you do while reading it is build your own computer. However, the difference with Code: The hidden language of computer hardware and software is that you don’t read how to build a computer, but do it yourself!
You are given some guidelines and after that, you have to figure out on your own how exactly you will build your computer.
It is a project-centered book, where you develop different projects, which combined form your computer. You start with basic logic gates, then you build a processor and memory. After the hardware layer, you continue with the software layer by building an assembler, virtual machine, compiler and operating system. It is such a great course, that I even wrote a whole blog post about it!
The book by itself is cool, but what’s better is that it comes with a free coursera course, you can check out here:
This is an introductory book to C++. And it is HUGE. It spans across around 1400 pages.
Although an introduction, it has some great challenges inside of it, like building an interpreter for arithmetic operations, building a game and other great things.
However, what I disliked about the book is that it is focused more on interesting challenges, rather than learning the details of the C++ programming language. It does show them, but rather as a side effect. I prefer a mixture of the two approaches, and I didn’t find this in this book.
I actually think C++ Primer would be a better book for introduction to C++.
That is just an assumption as I haven’t read that one yet. After I do, I will share my experience.
This was a good book for gaining a theoretical view of the computer system. It seems to be more relevant for use as a supplementary material to a course of the same name, rather than a stand-alone book for learning this topic.
I think choosing Andrew Tanenbaum’s Structured Computer Organization will be a better choice for learning this topic. I haven’t read that one yet, but it is in my wish list for 2018.
This book changed my view of what high quality code is. It is a great book for this subject!
However, I find it kind of hard to follow through the refactoring examples in the book. That is why, I believe this book is best read in supplement to the Clean Code course by Uncle Bob. I was lucky to have a subscription to Safari Books, where they offer a subset of this course for free (if you are subscribed).
If you watch the course, you will be able to see a screen cast of Uncle Bob solving the problems in the book, which I find a lot more helpful.
Another thing to mention about this book is that I think a previous experience on the subject is required, as the author references some other “Clean Code” principles in this book.
That is why, I would suggest reading Code Complete before proceeding with this book.
I didn’t read that book before reading Clean Code and I had some problems understanding all the references the author made in the book.
This is a great book, written by John Sonmez. He is my favorite software development blogger. I have purchased a lot of his products, including this one and I would recommend them to every other software developer as well. You can learn more about him in his blog.
This book teaches you how to grow in your career, how to keep fit, how to invest as a software developer and all those things which are not directly related to studying software development, but you need in order to grow as one.
This book changed the way I approach my career and life.
Another book by John Sonmez.
This one is more focused on the Career section of the Soft Skills book. It will teach you how to dress at work, how to negotiate your salary and raise, how to act on a job interview and other great things, that will greatly help you advance in your career.
This book was recommended to me by several people, who are fans of the Learn Code The Hard Way book series by Zed Shaw.
I liked some of the projects in this book, but I didn’t like the general approach to teaching you the language.
Instead of explaining in detail how certain constructs in the language work, the author gives you a very narrow view of them and let’s you do some exercises using them.
But the exercises are not like those in traditional programming books. What you have to do is copy some code you find in the book and slightly extend it. I disliked that part of the book, because there is no challenge in copying code. So that is why I didn’t follow the guidelines while reading it and I tried completing the assignment on my own. Only then I looked at the code left by the author.
Another bad thing about this book is that I didn’t like the coding style used by the author. There were a lot of irritating things I changed in my own implementations, such as naming the function returning the size of the array length, instead of end. As far as I know, the conventions used in the book are taken from python, but coming from Java/C# background, I dislike that.
In general, there are some good exercises in the book, but you won’t learn a lot of C using the book in my opinion. I would much rather prefer reading C Primer Plus instead of this book.
Apart from advancing my computer science skills and knowledge, I firmly believe that in order to be successful in life, you should advance yourself.
Become the man you want to be.
I believe that in order to become truly successful, one must know what kind of person he is, what are his principles and what does he want from life. Reading these books is part of the effort I put in order to achieve this.
This is a book by one of my favorite personal development authors – Dale Carnegie.
This book taught me some essential things about interacting with people and it is a book I read more than once this year and I will read it next year again.
It will really change the way you talk and act with other people and help you become a much more influential person.
Another thing I like in this book is that it focuses on principles, not based on manipulation, but rather on honesty and strong connection. It is not one of those evil books, that shows you how to exploit people and use them.
However, it is a rather practical book. That is, it shows you what to do but not how to think when interacting with people. So even if you apply all the principles in this book, you can still have a rather shallow relationship with other people if you are not sincere in your intentions.
