What I learned from books in 2019

Books 2019

Last year, I decided to review most interesting books I read last year, and write down my thoughts. Inspiration comes from GatesNotes. This post is long overdue, but I’m glad I managed to publish it before the end of 2020 ūüôā

  • Deep Learning with Python
    • good overview of different types of ML applications: from basic models than can be mapped to 0 and 1s, through computer vision to text
    • using Keras and writing python to actually train neural nets while reading this book was super helpful in understanding ML
    • I think thanks to this book I understood that I do not want to build Machine Learning models, but rather apply them in products
  • Principles: Life and Work
    • life principles
      • Decide 1) what you want, 2) what is true, and 3) what you should do to achieve #1 in light of #2 – many time we want to achieve things, but we are not willing to acknowledge reality, I’ve been guilty of that many times in the past. Realizing that some things are just harder to do than they appear helps tremendously.
      • open-mindedness and radical transparency are invaluable for rapid learning and effective change
      • look at yourself with other’s eyes – many times (always?) we have totally different image of ourselves than other do
      • 5-Step Process to Get What You Want Out of Life: 1) identify clear goals, 2) identify problems, 3) diagnose problems, 4) create a plan how to deal with problems, 5) execute
      • remember that all people are wired very differently (they come from different backgrounds, have different experiences and goals)
      • in his book, Ray Dalio outlines framework for effective decision making: first learn, then decide (be aware of harmful emotions)
    • work principles
      • Ray Dalio believes in meritocracy and radical transparency for running organizations
      • hiring right people is most important thing
      • there is much more that can be found in¬†this¬†great, more detailed summary
  • The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life
    • have good values
    • remember that you are not special
    • instead of chasing fame, try to be useful in what you do today
    • struggle for what makes you happy
    • remember that you are probably wrong about majority of things you have opinion about
    • when making decision, imagine yourself 5-10 years from now and think what would you do if you look back
  • Lean Enterprise (book worth reading more than once!)
    • focusing only on maximizing profits has the paradoxical effect of reducing
    • MVPs over long term efforts
    • solid CI is a must for rapid development
    • delivery in small batches is a key to success
    • get hypothesis from user research and validate with A/B testing
    • check this great summary for more
  • 100 Tricks to Appear Smart in Meetings
    • this is a sarcastic story how meaningless can actually play on people emotions and make a difference
    • top 10 tricks:¬†Draw a Venn diagram,¬†Translate percentage metrics into fractions,¬†Encourage everyone to ‚Äútake a step back”,¬†Nod continuously while pretending to take notes,¬†Repeat the last thing the engineer said, but very very slowly,¬†Ask ‚ÄúWill this scale?‚ÄĚ no matter what it is,¬†Pace around the room,¬†Ask the presenter to go back a slide,¬†Step out for a phone call,¬†Make fun of yourself
  • Seven Languages in Seven Weeks
    • great book presenting 7 totally different languages that get your out of your comfort zone
  • Measure What Matters
    • book about achieving results through OKR: Objectives and Key Results
    • approach is widely used at google
    • it’s all about defining specific goals (objectives) and steps that would take you there (key results)
  • Designing Data-Intensive Applications
    • this is bible for distributed systems, as well as good prep book for system design interview
  • Why we Sleep
    • probably the most influential book I read in 2019, made me reprioritize life
    • before reading this book, my priorities were: 1) working out and healthy eating, 2) work 3) hobbies
    • after reading this book, my priorities are: 1) sleep, 2) working out and healthy eating, 3) work, 4) hobbies
  • Hello, Startup – awesome book! See separate post.

I’m curious what did you read and learn. Share your thoughts. You can also follow me on GoodReads to stay up to date with my readings!