Books I've Read

I’ve read books in English, French, and Arabic. Both fiction and non-fiction.

Mostly, I’ll post here non-fiction English books. At least, the ones that I can recommend and might be relevant to most of you.

Also, I’ll skip the books that I read but don’t remember much of them. I spent a decade reading without taking notes. Please don’t do like me. It’s such a waste.

This section is only meant to spark your interest in books. So I’ll only write my impressions and three notes from the books. For more details, summaries and reviews, you can find them on Amazon or any other source.

For a faster research, you can click on any tag below to find the books of your interests.

The Quran

The Quran

3+ billion printed

Allah

Reading the Quran is like fishing, you never know what you’re going to catch. Among many, it can bring you relief, give you strength, cleanse your heart, nurture your soul, or expand your mind.

Three notes from the book:
1- Read! And your Lord is the Most Generous, Who taught by the pen— taught humanity what they knew not. [Surah Al’ Alaq-3,4,5]
2- And remember when your Lord proclaimed, ‘If you are grateful, I will certainly give you more. [Surah Ibrahim-7]
3- And whoever puts their trust in Allah, then He alone is sufficient for them. [Suarh At-Talaq-3]

Tags:

  • Islam
  • Religion
  • Life
  • Future
  • Bestseller
Nahjul-Balagha

Nahjul-Balagha

Path of Eloquence

Yasin al-Jibouri

This book is a compilation of the sermons of Ali ibn Au Talib, cousin and son-in-law of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). It has the Arabic text with English translation. It's perfect as my Arabic is not good enough to understand Imam Ali. He's at another level of eloquence and depth. The topics are various. My favorite sermons are the ones speaking about Allah and our relationship with Him.

Three notes from the book:
1- Lord! Suffices me for honor to be Your servant, and suffices me for pride that You are my Lord; You are as I love You to be, so do make me as You love I should be.
2- Beware! At the time of committing evil deeds, remember the destroyer of joys, the spoiler of pleasures, and the killer of desires (namely death). Seek assistance of Allah for fulfillment of His obligatory rights and for (thanking Him) for His countless bounties and benevolence.
3- Eyes do not see Him face-to-face, but hearts perceive Him through the realities of belief. He is near to things but not (physically) contiguous. He is far from them but not (physically) separate. He speaks but not with reflection. He intends but not with preparation. He molds, but not with (the assistance) of limbs...

Tags:

  • Islam
  • Religion
Outliers

Outliers

The Story of Success

Malcolm Gladwell

I read The Tipping Point after reading Outliers. From a writing perspective, Outliers is far better. It is fluid with a dose of suspense. You don't see from the beginning how the different chapters are connected to the main idea, which keeps you captivated. For the rest, based on the story of many successful people, Gladwell shows what it takes to be successful. Also, you'll understand why some ingredients of success are not replicable.

Three notes from the book:
1- Achievement is talent plus preparation. The problem with this view is that the closer psychologists look at the careers of the gifted, the smaller the role innate talent seems to play and the bigger the role preparation seems to play.
2- Those three things - autonomy, complexity, and a connection between effort and reward - are, most people will agree, the three qualities that work has to have if it is to be satisfying.
3- It is those who are successful, in other words, who are most likely to be given the kinds of special opportunities that lead to further success. It’s the rich who get the biggest tax breaks. It’s the best students who get the best teaching and most attention. And it’s the biggest nine- and ten-year-olds who get the most coaching and practice. Success is the result of what sociologists like to call “accumulative advantage.

Tags:

  • Bestseller
  • Psychology
  • Self-Improvement
  • Communication
  • Work
The Revolt of The Public

The Revolt of The Public

and the Crisis of Authority in the New Millennium

Martin Gurri

This is an essential book to understand major events of the last two decades. Events like the Arab Spring, the election of Trump, and Brexit are all connected. Similar events are happening all around the world. They describe a new reality. The access of the public to information changed the relationship to power. You can have a glimpse of the book from my article "(Almost) Everything You Need to Know About Media".