A drawback of this book is that it is written in a rather old-fashioned way and some of the examples given might be irrelevant for today’s world but if you put those things aside, this is a great book every person should read.
This is a book I hardly remember as it is more like a textbook for people specializing in psychology rather than a book approachable for everyone.
At least I couldn’t gain a lot from reading it.
This was a huge disappointment for me. It said on the cover, that it was a book written by Dale Carnegie and company. But actually it was written only by “company” and it referenced some things written from Dale Carnegie in “How to win friends and influence people”.
It is only a rehash of the book I mentioned earlier and it didn’t have any added value for me. If you read How to win friends and influence people, there is no need to read this one.
This is one of my favorite personal development books. Whenever I want to make a great present to a person I value, I give him this book.
Before I read this book, I was reading around 1 book per 6 months. After I read it, I am reading 50 books a year. It is the book that showed me that there is a lot of value in reading personal development books and I was lucky enough to hit perhaps the best one out there the first time.
In this book, you will be taught principles about how to live a better life. The examples given will feel like they were written exactly for you. I have read it twice, and I am going to read it again. Every time I read it, I learn something new.
I would highly recommend this book to anyone!
This is a rather spiritual book, written by Og Mandino. It has some religious reference, although the principles in this book are meant for everyone.
It lists a set of 10 rules for people who want to grow in life (not only as salesmen).
I believe this is one of those books I read, but I didn’t understand quite well, so I have to read it again.
This is at the top of my “most favorite books” list along with The 7 Habbits of Highly Effective People and How to Win Friends and Influence People.
It is a book, written by one of my favorite authors – Robert Greene. It presents the stories of several “masters” from the past from various fields like architecture, computer science, art, music, etc. In those stories lie lessons about how to grow and become a master in your field as well.
Some of the main ideas of this book include that in order to become a true master, there are several phases you have to go through – The apprentice phase, the creative phase and the mastery phase. It also breaks the myth of the “genius” by telling you the story of Leonardo Da Vinci, Albert Einstein and how they put a lot of work in order to get to the phase where they look like geniuses to the common people.
I read this book twice this year, and I am going to read it again next year.
This is a book written by Donald Trump, where he describes some of the events in his business life, which made him the billionaire he is today.
This is not a book where the guy tells you how he did something and then tell you the lesson from the story. It’s a book where you get a glimpse of how the man makes decisions and reacts in life and based on that, you can extract some information about what are the habits and way of thinking of this man that made him the man he is today.
Everything a Man Must Know
This is the worst book I read this year. It is a “handbook” for man, that explains some tips and tricks in your daily life like how to whistle with two fingers, how to say hello in various languages, how to make some stupid magic tricks, etc.
It is a very average book I wouldn’t recommend, which aims at showing you some tricks a “real man” knows, but I thought it was very stupid.
This is a book, written by Josh Waitzkin – former junior national champion in chess and former world champion of Tai Chi.
In this book, he shares the story of his achievements and through them, he teaches you what is the way of thinking he applies in order to become a champion.
This is the second time I meet Josh via his work. The first time was when I was little and I wanted to learn chess. What I did was I got the game Chess Master and went through the tutorial in it, which is led by Josh Waitzkin. He taught me how to become a very good chess player, but he also thought me some great principles about how to become great in what you do.
I really enjoy Waitzkin’s work and this is a book with valuable lessons for those who want to become champions in their lives.
This is another book by Robert Greene, I believe his first one, which went viral.
There are different opinions about this book. Some believe it presents a valuable set of lessons for people, who want to advance in life, others believe this book is evil, as it exposes some manipulative techniques used by various people, throughout history.
My opinion is that it is a great book. The author very frankly exposes the tool set used by successful people to achieve power, and that tool set is not always used with good intentions.
I like these kinds of books, because they are not one-sided, telling you that you can achieve much in life only through doing good.
It shows you the other side of the coin, as well.
I wouldn’t apply all of the lessons from this book, but I will definitely strive to understand and learn them, as I don’t want someone else using them on me. And I will strive to apply those which are applicable according to my principles and ways of life.
I will definitely read this book again next year, simply because it contained so much information, that I couldn’t remember it all. I will definitely write down notes next time.
Oh, and another thing about this book is that as a side effect, you will read a lot of great stories of great people throughout history like Napoleon, Alexander the Great, Lui XV of France and other interesting people.
I will definitely use some of those stories in my presentations and lectures. They are simply great!
This is a book I wasn’t planning to read, as I am not very interested in sales yet. But I picked it up, because it was on sale on Audible.
