What I’ve Read Recently (July 2020)

Python Data Science Handbook

By Jake VanderPlas

If you want to start learning data science, this is doubtlessly a necessary book. The author began with common libraries, like NumPy and Pandas. And ended with many advanced topics, like SVM (Support Vector Machine) and PCA (Principal Component Analysis). You will even learn how to build a face-detection application in the end. Isn’t it amazing!

When you finished this book, you will find surprisingly that you evolved from a naive toddler who is not familiar with data visualization to someone who knows about machine learning. This journey is delightful. However, I’ve purchased this book one year ago but did not have the patience to finish it. Without quarantine, I think I would never finish this book.

I’d like to compare it with another book, Data Science from Scratch, written by Joel Grus. In my opinion, Joel is proficient in Python. You will find many useful tips and tricks in that book or his codes. However, this proficiency is not mentioned in that book. You need to experience it by yourself. DIfferent from Joel, Jake is good at both Python and pedagogic. You will enjoy his style and understand his ideas comparatively easily. I did not intend to criticize one or praise another, but Python Data Science Handbook is friendly to newbies. It deserves a try!

Core Java: Fundamentals Volume I

By Cay S. Horstmann

Well, to be honest, I’ve started this book in June, but did not finish it until the end of July. It is much heavier and daunting than Python Data Science Handbook, but it is not so time-consuming for me. On the one hand, I’ve learned a little bit about Java, so I’ve already familiar with some chapters in this book. On the other hand, I didn’t intend to make an application once I finish reading this book, so I did not pay a lot of attention to details.

However, if you need a book to start Java, this should be that book. Imagine start programming with basic loops and conditional statements. When you read this book thoroughly, you will have a better idea about memory management and interface design. And you will get an “A” for first-year computer science courses in universities!

PyTorch Computer Vision Cookbook: Over 70 recipes to master the art of computer vision with deep learning and PyTorch 1.x

Written by Michael Avendi

Packt is also a well-known publisher. But frankly speaking, I prefer books by O’Reilly. First, this book is not colored. Of course, a book with color is more expensive. However, viewing the images in this book is not enjoyable, especially when it is a book about “computer vision.” However, the tricks and tips in this book are really helpful for beginners. I believe you will benefit a lot from it.

But do you need to purchase a printed one? Maybe not. Reading this book on https://learning.oreilly.com/home/ would be more enjoyable, and you can save a lot of money! (Note: I’m a college student with access to O’Reilly online library, so it is a great alternative for me)

A Confession

Written by Tolstoy

Many people know Leo Tolstoy because of his fictions, such as War and Peace and Anna Karenia. Compared with these books, this one is less famous, but no one can deny its status in religious writing and philosophy.

This book is like an autobiography of Tolstoy. First, he reflected on his life and confessed the emptiness of his whole life. Then, his ideas became acute and thought-provoking: “What is the meaning of life? Do we survive to earn vainglory? Or are we living for something eternal?” However, when the readers think Tolstoy may turn himself to God, he stated his skeptics about religion. To some extent, religion had become a routine and ritual, but not spiritual.

Nonetheless, Tolstoy admitted that the meaning of religion and Belief. As he stated, “Belief is the root of our recognition of our lives. Human beings were seeking a road to true life and survived due to this Belief.” (Tolstoy, 1882) To clarify, Tolstoy’s questions are not resolved, but he looked for a more “eastern” way. In his mind, the existence of God is more like a myth, but this existence is warning human beings to lead a more meaningful life.

By the way, there are three “Confession” in the world. One is written by Augustine of Hippo, one is written by Jean-Jacques Rousseau, and the last one is this one. Although their ideas are quite different, we can still echo with the authors and dig into their minds to learn more about religion and philosophy.

Sengoku Japan

Written by Moro Miya

This is a book in Chinese, and I didn’t find an English cover for this book, so I attached something relevant to the Sengoku period of Japan here. This is a book based on discrete stories of Daimyos in Sengoku, Japan. If you don’t know what “Daimyo” is, you can think about the local lords in feudal dynasties. They have land, army, and ambitions. However, there can only be one king of Japan. So, who would be the winner? Although we all know the answer as modern people, their anecdotes still deserve reading!

Also, the author showed us Sengoku Japan from a new perspective. For example, how people live in the Sengoku period, what people ate during that period. In my opinion, the status of the Sengoku period in Japan is similar to the Three Kingdoms in China. Numerous scholars are interested in the raging period, and amounts of artists can find inspiration from them. If you are interested in Japanese history, this book (or any other book relevant to Sengoku Japan) would satisfy you!

Hear the Wind Sing

Written by Haruki Murakami

Haruki might not be the most excellent Japanese writer, but he is one of my favorite Japanese writers up to now. When I was a high school student, my classmates were enthusiastic about the sexual content in Norweigh Wood by Haruki. However, you can experience the translucent sorrow in his novel.

The protagonist of Hear the Wind Sing was a mundane college student. He has worries and confusion as his peers. However, he knew how to get along with them. When reading this book, I felt like I was a boy isolated from the world. I did something similar to the protagonist driven by kindness, but soon be misunderstood. I have a choice but staring at the sea. All alone.

One thing that needs to be mentioned is, this book has sequels, Pinball, 1973, and A Wild Sheep Chase. If you like, Dance Dance Dance may also be its sequel because they shared one world. However, compared with its sequels, this one is more close to the real world. Anyway, I genuinely like it and hope you enjoy it.

Five Strange Tales from Tokyo

Written by Haruki Murakami

Have you ever encountered some impossible coincidences in your life? Are you someone fascinated by Déjà vu? If so, you may find this book fascinating.

Compared with other fictions of Haruki, this book is more relaxing. It is composed of five short stories. They did not intend to teach readers anything, but you may have a better understanding of Haruki in this book. Maybe our world is controlled by an invisible hand, the strange details in our daily life, which cannot be explained, might be designed particularly. However, they are neglected by most people. If you follow the traces with Haruki, you may find another world. It is not necessarily fantastic, but it is waiting for your discovery.

Note:

1. A Confession, Hear the Wind Sing, Sengoku Japan, and Five Strange Tales from Tokyo are Chinese versions. Their names might be different in the USA.

2. The review above is purely my personal opinion. I hope it helps!

References:

A Confession, Tolstoy, 1882.

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