I’ve had a pretty good reading year. Since I started tracking my reading I’ve done better, especially in terms of focused reading. I’m going to try to do posts like this regularly. Just small book reviews, with the last few books I’ve read and what is coming up in my queue.
I’m skipping over a few books, primarily Malcolm Gladwell’s writings. I’ve read or re-read all of his books this year, and enjoyed them but I feel they’re so well described elsewhere it isn’t necessary.
7 Habits of Highly Effective People
This book is perhaps one of the most amazing reads of my life. It has helped me establish a vocabulary for many of my beliefs, clarify my thoughts and help me explain things. It’s been an amazing and rewarding experience.
Verdict: Definitely read it
Leadership & Self Deception
This book surprised me and wasn’t what I expected. I enjoyed it and definitely learned from it. The outcome is tangible; I learned something about myself and that I needed to change my view of people. It’s a very quick read, worth it but may not reach people who are unable to be sufficiently open minded.
Verdict: Read it if you’re open minded
Don’t Shoot the Dog
Honestly one of the most poorly written books I’ve picked up in a long time. There is a lot of referenced material that is good, but the stories, construction and editing are terrible. I didn’t actually finish it, but got close enough to the end I felt ok putting it down. I’m pretty sure the positive reviews are just from the fanatics who love Clicker training.
Verdict: Throw it in the trash
Design for Hackers
Enjoyable read that taught me a lot. While it isn’t the type of psychological journey I typically read, it helped shore up a lot of knowledge I was missing. It would have been a quick read if I weren’t going for maximum retention and comprehension, it took me a lot longer to get done with this book than I expected but I really enjoyed the journey.
Verdict: Read it if you like pretty things
Coders at Work
I expected this book to be low in learning, but it exceeded my expectations. This book is a simple collection of interviews with prominent coders throughout the world. One thing that stood out was the different styles of recognizing and hiring talent. After recently making a poor hiring choice, I feel compelled to ramp up and improve my own abilities. Reading this part of the book was very helpful. I would imagine that anybody struggling with a software or people in tech problem would find gems buried inside.
Verdict: If you have time, read it. Better books out there
Since I can’t review books I’m reading, I can write why I’m reading them.
This book is special for two reasons. One, I’m a big sucker for being happy and crafting experiences that deliver happiness. Two, it was the first time someone I didn’t know bought me something off my Amazon wish list. TDP was useful to them, so they emailed me asking about it. This was a couple weeks ago and I’m still smiling.
Rise & Fall of the Third Reich
When I was first starting to really establish myself as a developer not merely in the trenches, I voraciously read military and world history. I didn’t read it out of interest, but I found many parallels with project management and software development teams. This is a longer issue, and deserves its own post. This is another book in that line. What inspires people to be authoritarian dictators and how do people get entranced and forget their own conscience?
This is a re-read, and I already wrote a review on it. I enjoyed the book and the message. I feel I need to remind myself about great products. I know I let a lot of warts slip through with TDP, and I’d like to stop that.
The Skinny on the Art of Persuasion
A common discussion between my wife and I is the difference between manipulation and persuasion. I struggle with this, and would honestly prefer not to do either. I present my case (strongly) and just hope the other side makes a decision I’m happy with. She tells me I’m in the wrong, I should be more persuasive. This book will hopefully help me.