Mark Cuddlecheek

Books that have influenced me

It's good to learn from your mistakes. it's better to learn from other people's mistakes.

Here is a list of books, blogs, and channels that I read / listen to / watch. You can click on them to see a few notes about how they played a role in my life and to whom I recommend them. I'm planning to write a short text to each one eventually.


ThinkingFast andSlowD. Kahneman


Fast and Slow

by Daniel Kahneman

What I took away

  • Insights into intuition, logical thinking and their relationship
  • Recognizing heuristics and biases, such as anchoring effect, substitution bias, availability heuristic, sunk cost fallacy and others
  • Understanding how people percieve risks, loss and probabilities

I enjoyed reading Thinking, Fast and Slow, even though it's rather a long book. I would recommend it to readers interested in psychology and how people think.

The TippingPointM. Gladwell

The Tipping Point

How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference

by Malcolm Gladwell

Unfortunatelly, I haven't written notes for this book yet.

NudgeR. ThalerABCD


Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness

by Richard Thaler, Cass Sunstein

Unfortunatelly, I haven't written notes for this book yet.

Why weSleepM. Walker

Why We Sleep

The New Science of Sleep and Dreams

by Matthew Walker

Unfortunatelly, I haven't written notes for this book yet.

Mis-behavingR. Thaler


The Making of Behavioral Economics

by Richard Thaler

Exploration of how are people behaving irrationaly and where the assumptions of modern economics fail to hold. Thaler, father of behavioral economics, summarizes his findings and supports them with real life examples.

What I learned:

  • People behave irrationaly when making decisions
  • Transactional utility exists - percieved fairness of a deal influences rationality
  • Functioning of sunk cost fallacy
  • How delayed consumption confuses mental accounting
  • How house money effect works
  • Other differences between people and econs (theoretical perfectly rational economic agents)

I enjoyed the book. I'll probably reread (parts of) it in the future.

Darell HuffHow ToLiE WithStatistics

How to Lie with Statistics

by Darrell Huff

A short book covering topics, which really should be taught at high schools, but aren't. Statistics is widely used in all science fields, news and daily life, and yet very unintuitive. Basic concepts explained in the book, such as "correlation does not imply causation", are key components of critical thinking. As the name suggests, How to Lie uncovers several tricks (I occasionally encounter some being used). Understanding them helps us avoid being manipulated.

Being short, the book requires little time investment while offering potentially great returns. I would recommend it to people who want to improve their critical thinking.

EconomicsOf Goodand BadT. Sedláček

Economics of Good and Evil

The Quest for Economic Meaning from Gilgamesh to Wall Street

by Tomáš Sedláček

A philosophically-flavored book about the impact of cultures on economical thinking. The author often cites and interprets historical texts from an economical point of view, suggesting original insights. By going through the history, Sedláček puts modern economic thought trends into perspective. He argues about the inseparability of etics, morality and economics, which is frequently percieved as a mere collection of mathematical models and optimization techniques.

This book got me interested in both economy and philosophy. If you want to think more than to read when going through a book, this might be a good fit.

Scott E. PageUnder-standingcomplexity

Understanding Complexity

by Scott E. Page

A simple book about complex topic. Author presents basic ideas of complex systems; exploration-exploitation tradeoff, emergence, multi-agent environment, feedback loops...

While the book was fun to read, it was quite shallow, so I look forward to learning more about the topic in depth.

R. DawkinsRiver Outof eden

River out of Eden

A Darwinian View of Life

by Richard Dawkins

The book is too short for the topic (just 5 hours long audiobook). I first got interested in evolution by learning about genetic algorithms at school and I read this book soon after. I haven't learned anything particulary practical for computer science from it and dissapointingly, not much about evolution itself either.

I would not recommend this book to anyone who understands the basic idea of evolution. If you are interested in this topic, skip River out of Eden and try the Selfish Gene (which is also in this list).

SelfishgeneR. Dawkins

the Selfish Gene

by Richard Dawkins

Great reading. provides in-depth insight for people outside of the field.

What I took away:

  • The important basic units of evolutionary process are genes, not individuals. Genes are not our tool for reproduction, we are the tool for their reproduction.
  • Connections between game theory and evolution (e.g. evolutionarily stable strategies)
  • Connections between evolution and intelligence (mostly personal realizations about AI rather than actual content of the book.)

