Book recommendations: March 2015

Millionaire Fast Lane

Verdict: must read. If this was easy, then majority of people who bought this book would be millionaires. However, one bit to take away from the book: “time is your most valuable resource”. I’m planning a summary post on this one.

The girls guide to hunting and fishing by Melissa Banks
Excellent read. Short stories beautifully describing life of a woman from adolescence to death.

The Fortune Cookie Principle by Bernadette Jiwa
Mostly case studies on brilliant marketing. Worth a read, but if you’re in marketing already, you know most of them.

The Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo
OK, everyone is reading this book right now. I finished it a couple of months ago, and actually went ahead, got rid of all old clothing, and learned to fold things and stack them on the side. It feels incredible to be able to see all the things you love to wear, displayed neatly in your drawer. Recommend!

The Humans, by Matt Haig
I was so happy when I found this book, it’s in my favorite category of well-written humorous fiction that is not chick-lit.

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion
Another witty, funny work of fiction. Loved it, and even Bill Gates recommends it! So definitely get it and read it :)

Summer reading

Yay – summer is officially here!

As the days are getting hot, we are trying to escape to parks, beaches, campgrounds and be closer to nature (and share/water).

Aside from all summer activities, I love spending time with a great book, so I wanted to share some of my favorites, all wonderful for reading during summer. They are light enough, but smart enough, have great story lines, and both guys and ladies will be able to enjoy them.

What are your favorite books for summer reading?

Favorite business/creativity/life books

I just started reading the book about Richard Branson (thanks Sean for the epub file!), and thought I’d list similar books by great people that really stuck with me. The books that make you want to do stuff, or grab your life and live it to its fullest, or both. The list is short, that’s why it’s good – only the best books (in my humble opinion), made it.

Ignore Everybody by Hugh McLeod
This book is not only witty and full of great life stories from the author and advice on how to stay creative and make a business out of it, but also has great hilarious cartoons sprinkled throughout. You can just read one chapter at a time, all of them are humorous, insightful and inspirational.

Steal Like an artist by Austin Kleon

I wrote about this book previously. It’s short, smart and highly enjoyable for anyone who’s even a tiny bit creative (=all of us).

The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch
I forgot how I stumbled upon this book, but it’s by a very technical guy, who worked at some very innovative companies, and then was teaching CS at Carnegie Mellon. It’s a great, very inspiring read, and includes not only thoughts on technology and career but life in general and priorities and decisions one has to make before death. Highly recommended.

If you don’t have big breasts, put ribbons in your pigtails by Barbara Corcoran
Sean got me this e-book after we watched a few episodes of the first season of Shark Tank. We really like the show, and Barbara Corcoran is one of the “sharks” (multimillionaire businessmen and women who successfully made it, and have enough time, money and influence to help entrepreneurs achieve their business goals).

The title of the book is funny, but the content is great. Barbara writes about her life from childhood (being one of many kids in a blue-collar family in NJ), to her first business venture, to running a successful real estate firm in Manhattan. The chapters are short and each one illustrates a point, and I especially appreciate her perspective from a woman who doesn’t talk about beaten women-in-business related cliches, but rather describes her experience straight and to the point. Loved it.

I’m always, always on a lookout for great books, so feel free to send suggestions in the comments.

Book recommendations: January 2013

In the past month or so I managed to read 4 more books. Interestingly enough, they can be grouped by 2 themes: life stories with historical background narrated by women and World War 2 .

â??The Red Tentâ? and â??Someone Knows My Nameâ? will probably appeal more to the female audience, as there are a lot of mother-daughter lines, although the history angle might interest guys as well. I liked the 2nd book more, because of a better story development and fascinating historical background (slave trade from Africa to the Americas), but both are really good reads.

The WW2 books are â??Those who save usâ? and â??Leningradâ?. The first one is a fiction novel revolving around a life story of a German civilian during and after the war.

The â??Leningradâ? book is actually an amazing compiled non-fiction work shedding light on so many facts about the blockade (siege) of Leningrad, that were previously hidden or lied about. Now the whole picture of that horrible time, based on archives and witnessesâ?? diaries, available to the English-speaking audience. A lot of the details are really grim (and so was the reality of that time), but I just could not stop reading, sometimes late into the night. I lived in St. Petersburg for 4 years, and just trying to imagine the places I know back in 1942 was a haunting experience. Highly recommended, especially for a steal price of around $3 for a Kindle edition.

The 5th book I included is just a recommendation for the WW2-theme, a great engaging fiction novel called â??The Invisible Bridgeâ?. I really enjoyed it.

If you have any suggestions for similar books (or even anything else unrelated) – let me know in the comments, as Iâ??m always on a lookout for great reads.

Book: the Adventures of Little Onion (Chipollino)

Yesterday I was sick and was sitting in bed all day with my laptop, and somehow got carried away by this nostalgic wave for the books of my childhood.

Thanks to the power of the internet, today you can find things from many years in the past, collected and preserved by fellow admirers of the lost era of Soviet childhood captured in books.

