Books are where human ideas and experiences are shared with the world. There is something timeless about books. For example, so many empires fell, yet the Bible somehow managed to survive through it all. Here is a list of the books I plan on reading and have read so far. I have included a short paragraph with a personal rating of how I felt about them.

On my Reading List...

  • Don Quixote
  • War and Peace
  • Meditations
  • Steve Jobs
  • Black Like Me
  • 21 Lessons for the 21st century
  • Pride and Prejudice

Currently Reading...

  • Crime and Punishment
  • Foundation, by Isaac Asimov
  • 12 Rules for Life, by Jordan Peterson
  • 21 Lessons for the 21st century
Have a book you want me to read? Send me the name of the book and a short explanation of why it would be a great read, and I would gladly consider it!
Steven Gong
book reader
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2021 Readings

C.R.A.Z.Y.

Personal Rating: 7.5/10 - A book about a young boy discovering his sexuality during the 1970s.

The Passion by Jeannette Winterson

Personal Rating: 8/10 -

The Power of Habit

Personal Rating: 8.5/10 -

Kafka's Metamorphosis

Personal Rating: 8.5/10 -

Game Theory: A Graphic Guide

Personal Rating: 8.5/10

2020 Readings

The Da Vinci Code

Personal Rating: 9.0/10 - Wow, what a thriller! I had to read this book as part of my humanities class. I purchased the physical book, and was initially greatly intimidated by the thickness of that book. However, the storytelling was so good and always kept me on my toes. I learned a lot about history, secret societies, religion, Leonardo, and just overall a great piece of writing.

The Autobiography of Malcolm X

Personal Rating: 9.5/10 - This book has become one of my favorite books of all time, I just couldn't stop reading it. It was the first book in a long time that I fell in love with. The story that the author tells is captivating because it is incredibly human. From being incarcerated to lecturing at Harvard University, from seeing white men as devils to seeing them as brothers at the end of his lifetime, we see his growth and evolution throughout the book, from the way he thinks to the way he acts. The Autobiography of Malcolm X is extraordinarily raw, authentic and personal. By reading this book, I was not only better able to internalize the struggles of African Americans by reading first-hand experience, but I was able to draw my own parallels and conclusions about the current state of society decades later.

The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy

Personal Rating: 9/10 - I had previously read it when I was around eleven years old, but I reread it after Elon Musk said the book really changed him and the way he thought about his own purpose in life. I really enjoyed the book. It had an exciting plot and I enjoyed travelling through space and living the shoes of a human being meeting other aliens. The famous answer to the universe being "42" comes from this book. However, I wouldn't say this book changed my life the way Elon Musk describes it, though it was still a very enjoyable read.  

Homo Sapiens

Personal Rating: 9/10 - One of my least favorite classes in elementary and high school was history. I saw no practical purpose in learning about the past. I was future oriented. As I became more invested in learning about humanity, this book, in some sense, confirmed that I was wrong about the futility of history. One of my favorite quotes from this book goes along the lines of: We learn about the past not only  to stop repeating the same mistakes, but to see what different paths humanity could've taken. I learned so much about human beings and how we have evolved, and it was a great and interesting read. I would recommend it to you if you haven't read it already.

Homo Deus

Personal Rating: 7/10 - This was the follow-up book written by Yuval Noah Harari, author of Homo Sapiens. While Homo Sapiens was focused on the past of humanity, Homo Deus was focused on the future of humanity. Since the start of the book, Harari admits that he cannot predict the future. He can only give his best guess by taking a look at how the present is evolving. This book is about his predictions. Mainly, he explores the idea of dataism, a world powered by data and AI, which will control how future societies function. I agree with him, but the content of the book was, in my opinion, mostly filled with repeated ideas, that just wasn't as exciting to read as Homo Sapiens.

Zero To One

Personal Rating: 8/10 - This is more of an entrepreneurship book, about how really successful startups are different from all the other failures. One of the ideas explored in this book is that really successful startups bet on one very unconventional truth, that most people don't believe in. Companies like Airbnb and Uber bet on an unconventional truth that people would want to share their cars and homes with total strangers, which most people at the time did not believe in. These companies were able to build "monopolies", as nobody see a value in competing with them. Nobody except themselves believed in that truth. When people finally started realizing what was happening, the company was already miles ahead of its competition. This is how they are able to thrive so well. Basically, find an important truth that very few people agree with you on, and build a business from that. Outside of the business context, I find that question still extremely interesting and difficult to answer. Do you know what is that for you? An unconventional truth that very few people agree with you on, but that you believe in. Feel free to let me know what is yours by shooting me an email!

Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future

Personal Rating: 8/10 - Currently, Elon Musk is the person I respect the most in today's society. My favorite companies are SpaceX and Tesla, both being led by him. SpaceX builds amazing rockets that we could only dream of, and Tesla builds both sexy and incredibly safe and smart cars. They're both marvelous pieces of engineering that leaves me in awe every time I think about it. Reading this biography about Elon Musk allowed me to better understand him as a person. We often say that you should never meet your heroes, and, after reading this book, I think it is true about Elon Musk. While I dream of meeting him, he doesn't seem to be the nicest guy in the world, often firing his employees spontaneously and showing a lack of empathy at his workplace. However, reading the book allowed me to better understand his motives (ex: he sees his employees differently from his friends. Elon Musk is actually a very emotional person around the people close to him), so I still vehemently respect him for everything that he is trying to achieve for humanity.

The Great Mental Models

Personal Rating: 8.5/10 - Mental Models are representations of how things work. They allow us to simplify the extremely complex world that we live in, to think, to understand and to make decisions. Having a mastery of different mental models allows you to think better about different issues. This is the reason I wanted to expand my horizon behind my innate logical, scientific and mathematical thinking. The way I think about it, I want to expand my toolbox in order to better navigate the world that I live in. Being a specialist will only give you blind spots. When we put multiple disciplines together in our head, "we can walk around a problem in a three dimensional way". If we're only looking at the problem one way, we have blind spots.

Daring Greatly

Personal Rating: 8.5/10 - This book is one of the things that has really inspired my essay on leadership and vulnerability. Vulnerability is an issue that we don't really talk about in society, especially amongst men. Vulnerability is uncomfortable. This book talks about vulnerability not as a weakness, but as a sign of great courage. She states in this book: "Vulnerability is the core of shame and fear and our struggle for worthiness, but it appears that it's also the birthplace of joy, of creativity, of belonging, of love". I think everyone would really appreciate this book, as human beings living in society.

Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism and Progress

Personal Rating: 8.5/10 - Good read about why we should be more optimistic about society and how media can sometimes distort reality.

Past Readings

Éthique à l'usage de mon fils

Personal Rating: 9/10 - I read this book while I was in grade 9. It profoundly changed my perspective on life and started to spark my interest in different areas of academia. The book delves into various aspects of ethics such as what makes us human and different from animals (the short answer being our ability to make conscious choices). It delves into the importance of loving each other and treating one another as one would want to be treated.

The Picture of Dorian Gray

Personal Rating: 8/10 - A difficult read in grade 9 but still a great book exploring beauty and morality.

The Art of War

Personal Rating: 6/10 - I had high expectations for this book as I heard it mentioned a lot in business and life coaching things. However, I don't feel like I learned anything after I read it. It offered generic advice that I didn't feel applicable in my own life.

The Count of Monte Cristo (Original French Version)

Personal Rating: 9/10 - One of the hardest reads for a thirteen-year old, having to go through the original french version of around 1300 pages in 2 months. Reading the book was an rollercoaster ride that took the reader on an emotional journey like no other book. A story about a man being falsely incarcerated during his marriage and trying in the upcoming decades to piece his life back together.

Bashir Lazhar

Personal Rating: 7.5/10 - A original screenplay that later turned into a movie, Bashir Lazhar is a story beginning with a teacher committing suicide in her classroom in the province of Quebec. The protagonist, Bashir, is a refugee seeking political asylum who manages to find his way replacing the teacher. The story is fascinating as Bashir attempts both to obtain refugee status, cope with the loss of his family, adopt to an entirely new environment, and become a teacher.

Books I've Never Managed to Finish (Maybe 1 day?)

  • The Fifth Discipline
  • Crime and Punishment
  • Eloge des Mathematiques
  • Steve Jobs
  • Black Like Me
  • 21 Lessons for the 21st century
  • Pride and Prejudice
  • what if? Serious Scientific answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions