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Paul Graham

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Paul Graham is an English-born American computer scientist, entrepreneur, venture capitalist, author, and essayist. He is best known for his work on Lisp, his former startup Viaweb, co-founding the influential startup accelerator and seed capital firm Y Combinator, his blog, and Hacker News
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The Mythical Man-Month
Essays on Software Engineering, Anniversary Edition (2nd Edition)
by Frederick P. Brooks Jr. (Aug 11, 1995)
Goodreads Rating
Few books on software project management have been as influential and timeless as The Mythical Man-Month. With a blend of software engineering facts and thought-provoking opinions, Fred Brooks offers insight for anyone managing complex projects. These essays draw from his experience as project manager for the IBM System/360 computer family and then...
Paul Graham
Jul 17, 2020
@mutazsoliman I am not the best source for recommendations, because I'm so old that most books about programming have been written since I learned how, but I found SICP and The Mythical Man Month useful.     source
Hard Drive
Bill Gates and the Making of the Microsoft Empire
by James Wallace (Apr 16, 1992)
Goodreads Rating
This biography chronicles William Gates' rise as the most powerful player in the computer industry--a man who has revolutionized the software industry with the incredible growth of his Microsoft company, that now threatens gigantic IBM. Reveals Gates' personal quirks and idiosyncrasies which helped fuel his fierce competitive spirit. Interviews Gat...
Paul Graham
Jun 20, 2020
@ribas_artur @LauraHuangLA I know of no other collections of interviews with founders. The closest you can get is probably books about specific startups. Hard Drive, about Microsoft, is good.     source
Born Red
A Chronicle of the Cultural Revolution
by Gao Yuan (May 31, 1987)
Goodreads Rating
Categories: HistoryNonfiction
Born Red is an artistically wrought personal account, written very much from inside the experience, of the years 1966-1969, when the author was a young teenager at middle school. It was in the middle schools that much of the fury of the Cultural Revolution and Red Guard movement was spent, and Gao was caught up in very dramatic events, which he rec...
Paul Graham
Jun 19, 2020
Book recommendation:     source
The Launch Pad
Inside Y Combinator
by Randall Stross (Sep 24, 2013)
Goodreads Rating
A behind-the-scenes look at how tomorrows hottest startups are being primed for greatness   Investment firm Y Combinator is the most sought-after home for startups in Silicon Valley. Twice a year, it funds dozens of just-founded startups and provides three months of guidance from Paul Graham, YCs impresario, and his partners. Receiving an offer fro...
Paul Graham
Sep 20, 2019
If you're interested in the history of YC, I think this book is good. (I say "I think" because I haven't read all of it, but the bits I've read seem pretty good.)     source
The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress
by Robert A. Heinlein (Jul 31, 2018)
Goodreads Rating
For fans of Artemis--The visionary tour de force from "one of the grand masters of science fiction" (The Wall Street Journal).Widely acknowledged as one of Robert A. Heinlein's greatest works, The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress rose from the golden age of science fiction to become an undisputed classic--and a touchstone for the philosophy of personal res...
Paul Graham
Sep 14, 2019
@michael_nielsen @rivatez I've been thinking about this, and it was probably The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, which made me want to work on AI, which led to Lisp.     source
This book is also recommended by
Bill GatesChristopher Sommer
Richard Feynman
A Life in Science
by John Gribbin (Jul 01, 1997)
Goodreads Rating
Few human beings have advanced science further than Richard Feynman. Even fewer scientists have made their work so profoundly human. Now this brilliant biography vividly illumines the immense achievement and all-encompassing humanity of the Nobel prizewinner who was arguably the first physicist of his generation, the most inspiring and influential ...
Paul Graham
Sep 13, 2019
The most interesting point in the Gribbins' excellent biography of Feynman is the value of "irresponsibly" ignoring existing research and working everything out for yourself from first principles.     source
Barbarian Days
A Surfing Life
by William Finnegan (Apr 26, 2016)
Goodreads Rating
“Reading this guy on the subject of waves and water is like reading Hemingway on bullfighting; William Burroughs on controlled substances; Updike on adultery. . . . a coming-of-age story, seen through the gloss resin coat of a surfboard.” —Sports IllustratedBarbarian Days is William Finnegan’s memoir of an obsession, a complex enchantment. Surfing ...
Paul Graham
Aug 28, 2019
If you read books, read William Finnegan's Barbarian Days. It's one of those rare books that divide your life into two parts: before you read it, and after.     source
This book is also recommended by
Barack ObamaJia Tolentino
The Conquest of Gaul
by Jane P. Gardner (Feb 24, 1983)
Goodreads Rating
Between 58 and 50 BC Caesar conquered most of the area now covered by France, Belgium and Switzerland, and twice invaded Britain. This is the record of his campaigns. Caesar's narrative offers insights into his military strategy & paints a fascinating picture of his encounters with the inhabitant of Gaul and Britain, as well as offering lively ...
Paul Graham
Aug 27, 2019
Q: Any other books that have divided your life into two parts? PG: I knew people would ask that, and the problem is that it would take an essay to answer. An essay I will definitely write. Meanwhile: My Family and Other Animals, The Conquest of Gaul, Franklin's autobiography.     source
The Complete Novels of Jane Austen
by Jane Austen (Feb 05, 2005)
Goodreads Rating
Sense and SensibilityPride and PrejudiceMansfield ParkEmmaNorthanger AbbeyPersuasionLady SusanJane Austen is without question, one of England's most enduring and skilled novelists. With her wit, social precision, and unerring ability to create some of literature's most charismatic and believable heroines, she mesmerises her readers as much today as...
Paul Graham
Aug 18, 2019
@michael_nielsen Jane Austen's novels.     source
A Sense of Where You Are
by John McPhee (Jun 30, 1999)
Goodreads Rating
When John McPhee met Bill Bradley, both were at the beginning of their careers. A Sense of Where You Are, McPhee's first book, is about Bradley when he was the best basketball player Princeton had ever seen. McPhee delineates for the reader the training and techniques that made Bradley the extraordinary athlete he was, and this part of the book is ...