Three notes from the book:
1- The docile mass audience, so easily persuaded by advertisers and politicians, had been a monopolist's fantasy which disintegrated at first contact with alternatives.
2- Information had effects. And the first effect I perceived related to the sources: as the amount of information available to the public increased, the authoritativeness of any source decreased.
3- The [dictator] dilemma works this way. For security reasons, dictators must control and restrict communications to a minimum. To make their rule legitimate, however, they need prosperity, which can only be attained by the open exchange of information. Choose.

Tags:

  • Media
  • Politics
  • Tech
  • Communication
Understanding Media

Understanding Media

The Extensions of Man

Marshall McLuhan

I must warn you that McLuhan has his own writing style. Some parts are difficult to read. If you want a quick intro to this book, you can read the first part of my article "(Almost) Everything You Need to Know About Media". McLuhan is famous for expressions like "global village" or "the medium is the message". He analyzed our media from the beginning of time. When you consider such a large historical period, you can derive important insights into how much our media transformed us.

Three notes from the book:
1- Once we have surrendered our senses and nervous systems to the private manipulation of those who would try to benefit from taking a lease on our eyes and ears and nerves, we don't really have any rights left.
2- Language does for intelligence what the wheel does for the feet and the body. It enables them to move from thing to thing with greater ease and speed and ever less involvement.
3- The effects of technology do not occur at the level of opinions or concepts, but alter sense ratios or patterns of perception steadily and without any resistance.

Tags:

  • Media
  • Communication
  • History
  • Tech
Amusing Ourselves to Death

Amusing Ourselves to Death

Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business

Neil Postman

This book inspired my article "How Does the Media Change Our Culture, Worldview, and Brain?". Even if it was written in the eighties, it's still relevant today. Neil Postman reveals the embedded biases in our technologies and how they affect our culture. You'll understand why entertainment has such a big place in our societies.

Three notes from the book:
1- Orwell feared that the truth would be concealed from us. Huxley feared the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance. Orwell feared we would become a captive culture. Huxley feared we would become a trivial culture… In 1984, people are controlled by inflicting pain. In Brave New World, they are controlled by inflicting pleasure. In short, Orwell feared that what we hate will ruin us. Huxley feared that we love will ruin us.
2- A major new media changes the structure of the discourse; it does so by encouraging certain uses of the intellect, by favoring certain definitions of intelligence and wisdom, and by demanding a certain kind of content–in a phrase, by creating new forms of truth-telling.
3- People will come to adore the technologies that undo their capacities to think.

Tags:

  • Media
  • Politics
  • History
  • Communication
  • Tech
Manufacturing Consent

Manufacturing Consent

The Political Economy of the Mass Media

Noam Chomsky & Edward S. Herman

This book was a choc when it came out. It busted the myth that mass media are struggling out there in their search for truth and defense of justice. But contrary to conspiracy theories that imply media and power are working together, the authors point in another direction. They lay out their propaganda model based on five filters. If you don't have time to read the book, check my article "(Almost) Everything You Need to Know About Media".

Three notes from the book:
1- The mass media serve as a system for communicating messages and symbols to the general populace. It is their function to amuse, entertain, inform, and to inculcate individuals with the values, beliefs, and codes of behavior that will integrate them into the institutional structures of the larger society. In a world of concentrated wealth and major conflicts of class interest, to fulfil this role requires systematic propaganda.
2- The public is not sovereign over the media—the owners and managers, seeking ads, decide what to be offered, and the public must choose among these. People watch and read on the basis of what is readily and intensively promoted.
3- Advertisers will want, more generally, to avoid programs with serious complexities and disturbing controversies that interfere with the "buying mood".

