My favorite books, podcasts, and contents in 2020
In 2020 I tried building up a reading habit again. I’ve also started following a few cool podcasts and found some great online resources. This is just a casual post compiling a list of things I’ve enjoyed the most in 2020.
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.
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.
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”.
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.
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.
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).
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).
A daily 15-minute summary of financial news. Perfect for workouts. I’ve probably listened to them for the whole year non-stop.
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.
I also loved this Awwwards talk, where Vitaly talks about why all websites look the same today, and how we can be creative again.
Finally, I found Teach Yourself Computer Science, which is an extensive list of learning resources for learning every topic in a computer science degree. This year, I’d love to use this list to brush up on my knowledge.
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.
Tech-wise, I really want to get into artificial intelligence. Stanford released their lecture recordings of CS221, and there are also a ton of learning resources on fast.ai, I’m not sure which one I’ll go for.
Please let me know if you have any book recommendations and advice on how to get started in AI.
I wish you all a safe, happy, and fruitful 2021!