Paul Graham
Aug 11, 2019
@Austen A Sense of Where You Are.     source
This book is also recommended by
Daniel PinkJim Collins
Albert Einstein
Creator and Rebel
by Banesh (with the Collaboration of Helen Dukas) Hoffmann (Jan 01, 1975)
Goodreads Rating
This beautifully written illustrated memoir is a testament to the indomitable spirit that pervaded the life & work of Albert Einstein. Unlike lengthy biographies that often founder in trivia, the book paints a coherent picture in broad strokes to capture for the lay reader the essence of the man & his science. Helen Dukas, Einstein's secretary for ...
Paul Graham
Aug 04, 2019
Banesh Hoffman's biography of Einstein is the most exciting I've read. The author is a physicist who is genuinely excited about Einstein's discoveries, and it moves fast instead of trying to leave no detail unpublished (a common flaw in biographies).     source
The Quest for El Cid
by Richard Fletcher (Jun 19, 1991)
Goodreads Rating
Categories: HistoryNonfiction
Rodrigo Diaz, the legendary warrior-knight of eleventh-century Castile known as El Cid, is remembered today as the Christian hero of the Spanish crusade who waged wars of re-conquest for the triumph of the Cross over the Crescent. He is still honored in Spain as a national hero for liberating the fatherland from the occupying Moors. Yet, as Richard...
Paul Graham
Jul 06, 2019
@mikebala @mckaywrigley Bartlett's Making of Europe, White's Medieval Technology and Social Change, Fletcher's Quest for El Cid to start with.     source
Medieval Technology and Social Change
by Lynn White (Dec 30, 1966)
Goodreads Rating
In Medieval Technology and Social Change, Lynn White considers the effects of technological innovation on the societies of medieval Europe: the slow collapse of feudalism with the development of machines and tools that introduced factories in place of cottage industries, and the development of the manorial system with the introduction of new kinds ...
Paul Graham
Jul 06, 2019
@mikebala @mckaywrigley Bartlett's Making of Europe, White's Medieval Technology and Social Change, Fletcher's Quest for El Cid to start with.     source
The Double Helix
A Personal Account of the Discovery of the Structure of DNA
by James D. Watson Ph.D. (Jun 12, 2001)
Goodreads Rating
Categories: ScienceNonfiction
The classic personal account of Watson and Crick’s groundbreaking discovery of the structure of DNA, now with an introduction by Sylvia Nasar, author of A Beautiful Mind.By identifying the structure of DNA, the molecule of life, Francis Crick and James Watson revolutionized biochemistry and won themselves a Nobel Prize. At the time, Watson was only...
Paul Graham
May 24, 2019
The most impressive feature of The Double Helix is how much the author admits he didn't know. He's constantly talking about papers he couldn't understand and important concepts he didn't grasp.     source
This book is also recommended by
Peter AttiaMark RussinovichMatt Ridley
The German Generals Talk
by Basil H. Liddell Hart (Sep 01, 1971)
Goodreads Rating
Categories: HistoryNonfiction
The German Generals who survived Hitler's Reich talk over World War II with Capt. Liddell Hart, noted British miltary strategist and writer. They speak as professional soldiers to a man they know and respect. For the first time, answers are revealed to many questions raised during the war. Was Hitler the genius of strategy he seemed to be at first?...
Paul Graham
Apr 23, 2019
@mckaywrigley White's Medieval Technology and Social Change, Fletcher's Moorish Spain, Johnson's Wing Leader, Girouard's Life in the English Country House, Liddell Hart's The German Generals Talk.     source
Wing Leader
by J. E. Johnson (May 01, 1992)
Goodreads Rating
Johnnie Johnson joined the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve in 1939 as a week-end flier, and finished the war as the top-scoring Allied fighter pilot with 38 confirmed victories. WING LEADER is his account of the Battle of Britain, of the bitter fighting over Dieppe, and of the final battle across the skies of France and over the Rhine when, as a ...
Paul Graham
Apr 23, 2019
Q: What’s your favorite book that almost nobody else knows or talks about? PG: White's Medieval Technology and Social Change, Fletcher's Moorish Spain, Johnson's Wing Leader, Girouard's Life in the English Country House, Liddell Hart's The German Generals Talk.     source
Life in the English Country House
A Social and Architectural History
by Mark Girouard (Sep 10, 1978)
Goodreads Rating
The English country house has flourished over the centuries because of its ability to adapt to the changes in English society. This book is an account of the ways in which the upper-class life style were reflected in the houses in which the wealthy and powerful lived. First published in 1978, this is a history of the English country house from the ...
Paul Graham
Apr 23, 2019
Q: What’s your favorite book that almost nobody else knows or talks about? PG: White's Medieval Technology and Social Change, Fletcher's Moorish Spain, Johnson's Wing Leader, Girouard's Life in the English Country House, Liddell Hart's The German Generals Talk.     source
Making of Europe
Conquest, Colonization and Cultural Change 950-1350
by Robert Bartlett (Sep 29, 1994)
Goodreads Rating
Categories: HistoryNonfiction
A wave of internal conquest, settlement and economic growth took place in Europe during the High Middle Ages, which transformed it from a world of small separate communities into a network of powerful kingdoms with distinctive cultures. In this vivid and provocative book Robert Bartlett vividly shows how Europe was itself a product of colonization,...
Paul Graham
Feb 18, 2019
I know I've recommended this book already, but it's so good I have to do it again. The author brings history to life by explaining how and why the things happened that other books merely tell you happened.     source
The Government of the Tongue
On The Power and Proper use of the Spoken Word
by Richard Allestree (Jan 12, 2014)
Goodreads Rating
The Government of the Tongue has ever been justly reputed one of the most important parts of human Regiment. The Philosopher and the Divine equally attest this: and Solomon (who was both) gives his suffrage also; the persuasions to, and encomiums of it, taking up a considerable part of his book of Proverbs. The Contents Section 1. Of the Use of Spe...
Paul Graham
Feb 07, 2019
A fabulous book published in 1675. It's basically about trolls.     source
The Hobbit
by J. R. R. Tolkien (Sep 18, 2012)
Goodreads Rating
Bilbo Baggins is a hobbit who enjoys a comfortable, unambitious life, rarely traveling any farther than his pantry or cellar. But his contentment is disturbed when the wizard Gandalf and a company of dwarves arrive on his doorstep one day to whisk him away on an adventure. They have launched a plot to raid the treasure hoard guarded by Smaug the Ma...
Paul Graham
Jan 20, 2019
My kids and I have already read The Hobbit twice.     source
This book is also recommended by
Richard BransonJon FavreauJohn Gruber
The Startup Way
How Modern Companies Use Entrepreneurial Management to Transform Culture and Drive Long-Term Growth
by Eric Ries (Oct 17, 2017)
Goodreads Rating
Entrepreneur and bestselling author of The Lean Startup Eric Ries reveals how entrepreneurial principles can be used by businesses ranging from established companies to early-stage startups to grow revenues, drive innovation, and emerge as truly modern organizations poised to take advantage of the enormous opportunities of the 21st century. In The...
Paul Graham
Oct 17, 2017
If you work for a big company and wonder how startup techniques might work for you, this is the book to read.     source
The Complete Calvin and Hobbes
by Bill Watterson (Nov 13, 2012)
Goodreads Rating
Join Calvin and Hobbes on all their adventures in this four-volume collection of every comic strip from the comic strips eleven year history (1985 to1996).Calvin and Hobbes is unquestionably one of the most popular comic strips of all time. The imaginative world of a boy and his real-only-to-him tiger was first syndicated in 1985 and appeared in mo...
Paul Graham
Sep 20, 2017
Watterson is like Wodehouse. Because he works in an unpretentious medium, few realize how timelessly great he is.     source
The Iliad
A New Translation by Peter Green
by Homer (May 14, 2015)
Goodreads Rating
One of the oldest extant works of Western literature, the Iliad is a timeless epic poem of great warriors trapped between their own heroic pride and the arbitrary, often vicious decisions of fate and the gods. Renowned scholar and acclaimed translator Peter Green captures the Iliad in all its surging thunder for a new generation of readers.Featurin...
Paul Graham
Sep 12, 2017
@michael_nielsen The Iliad is up there.     source
This book is also recommended by
J. K. RowlingStewart Brand
A Mathematician's Apology
by G. H. Hardy (Mar 25, 2012)
Goodreads Rating
G. H. Hardy was one of this century's finest mathematical thinkers, renowned among his contemporaries as a 'real mathematician the purest of the pure'. He was also, as C. P. Snow recounts in his Foreword, 'unorthodox, eccentric, radical, ready to talk about anything'. This 'apology', written in 1940, offers a brilliant and engaging account of mathe...
Paul Graham
Sep 09, 2017
Rereading Hardy's _Mathematician's Apology_, slowly to make it last. Among the most inspiring books I know.     source
Moab Is My Washpot
by Stephen Fry (Nov 11, 2014)
Goodreads Rating
A number one bestseller in Britain, Stephen Fry's astonishingly frank, funny, wise memoir is the book that his fans everywhere have been waiting for. Since his PBS television debut in the Blackadder series, the American profile of this multitalented writer, actor and comedian has grown steadily, especially in the wake of his title role in the film ...
Paul Graham
Aug 12, 2017
@homes4geeks Moab Is My Washpot, The Inimitable Jeeves     source
How to Be Topp
by Ronald Searle (May 01, 1995)
Goodreads Rating
All skools make some sort at teaching the pupils things and the headmaster pin up a huge timetable of lessons ect. which make the heart sink when you look at it.Nigel Molesworth is back, this time taking the tinies in hand and showing that they can survive the first term - as long as you avoid the prefects and show all due respect to Molesworth 1. ...
Paul Graham
Aug 09, 2017
I read this during dinner and laughed so much that people must have wondered what was wrong with me.     source
The Black Riders
by Violet Needham (Jan 01, 1946)
The Black Riders [Hardcover] [Jan 01, 1946] Violet Needham...
Paul Graham
Aug 04, 2017
Another great old children's book.     source
Carbonel
The King of the Cats (Nyrb Kids)
by Barbara Sleigh (Aug 07, 2018)
Goodreads Rating
Rosemary’s plan to clean houses during her summer break and surprise her mother with the money hits a snag when an old lady at the market talks her into buying a second-rate broom and a cat she can’t even afford to keep. But appearances can be deceiving. Some old ladies are witches, some brooms can fly, and some ordinary-looking cats are Princes of...
Paul Graham
Jul 14, 2017
A fabulous children's book.     source
Sea Flight
A Fleet Air Arm Pilot's Story
by Hugh Popham (Jun 15, 2010)
Goodreads Rating
Hugh Popham joined the Fleet Air Arm in the summer of 1940 and was soon in training as a pilot at HMS Vincent and then HMS Yeovilton. His wartime career as a naval pilot took him to the far corners of the world, notably to the Indian Ocean where he had to contend against the Japanese Navy. Popham's story is one of a naval fighter pilot having to do...
Paul Graham
Jul 07, 2017
Hugh Popham's _Sea Flight_ is a wonderful book. I'm looking at the few pages left and wishing there were more.     source
Moorish Spain
by Richard Fletcher (May 05, 2006)
Goodreads Rating
Categories: HistoryNonfiction
Beginning in the year 711 and continuing for nearly a thousand years, the Islamic presence survived in Spain, at times flourishing, and at other times dwindling into warring fiefdoms. But the culture and science thereby brought to Spain, including long-buried knowledge from Greece, largely forgotten during Europes Dark Ages, was to have an enduring...
Paul Graham
Mar 27, 2017
Fletcher's _Moorish Spain_ is a great book.     source
The Kings Depart
The Tragedy of Germany
by Richard M Watt (Jan 01, 2001)
Goodreads Rating
Categories: HistoryNonfiction
The Kings Depart is the definitive story of a brief, pivotal moment in human history when the course and shape of the twentieth century might have been altered. Author Richard M. Watt begins with the defeat of the Kaiser in 1918 and the convention of the Versailles conference, where Europe was to be remade. This was the time when the victorious All...