The only (objective) problem I have with this (audio)book is the never-ending switching of two narrators.

I did not gain any useful knowledge applicable to genetic algorithms (as I had hoped in advance), but I learned many things I didn't even know i didn't know. I'm planning to follow up with another Dawkin's book, The Extended Phenotype.

BlackswanNassim Taleb

the Black Swan

the Impact of the Highly Improbable

by Nassim N. Taleb

A book about the unexpected, the rationalization, and the limits of knowledge. The Black Swan contains 4 main sections (4th one being the conclusion). I really enjoyed the first two in which I found all the useful information, the 3rd one is rather pompous and does not provide much additional value, and I would recommend skipping it.

what I took away:

  • reasons why (especially long-term) predictions are so unreliable or downright misleading
  • recognizing environments where black swans happen
  • being more careful about hindsight explanations
  • lessons on silent evidence, fallacies, randomness, and the immeasurability of probability

I recommend reading this book (or just the first two sections) to just about everybody, as I believe most people would improve their critical thinking by reading it.

PS: the audiobook narration quality is on point.

Judea Pearl,D. MackenzieThe Bookof Why

The Book of Why

The New Science of Cause and Effect

by Judea Pearl, Dana Mackenzie

The book on statistical illusions, limitations of statistics, and the importance of causal models in AI and scientific thinking in general. Co-written by Judea Pearn, laureat of Turing award for his contributions to probabilistic and causal reasoning.

It illustrates very well the differences between model-free and model-based reasoning and nicely complements traditional statistical education. It explains why it is so easy for people to draw completely contrary conclusions from the same data, and what to do about it.

I recommend this book to people interested in AI and to those who need to draw correct implications from data. Read it in the print form or ebook, because it is hard to follow the examples from audio without seing the pictures.

S. PinkerHow TheMindWorks

How the Mind Works

by Steven Pinker

Unfortunatelly, I haven't written notes for this book yet.

AI & machine learning

Sutton & BartoReinforce-mentLearning

Reinforcement Learning

An Introduction

by Andrew Barto, Richard Sutton

Unfortunatelly, I haven't written notes for this book yet.

D. FosterGenerativeDeepLearning

Generative Deep Learning

Teaching Machines to Paint, Write, Compose and Play

by David Foster

We have seen great advances in generative models in past years. This book explains the basics of generative modeling and deep learning, dives into modern popular methods, such as GANs and VAEs, and overviews their usage in writing, music composition and image processing.

I liked that the book contains real Python (Keras) code for many methods and is accompanied with a repository for convenient reproduction. For theoretically inclined, the book contains some mathematical details (for example in WGAN section).

I highly appreciate that the book discusses a very recent research on the use of generative models in reinforcement learning (world models).

The only thing I didn't enjoy much were the metaphors intended to explain models and concepts. For me, they were almost harder to understand than the models themeselves. I think a clear straight explanation would be more effective in this case.

Overall, I would recommend this book to people interested in this area.

Burr SettlesActiveLearning

Active Learning

by Burr Settles

In active learning, (supervised) ML algorithm is allowed to choose a portion of the training data. This is advantageous in situations where annotations are time-consuming or expensive, because we focus the work on samples where it is actually needed.

I like how active learning and semi-supervised learning complement each other. Both approaches make use of unlabeled data, but SLL exploits what the model already knows and AL exploits what it doesn't know yet.

The book is quite readable and contains fundamental ideas and methods. It includes some mathematical details for the theoretically inclined readers and also some practical considerations for the practitioners. While I skipped a few parts, I liked it overall.

I recommend reading Active Learning to people who understand standard supervised ML and .

X. Zhu,A. GoldbergIntro toSemi-SupervisedLearning

Introduction to Semi-Supervised Learning

by Xiaojin Zhu, Andrew B. Goldberg

Semi-supervised learning helps us deal with problems where labeled data is sparse and unlabeled is abundant.

The book is well-written and pleasant to read. It gives a solid overview of the field. I expecially appreciate simple examples with illustrations, and sections about assumptions.

I have noticed only minor imperfections. The text does not cover some approaches (such as pretraining to learn representations, or consistency regularization). I would also welcome a discussion about computational feasibility of the explained methods.

