Div’s Blog

January 11, 20247 min read

Books of 2023

I finished my reading challenge by reading 42 books this year, definitely a good year for reading. Goodreads says this was equivalent to 9894 pages.

Favorite fictions

The Dark Forest (Three Body Problem trilogy, book 2) by Cixin Liu. An exceptional 5 ⭐️ Starts a bit slow but I found it quite gripping after a few chapters. Beyond sci-fi, some interesting takeaways on human psyche. Thanks to my friend Tarun for the recommendation and the book! One of my personal sci-fi favorites now.

Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse. There are so many takeaways from this tale about Siddhartha, on his journey to find meaning in life. Some great ideas about spirituality and philosophy. Found this recommendation from Naval. Worth revisiting in the future. 4 ⭐️

1984 by George Orwell. A solid 4 ⭐️ read.

The Last Wish (The Witcher, book 1) by Andrzej Sapkowski. Netflix series does no justice to Geralt of Rivia. This book is a great precursor to the series with some short stories about The Witcher’s adventures. Easily one of my personal favorites in fantasy. A solid 5 ⭐️

‘Evil is evil, Stregobor,’ said the witcher seriously as he got up. ‘Lesser, greater, middling, it’s all the same. Proportions are negotiated, boundaries blurred. I’m not a pious hermit, I haven’t done only good in my life. But if I’m to choose between one evil and another, then I prefer not to choose at all.

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry Into Values (Phaedrus, book 1) by Robert M. Pirsig. A tough but rewarding read. The author, on his journey, introspects and talks about some distinct philosophies. It’ll make you think deep about quality. Worth a reread. Thanks for the book Bejoy and Nidhi for the recommendation. I’ll probably find myself reading this book multiple times through the years and still discover some previously undiscovered idea. 4 ⭐️ Makes it to my top philosophy books.

On a cycle the frame is gone. You’re completely in contact with it all. You’re in the scene, not just watching it anymore

Favorite non-fictions

The Psychology of Money by Morgan Housel. Great read 4 ⭐️ There are some timeless takeaways about money and emotions. Worth revisiting again from time to time.

The Creative Act: A Way of Being by Rick Rubin. From the legendary music producer, this one was quite insightful with learnings, philosophy and partly self help for musicians and artists. Does has takeaways from years of experience on songwriting, worth re-reading. There are some chapters where I don’t share the same opinions but rest of the content is brilliant. Rick portrays a point beautifully which struck a chord with me, create music not for the outcome but for the purpose of creation. 4 ⭐️ Partly can credit releasing our debut single to Rick. Makes it to my top philosophy books.

What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami. I was amazed to learn one of my favorite authors is a runner and wrote a book on his thoughts about running. Good read! 4 ⭐️ Thanks for the gift Nidhi. Makes it to my top non-fiction books.

Hackers & Painters: Big Ideas from the Computer Age by Paul Graham. The book is full of interesting ideas which will make you (re)think about how we write software and startups. It might even inspire you to go and work at a startup (or create one). Worth re-reading occasionally. 5 ⭐️ Easily one of the best books on technology I’ve ever read. Almost all the essays are freely available on PG’s website. Some interesting ideas from my notes:

  1. Why startups win and how big companies operate (by sucking less than other big companies)
  2. Having a hacker’s mindset on writing software (different from what we refer to as hacks generally)
  3. How hackers and painters work - different domains yet lot of similarities
  4. On choosing friends - litmus test for close friends
  5. On approach towards catching bugs
  6. Taking the harder choice
  7. On wealth creation
  8. And perhaps my favorite - software design (and redesign) - because good design is redesign

Outlive: The Science and Art of Longevity by Peter Attia. Listened to the audiobook which is narrated very well by the author himself. Quite informational with a good balance of practice, theory, experience and research. After listening to Peter talk passionately about medicine 3.0 and longevity I’m also inspired to share his pursuit towards becoming a centenarian decathlon 🏃 4 ⭐️

Notable reads

Ham on Rye by Charles Bukowski. Had a really good narration style but story wise a bit depressing and dark, 3 ⭐️ Thanks for the gift to my friend Bejoy.

Caffeine by Michael Pollan. This was a good audio book that I enjoyed on runs and walks, 3 ⭐️ A short tale on the history of coffee / tea and its effects on animals and humans. The author also gives an account of his experience staying off coffee and starting again.

Wings of Fire by A.P.J. Abdul Kalam. 3 ⭐️

Roads to Mussoorie by Ruskin Bond. 3 ⭐️ Nostalgic vibes, good storytelling from Mr. Bond. I think everyone should write stories about their hometown.

My Favorite Universe by Neil deGrasse Tyson. A fascinating 3 ⭐️ read about the universe.

My Man Jeeves by P.G. Wodehouse. A light and humorous read. 3 ⭐️ Planning to read more of Wodehouse.

What Does This Button Do?: An Autobiography by Bruce Dickinson. A fine story covering Bruce’s career as frontman of Iron Maiden, fencing, pilot and battling cancer (and winning). Though it feels a lot has been left out about making music with Iron Maiden and personal life which kind of made this feel a bit monotonous. Nevertheless, a good read for Bruce Dickinson and Iron Maiden fans 3 ⭐️

The Great Train Journey by Ruskin Bond. Simple and enjoyable storytelling from Mr. Bond. 3 ⭐️

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. An enjoyable classic. Some chapters are dull reads though. 3 ⭐️


Journey to the Center of the Earth by Jules Verne. I remember first reading this in school in a single day. Still fascinating today. Jules Verne is one of the OG sci-fi authors. 4 ⭐️

MAKE: Bootstrapper’s Handbook by Pieter Levels. Pieter is the OG hackerman. 3 ⭐️

The Red-Headed League (The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, book 2) by Arthur Conan Doyle. An all time favorite detective mystery. 4 ⭐️

A Study in Scarlet (Sherlock Holmes, book 1) by Arthur Conan Doyle. Revisited this classic. This book introduces Sherlock Holmes so an all time favorite. In terms of detective mystery / suspense writing I’m yet to find a book that tops Sherlock Holmes. 5 ⭐️

The Sign of Four (Sherlock Holmes, book 2) by Arthur Conan Doyle. Another cult classic Sherlock Holmes murder mystery. 5 ⭐️

My mind, rebels at stagnation.

The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka. On my second reread I could appreciate the literary marvel people term as “Kafkaesque”. One writing skill to pick for me is how the author stitches multiple phrases into lengthy descriptive sentences that fit so well. 3 ⭐️

Divyanshu Maithani

Personal blog of Divyanshu Maithani. I’m a software engineer working mostly on frontend. I also create programming videos with my friend. In my spare time I play music and DoTA.

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