Paul Graham
Feb 23, 2017
I'm only 30 pages into Watt's The Kings Depart, but already I can tell it is a fabulous book.     source
The Ancient City
Life in Classical Athens and Rome
by Peter Connolly (May 18, 2000)
Goodreads Rating
Categories: HistoryNonfiction
In this superbly illustrated volume, Athens and Rome, the two greatest cities of antiquity, spring to life under the masterful pen of Peter Connolly. All the historical and archaelogical evidence has been seamlessly pieced together to reconstruct the architectural wonders of these mighty civilizations. Re creating public buildings, religious temple...
Paul Graham
Feb 10, 2017
Peter Connolly's The Ancient City is one of the best books I've found for explaining history to kids.     source
Wheels for the World
Henry Ford, His Company, and a Century of Progress
by Douglas Brinkley (Apr 28, 2003)
Goodreads Rating
- 2003 is the centenary of the Ford Motor Company- Brinkley is a frequent contributer to The New York Times, The New Yorker, the Los Angeles Times, The Atlantic Monthly, and American Heritage (for which he serves on the editorial board)...
Paul Graham
Feb 07, 2017
@JayantParashar Off the top of my head,     source
Autobiographies
by Charles Darwin (Mar 22, 2020)
Collected in this edition is the early autobiographical fragment written by Charles Darwin in 1838 along with his official autobiography which was first published in 1887, five years after his death. His controversial theory of evolution, which asserted that all of life on earth descended from common ancestors through a process of natural selection...
Paul Graham
Feb 07, 2017
@csallen I recently read Darwin's, and reread Trollope's and Gibbon's.     source
An Autobiography
and Other Writings (Oxford World's Classics)
by Anthony Trollope (Jul 31, 2016)
Goodreads Rating
'I hated the office. I hated my work...the only career in life within my reach was that of an author.' The only autobiography by a major Victorian novelist, Trollope's account offers a fascinating insight into his literary life and opinions. After a miserable childhood and misspent youth, Trollope turned his life around at the age of twenty-six. By...
Paul Graham
Feb 07, 2017
@csallen I recently read Darwin's, and reread Trollope's and Gibbon's.     source
Memoirs of My Life and Writings
by Edward Gibbon (Aug 02, 2013)
Goodreads Rating
This book was converted from its physical edition to the digital format by a community of volunteers. You may find it for free on the web. Purchase of the Kindle edition includes wireless delivery....
Paul Graham
Feb 07, 2017
@csallen I recently read Darwin's, and reread Trollope's and Gibbon's.     source
The Man Who Knew Infinity
A Life of the Genius Ramanujan
by Robert Kanigel (Apr 26, 2016)
Goodreads Rating
Soon to be a major motion picture, the story of one of the most improbable and productive collaborations ever chronicled, between a young unschooled Indian prodigy and a great English mathematician.In 1913, a young unschooled Indian clerk wrote a letter to G H Hardy, begging the preeminent English mathematician's opinion on several ideas he had abo...
Paul Graham
Feb 06, 2017
Great biography of Ramanujan.     source
An Autobiography of Anthony Trollope
by Anthony Trollope (Nov 05, 2015)
Goodreads Rating
This letter was dated 30th April, 1876. I will give here as much of it as concerns the public: "I wish you to accept as a gift from me, given you now, the accompanying pages which contain a memoir of my life. My intention is that they shall be published after my death, and be edited by you. But I leave it altogether to your discretion whether to pu...
Paul Graham
Jan 27, 2017
Trollope's Autobiography is a wonderfully candid and inspiring one:     source
Fillets of Plaice
by Gerald Durrell (Apr 01, 2008)
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For fans of the PBS Masterpiece Theater series, The Durrells in Corfu--here's what happened next! After leaving the island of Corfu, Durrell, his mother, his brother Leslie and their Greek maid Maria Kondos moved back to Britain in 1939. It was difficult to find work, especially for a home-schooled boy, but Durrell managed to land a job as a helper...
Paul Graham
May 03, 2016
There is a third volume of Gerald Durrell's Corfu memoirs! So good I'm reading slow to make it last.     source
My Family and Other Animals
by Gerald Durrell (Jun 29, 2004)
Goodreads Rating
When the unconventional Durrell family can no longer endure the damp, gray English climate, they do what any sensible family would do: sell their house and relocate to the sunny Greek isle of Corfu. My Family and Other Animals was intended to embrace the natural history of the island but ended up as a delightful account of Durrells familys experien...
Paul Graham
Apr 26, 2016
@andrewstepner @nickbaum @jesslivingston It is a wonderful book, though only implicitly about "parenting."     source
Selfish Reasons to Have More Kids
Why Being a Great Parent is Less Work and More Fun Than You Think
by Bryan Caplan (May 08, 2012)
Goodreads Rating
In Selfish Reasons to Have More Kids, contrarian economist Bryan Caplan argues that we've needlessly turned parenting into an unpleasant chore, and don't know the real plusses and minuses of having kids. Parents today spend more time investing in their kids than ever, but twin and adoption research shows that upbringing is much less important than ...
Paul Graham
Apr 24, 2016
Way more important than its odd title implies.     source
This book is also recommended by
Geoffrey Miller
A Story Lately Told
Coming of Age in Ireland, London, and New York
by Anjelica Huston (Oct 14, 2014)
Goodreads Rating
Anjelica Hustons gorgeously written (O, The Oprah Magazine) memoir is an elegant, funny, and frequently haunting reminiscence of the first two decades of her lifeA classic (Vanity Fair).In her first, dazzling memoir, Anjelica Huston shares the story of her deeply unconventional early lifeher enchanted childhood in Ireland, living with her glamorous...
Paul Graham
Jan 08, 2016
Anjelica Huston's Story Lately Told is wonderful:     source
Land of Promise
An Economic History of the United States
by Michael Lind (Apr 09, 2013)
Goodreads Rating
A sweeping and original work of economic history by Michael Lind, one of Americas leading intellectuals, Land of Promise recounts the epic story of Americas rise to become the worlds dominant economy. As ideological free marketers continue to square off against Keynesians in Congress and the press, economic policy remains at the center of political...