And I have to admit I left it extremely surprised and pleased. It is a great book by Grant Cardone, teaching you some great sales principles. Also, it breaks the myth that sales is something bad. The book is not about some cheap tricks sales people use in order to trick you into buying something. It is about persistence, belief in yourself and your product and selling in order to help the customer, not yourself.
It also convinced me of something else. Sales is all around us. Whether its selling the idea to go to the movie to your girlfriend or selling yourself to the company where you are applying for a job.
I loved this book! Because of it I firmly decided I will read and listen to all the books of Grant Cardone.
Another book by Grant Cardone. This is a book I am still listening to and I will read the book version afterwards.
In it, you will learn how the author approaches life and success in life. You will be taught that success is not something optional, it is a duty and responsibility and in order to achieve it, you have to apply the 10x Rule – make goals 10 times bigger than you thought necessary and work 10 times more than required.
Although I am still a bit biased about the principles in this book, I will still recommend it and all of the author’s book. Especially the audio versions narrated by him. Simply because this person’s enthusiasm and will for success is viral. It can inspire you to dream big, think big and act big in your career and your life.
Apart from writing code, I am a presenter. I have lead several talks this year (TEDxPlovdiv Presentation (Bulgarian), WordCamp Presentation (English)). I also lead programming courses throughout the year all the time and I create presentations for inspiring students in schools to try out programming.
That is why, I strive to advance my presentation skills. I do it mainly via experimenting in my presentations, attending courses and seminars on the topic and reading books.
This is a book written by carmine Gallo. He is a popular author, writing about presentations. This is one of his most famous books.
It is one of the first presentation books I read and I was quite impressed.
Some of the basic building blocks of a good presentation were covered in this book. It taught me the most important lesson when leading a presentation – you have to be passionate about your topic. I learnt this the hard way, and I strive to apply this in my presentations nowadays.
All in all, it is a good presentation skills book. It doesn’t go much in depth, though, which I think is a pity. But what’s good about it is that it shows you some of the greatest ted talks of all time and by reading it, you can learn what to watch in order to see how to present better.
I would recommend this book, nonetheless.
This is Carmine Gallo’s newest book. Its focus is to present the tools used by various presenters for crafting a great story.
However, I have to admit I hardly remember anything from this book. I have to read it again and next time, I will take notes!
So I can’t tell you much about this book as I don’t remember a lot from it, sadly.
This is a book written by the curator of TED – Chris Anderson. I loved this book!
I read it twice and I am going to read it again. The reason I loved it is because it goes into more detail than Talk Like Ted and it doesn’t go into those extremes you find in some books, where they tell you – You must stand strong! Be energetic like Tony Robbins! You must do this! You must do that!
The author believes there is no “right” way to present. If there was and everyone followed it, then everyone will quickly get bored from it. Instead, it gives you a tool set which can serve you, but is not a best practices guideline.
Also, the author presents the different view points for a great presentation and shows that you don’t have to act like X, in order to make a good presentation. He gives example of people, who were energetic and others, who were more passive. And they were both great!
I would highly recommend this book. I like the attitude of the author and his belief in diversity of presentations and presentation styles.
This is a book by Garr Reynolds. I believe his books are the most recommended ones by far, when speaking about presentations.
And I understand why it is so. Presentation Zen was awesome. It covers more broadly presentations in terms of design, delivery and preparation.
It gives you some great ideas about how to prepare for your presentations, as he suggests to “go analog” . Forget about the slide deck and sketch your ideas first just like people who create animation movies sketch their stories first, before heading into using the software to give life to their sketches.
What I dislike about the book and the author’s books in general is the random sections where he presents the view point of different people about presentations or the discussed topic. Those sections distract you from the main ideas in his chapters and I don’t seem to remember much from them.
This is another book by Garr Reynolds, which focuses on the Design section of Presentation Zen.
You will learn some great tools and techniques for creating stunning designs for your presentations.
After reading this book, the design of my slides changed completely!
And there is still a lot I don’t apply from it. That is why I am going to read it again.
A must-read for every presenter, who wants to learn how to create great visuals, rather than using the old bulletpoint-driven approach.
The final book in Garr Reynolds’ series.
This one focuses on presentation delivery. Sadly, I don’t remember much from it, so I will read it again next year (and take notes!).
But in general, Reynolds’ books are great. I recommend them to anyone dealing with presentations in his daily lives.
After you read these books and start applying the principles from them, you will be in the top 10% of presenters worldwide!
When I started my first job, I felt like I achieved a great milestone!