I recommend this book to people who understand standard supervised learning algorithms and are curius about possible usage of unlabeled data.

Y. Vorobeychik,M. KantarciogluAdversarialML

Adversarial Machine Learning

by Yevgeniy Vorobeychik and Murat Kantarcioglu

The book studies adversarial situations that can emerge from the deployment of ML systems in the world. The typical example is the ongoing war between spammers and spam filters.

The book goes over the taxonomy of attacks and serves as a survey of the research in the field, covering a range of optimization problems connected to attacks and defense. Sometimes I felt lost in the technical details and thought that clearer text structure would help to see the bigger picture. I would also like to see more focus on deep learning.

Adversarial Machine Learning is not very practical book. I would recommend it to beginner researches in the area rather than practitioners. If you intend to read this book, I suggest to pick up the parts relevant for you and skip the rest, I did the same thing.

LilianWeng'sBlogLilian Weng

Lilian Weng's log

by Lilian Weng

You can find it on her website.
YannicKilcher'sYoutubeYannic Kilcher

Youtube channel

by Yannic Kilcher

You can find it here.
HenryAI LabsYoutubeHenry AI Labs

Youtube channel

by Henry AI Labs

You can find it here.


Ray DalioPrinciples


Life and Work

by Ray Dalio

Unfortunatelly, I haven't written notes for this book yet.

ZeroToOnePeter Thiel

Zero to One

Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future

by Peter Thiel

Fantastic reading for people interested in startups and technology. Peter Thiel, cofounder of Paypal, explains his view on monopolies, founding startups and innovation.

What I took from it:

  • Difference between incremental and true innovation
  • Theil's nontraditional view on monopolies
  • Good ideas = revealing secrets
  • Cofounders need to know each other long and well, starting a company together requires a commitment comparable to marriage
  • Thiel's opinion on complementarity of people and computers and why it matters
The HardthingabouthardthingsB. Horowitz

The Hard Thing About Hard Things

Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers

by Ben Horowitz

Ben Horowitz shares a no-bs story of building a tech company. He adresses the hard questions which nobody wants to think about in advance. What to do with a friend if he/she cannot perform in their position? What to do with a genius who is a bad employee? How to avoid political machinations inside a company?

So what's the hard thing?

The hard thing is that nothing can prepare you for the decisions you'll face leading a company, when all options are horrible, you don't have enough information and it's you who has to decide.

In my opinion, The Hard Thing is valuable for founders or aspiring-to-be founders of a tech company.

M. E. GerberE-MythRevisited

The E-Myth Revisited

Why Most Small Businesses Don't Work and What to Do About It

by Michael E. Gerber

Unfortunatelly, I haven't written notes for this book yet.

The DipSeth Godin

The Dip

A Little Book That Teaches You When to Quit (and When to Stick)

by Seth Godin

The subtitle says it all, it's literally A Little Book That Teaches You When to Quit (and When to Stick). Is it worth reading? Probably. I didn't find it particulary important for me - in comparison to other books. However, as it is really short, it's likely worth the time investment.

PredictionmachinesAgrawal,Gans, oldfarb

Prediction Machines

The Simple Economics of Artificial Intelligence

by Ajay Agrawal, Joshua Gans, Avi Goldfarb

I would not recommend Prediction Machines to people with some ML background, because while the book provides some good information, a majority seemed quite apparent to me. It spends a lot of time explaining ML in general and most of the "economics of AI" is in the last hour and something. I liked the form though, all chapters ended with a quick summary of most important points.

PaulGraham'sEssaysPaul Graham

Paul Graham's Essays

by Paul Graham

You can find them on his website.

I have read most of the essays. I find them well-thought, insightful and logical. Graham often writes about Lisp and startups, but it's not always the case. Part of the essays are just life wisdom or insights into things happening around.

If you would like to try some, but not sure which to pick, you can try my favourites:

  • How to Get Startup Ideas
  • Keep Your Identity Small
  • How to Disagree
  • Maker's Schedule, Manager's Schedule
  • Stuff
  • Lies we tell kids
SamAltman'sBlogSam Altman

Sam Altmans's Blog

by Sam Altman

You can find it on his website.