Paul Graham
Nov 23, 2015
Land of Promise is a remarkably thorough and insightful economic history of the US:     source
To Explain the World
The Discovery of Modern Science
by Steven Weinberg (Feb 09, 2016)
Goodreads Rating
A masterful commentary on the history of science from the Greeks to modern times, by Nobel Prize-winning physicist Steven Weinberg—a thought-provoking and important book by one of the most distinguished scientists and intellectuals of our time.In this rich, irreverent, and compelling history, Nobel Prize-winning physicist Steven Weinberg takes us a...
Paul Graham
Nov 07, 2015
Like a fresh breeze through the history of science.     source
Towns, Villages and Countryside of Celtic Europe
by Francoise Audouze (Feb 22, 1992)
Goodreads Rating
Categories: HistoryNonfiction
"[The authors] have penned a celebration of settlement archaeology for the 1990s. The book is written in a lively and engaging style, which is a tribute both to the authors and to the translator, and it maintains a clear, concise, and thorough analytical organization. This volume should serve as a beacon for future research on the promising horizon...
Paul Graham
Sep 19, 2015
Though written like a government report, this book is full of interesting information.     source
Why the Allies Won
by Richard Overy (Mar 31, 1996)
Goodreads Rating
Categories: HistoryNonfiction
Having won an unprecedented series of victories and acquired huge new territories in 1942, Germany and Japan seemed poised to dominate most of the world. A year later both empires were reeling back in the face of Allied assaults. The rapid turnaround, King's College history professor Richard Overy writes, came about largely as a result of technolog...
Paul Graham
Jul 03, 2015
If you read one book about World War II, make it this one:     source
Kelly
More Than My Share of It All
by Clarence L. "Kelly" Johnson (Dec 17, 1989)
Goodreads Rating
Clarence L. Kelly Johnson led the design of such crucial aircraft as the P-38 and Constellation, but he will be more remembered for the U-2 and SR-71 spy planes. His extraordinary leadership of the Lockheed Skunk Works cemented his reputation as a legendary figure in American aerospace management....
Paul Graham
May 24, 2015
How did I not know about this book til now?     source
Clocks and Culture
1300-1700 (Norton Library)
by Carlo M. Cipolla (Aug 17, 2003)
Goodreads Rating
Categories: HistoryNonfiction
How did a time-keeping device affect the growth of crafts guilds and the scientific research that led to the Industrial Revolution? Clocks and Culture is a brief history of the changes wrought by and on Europe over four hundred years due to technological advances in timekeeping and the rise of a time-aware culture. In his introduction, Anthony Graf...
Paul Graham
Feb 26, 2015
@brendan_o I also recommend Clocks and Culture.     source
Guns, Sails, and Empires
Technological Innovation and the Early Phases of European Expansion, 1400- 1700
by Caro M. Cipolla (Jun 01, 1985)
Goodreads Rating
So thoroughly do we assume the military and political superiority of the Western world that we forget that throughout the Middle Ages Europe was weak, vulnerable, besieged, and almost always on the defensive. This original work explains how Europe managed to become the dominant player on the world stage for four glorious centuries, effecting one of...
Paul Graham
Feb 18, 2015
Amazing. An indictment of publishing that it's out of print.     source
Flying Start
by Hugh Dundas (Jul 12, 2011)
Goodreads Rating
This is the autobiography of Group Captain Sir Hugh Dundas CBE, DSO, DFC, who was one of the most distinguished fighter pilots of World War II. He writes of his wartime experiences, and particularly of his period as Squadron Leader and Wing Commander and his involvement in the Battle of Britain....
Paul Graham
Jan 29, 2015
Flying Start is a wonderful book.     source
Marriage
by Susan Ferrier (Apr 30, 2019)
Goodreads Rating
Categories: ClassicsFiction
Susan Ferrier sold more copies of her novels than her contemporary, Jane Austen.Sir Walter Scott declared her his equal. Why, then has she been lost to history? On the 200th anniversary of this sharply observed, comic novel, it is time to rediscover her brilliance.'What have you to do with a heart?What has anybody to do with a heart when their esta...
Paul Graham
Jan 23, 2015
Reading Susan Ferrier's hilarious _Marriage_. She is called "the Scottish Jane Austen" with good reason.     source
No Easy Day
The Firsthand Account of the Mission that Killed Osama Bin Laden
by Mark Owen (May 06, 2014)
Goodreads Rating
Categories: NonfictionHistory
The #1 New York Times bestselling first-person account of the planning and execution of the Bin Laden raid from a Navy SEAL who confronted the terrorist mastermind and witnessed his final moments.From the streets of Iraq to the rescue of Captain Richard Phillips in the Indian Ocean, and from the mountaintops of Afghanistan to the third floor of Osa...
Paul Graham
Jan 03, 2015
Simultaneously reading Rousseau's Confessions and No Easy Day. Triangulating...     source
Confessions
by Jean-Jacques Rousseau (Jun 01, 1992)
Goodreads Rating
Rousseau's ideas have influenced almost every major political development of the last two hundred years, and are crucial to an understanding of phenomena as diverse as the French Revolution, modern educational theory, and the contemporary environmental movement. This is reason enough to draw attention to his startlingly alive autobiography. But the...
Paul Graham
Jan 03, 2015
Simultaneously reading The Confessions and No Easy Day. Triangulating...     source
Very Good, Jeeves
by P. G. Wodehouse (Jun 01, 1980)
Goodreads Rating
Jeeves is not only the tireless servant to the feckless Bertie Wooster, but savior to a good number of others. Here, Jeeves helps Bingo Little in the affair of the marooned cabinet minister; Sippy Sipperly when he's persecuted by his former headmaster; Tuppy Glossop in his foolhardy pursuit of opera singer Cora Bellinger; and Bertie's fat Uncle Geo...
Paul Graham
Oct 02, 2014
Wodehouse is so good that I get distracted by his perfection. Not a word wrong.     source
A story of visiting the bookshop for the first time from the multi-award-winning Lucy Cousins. Maisy goes to the bookshop to buy a new book, and she also wants to get one as a present for her friend Tallulah. Titles in this Set Includes Maisy goes to Bookshop, Maisy Goes by Plane, Maisy Sports Day, Maisy Plays Football, Maisy Goes To The Cinema, Ma...