In terms of career development, it was an achievement as I finally got a good job in a big company and I was praised for being a great employee. In terms of income, I felt pretty happy as I was earning a lot more than the average person in my country, as I am a software engineer.
And at that point, I started wondering what should I do with my money?
Should I buy a new car? Should I buy some new clothes?
But then I read an article, which taught me what is the difference between an asset and a liability. I learnt that you can use your money to work for you, instead of working against you.
That is when I decided that I want to achieve financial independence, in order to be able to secure a good future for myself and my family.
That is why, I educate myself in terms of finance and these are the books I read this year.
This is a highly recommended book by many people and it is not simply a book about getting rich in terms of money. It’s a book about getting rich in terms of character and as a person.
It is based on a very huge research of millionaires and their way of thinking. All the results of that research are packed in this book.
But I have to admit, I didn’t get it. I didn’t learn a lot from this book and I definitely have to read it again. Simply because too many people recommended it, there should be something in this book.
I just couldn’t gain a lot from it in the first read.
It is a more advanced book about investing, which shows some techniques you can use in order to become more than an average investor.
As I am not that advanced in investing yet, I haven’t gained a lot from it and I wouldn’t recommend it to beginners, but I will read it again in some time, after I have more experience.
This is a book with a lot of graphics explaining how money works. It is a lot like an encyclopedia for finance, but I didn’t like it a lot.
It is an easy read, but I didn’t like the narrowness of the topics discussed. I would recommend khanacademy’s Economics & Finance section instead. You will learn a lot more from it instead of this book.
This is a book by Larry Winget for people, who are dead-stuck with financial problems, have a ton of credits and are close to bankruptcy.
So, I don’t match the target audience. But I read it either way, because it is quite a small book and an easy read. But also, it contained some pretty good principles for life as well. So I did enjoy it.
If you match the target audience, it is definitely for you. If you don’t but have some spare time, then you can pick this one.
This is a rather technical investment book about gold and silver, written by Malcolm Maloney.
I didn’t like it. It has a ton of history in it (american history), which I don’t relate to.
And it has a lot of technicalities, which I didn’t understand.
Perhaps I’m just not the right person for this book or I haven’t grown my investing skills enough for it. But I wouldn’t recommend it.
However, I did learn what’s the point to invest in gold and why people do it. So it did get me curious on the subject and it inspired me to learn more about it, but from different resources.
I like to stay fit and look fit. I believe that if a man is disciplined enough to maintain good health and a great body, then he will have the discipline to achieve his goals as well.
So I like looking good, feeling good and that is why I hit the gym 5 times a week.
The problem is, I don’t have a lot of knowledge about it. That is why I started educating myself about it from books about the topic. This year, I read only one. But I will read more next year or I will at least increase my knowledge on the subject via other channels.
Eat chocolate and lose weight
NOTE: This is a Bulgarian book, which is not available in foreign markets, so you won’t be able to find it in amazon or your market.
I was standing in the bookstore, while waiting for a friend of mine to come to the mall, where our meeting was. And I encountered this book.
At first I thought it is a pretty stupid title. But then I saw who the author is and it was Lazar Radkov. It is a man who made a presentation about fitness and health to a development conference some time ago, which I attended and I realized that guy knows his shit!
So when I saw his name on the book, I decided to take it in order to support him and perhaps learn something from it.
And oh boy, did I learn something and get inspired. This is the book which I read in 1 day.
After reading it, I started going to fitness 5 times a week from the very next day. I finally learned that proteins and BCAA aren’t something unhealthy.
It’s a great book that will offer you a fitness program and a diet to follow, along with a set of instructions for making the exercises correctly AND some info about living a healthy life. Plus the food supplement part.
A great book. I recommend it to anyone who isn’t very disciplined in the gym but wants to become very strong and good looking.
In the beginning of the year, I decided that I would read fiction only before bed in order to distract me a bit from my daily routine and help me fall asleep better. But at one point, I realized that all the lessons from self-help books you can find in fiction books in the form of stories. It’s just harder to extract them as they are not so obvious.
But why bother with this if you can gain the same wisdom from self-help books?
Well, just like you can’t replace normal food with protein shakes, you can’t replace fiction with self-help books.
If you eat only highly processed food, your stomach will become sloppy and stop putting the effort it normally puts into processing your food.
I believe it is the same way with your brain.
If you feed your brain only highly processed information, it will become sloppy at one point and you will start avoiding more complex information.
That is why, I believe we should read books, which offer information in a more hidden way in order to learn how to extract information which is not so obvious.
Having that skill, you will be able to extract those cues from the people around you, rather than waiting for someone to point the obvious.