Elon muskAshlee Vance

Elon Musk

Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future

by Ashlee Vance

Elon Musk's achievements inspire me, so I decided to learn more about his story and read this book. I found it interesting. (Well, writing not-an-interesting biography of Elon Musk must be really hard).

If you want to see a "future-first" thinking in practice or are interested in biographies of highly impactful people, you should read this one.

Steve JobsW. Isaacson

Steve Jobs

by Walter Isaacson

A thorough overview of the story of Steve Jobs. I started with the longer version, called Steve Jobs: The Exclusive Biography, but it was too detailed for me, so I ended up reading the standard version instead. If you are not very passionate about both reading and Job's life, I recommend choosing the same.

Shoe DogPhil Knight

Shoe Dog

A Memoir by the Creator of Nike

by Phil Knight

In this book, you can experience the birth, struggle and eventual global reach of Nike through the founder's eyes. It's different than the typical glorified success story.

The story of Shoe Dog might be biased by the fact that it was written by Phil Knight himself, but I liked it precisely because of it. It's subjective, personal, human.

(BTW it's a great listening for running)

Brad StoneEverythingstore

the Everything Store

Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon

by Brad Stone

A story of an extraordinary success in building a massive empire.

What I learned:

  • Think long term and be persistent about it
  • Don't compete with Amazon
  • Amazon uses money from profitable divisions to sell under price in a particular market to weaken competition (which needs to sell goods at full price), then buys them under the threat of a complete destruction, which strenghtens their market position and allows them to negotiate cheaper prices from suppliers.

The story of Amazon is raw and rough. I got bored during several parts (as the plot started to feel repetitive or confusing), but the interesting parts compensated for it.

Playbook ofBill CampbellSchmidt, Eagle,RosenbergTrillionDollarCoach

Trillion Dollar Coach

The Leadership Playbook of Silicon Valley's Bill Campbell

by Eric Schmidt, Jonathan Rosenberg, Alan Eagle

Unfortunatelly, I haven't written notes for this book yet.

How ToThinklikea RomanEmperorD. Robertson

How to Think like a Roman Emperor

The Stoic Philosophy of Marcus Aurelius

by Donald Robertson

Unfortunatelly, I haven't written notes for this book yet.

War literature

All QuietOn TheWesternFrontE. Remarque

All Quiet on the Western Front

by Erich Maria Remarque

Go and read this one.

I believe everyone should read at least one war book. Raw war book, from soldier's point of view. All Quiet on the Western Front is a story of pointlessness, despair and wasted lifes during WW1. Reading it put my own problems into perspective, a perspective I could hardly gain otherwise.

It made me rethink quite a few values and beliefs I held and became one of the most influential books for me. With the rise of technology enabling next-gen autonomous weapons, I consider anti-war literature an important topic (especially) for tech oriented people.

CloselyWatchedTrainsB. Hrabal

Closely Watched Trains

by Bohumil Hrabal

Unfortunatelly, I haven't written notes for this book yet.

Man's SearchForMeaningViktor Frankl

Man's Search for Meaning

by Viktor Frankl

Unfortunatelly, I haven't written notes for this book yet.

The ArtOf WarSun-C'

the Art of War

by Sun-c’

Many people recommend this book as a quality business advice, and while it teaches some timeless wisdom, I mostly felt like it's explaining self-evident principles. I probably won't read it again in near future.

The whiteDiseaseKarel Čapek

The White Disease

by Karel Čapek

Unfortunatelly, I haven't written notes for this book yet.

Self help

7 habitsof highlyEffectivepeopleSteven Covey

7 Habits of Highly Effective People

by Stephen Covey

7 Habits must be the #1 book in the category, it taught me a lot about my shortcomings and what to do about them. If you are info self help or personal growth books, you should get this one. I will probably read it again in the future.

NeverSplit TheDifferenceChris Voss

Never Split the Difference

Negotiating as if Your Life Depended on It

by Chris Voss

This book is not just a list of quick tricks. The autor makes the reading much more interesting and real by telling stories from his own work experience of negotiating with kidnappers. Many of the recommendations are useful not only for negotiating, but also in normal daily conversations (for example mirroring or recognizing different kinds of yeses and noes).

I'd recommend this book to anyone who wants to improve communication skills, I'm personally looking forward to rereading it.

