Those that I thought were exceptionally great reads are flagged in red.

2020

The Gift: How the Creative Spirit Transforms the World (1983) by Lewis Hyde

Lewis Hyde is a poet, essayist, translator, and cultural critic with a particular interest in the public life of the imagination.

The Gift is a brilliant defense of the value of creative labor. Drawing on examples from folklore and literature, history and tribal customs, economics and modern copyright law, Hyde demonstrates how our society — governed by the marketplace — is poorly equipped to determine the worth of artists’ work. He shows us that another way is possible: the alternative economy of the gift, which allows creations and ideas to circulate freely, rather than hoarding them as commodities.

Practical Programming for Strength Training, 3rd Edition (2014) by Mark Rippetoe, Lon Kilgore

Outstanding book. Rippetoe presents the logical, scientific building blocks of the body's adaptation process.

If you are really into strength training, meaning you are not all about aesthetic results, don't want to burn yourself mentally by overtraining, can't stand the usual nonsense that you come across online, then this is a book for you.

This guy here. wrote excellent notes on the book.

Managing Oneself (2007) by Peter F. Drucker

Enjoyable short read. Here are few takeaways:

It takes far more energy and work to improve from incompetence to mediocrity than it takes to improve from first-rate performance to excellence.

Do not try to change yourself - you are unlikely to succeed. But work hard to improve the way you perform. And try not to take on work you cannot perform or will only perform poorly.

Organizations are no longer built on force but on trust. The existence of trust between people does not necessarily mean that they like one another. It means that they understand one another.

The Quick and the Dead: Total Training for the Advanced Minimalist (2019) by Pavel Tsatsouline

This book is very good as a stand alone program for those who are already athletic and looking for advantages in fitness. The basic premise of the book is to teach you to efficiently use the body’s energy system. II focuses on two exercises. The power push up and kettlebell swing, through short term bursts of explosive work, followed by adequate rest to recover, then rinse and repeat.

The Art of Learning: An Inner Journey to Optimal Performance (2007) by Josh Waitzkin

Josh Waitzkin is very good at learning to master new skills. He won his first National Chess Championship at the age of nine and later became a World Champion of Tai Chi Push Hands. He is a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Now, in his forties, he is working hard at becoming a world class foil surfer. This guy is really an amazing high performing human!

I want to highlight one passage from his book:

“The fact is that when there is intense competition, those who succeed have slightly more honed skills than the rest. It is rarely a mysterious technique that drives us to the top, but rather a profound mastery of what may well be a basic skill set. Depth beats breadth any day of the week, because it opens a channel for the intangible, unconscious, creative components of our hidden potential.”

Also, I found exhaustive notes on the book by this guy here.

Making Things Happen: Mastering Project Management (2008) by Scott Berkun

My professional growth in the last years was all about maintaining focus on the most important task at the time while balancing my attitudes. In order to derive personal satisfaction from work I have to emotionally invest myself in a project. I need to establish emotional connection in order to maintain the intensity needed to be effective. That approach is also an open invitation for my ego to fuck up as many small decisions as possible whenever I’m emotionally out of balance and causes me to overlook even more important informations along the way.

Scott writes that project management is about making good stuff happen by “using any means necessary to increase the probability and speed of positive outcomes”.

What I found most interesting and useful about his book are it’s parts which corespond to the “any means necessary” part. I should stop expecting myself to do the most ethical thing or try to keep everybody satisfied or happy in every possible situation in order to make good stuff happen. I can still come out clean if I manage to always fly ahead of my plane and not to confuse any of the project goals with my own.

I learned that politics is not a dirty word after-all.

Meditations (180 AD) by Marcus Aurelius, Gregory Hays (Translator)

These are series of challenging spiritual reflections and ideas on Stoic philosophy recorded as private notes to himself by Marcus Aurelius, Roman Emperor from 161 to 180 AD. My own experience of reading this book can be pretty much summed up as follows: read a paragraph for three minutes - contemplate the same paragraph for fifteen more minutes. It was a slow-burn process, my pre-sleep meditation of sorts, because I’ve almost always read it in bed - falling asleep trying to imagine the emperor as he struggled to understand himself and make sense of the universe.

Wonderful introduction by Gregory Hays. I intend to keep this book close to my bed for the rest of my life.

On Having No Head (1961) by Douglas E. Harding

It is the re-discovery of the obvious as very strange, the given as wonderful and precious, before we bend it to our purposes. It is consciously being what we really are - Capacity for things - the Space in which each of them is allowed to arrive at its peculiar kind of perfection. Here, in short, our seeing and our willing merge - not once-and-for-all of course, but moment by moment, so long as life lasts. This isn’t for believing but for testing.

Favorite quote: There’s no ego-trip to match the spiritual ego-trip! Satan is said to be the most enlightenment of all angels: the only spiritual excellence he lacks is humility, self-abandonment.

Flow - The Psychology of Optimal Experience (1990) by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

Situations and circumstances of our lives don’t determine our mental state of well being. Our ability to control the contents of our consciousness does. The book is mostly about this one point - how to control your consciousness and point it at the direction of flow. There are many definitions of the flow as the author puts it in different contexts but the one which stuck with me is: Enjoyment which appears at the boundary between boredom and anxiety, when challenges are just balanced with the person’s capacity to act. The state of flow emerges whenever opportunities for action perceived by the individual are equal to his or her capabilities. Boredom happens when your skills are far above your challenge. Anxiety happens when they are far bellow.

Attention is what Mihaly calls Psychic Energy. The optimal state of inner experience is one in which there is order in consciousness. This happens when psychic energy - or attention - is invested in realistic goals , and when skills match the opportunities for action. The pursuit of a goal brings order in awareness because a person must concentrate attention on the task at hand and momentarily forget everything else. These periods of struggling to overcome challenges are what people find to be the most enjoyable of their lives. A person who has achieved control over psychic energy and has invested it in consciously chosen goals cannot help but grow into a more complex being.

Favorite quote:
Control over consciousness cannot be institutionalized. As soon as it becomes part of a set of social rules and norms, it ceases to be effective in the way it was originally intended to be.

The Subtle Art Of Not Giving A F*ck (2016) by Mark Manson

Catchy beginning, mildly interesting throughout the middle and pathetic at the end. If I had a chance to read it ten years ago, when I used to validate my success by the number of re-tweets i got, I'd probably enjoyed it and maybe even learned something from it.

The book is about common sense and I know that many would say that common sense isn’t necessarily common practice so people have to be constantly reminded how to put sense into practice. I guess that’s how books like this get published and become so popular.

What I’ve leaned: Not to pick up any book that is recently published and based on someone's blog posts.

2019

Man's Search for Meaning (1946) by Viktor E. Frankl
Draft No. 4 (2013) by John McPhee
Thinking, Fast and Slow (2011) by Daniel Kahneman
The Black Swan (2007) by Nassim N. Taleb
Antifragile (2012) by Nassim N. Taleb
Skin In The Game (2018) by Nassim N. Taleb
Why We Sleep (2017) by Matthew Walker
On The Road (1976) by Jack Kerouac
Sapiens (2011) by Yuval N. Harari
21 Lessons for the 21st Century (2018) by Yuval N. Harari
The Inner Game of Tennis (1974) by Timothy Gallwey
My Struggle 4 (2010) by Karl Ove Knausgård
The Great Mental Models Vol. I (2019) by Shane Parrish
Animal Farm (1945) by George Orwell
The War of Art (2002) by Steven Pressfield

Curriculum Vitae (CV)

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