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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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  • by Niris ( 1443675 ) on Friday October 12, 2012 @04:30PM (#41635165)
    How to win friends and influence people by Dale Carnegie. Great pointers for talking to people. Also I loved the art of war.
  • Re:Not the Bible. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by gameboyhippo ( 827141 ) on Friday October 12, 2012 @04:50PM (#41635519) Journal

    You must be new here. Your answer is not only "not helpful", but it plays to the Slashdot crowd. Your intent was to look intelligent and enlightened, but in reality you look intolerant and ignorant.

    That being said, I'll take the bait. As a rebuttal to "not showing anything of actual import or meaning."(sic), a Christian would argue that its importance is that they are no longer damned by their sins. The historian would argue that its importance is that it provides historical context for various periods of time. The anthropologist would argue that its importance is that it provides insight into the culture and traditions of early Jewish people. And so on...

    But being that you're an average twelve year old neoatheist, your intolerance causes you to spew out this garbage when it wasn't asked for. Specifically, nobody answered "The Bible", but you provided a preemptive "rebuttal" anyway.

  • The God Delusion (Score:3, Insightful)

    by na1led ( 1030470 ) on Friday October 12, 2012 @04:55PM (#41635625)
    by Richard Dawkins, a sure Eye Opener!
  • Silly question (Score:3, Insightful)

    by FridayBob ( 619244 ) on Friday October 12, 2012 @04:57PM (#41635667) Homepage
    My impression is that only people who have read very few books are likely to say that any one book has had a "significant impact on their lives." No one book has all the answers, but people who read enough of them do tend to become wiser. Anyway, if you're looking for a good book, first find a good author.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 12, 2012 @05:02PM (#41635773)

    While there are other great books (Dune was mentioned earlier), I have found Time Enough for Love has had more long term affects on my thinking than any other. In large part because it is so darn quotable:

    Also it is about the wisdom of a man who has lived for thousands of years, so I think the idea that it is a man's attempt to condense as much wisdom in one book as possible. Let me just reference my favorite quote:

    Do not confuse "duty" with what other people expect of you; they are utterly different. Duty is a debt you owe to yourself to fulfill obligations you have assumed voluntarily. Paying that debt can entail anything from years of patient work to instant willingness to die. Difficult it may be, but the reward is self-respect.
      But there is no reward at all for doing what other people expect of you, and to do so is not merely difficult, but impossible. It is easier to deal with a footpad than it is with the leech who wants "just a few minutes of your time, please — this won't take long." Time is your total capital, and the minutes of your life are painfully few. If you allow yourself to fall into the vice of agreeing to such requests, they quickly snowball to the point where these parasites will use up 100 percent of your time — and squawk for more!
      So learn to say No — and to be rude about it when necessary.
      Otherwise you will not have time to carry out your duty, or to do your own work, and certainly no time for love and happiness. The termites will nibble away your life and leave none of it for you.
      (This rule does not mean that you must not do a favor for a friend, or even a stranger. But let the choice be yours. Don't do it because it is "expected" of you.)
    - TEfL

  • Re:Two golfers (Score:4, Insightful)

    by CastrTroy ( 595695 ) on Friday October 12, 2012 @05:04PM (#41635803) Homepage
    This is very true. I like cycling and one thing that always comes up on cycling forums when people ask how they can improve, is to spend more time in the saddle. There's very little training alternates forms of training (or reading) can do to compare to spending 5 hours straight on a real ride. I know a lot of people in university did well in all their classes, learned everything they were supposed to, but couldn't actually program that well. Books are a good starting off point, to let you know what's possible, but you always have to follow up with using whatever you have learned for a real life project.
  • All of them... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by frank_adrian314159 ( 469671 ) on Friday October 12, 2012 @05:08PM (#41635849) Homepage

    Well, except for the ones by Ayn Rand - those made me more stupid. So I had to read some Chomsky and Borges to fix that.

  • Re:Not the Bible. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by CarsonChittom ( 2025388 ) on Friday October 12, 2012 @05:15PM (#41635963) Homepage

    If one chooses the bible, I expect them to tell me which book of the bible.

    Ecclesiastes. Pretty much everybody, believer or not, should read Ecclesiastes.

  • The Last Lecture (Score:4, Insightful)

    by JustinKSU ( 517405 ) on Friday October 12, 2012 @05:21PM (#41636081)
    The Last Lecture [] by Randy Pausch.

    A touching story about focusing one what matters in life from the point of view of a nerdy geek with months to live.
  • Re:Not the Bible. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TheGoodNamesWereGone ( 1844118 ) on Friday October 12, 2012 @05:37PM (#41636363)
    No, it *is* the Bible. It's the most influential book ever, and it affects you as well, whether you agree with its teachings or not. It's the very basis for Western civilization & morality (though that morality is under attack.) Now I'm going to surprise you and say I'm an atheist. I indeed am, but the Bible's influence on my life cannot be understated.
  • Re:Not the Bible. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by hazah ( 807503 ) on Friday October 12, 2012 @06:54PM (#41637359)
    Do you realize that the bible is the literary basis for pretty much all of the western hemisphere? Ignorance is NOT bliss, and it's an invaluable source of understanding the perticular predicements we are currently finding ourselves in too.
  • The Book of Mormon (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 12, 2012 @08:31PM (#41638223)

    Nobody has said this yet and I really mean it when I say the Book of Mormon has had a significant impact on my life. It has for any person who grew up in an LDS family by virtue of being a significant part of that culture. But it also has for me because I've read it many times and I know it's true. I've personally felt the power of the Holy Ghost testify to me it's true. The Bible is also the word of God and I love reading the teachings of Jesus in the New Testament. I can definitely say that I'm a better person as a result.

    You can get a free copy [] of the Book of Mormon, too, or read it online [].

  • by Hartree ( 191324 ) on Friday October 12, 2012 @09:26PM (#41638523)

    It doesn't matter if it's a valid basis for morality. The question was if it had an impact and it's had a major one on you as seen in the very phrasing of what you said. The FSM is a riposte to it. "fuck god" is said as an example of a disagreement with it. It's embedded in many of the very idioms of the language you happen to use (obviously it would be different if you spoke Chinese rather than English).

    No matter whether it is a valid basis or not, it's been used to define much of culture in many countries and the ideas in it shaped history. Sometimes it did so in pretty bad ways, such as the Crusades. Sometimes it led to better things.

    You could say the same about the Koran for those in Islamic countries. Regardless of whether someone had read it or agreed with it, it had tremendous impact on the society around them.

  • Re:Not the Bible. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by superdude72 ( 322167 ) on Saturday October 13, 2012 @05:29PM (#41644313)

    Feh. The Bible is merely one collection of texts out of Greco-Roman classical antiquity, and not the most influential among them. It is certainly not the work on which Plato, Aristotle, or Homer based their works. And are you discounting the entirety of the pre-Christian Roman Empire's contribution? Because a lot of people would consider that the basis of Western civilization and morality.

If a 6600 used paper tape instead of core memory, it would use up tape at about 30 miles/second. -- Grishman, Assembly Language Programming