My favorite books, podcasts, and contents in 2020

On tech, philosophy, politics, and more

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Books

Sophie’s World by Jostein Gaarder

Basically an introduction to philosophy course disguised as a novel. Sophie’s World details the conversations 14-year-old Sophie had with her mentor, with topics spanning thousands of years from Greek philosophers to Marxism. Very dense materials, but very eye-opening. I’ll definitely reread it sometime in the future.

1984 by George Orwell

I have read a few dystopian novels, but none was as spine-chilling as 1984. I found myself stopping again and again at quotes that were as relatable today as they were a century ago. Is sanity statistical? Does reality only exist in human minds? An absolute must-read.

Why We Sleep by Matthew Walker

A book on why sleep deprivation causes weight gain, cancer, mental disorders, cardiovascular diseases, and… smaller testicles. A slightly dense read because the book is packed with concepts and case studies, but still an extremely enjoyable book. A much-needed wake-up call — or should I say, go-to-sleep call — in the midst of today’s “hustle culture”.

How to Be an Anticapitalist in the Twenty-First Century by Erik Olin Wright

I really enjoyed this one because this is my first book on political science. The book talks about why capitalism sucks, why socialism is better, and how we can incorporate elements of socialism in today’s capitalistic world. The concepts are really dumbed down (in a good way), so the book is really beginner-friendly. Overall, a very enjoyable book and I can’t wait to learn more about the topic.

The Element by Ken Robinson

A book on how you can find your “element” — the one thing you want to do for the rest of your life. The book is packed with wisdom and inspiring stories of how people discovered their element. I’ve been a long-time fan of Sir Ken Robinson and the book helped me a lot during my own quarter-life crisis.

Podcasts

Lex Fridman Podcast

A show where Lex, an AI researcher from MIT, interviews the leading experts in tech and science. It opened my eyes to what cutting-edge work they are working on, and their insights on tech and AI. Some episodes can be a bit slow-paced, so you’ll need to pick and choose a bit to find the gems. My current favorites are his interviews with Elon Musk (#18, #49), Kai-Fu Lee (#27), Jeremy Howard (#35), and Michio Kaku (#45).

The Tim Ferris Show

Pretty similar to the Lex Fridman Podcast, but Tim interviews leaders from a more diverse range of backgrounds. Again, some episodes are more insightful than others. Some of my favorites are his interviews with Mr. Money Mustache (#475), Adam Grant (#471), and Janna Levin (#445).

Robinhood Snacks

A daily 15-minute summary of financial news. Perfect for workouts. I’ve probably listened to them for the whole year non-stop.

Random Things

I really enjoyed MIT’s Missing Semester, where they go over essential programming skills that might be overlooked in a typical computer science degree, such as how to use the shell, git, and vim.

Onto 2021

Having enjoyed 1984 so much, I’d love to catch up on more classics. As for non-fiction, I have a few by Malcolm Gladwell on hand that I look forward to reading. I’m also interested in reading more on philosophy and political science.

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