Tales of Reflection
NOTE: This is a book I couldn’t find on amazon and I believe is a special edition only available in Bulgaria.
This is a book, written by Jorge Bucay, who is a psychologist, as far as I know, who has several other books with stories about people who changed their lives. And the stories from those books are packed in this one.
It is a set of interesting stories and I decided to read it in order to extract some cool stories I could try out in some of my presentations. From all the stories, I only found one which was really great. I didn’t like the rest at all and I didn’t think they were presentation friendly.
Sadly, I couldn’t find the story in English to share it with you here.
This is the famous book, written by Sun Tzu about leading war effectively.
It holds some interesting stories, which are related to leading war, but if interpreted, they can be applied to other areas of life as well.
I found it interesting and easy to read (as it was quite small) and I will read it again in order to gain a better grasp of the lessons within.
Once I was a big World of Warcraft fan. I spent half of my life in that game.
It is a great game. I still sometimes think of playing it.
This was a book a friend gave me to read and I did. And I enjoyed it.
For World of Warcraft fans, it is great. I recommend it.
Warning though, it can lure you into playing the game again. I personally, wouldn’t want to do that as it is very addictive and I have better things to do.
This year, I read all the 7 books of J. K. Rowling’s series. It is a fantastic story.
It kept me awake at night, trying to finish the book. Although I had watched the movies beforehand, I still enjoyed the books.
And I enjoyed them a lot!
I would recommend these books to anyone, interested in reading a great story. Oh, and the books are better than the movies.
This is a novel, written by Oscar Wilde.
It’s about a young man, called Dorian Grey, who is charming and beautiful in his youth. Inspired by his beauty, an artist draws a portrait of him.
When Dorian sees the portrait, he curses since he realizes that his portrait will remain forever young and will avoid the physical change which occurs due to aging and sin. He makes a wish that his portrait would age and change and he will be left unchanged and beautiful as he is now.
Later into the story, Dorian is influenced by a man, who believes that one must enjoy life to its fullest and try every bit of it, live as a hedonist.
And due to that, Dorian starts taking drugs, dating various women, and committing sin after sin. Due to that, his portrait starts to change and he becomes hideous on it, but Dorian remains young and beautiful.
For me, the story shows me how ugly a man can become if he starts living life as a consumer – striving to get everything from life, go out with many women, get drunk every week, go to parties all the time.
This is a lifestyle many people from my youth admire and want to have, but I don’t. I believe one must strive to be a person to be looked up to. One who is loyal to his close ones and one who strives to give to the world, instead of take from it.
This is a novel, written by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman.
It’s a story about the end of the world, written with a lot of humor and religious reference.
It is fun and there are some lessons in it.
I’m looking forward to reading some other Terry Pratchett books as well in 2018.
This is a short read by John Steinbeck. Around 100 pages.
It’s a story about friendship and how people treat mentally ill people.
It was an interesting read. I liked the author’s style. And I feel this story touched on some deep topics, but I just didn’t understand it.
I guess I will have to spend some time in reading analysis of this novel in order to understand it and the concepts it touched.
When I want to relax and enjoy some gaming experience, I either play a game on my PC or I read a game book.
I really love game books. In these books, you are the hero of the story, who decides how the story should advance. I first read such a book when I was 10 and I enjoyed it a lot. Just recently I rediscovered this genre and started reading these books again.
NOTE: Available only in Bulgaria (And Russia, I guess).
This is a book, written by Rey Gard, a russian author, who writes a series of books called Hyperspace.
Great book. I spent 5 hours non-stop playing it and enjoyed every bit of it.
In the book, you are a worker from a mine on an icy planet with a few people inhabiting it. Your base is attacked by a strange monster, which you have to destroy.
NOTE: Available only in Bulgaria (And Russia, I guess).
This is the second book in Rey Gard’s series. With this one, I spent 8 hours reading through it without stopping!
Great story again. I love these books.
In this one, you are a sheriff on one of the most crowded planets from the human colonies. Don’t want to give out more from the story as it will spoil the fun.
This is a book written by Ian Livingstone, the author of the most famous game book series – Fighting Fantasy.
You can get those series from anywhere. I got it when I was on a trip to the UK. Can’t wait to read it.
This book, however was a disappointment.
I didn’t enjoy it as much as the other game books I read. It was kind of dull, predictable and short.
So, there you have it.
All the books I read in 2017 with short reviews.
I am looking forward to maintaining this pace of reading in 2018 as well.
Hope some of the titles caught your eye.
Any thoughts on some of the reviews?
Drop a comment below and I will be happy to further discuss.