Tags:

  • Media
  • Communication
  • Politics
Vagabonding

Vagabonding

An Uncommon Guide to the Art of Long-Term World Travel

Rolf Potts

Once my mum asked me: what do you want to do in life? I replied instantly: vagabonding. Traveling is one of my biggest joys in life. I like to travel without rush, to get lost, to discover new things about the world and myself, and to come back home slightly different than before traveling. You'll find in this book plenty of resources for new and experimented travelers but also, a different way to look at life.

Three notes from the book:
1- The more we associate experience with cash value, the more we think that money is what we need to live. And the more we associate money with life, the more we convince ourselves that we’re too poor to buy our freedom.
2- Vagabonding is about gaining the courage to loosen your grip on the so-called certainties of this world. Vagabonding is about refusing to exile travel to some other, seemingly more appropriate, time of your life. Vagabonding is about taking control of your circumstances instead of passively waiting for them to decide your fate.
3- A vacation, after all, merely rewards work. Vagabonding justifies it.

Tags:

  • Travel
  • Life
  • Self-Improvement
How to Take Smart Notes

How to Take Smart Notes

One Simple Technique to Boost Writing, Learning and Thinking – for Students, Academics and Nonfiction Book Writers

Sönke Ahrens

My note-taking system was probably one of the worst on Earth. Basically, I just copied and pasted. No wonder that nothing stayed in my brain. I tried in the last couple of years to correct this bad and useless habit. This book describes a more efficient note-taking system. The sooner you learn it, the more you can benefit from your learnings.

Three notes from the book:
1- Writing is, without dispute, the best facilitator for thinking, reading, learning, understanding and generating ideas we have.
2- Studies on highly successful people have proven again and again that success is not the result of strong willpower and the ability to overcome resistance, but rather the result of smart working environments that avoid resistance in the first place.
3- He did not just copy ideas or quotes from the texts he read, but made a transition from one context to another.

Tags:

  • Writing
  • Ideas
  • Work
The Crusades Through Arab Eyes

The Crusades Through Arab Eyes

The Other Side of The Story

Amin Maalouf

As I was writing this note, I realized that Amin Maalouf is one of the authors I read the most. I enjoyed reading 'Leo Africanus', 'The Rock of Tanios' or 'Samarkand'. The dry style of many history books makes them difficult to read. This one is written like a novel and you'll have a hard time putting it down.

Three notes from the book:
1- Regard the Franj! Behold with what obstinacy they fight for their religion, while we, the Muslims, show no enthusiasm for waging holy war. Saladin
2- When some of his collaborators chided him for his profligacy, Saladin answered with a nonchalant smile: There are people for whom money is no more important than sand.’
3- As for territory, this land has always been ours, and your occupation is only transitory. You were able to settle in it because of the weakness of the Muslims who then peopled it, but so long as there is war, we will not allow you to enjoy your possessions.

Tags:

  • History
  • Islam
  • Religion
  • Politics
The Sickness unto Death

The Sickness unto Death

A Christian Psychological Exposition of Edification & Awakening

Soren Kierkegaard

Kierkegaard has his style and sometimes it's hard to understand, especially the first few pages. But if you are brave to carry on reading, you'll be generously rewarded. The book contains a first-class analysis of despair like I've never encountered before. For a taste of it, you can check my article "How Despair Can Help Us Live a Better Life?" in Psychology.

Three notes from the book:
1- The greatest hazard of all, losing one’s self, can occur very quietly in the world, as if it were nothing at all. No other loss can occur so quietly; any other loss - an arm, a leg, five dollars, a wife, etc. - is sure to be noticed.
2- The [unconscious] despairer is in the same situation as the consumptive; he feels best, considers himself to be healthiest, can appear to others to be in the pink of condition, just when the illness is at its most critical.
3- The common view, which assumes that everyone who does not think or feel he is in despair is not or that only he who says he is in despair is, is totally false.

Tags:

  • Psychology
  • Philosophy
  • Personal Care
  • Health
  • Religion