Books I loved in 2019

In 2019 I have been fortunate to go through several very interesting books. Following are a brief description of each of them.

  • Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Sillicon Valley Startup (John Carreyrou)
  • Philosophical Investigations (Ludwig Wittgenstein)
  • Kant: a very short introduction (Roger Scruton)
  • Practical Programming for Strength Training (Mark Rippetoe)
  • Other interesting books

Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Sillicon Valley Startup (John Carreyrou)

This book gives a thrilling story about a multi-billion dollar startup, Theranos, with fake products. This book raises some awareness towards the trustworthiness of the tech startups developing unprecedented products. To protect their proprietary technology, they might enforce strict NDAs and appear mysterious to the external world. However, there are still various approaches to know the validity of a startup. Do the employers specialize in very relevant fields? Is this startup endorsed by experts within the field? Do the company submit patent applications or even peer-reviewed publications? Do the previous employees approve of the technologies and the direction the startup is going to? If they are not allowed to speak about the company, are they willing to, or able to, remain in the startup for prolonged length of time? I think these questions could give hints about the trustworthiness of emerging tech startups.

Philosophical Investigations (Ludwig Wittgenstein)

This is a book about meaning and language. Challenging the view of the author himself (in Tractatus), in PI he considered language a “game”, in which people learn the meaning of each sentence and word.
The author also raised numerous questions, without definitively answering them:

  • What are the relationships between minds and language? The author acknowledges a mental process, but denies definitive alignments between the mental process and the language. Further, PI raises the possibility that each person could have different mental process / (‘meaning’) for the same words.
  • Is that possible to have an inner speech, where we don’t use them to communicate with anyone else?
  • What are the roles and mechanisms of imagination and negation?

Kant: a very short introduction (Roger Scruton)

I feel this book is easy to read through. The author explains the concepts in the three Critiques in a clear manner, so the readers don’t have to go through the painstaking procedures to grind on the original works.
See this post for some thoughts wrt connections between Pearl and Kant.

Practical Programming for Strength Training (Mark Rippetoe)

This book gives the most comprehensive guide for designing powerlifting programs (that I have found up till now), especially the main lifts. Several highlights include:

  • The 100 pages detailing the Texas method and its variations.
  • Describing how to tune the strength programming towards competitions, etc.

Other books

  • Milk and Honey (Rupi Kaur)
  • Becoming (Michelle Obama)
  • Linguistic fundamentals for NLP: 100 essentials (Emily Bender)
  • Linguistic Philosophy: The Central Story (Garth Hallett)
  • 简明语言哲学(陈嘉映)
  • 批判哲学的批判(李泽厚)
  • 人生的智慧(叔本华)