W. B. IrvineA GUIDEto thegood lifeThe ancientart ofstoic joy

A Guide to the Good Life

The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy

by William B. Irvine

A friendly introduction to stoic philosophy for modern people.

As the name suggests, the book contains both general advice for having a good life and also very specific techniques, such as negative visualization. The book aims to be practical and applicable for everyday life.

This was my first book about stoicism (or any school of philosophy for that matter). I resonate with many ideas it offers, and find much of its teaching reasonable. I plan to dive deeper into Greek philosophy in the future.

12 rulesFor LifeJ. B. Peterson

12 Rules for Life

An Antidote to Chaos

by Jordan B. Peterson

12 Rules is definitely not a light reading (which comes as a bit of surprise in this section). Nevertheless striving to live by the 12 presented rules is reasonable with no doubt. Peterson's arguments often go deeply into philosophical and even existantial dimension, so you will likely find many pieces of wisdom in this book, but don't expect them to be served in an easy-to-read form.

Startwith whySimon Sinek

Start with Why

How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action

by Simon Sinek

Unfortunatelly, I haven't written notes for this book yet.

Ch. Duhiggthe Powerof Habit

Power of Habit

Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business

by Charles Duhigg

Some insights, many stories - I liked the format of this book. Although I had basically zero knowledge in neuroscience and behavioral antropology, I learned a few useful ideas, as the book sticks to the basics. It does not dive into advanced concepts and interesting stories make it fun to read.

How to WinFriends &InfluencePeopleD. Carnegie

How to Win Friends & Influence People

by Dale Carnegie

Unfortunatelly, I haven't written notes for this book yet.

Mark MansonTHE SubtleArt ofNot Givinga F*ck

Subtle Art of not Giving a F*ck

by Mark Manson

Subtle Art was surprisingly full of smart (even wise sometimes) advice, while still being straighforward and easy to read. Worth reading (but probably more to young audience).

Main lessons I took from it:

  • Asking "is this something I'm willing to struggle for" is much stronger discriminator than "is this something I want"
  • We are averse to actions that threatens our identity, our self image and subsequently often prevent ourselves from growing. It's worth recognizing such situations.
  • Being open to the truth that I'm probably average or below average at most things I do. Being above average at all things would prevent us being exceptional at the little number of things that really need it.
Richard KochThe 80/20principle

The 80/20 Principle

The Secret to Success by Achieving More with Less

by Richard Koch

Unfortunatelly, I haven't written notes for this book yet.


Daniel KeyesFlowersforAlgernon

Flowers for Algernon

by Daniel Keyes

Don't confuse it with a tale of the same name (which served later as an outline for this book.)

Flowers for Algernon is a story of a man with a mental disability, coming through a medical procedure raising his intelligence to a genius level, where it peeked and started slowly regressing back. It's mostly saddening, but makes you truly appreciate the abilities and natural talents you got. I believe that I'm more grateful for my privileges after reading this book.

The GreatGatsbyF. S. Fitzgerald

The Great Gatsby

by F. Scott Fitzgerald

I've first seen the movie and read the book later. As a result, I liked the movie better, it provided clearer, more black and white picture of the characters, which made the story easier to grasp. But the more I thought about it, the more the movie felt as an oversimplifying filter of the complex reality, (which we ourselves often like to put on.) So in the end, I prefer the book version of the story.

Fahrenheit451Ray Bradbury

Fahrenheit 451

by Ray Bradbury

A thought experiment about censorship, brainwashing and the value of literature. I don't feel like it influenced me strongly in any particular way, but I enjoyed it anyways.

R. U. R.Karel Čapek


by Karel Čapek

I see R.U.R. mostly as a reflection on the technological progress and the nature of humankind. It shows how the future might turn if we mindlessly build better and better machines to automate all work. While I currently don't consider a robot revolt to be likely, I agree with Čapek's view on the consequences of automation, despite the fact it is a century old.

N. GogolGovernmentInspector

The Government Inspector

by Nikolai Gogol

Unfortunatelly, I haven't written notes for this book yet.

E. HemingwaytheOld Manandthe Sea

Old Man and the Sea

by Ernest Hemingway

Unfortunatelly, I haven't written notes for this book yet.