Paul Graham
Sep 19, 2014
My favorite books for bedtime reading to 2 year olds.     source
Diocletian and the Roman Recovery
by Stephen Williams (Dec 09, 1996)
Goodreads Rating
First published in 1997. Routledge is an imprint of Taylor & Francis, an informa company....
Paul Graham
Aug 21, 2014
One of the best books about the late 3rd century:     source
The Complete Sherlock Holmes
Tales of a Consulting Detective
by Arthur Conan Doyle (Nov 08, 2017)
Sherlock Holmes is a fictional detective of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, who first appeared in publication in 1887. Created by British author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Holmes is identified as a "consulting detective" in the stories. Known for his uncanny proficiency with observation, forensic science, and logical reasoning, which he utiliz...
Paul Graham
Mar 18, 2014
Few thoughts happier than realizing it's been long enough since you last read the Sherlocks Holmes stories that you can read them again.     source
The Original Illustrated 'Strand' Sherlock Holmes
by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (Sep 05, 2001)
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It is more than a century since the ascetic, gaunt and enigmatic detective, Sherlock Holmes, made his first appearance in A Study in Scarlet. From 1891, beginning with The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, the now legendary and pioneering Strand Magazine began serialising Arthur Conan Doyle's matchless tales of detection, featuring the incomparable sl...
Paul Graham
Mar 18, 2014
Few thoughts happier than realizing it's been long enough since you last read the Sherlocks Holmes stories that you can read them again.     source
The Lord of the Rings
by J.R.R. Tolkien (Aug 14, 2012)
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The 50th anniversary one-volume edition of J.R.R. Tolkien's epic "An extraordinary work -- pure excitement." -- New York Times Book Review One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them, One Ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind themIn ancient times the Rings of Power were crafted by the Elven-smiths, and Sauron, the Dark Lord, forged t...
Paul Graham
Mar 05, 2014
Q: Any book recommendations for young adults? PG: The Lord of the Rings     source
This book is also recommended by
Elon MuskNaval RavikantReid HoffmanPeter Thiel
The Fry Chronicles
An Autobiography
by Stephen Fry (Jan 19, 2012)
Goodreads Rating
This is the engrossing, hilarious, and utterly compelling story of how the Stephen the world knows (or thinks it knows) found his way. Tales of champagne, love, and conspicuous consumption jostle with insights into Broadway and TV stardom. A feat of trademark wit and verbal brilliance, this is a book unafraid of confronting the chasm that separates...
Paul Graham
Mar 03, 2014
Reading The Fry Chronicles. As perfect as Wodehouse.     source
To Conquer the Air
The Wright Brothers and the Great Race for Flight
by James Tobin (May 03, 2004)
Goodreads Rating
From the Kansas City Star, "A wonderful story, wonderfully told, a history that delivers all the suspense and heartache of a novel, and is as difficult to put down"...
Paul Graham
Feb 13, 2014
James Tobin's _To Conquer the Air_ is the most exciting book I've come across in the past several months.     source
The Oxford History of Britain
Volume 1
by Peter Salway (Dec 10, 1992)
Goodreads Rating
Categories: HistoryNonfiction
The Oxford History of Britain traces the story of Britain and its peoples from Roman times to the present day in five compact volumes. The dramatic narrative also explores the relationship between political, economic, social, and cultural aspects of history to provide a vivid and sometimes surprising picture of turmoil and change, which can be seen...
Paul Graham
Oct 01, 2013
Salway and Blair's *Roman and Anglo-Saxon Britain* is really excellent.     source
Paul Graham
Jul 02, 2012
I'm reading Bovill's excellent Battle of Alcazar:     source
With the Old Breed
At Peleliu and Okinawa
by E.B. Sledge (Sep 25, 2007)
Goodreads Rating
Categories: HistoryNonfiction
Eugene B. Sledge was part of the war's famous 1st Marine Division - 3d Battalion, 5th Marines. Based on notes that Sledge secretly kept in a copy of the New Testament, With the Old Breed captures with utter simplicity and intense frankness the experience of a Marine in the fierce Pacific Theatre. Here is what saved, threatened, and changed his life...
Paul Graham
Jun 04, 2012
Read this book:     source
In The Plex
How Google Thinks, Works, and Shapes Our Lives
by Steven Levy (Apr 12, 2011)
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Written with full cooperation from top management, including cofounders Sergey Brin and Larry Page, this is the inside story behind Google, the most successful and most admired technology company of our time, told by one of our best technology writers.Few companies in history have ever been as successful and as admired as Google, the company that h...
Paul Graham
Apr 05, 2011
Steven Levy's book on Google is so fascinating I have to drag myself away to work:     source
Mohammed and Charlemagne
by Henri Pirenne (May 04, 2017)
Goodreads Rating
Categories: HistoryNonfiction
2017 Reprint of 1939 Edition. Full facsimile of the original edition, not reproduced with Optical Recognition software. Henri Pirenne's classic history of Europe between the fifth and ninth centuries, Mohammed and Charlemagne, although published on the eve of the Second World War, remains an important work to this day. His famous summary said, "Wit...
Paul Graham
Q: What should I read to learn more about history? PG: The way to do it is piecemeal. You could just sit down and try reading Roberts's History of the World cover to cover, but you'd probably lose interest. I think it's a better plan to read books about specific topics, even if you don't understand everything the first time through. Here are the most exciting ones I can think of:     source
The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin
by Benjamin Franklin (Feb 02, 2017)
Goodreads Rating
Unabridged student-sized 8.5-x11- value reproduction of The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin . This classic is a must read because Franklin writes as if the reader is right there with him, relating his story, feeling his success and his pains.The writing is an honest self-evaluation of the man who drafted the Declaration of Independence and nego...
Paul Graham
Q: What should I read to learn more about history? PG: The way to do it is piecemeal. You could just sit down and try reading Roberts's History of the World cover to cover, but you'd probably lose interest. I think it's a better plan to read books about specific topics, even if you don't understand everything the first time through. Here are the most exciting ones I can think of:     source
The Gallic Wars
by Julius Caesar (Mar 21, 2015)
Goodreads Rating
"Gaul is divided into three parts."" Originally composed for propaganda purposes, Julius Caesar's war diary is one of the earliest examples of a military science manual, detailing arms technology, tactical maneuvers, battlefield politics, espionage, intelligence and even the role played by luck in ground and sea campaigns.Nine years of fighting is ...
