On Books Reading

Books, Career

We have been fighting on this planet for ten thousand years; it would be idiotic and unethical to not take advantage of such accumulated experiences. If you haven’t read hundreds of books, you are functionally illiterate, and you will be incompetent, because your personal experiences alone aren’t broad enough to sustain you.

-General Jim Mattis

Why to read books

Reading books is important for

  • getting a perspective on life
  • learning new ways how to approach problems
  • improving your ability to empathize with other people
  • strengthening your brain functions
  • reducing stress.

What books to read

The good starting lists of general books are

For software engineering, a useful list of books is the list by Gergely Orosz.

How to read books

Nothing beats an Amazon Kindle. Its ability to synchronize across devices, its ability to store highlights and the ease of downloading new books is not matched by any other e-book readers.

Amazon.com also offers Kindle Unlimited service covering unlimited access to over two million books. If you sign up, sign up for it at amazon.com and not any geographically local version of amazon, such as amazon.fr. I do not use the service since my target books are usually not covered and since I consider my book highlights precious and want to have permanent access to them.

How to keep track of read books

Once you buy and read hundreds of books, it becomes principal to create a database of the books you own or read. The best solution for keeping track of owned or read books I am aware of is Book Connect.

Though the same firm offers a Windows / Mac app, I found the web app to be the best – no need to install frequent updates, the database is available on all devices, and it just works.

Book Digests

Multiple firms (e.g., Blikist or GetAbstract) offer short summaries of key books. GetAbstract is included in the CFA Institute membership.

Their advantage is that you can absorb the message of a book within minutes. On the other hand, their key disadvantage is that you usually remember the message of a book best with examples which are omitted from the summaries.


In addition to written books, it’s also possible to subscribe to audiobooks – voice recordings of written books. They are similar to podcasts.

Their advantage is that you can listen to them while driving, hiking, or traveling. Their disadvantage is that you cannot highlight a portion of the book, it’s impossible to search within an audiobook, and it’s difficult to navigate through an audiobook. Nevertheless, you can always draw a mindmap of the audibook!

Check out Audible.com.