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Ask Slashdot: What Books Have Had a Significant Impact On Your Life? 700

gspec writes "A little background about me: 36-year-old computer engineer working in the Bay Area. While I bring in a comfortable salary, I consider myself an underachiever, and my career is stagnant (I have only been promoted four times in my 12-year career). I have led a couple projects, but I am not in any sort of leadership/management position. I realize I need to do something to enhance my career, and unfortunately, going back to school is not an option. One thing I can do is to read more quality books. My question: which books, of any type or genre, have had a significant impact on your life?"
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Ask Slashdot: What Books Have Had a Significant Impact On Your Life?

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  • Easy list (Score:5, Informative)

    by Sparticus789 ( 2625955 ) on Friday October 12, 2012 @04:39PM (#41635323) Journal

    The Foundation Series by Isaac Asimov is and will always be my favorite series of books. Those are the first real science fiction books I read, they were welcome reprieve from those terrible books I had to read in high school.

    Dune by Frank Herbert. The sheer scope of events which take place in this sage showed me how insignificant daily events really were. While it was fictional, the way the Shaddam, the Baron Harkonnen, and Muad'Dib feel about their subjects/followers/slaves gave me a hard dose of reality. There are a lot of people out there, and most of them have no idea that you just got picked on walking to class, dropped some spaghetti on your shirt, or had a really crappy day.

  • Moneyball (Score:4, Informative)

    by alen ( 225700 ) on Friday October 12, 2012 @04:41PM (#41635363)

    It's amazing what billy beanne has done on a tiny budget and going against what all the experts said

    In the end it's about using data rather than hunches and old wives' tales to make business decisions

  • by Grayhand ( 2610049 ) on Friday October 12, 2012 @04:47PM (#41635447)
    HG Wells, Jules Verne, Mary Shelley, Edgar Rice Burroughs, HP Lovecraft, and Robert E Howard. Lovecraft and Howard had the biggest influence. I read a lot of scifi like A Mote In God's Eye and Robert Heinlein but Howard and Lovecraft had the biggest influence.
  • by justfred ( 63412 ) on Friday October 12, 2012 @04:59PM (#41635709) Homepage

    Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid []

    This book taught me more about coding (and recursion, and all sorts of other concepts) than any language-specific book I've read. I carried it around for a couple of years, making my way through as I could. Highly recommended.

  • by rubycodez ( 864176 ) on Friday October 12, 2012 @05:12PM (#41635921)

    the words used indicates he considered promotion to be enhancing career. Therefore he just needs to become the right kind of jerk.
      The Prince -- Machiavelli
      The Art of War -- Sun Tzu
      Steve Jobs -- Dylan Baker

    You know what, forget the last one, world doesn't need any more of those extreme over-the-top jerks

  • Re:Flatland (Score:4, Informative)

    by Relic of the Future ( 118669 ) <dales@digitalfre ... org minus distro> on Friday October 12, 2012 @05:22PM (#41636097)
    Why read the wikipedia page, when you can read the whole book []?
  • by vinn ( 4370 ) on Friday October 12, 2012 @05:29PM (#41636195) Homepage Journal

    If enhancing your career is your goal, I'm not entirely sure reading books is going to do it for ya. It's not like you can leave a copy of "The Question Behind the Question" on your desk and your boss is suddenly going to think, 'Hey, I need to promote that guy.' Ain't gonna happen. So here's some specific career enhancing techniques:

    1. Quit your job and get a different one. Oh, I know that's easier said than done, and you probably have some nice benefits you've accumulated by now. The sad fact is, that is the quickest way to a management level and on to a C-level if that's your goal. If you look around and you rarely see people promoted within your company, guess what - you're not going to get promoted. That means it's time to pad your resume (yes, stretch the truth to the breaking point so it's obvious you've managed people) and apply for management jobs elsewhere. If you get offered a job, negotiate a higher salary and better benefits.

    2. Learn accounting and marketing. Try to get on the job experience in both of those areas working with those individuals. Accounting is important to understand if you want to become a manager because budgeting comes into play and you can do some creative GL accounting within your department to get what you need accomplished. Marketing is important to get experience in because that's where all the Cool Kids work. Knowing the Cool Kids and hanging out with them will get you bonus points with management.

    3. Kiss people's asses. Or, at least grace your boss's desk with a decent bottle wine or a six pack if he did something you appreciate. In an earlier time this was a concept called "courtesy".

    4. Take some classes outside of work. On a basic level, look for one of those seminars held on weekends at hotels in your area, specifically a class in negotiation. We all negotiate every day of our lives and it is immensely helpful to understand when and how to do it properly. If anything, it'll help your marriage. Maybe it's worth taking a management class as well. Here's some Fred Pryor seminars in your area: []

    5. See the above about learning accounting and marketing. Maybe you could take a class at a local community college.

    6. Ask your boss for a promotion. Surprisingly enough, it could be that simple. Don't wait for an opening to appear, just go directly to your manager or his manager (if you know him well) and ask. Maybe your company never knew you were interested in a promotion. Maybe they just thought you're happy doing what you're doing. If there isn't a job open, it's completely possible they've been thinking of creating a new job and just didn't have the right person available to do it, nor did they think they could hire the person externally. Maybe that guy is you.

    7. Finally, if you just want to read some books, I liked Jack Welch's autobiography. I also liked "Good to Great". I'm reading Keith Richard's biography right now, "Life"; pretty much a textbook for what not to do to your body.

  • Re:Atlas Shrugged (Score:3, Informative)

    by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Friday October 12, 2012 @05:52PM (#41636585) Homepage

    Have you actually read it? I find that most people that "rejoice it" have not. It's full of rape scenes.. In fact all of her books are focused on rape fantasy... Very very odd.

  • Re:The God Delusion (Score:4, Informative)

    by Pseudonym ( 62607 ) on Friday October 12, 2012 @05:57PM (#41636649)

    Definitely! It's the second-greatest lesson you'll ever get on why you should only write non-fiction books on topics you know know something about. (The best, of course, being God is not Great by Christopher Hitchens.)

    If this stuff interests you, you're far better off reading Breaking the Spell by Dan Dennett. It's a far better book in every respect. Or anything by Robert Ingersoll.

  • by raddan ( 519638 ) * on Friday October 12, 2012 @06:14PM (#41636881)
    While ZMM certainly borrows some ideas from eastern philosophy, this is not the central point of the book. Eastern thinking is mainly used as a counterpoint to the classical Western way of thinking.

    I've read ZMM about seven times. I get something different out of it on every read. It is an attempt to apply rational thinking to the idea of rationality itself, in addition to just being a great story. The section on 'gumption traps' is worth the price of admission alone.

    Definitely my favorite book.

"You must have an IQ of at least half a million." -- Popeye