2018: Best books I read all year

The favorite book of the year award goes to: Logicomix! I will publish a detailed review of it soon. This isn’t the most impactful book you can read, but it’s a very enjoyable and thought-provoking book. 

Here’s a list of the books I enjoyed and learned the most from in 2018. This list has no order. 

Non-fiction : 

  1. Coders at Work. My favorite interview was the one with Peter Norvig. Liked it so much that I ordered 5 copies of it and gifted it to my “judge-favorite” team at Violet Hacks hackathon.
  2. Red Notice 
  3. The Teenage Liberation Guide
  4. The Brain by David Eagleman. More of a philosophy book than neuroscience, but an enjoyable read nonetheless. 
  5. Founders at Work. Favorite interview: Max Levchin. 
  6. Bad Blood. The book is very engaging and so it’s hard to put it down once you start reading. When I recommended it to a mentor, he replied, “figured it was about pretty obvious stuff not to do; whereas I like to look for unexpected things to do”. Are there any books about *successful* biotech startups besides Sally Hughes’ Genentech? 
  7. Thinking and reasoning: a very short introduction.
  8. The Art of Living by Epictetus. Nifty.

Scientific:

The textbooks in this list are not finished since they’re usually very long and each chapter takes several days to completely grasp all the concepts and the problems at the end take their time too. But since most of my time this year was spent with textbooks, I think I should mention all the ones I read and worked through at least three chapters from!

  1. Soonish by Zach and Kelly Weinersmith. A wonderful chapter on brain-computer interfaces!
  2. Brain-computer interfacing by Rajesh Rao. The only good textbook on BCIs. It’s the most in-depth resource to learn about EEG-based BCIs, IMO. 
  3. Chemistry by Zumdahl and Zumdahl
  4. Fundamentals of Physics by David Halliday et al.
  5. Calculus by Michael Spivak.
  6. Campbell Biology
  7. Principles of Neural Science by Eric Kandel
  8. Neuroscience by Mark Bear
  9. The cartoon guide to Calculus. I love the cartoon guide series! They’re so engaging and the concepts are well-explained. 
  10. The cartoon guide to Physics
  11. The cartoon guide to Chemistry
  12. Programming Arduino by Simon Monk
  13. Programming Raspberry Pi by Simon Monk
  14. The Electronics Cookbook by Simon Monk (fav electronics author) 
  15. Make electronics
  16. What’s your bio strategy? by John Cumbers and Karl Schmieder. I got a copy at SynBioBeta conference and read it during one of their after-parties. It’s a good collection of interviews of some of the pioneers in the synthetic biology space. 
  17. Letters to a young scientist. A very valuable book. If you’re young and interested in science, this is the first book you should read.
  18. The Secret Life of Science. Such an underrated book.
  19. The Brain: a very short introduction 
  20. The Scientists by John Gribbin
  21. What If?

Biographies:

  1. Elon Musk by Ashlee Vance.

This year I didn’t read any fiction (that I can remember). But next year, I hope to read more science fiction (The Diamond Age, Life 3.0, The first 15 lives of Harry August, and more on my list!). I also want to spend more time reading books by economists. The Age of Em by Robin Hanson and Tyler Cowen’s books are on my list (his blog, Marginal Revolution, is one of my favorites). 

I’m currently reading Autonomy and this book by Scott Adams. 

If you have any suggestions of books that influenced you a lot, please send them at harshita@harshitaapps.com!

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