First Book Update 2018
@ Chris Suttles · Monday, Feb 19, 2018 · 4 minute read · Update at May 24, 2020

Here's a quick update on some books I've read or listened to recently.

Data And Computer Communications Ninth Edition by William Stallings

This book was for a class, where my final project was a previous post: a brief comparison of IPv4 and IPv6. It's very dry, but was also very informative. There is a newer version of this book, but I bought the ninth edition because it was for a class. Even the ninth edition was surprisingly current, although there was some dated information too. Overall, I liked this book more than I expected, and learned a lot more than I expected too. The treatment of HDLC was excellent and the review of IP fundamentals was helpful and clear. Early on, there were some deep dives into encoding, with examples including NRZ, NRZI, Manchester, differential Manchester, and the advantages and disadvantages of each. This book and course really helped me brush up on some fundamentals and fill in some blind spots. I highly recommend it for that purpose.

The Obstacle is the Way by Ryan Holiday

I listened to this book on audible, and enjoyed it so much that I bought another audiobook by the same author. I also ended up buying a hard copy to keep and share with my wife. This book cites a lot of historic examples and has a strong stoic influence.

Ego is the Enemy by Ryan Holiday

I listened to this on audible after "The Obstacle is the Way" and found it at least as good, if not even better. The themes are similar, but as the title suggests, this book focuses more on how our egos can drive irrational decisions and illicit emotional knee jerk reactions, when the best course of action is within our reach, if only we could get over ourselves. In a world of constant connectivity, with the pageantry and posturing of social media and the widely accepted misconception that everyone is special (participation trophies!), this book was a breath of fresh air. Again, the author alludes to many historical texts, and the influence of stoicism is very evident. There's a couple stories that appear in both books, and those have slight differences and details when they appear here.

The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg

This book was another audible book I really enjoyed. I found it useful and insightful. The author's explanation of "the habit loop" helped me gain insight into some of the things I do and patterns in my life. The basic premise is that the habit loop consists of three phases:

  • The cue
  • The habit
  • The reward

Armed with this knowledge, I found it easier to change some habits that I previously couldn't get any traction with. There's a great segment in this book on how Alcoholics Anonymous works, and that they basically use the habit loop, to keep people sober by discovering cues that make people want to drink, replace the habit of drinking at a bar with attending an AA meeting, which leads to a similar reward of interacting with other people who are similar to them.

This is how I used this book to help improve some of my habits, and also gain a deeper understanding of how my brain (and yours) work. Even excluding the benefit of improving your habits and daily life, this book was a fascinating read, and I heartily recommend it.

The Snowball: Warren Buffett and the Business of Life by Alice Schroeder

I listened to this on audible as well. It was interesting, and I learned some interesting things from it. It was quite long, with some sections including an unbearable amount of detail. In later parts of the book, some of these long passages paid dividends, as they developed characters and situations in a way that a more brief treatment could not. If you are looking for guidance on investing, this is not the book to read. If you are interested in understanding what drives Warren Buffet, this book covers his entire life, up to the publishing date, in verbose detail.

Unf*ck Yourself: Get Out of your Head and into your Life by Gary John Bishop

This was another one I consumed via audible. It was entertaining and the premise is solid, even though it is littered with the F-word. The premise is that if you stop wasting your energy on fruitless efforts, you'll have more time and energy to put into pursuits that bear fruit. It's a simple idea to understand, but a difficult thing to put into practice.

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