Curated recommendations from Hacker News.


7 recommendations

Ask HN: What books fundamentally changed the way you think about the world?

Musashi, by Eiji Yoshikawa. I still can't put into words how this book changed my world view, but it was one of the most impacting books I've ever read. From religion to arts to personal goals, everything changed with this book. I'm pretty sure I left the church while/right after reading it.

ravishi, over 5 years ago

Ask HN: Best book you read in 2011

Musashi by Eiji Yoshikawa. Highly recommended for anyone who has discipline problems, it is really inspiring, one of the top 3 books I've read. It tells the history of the real samurai named Miyamoto Musashi.

rcamera, almost 11 years ago

The First Caucasian Samurai

It's currently on my waiting list. Right now I'm halfway through "Musashi", which I'm finding quite motivational. I'm not sure how the two books compare though.

Panoramix, about 12 years ago

Ask HN: Interesting (Non software) books?

> I must say you really sold the Musashi book to me. Definitely going to buy it next time I buy books. Thanks.

You're going to love it :) I damn near never guarantee someone is going to love a book, but I figure almost anyone here would. Everyone, literally everyone I'd recommended or gifted a copy of Musashi too is crazy about the book.

At the risk of getting way ahead of myself, Taiko by the same author is quite good too, but larger in scope - more characters, more history, a bit more work but still a good story. If you really like Japan or Yoshikawa's writing style, check that out afterwards. But for now, you're in good hands with Musashi. Feel free to drop me an email if you've got thoughts as you're reading, my email is in my profile.

lionhearted, over 12 years ago

Ask HN: Interesting (Non software) books?

If you're talented and get frustrated with stupid people, you have to read "Musashi" by Eiji Yoshikawa. I mean, you have to.

Musashi was one of the greatest (maybe the greatest) swordsman of all time. He invented a Japanese longblade/shortblade mixed style of swordsmanship, at one point fighting himself out of an ambush when he was attacked by over 30 men. He was undefeated in over 60 duels, including defeating arguably the second best swordsman in Japan at the time while fighting with a wooden oar he carved into a rough swordlike shape.

Here's Musashi's Wikipedia page:

The book by Eiji Yoshikawa is historical fiction - it's period accurate and follows all of Musashi's most well known story. It fills in some other details we don't know of Musashi's life - how he might have trained, some minor scuffles with bandits of the day, and it added a love story.

The book is exceptional. Musashi has immense amounts of raw talent, but is in conflict with himself in the world, arrogant, keeps getting into problems and trouble until he comes to more mastery and wisdom. Seriously, I read a lot, and this is hands-down my favorite book of all time. It's a hell of an enjoyable read, really pleasant and beautiful, fun and adventurous, but also filled with deep wisdom. It's a great swashbuckling story, but also teaches you about thinking critically, tactics, strategy, training, tradeoffs, and so on. Just a masterpiece. Easily the most influential book of my life.

No affiliate link:

Whilst on subject, I'll also recommend Husain Haddawy's translation of Arabian Nights, which is uproariously funny and also contains a lot of wisdom, and "The E-Myth Revisited" by Michael Gerber, which I consider the Bible of small business. I buy a copy of E-Myth and make anyone I'm going to partner with read it before I'll do business with them.

Arabian Nights:


Edit: Wow, that's quite a few upvotes pretty quickly. If you pick a copy of one of these and enjoy it, feel free to shoot me an email if you want to chat about it. These books have been huge for my life, and not enough people read, so I don't get to talk books as much as I'd like. Also, people with similar tastes feel free to make recommendations either commenting here or by email. Lurkers too! I'm always looking for great books.

lionhearted, over 12 years ago

Good Books Don't Have to Be Hard

I loved this part:

> The Modernists felt little obligation to entertain their readers. That was just the price you paid for your Joycean epiphany. Conversely they have trained us, Pavlovianly, to associate a crisp, dynamic, exciting plot with supermarket fiction, and cheap thrills, and embarrassment. Plot was the coward's way out, for people who can't deal with the real world. If you're having too much fun, you're doing it wrong.

I'm currently reading The Arabian Nights. It's a really, really wonderful book. There's some great lessons in there and it's hilarious. When I read it in a cafe, sometimes I wind up laughing loudly out loud and people look over.

But the book was poorly translated for a long time. I'm reading Husain Haddawy's translation, and his introduction talks about translating a classic. Apparently some of the translators of the past thought the dirty, rough, common language of The Arabian Nights wasn't fitting enough, so they took a lot of liberties to make the language more difficult to read so it would appeal to more educated people. Haddawy's version feels like a friend is a telling you a story: No fancy language. The sex and violence are crass. Things are described in simple ways.

And it's really, really good, and highly recommended. I like books I can learn from, where reading the writing isn't made an extra intellectual puzzle and challenge to get satisfaction from the book. A basic swashbuckling type story like Musashi by Eiji Yoshikawa or The Three Muskateers by Dumas is really good. They're fun, readable, intelligent books that aren't difficult. And despite not being difficult, you still learn a lot of lessons from them. Good for relaxation time, for those of riding our minds pretty hard at work. I can understand how there's a pleasure in conquering a difficult book, but I personally prefer to get all the enjoyment and lessons out of a book with simple writing and interesting themes and characters.

lionhearted, about 13 years ago

Ask HN: good books about military strategy?

A quick read is Wikipedia's summary of Miyamoto Musashi's "Book of Five Rings" - it's about Japanese swordsmanship in the early 1600's in a variety of situations: Full-on combat, a duel, outnumbered, with high/low ground, etc. It's strategic more than tactical, and if you like Sun Tzu you might dig it.

The story of his life, "Musashi," is one of my favorite books of all time and has good strategic and philosophical discussion mixed in with some really riveting action and social commentary. Musashi had a lot of potential at a young age, but was extremely undisciplined and constantly had it out with the law, society, and people whose motivations he couldn't understand. The book chronicles him becoming the greatest swordsman in Japanese history. An incredible read, especially for anyone who was bright at young age but questioned a hell of a lot of society's rules.

Amazon (no affiliate B.S., just a great book):

lionhearted, over 13 years ago

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