One such book is by an Italian writer named Gianni Rodari, whose work was incredibly famous and loved in the USSR, but it seems like none of his work got any prominense in English-speaking world.

This book is called where the poor are oppressed by the rich and greedy. The story and its translation into Russian are wonderful, and another remarkable feature of this book were the illustrations. The characters of the story were drawn so well, and you can tell what kind of role each one is playing, whether they are rich or poor, kind or arrogant.

*The first cover is from 1955 – I had the exact same one. The next one is of Chipollino making Senior Tomato cry, because he’s an onion – get it? :) The third one is the cover for a later edition.

This is one of my favorites, and here’s the link to the full version (in Russian) with wonderful illustrations by Suteev.

Book recommendations: December 2012

Iâ??ve recently discovered a site, that recommends books for you based on your previous reading history, and yours and other peopleâ??s ratings. Itâ??s pretty good and beats Amazon, which shamefully still lacks a great recommendation engine, despite being in this business since the 90s and having a shitload of data to analyze.

In any case, I found this first book through and read it while vacationing in Mexico. Itâ??s called â??The End of Life Bookclubâ? and is a non-fiction book by a journalist Will Schwalbe. It struck a cord with me because itâ??s about love: family love, love of life and living it to the fullest, and love of great books. Itâ??s well-written and an easy read, despite the fact that it talks about such grim subjects as dying from cancer or the situation in Afghanistan. The book itself recommends some good reading, so thatâ??s why I give it a thumbs up.

This next one is an utterly hilarious, entertaining and engaging book called and mentioned it to a few people, but wanted to wait til I get to the end before recommending it. So the final verdict is – highly recommended! Itâ??s a great one.

â??The Light Between Oceansâ? by ML Steadman is a fiction novel that I think will appeal mostly to women, itâ??s a bit dramatic and sad like almost all books in the â??women-targetedâ? category (usually about loss of children and such). I normally donâ??t like to read this kind of drama, but the writing is beautiful and itâ??s set in Australia, so I made an exception. Well written, good storyline.

And lastly, James Altucherâ??s â??I was blind but now I seeâ? – provocative, no-nonsense honest read on a lot of controversial topics like religion, college, owning a house, fear, crappy people, creativity and more. A lot of that content is covered to some extent on his blog, but for $0.99 you get this complete packaged ebook. Recommended for those who hate to conform.

*All links to books mentioned above are to Kindle editions on Iâ??m hoping to make it easy to click and try/buy. I hate that itâ??s nearly impossible to buy a Kindle book from iPhone, as it drops you to paperback/hardcover versions if you search, and thereâ??s no way to find a Kindle one. Argh, Amazon, we are in a love-hate relationship I guess!

Once a bookworm, always a bookworm

I’ve been a bookworm all my life. But I did not know that, of course, because when I was a kid I didn’t know much English, not to mention the word “bookworm”. Also, Russian people love to read, and as I saw huge bookcases full of books at every house I visited as a kid, I assumed that’s what everyone does – reads. I would often be found in a corner with a book in my lap, while all other kids made noise and ran around. So only now I realize: I’ve been a bookworm all my life!

On the morning of my 7th or 8th birthday, I walked into my parents bedroom and found my mom still in bed but already awake. She told me to open the big wardrobe door and look inside, on the shelf. Which I did and found a pile of new books that she got for me! It was such a delight!

Here’s one of the books that was in the pile and I still remember its name:

The book is called “One summer at the end of the world”, and it’s about a boy who lives with his family at a military base on an island in the Far East of Russia. *Image from

And some other wonderfully illustrated books that I had in my collection a kid, and just managed to find them on the internet. Aren’t they beautiful?

*All images are from

We were all good readers in my family, and had a big bookcase full of serious HGH hgh books for adults, the amazing 12-volume Soviet Children’s Encyclopedia (a rare and famous collection to have back in the day), lots children’s books and books of math puzzles (because two of my grandparents were college math teachers).

Highly coveted Soviet Children’s Encyclopedia, the exact same one that we had. My favorite was volume 4, about flora and fauna, followed by volume 1 explaning geology, climate, volcanoes, and other cool Earth stuff. *Image from Wikipedia

When I ran out of books at home, I started to borrow from relatives and friends, and then from the central children’s library located on the main Lenin’s square in my home town. I would make a trip there once every two weeks, and it was a paradise! Rows and rows of booksheves, and it seemd you could never run out of things to read… Remember the old-school system of libraries writing down your library card number and due date on the inside of the first cover? Kind of a chrono-history of all previous borrowers who had a privilege to hold this very same book in the past.

*Central Children’s Library in Shymkent, present day

To this day, reading is one of my favorite pastimes. So I wanted to dedicate some posts to remarkable books that I would recommend to other people (and I am pretty picky, so you won’t find many “bestsellers” or “blockbusters” or womens or young adult garbage on the list). Hope you enjoy it, and I’m always curious to hear what smart people are reading, so please send your recommendations!