Paul Graham
Q: What should I read to learn more about history? PG: The way to do it is piecemeal. You could just sit down and try reading Roberts's History of the World cover to cover, but you'd probably lose interest. I think it's a better plan to read books about specific topics, even if you don't understand everything the first time through. Here are the most exciting ones I can think of:     source
The Art of War in the Middle Ages
by Charles Oman (Jan 10, 2013)
Goodreads Rating
Categories: HistoryNonfiction
Master-historian Charles Oman tells the story of the evolution of military combat from the end of the Roman Empire through the Dark Ages and into the Middle Ages. Oman's beautiful prose captures the tactically complexity and the emotional horror of war in the Middle Ages. Richly illustrated throughout to enhance the reading experience. Contents in...
Paul Graham
Q: What should I read to learn more about history? PG: Here are the most exciting ones I can think of.     source
The Golden Trade of the Moors
West African Kingdoms in the Fourteenth Century
by E. W. Bovill (Jul 18, 2009)
Goodreads Rating
Categories: HistoryNonfiction
"This book is the liveliest account of African history ever written, covering over [one] thousand years of trans-Saharan trade. "Finely written and researched. ... This edition will no doubt whet the appetites of a fresh generation of scholars and students for greater knowledge of parts of Africa still surprisingly little-known to the outside world...
Paul Graham
Q: What should I read to learn more about history? PG: The way to do it is piecemeal. You could just sit down and try reading Roberts's History of the World cover to cover, but you'd probably lose interest. I think it's a better plan to read books about specific topics, even if you don't understand everything the first time through. Here are the most exciting ones I can think of:     source
Founders at Work
Stories of Startups' Early Days
by Jessica Livingston (Sep 16, 2008)
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Now available in paperback--with a new preface and interview with Jessica Livingston about Y Combinator!Founders at Work: Stories of Startups' Early Days is a collection of interviews with founders of famous technology companies about what happened in the very earliest days. These people are celebrities now. What was it like when they were just a c...
Paul Graham
Probably the single most valuable book a startup founder could read.     source
This book is also recommended by
Ryan HolidayAlexis OhanianRon ConwayLeah Solivan
Lives of the Artists
by Giorgio Vasari (Dec 31, 2007)
Goodreads Rating
Packed with facts, attributions, and entertaining anecdotes about his contemporaries, Vasari's collection of biographical accounts also presents a highly influential theory of the development of Renaissance art.Beginning with Cimabue and Giotto, who represent the infancy of art, Vasari considers the period of youthful vigour, shaped by Donatello, B...
Paul Graham
Q: What should I read to learn more about history? PG: The way to do it is piecemeal. You could just sit down and try reading Roberts's History of the World cover to cover, but you'd probably lose interest. I think it's a better plan to read books about specific topics, even if you don't understand everything the first time through. Here are the most exciting ones I can think of:     source
Mathematician's Delight
by W. W. Sawyer (Oct 19, 2007)
Goodreads Rating
"Recommended with confidence" by The Times Literary Supplement, this lively survey starts with simple arithmetic and algebra and proceeds by gradual steps through graphs, logarithms, and trigonometry to calculus and the world of numbers. Generations of readers have found it the ideal introduction to mathematics, offering accessible explanations of ...
Paul Graham
One of the best books I can think of to learn what math is really about.     source
Paul Graham
I've read Memoirs or Chronicle of the Fourth Crusade and the Conquest of Constantinople at least two times, maybe three.     source
The Old Way
A Story of the First People
by Elizabeth Marshall Thomas (Oct 17, 2006)
Goodreads Rating
Categories: NonfictionHistory
One of our most influential anthropologists reevaluates her long and illustrious career by returning to her roots--and the roots of life as we know it.When Elizabeth Marshall Thomas first arrived in Africa to live among the Kalahari San, or bushmen, it was 1950, she was nineteen years old, and these last surviving hunter-gatherers were living as hu...
Paul Graham
If you want to learn more about hunter gatherers I strongly recommend The Old Way.     source
My Forty Years with Ford
by Charles E Sorensen (Jan 09, 2006)
Goodreads Rating
In My Forty Years with Ford, Charles Sorensen-sometimes known as "Henry Ford's man," sometimes as "Cast-iron Charlie"-tells his own story, and it is as challenging as it is historic. He emerges as a man who was not only one of the great production geniuses of the world but also a man who called the plays as he saw them. He was the only man who was...
Paul Graham
The best source of information about startups is probably not business books, but histories of particular startups and industries. The most famous is Tracy Kidder's Soul of a New Machine, but there are many good books of this type. I particularly liked Sorensen's My Forty Years with Ford.     source
The World We Have Lost
Further Explored
by Peter Laslett (Nov 10, 2004)
Goodreads Rating
Categories: HistoryNonfiction
The World We Have Lost is a seminal work in the study of family and class, kinship and community in England after the Middle Ages and before the changes brought about by the Industrial Revolution. The book explores the size and structure of families in pre-industrial England, the number and position of servants, the elite minority of gentry, rates ...
Paul Graham
Q: What should I read to learn more about history? PG: The way to do it is piecemeal. You could just sit down and try reading Roberts's History of the World cover to cover, but you'd probably lose interest. I think it's a better plan to read books about specific topics, even if you don't understand everything the first time through. Here are the most exciting ones I can think of:     source
Benjamin Franklin
An American Life
by Walter Isaacson (Jul 01, 2003)
Goodreads Rating
In this authoritative and engrossing full-scale biography, Walter Isaacson, bestselling author of Einstein and Steve Jobs, shows how the most fascinating of America's founders helped define our national character.Benjamin Franklin is the founding father who winks at us, the one who seems made of flesh rather than marble. In a sweeping narrative tha...
