My Inspiration


(September 1, 2020)



(Teng: I do not think so.)

(July 25, 2020)

J. D. Salinger, The Heart of a Broken Story

I think love is a touch and yet not a touch.

(May 25, 2020)

Romain Rolland

There is only one heroism in the world: to see the world as it is and to love it.

(Mar 21, 2020)

George Pólya

If you can’t solve a problem, then there is an easier problem you can solve: find it. -- How To Solve It: A New Aspect of Mathematical Method, G. Polya, Stanford University

(Feb 8, 2020)

Joseph Campbell

We must be willing to let go of the life we’ve planned so as to have the life that is waiting for us.

(Feb 6, 2020)

William Blake, English poet, painter, and printmaker. Largely unrecognized during his lifetime, Blake is now considered a seminal figure in the history of the poetry and visual arts of the Romantic Age. [more on Wikipedia]

What is now proved was once  only imagined.

I must create a system, or be enslaved by another man's. I will not reason and compare: my business is to create.

You never know what is enough unless you know what is more than enough.

Exuberance is beauty.

To generalize is to be an idiot.

That Man should labour and sorrow, and learn and forget and return to the dark valley whence he came, and begin his labours anew. -- The works of William Blake, poetic, symbolic, and critical

(Jan 19, 2020)

Voltaire, French philosopher:

Uncertainty is an uncomfortable position. But certainty is an absurd one.

Chinese proverb (according to A. Ben-Tal and L. El-Ghaoui. Robust Optimization. Princeton University Press, 2009; I haven't found the Chinese translation.):

To be uncertain is to be uncomfortable, but to be certain is to be ridiculous.

(Jan 18, 2020)

Friedrich Nietzsche:

He who has a why to live can bear almost any how.


100+ Books to Read

(updated on September 1, 2020)
Teng on January 2, 2020
I was searching for motivation/inspiration of my reading in 2020. The following quote fits my need perfectly.
“A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies, said Jojen. The man who never reads lives only one.” --- George R. R. Martin. A Dance with Dragons
  1. [x]格差社会, (日)橘木俊诏,2019 [Jan 2-3, 2020]
  2. [x]薛兆丰经济学讲义, 薛兆丰, 2018 [Jan 4-8, 2020]
  3. [x]不三, 冯唐 [Mar 16, 2020]
  4. [x]云雀叫了一整天,木心 [Mar 23, 2020]
  5. [x]方方日记,汪芳 [April 20, 2020]
  6. [x]房思琪的初恋乐园 [May 4, 2020]
  7. [x]围城 [Aug 24 - 29, 2020]
  8. [x]你来人间一趟,你要看看太阳,海子 [Mar 17, 2020 - Aug 29, 2020]

Teng on July 7, 2019

I recently learned that other PhD students experienced mid-PhD crisis as well [link]. To cope with it, some recommend to start small projects to nurture a sense of accomplishment and to see things get finished. Those small projects could be baking a cake and taking a painting class [link]. I started something similar in the end of 2017 when I was in the first semester of my third year. Other than the joy from reading and learning, compiling a list relieves some level of anxiety too.

2019: [13 books]
  1. [x]a phd is not enough
  2. [x]Siddhartha
  3. [x]Teaching College
  4. [x]成事 - 冯唐
  5. [x]the non-designer’s design book, fourth edition
  6. [x]中国人在硅谷——netscreen的故事
  7. [x]不二 - 冯唐
  8. [x]三十六大 - 冯唐
  9. [x]the professor is in 
  10. [x]The book of why by Judea Pearl
  11. [x]101 Job Interview Questions You’ll Never Fear Again, James Reed
  12. [x]Letters to a Young Scientist, Edward O. Wilson
  13. [x]how to answer interview questions - Peggy McKee
2018: [20 books]
  1. [x]dare to lead
  2. [x]the subtle art of not giving a fuck
  3. [x]portraits of courage - George W Bush
  4. [x]Almost Interesting - David Spade
  5. [x]girl, wash your face
  6. [x]不再神圣的经济学
  7. [x]David Spade: a Polaroid guy in a snapchat world
  8. [x]book yourself solid
  9. [x]指数基金投资指南
  10. [x]how to win friends and influence people
  11. [x]番茄工作法图解
  12. [x]Nudge
  13. [x]the influential minds
  14. [x]the power of habit
  15. [x]a higher loyalty
  16. [x]the 5 second rule
  17. [x]Tig Notaro: I’m just a person
  18. [x]Lean in for Graduates: Sheryl Sandberg
  19. [x]thank you for being late
  20. [x]I can’t make this up - life lessons
2017: [3 books]
  1. [x]everybody lies
  2. [x]how to start a conversation and make friends
  3. [x]Breaking Free