Paul Graham
The one book we encourage startup founders to read is Dale Carnegie's How to Win Friends and Influence People. It's critically important for anyone in business. Try to get a used copy printed before the 1960s; after Carnegie died, the book continued to be "updated" by a committee, and the changes were not for the better. I'd also recommend Franklin's Autobiography.     source
The New Penguin Atlas of Ancient History
Revised Edition
by Colin McEvedy (May 26, 2003)
Goodreads Rating
Categories: HistoryNonfiction
The Penguin Atlas of Ancient History illustrates in a chronological series of maps, the evolution and flux of races in Europe, the Mediterranean area and the Near East. From 50,000 B.C. to the fourth century A.D., it is one of the most successful of the bestselling historical atlas series....
Paul Graham
Q: What should I read to learn more about history? PG: Here are the most exciting ones I can think of.     source
Euclid's Elements
by Euclid (Dec 31, 2001)
Goodreads Rating
Green Lion Press has prepared a new one-volume edition of T.L. Heath's translation of the thirteen books of Euclid's Elements. In keeping with Green Lion's design commitment, diagrams have been placed on every spread for convenient reference while working through the proofs; running heads on every page indicate both Euclid's book number and proposi...
Paul Graham
One of the best books I can think of to learn what math is really about.     source
The Soul of A New Machine
by Tracy Kidder (Jun 01, 2000)
Goodreads Rating
The computer revolution brought with it new methods of getting work done—just look at today's news for reports of hard-driven, highly-motivated young software and online commerce developers who sacrifice evenings and weekends to meet impossible deadlines. Tracy Kidder got a preview of this world in the late 1970s when he observed the engineers of D...
Paul Graham
The best source of information about startups is probably not business books, but histories of particular startups and industries. The most famous is Tracy Kidder's Soul of a New Machine, but there are many good books of this type. I particularly liked Sorensen's My Forty Years with Ford.     source
How to Win Friends & Influence People
by Dale Carnegie (Oct 01, 1998)
Goodreads Rating
You can go after the job you wantand get it! You can take the job you haveand improve it! You can take any situationand make it work for you!Dale Carnegies rock-solid, time-tested advice has carried countless people up the ladder of success in their business and personal lives. One of the most groundbreaking and timeless bestsellers of all time, Ho...
Paul Graham
The one book we encourage startup founders to read is Dale Carnegie's How to Win Friends and Influence People. It's critically important for anyone in business. Try to get a used copy printed before the 1960s; after Carnegie died, the book continued to be "updated" by a committee, and the changes were not for the better.      source
Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs
by Harold Abelson (Aug 31, 1996)
Goodreads Rating
Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs has had a dramatic impact on computer science curricula over the past decade. This long-awaited revision contains changes throughout the text. There are new implementations of most of the major programming systems in the book, including the interpreters and compilers, and the authors have incorporat...
Paul Graham
This is one of the great classics of computer science. I bought my first copy 15 years ago, and I still don't feel I have learned everything the book has to teach.     source
This book is also recommended by
Max LevchinPatrick Collison
The Copernican Revolution
Planetary Astronomy in the Development of Western Thought
by Thomas S. Kuhn (Dec 31, 1991)
Goodreads Rating
For scientist and layman alike this book provides vivid evidence that the Copernican Revolution has by no means lost its significance today. Few episodes in the development of scientific theory show so clearly how the solution to a highly technical problem can alter our basic thought processes and attitudes. Understanding the processes which underl...
Paul Graham
Q: What should I read to learn more about history? PG: The way to do it is piecemeal. You could just sit down and try reading Roberts's History of the World cover to cover, but you'd probably lose interest. I think it's a better plan to read books about specific topics, even if you don't understand everything the first time through. Here are the most exciting ones I can think of:     source
The Fall of Constantinople 1453
by Steven Runciman (Nov 29, 1990)
Goodreads Rating
Categories: HistoryNonfiction
This classic account shows how the fall of Constantinople in May 1453, after a siege of several weeks, came as a bitter shock to Western Christendom. The city's plight had been neglected, and negligible help was sent in this crisis. To the Turks, victory not only brought a new imperial capital, but guaranteed that their empire would last. To the Gr...
Paul Graham
Q: What should I read to learn more about history? PG: The way to do it is piecemeal. You could just sit down and try reading Roberts's History of the World cover to cover, but you'd probably lose interest. I think it's a better plan to read books about specific topics, even if you don't understand everything the first time through. Here are the most exciting ones I can think of:     source
The Harmless People
by Elizabeth Marshall Thomas (Oct 23, 1989)
Goodreads Rating
Categories: Nonfiction
A study of primitive people which, for beauty of...style and concept, would be hard to match." -- The New York Times Book ReviewIn the 1950s Elizabeth Marshall Thomas became one of the first Westerners to live with the Bushmen of the Kalahari desert in Botswana and South-West Africa. Her account of these nomadic hunter-gatherers, whose way of life ...
Paul Graham
If you want to learn more about hunter gatherers I strongly recommend The Harmless People.     source
The Extension of Man
A History of Physics before the Quantum
by J. D. Bernal (Apr 14, 1972)
Goodreads Rating
The late J. D. Bernal's lectures given to first-year students in physics at Birkbeck College, University of London, are presented here in their entirety, tracing the history of physics up to the end of the classical era at the end of 19th century, just before the discoveries of the subatom and relatively were made. In view of the prestige and profu...
Paul Graham
Q: What should I read to learn more about history? PG: Here are the most exciting ones I can think of.     source
Civilisation
a personal view
by Kenneth Clark (Jan 01, 1970)
The history and culture of Western civilization are explored in a study of Western man's creative endeavors...
Paul Graham
Q: What should I read to learn more about history? PG: The way to do it is piecemeal. You could just sit down and try reading Roberts's History of the World cover to cover, but you'd probably lose interest. I think it's a better plan to read books about specific topics, even if you don't understand everything the first time through. Here are the most exciting ones I can think of:     source
Noticeable wear to cover and pages. May have some markings on the inside. Fast shipping. Will be shipped from US. Used books may not include companion materials....
Paul Graham
Q: What should I read to learn more about history? PG: The way to do it is piecemeal. You could just sit down and try reading Roberts's History of the World cover to cover, but you'd probably lose interest. I think it's a better plan to read books about specific topics, even if you don't understand everything the first time through. Here are the most exciting ones I can think of:     source