Reading Diary of 2016

I enjoy going through other’s reading lists and find inspiration what to read next. Here is mine from 2016.

A book about collaborating in a team by two former Googlers is a great read for everyone — not just team leaders. It sums up basic principles of being a valuable team member and gives you some guidance in challenging social situation. In the end it’s all about communication.

It is not a revolutionary book and you might say it’s a common sense, but it’s a quick read and a well-written one.

On the similar notion as Team Geek this book is about software development teams and projects. It discusses working environment (strongly discourages open offices), distractions (do you have your slack notifications on?), hiring and turnover (turnover is expensive and always let the team have say in your hiring) and dives deeply into creating jelled teams.

A book about programmer’s career — with lot’s of different aspects discussed. How to be marketable. You should treat your career like a product. Learn the domain and understand the business and always know how you are making money for the employer.

Steve Freeman and Nat Pryce take a small trading platform and goes through a journey of adding requirements in a TDD manner. One takeaway I liked from the book is to setup a fully functioning skeleton before diving too deep into functionality. Otherwise the style was not for me and it took me ages to finish it.

A true story from Silicon Valley that gives you some insight into VC funding and all those accelerators. A startup company goes through Y Combinator and the team gets acquired by partially by Twitter and Facebook. The author stays in Facebook during it’s IPO phase and among other things shares what he earned. It’s a good view behind the curtains of startup industry and you can decide if it’s for you or not.

Kind of educational

Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson don’t waste words and in this short book provide a guide on how to run a business. As a few other books it seems mostly as a common sense. It advices against rigid MBA practices and suggests to always have your customer at the first place.

A second look at facts that seems to be obvious and well-accepted such as the rate of crimes in poor neighbourhoods, income discrimination of women, academia or third-world countries. The views are backed by an extensive research.

A brief look under the hood of airplanes, airlines and everything related to flying. Did you know that a rough landing is not a sign of a bad skill? Or what is the difference between captain and first officer? What are the career advances for pilots?

A dialogue between Howard C. Cutler and Dalai Lama about western unhappiness. It is kind of meh. There is another volume called The Art of Happiness at work — I wonder what his holiness who never set a foot into the corporate environment has to advice.

One of those books that focuses on a few tricks to improve your perception by others to set up a good rapport. It is an ok read (and a short one) with a few things that is nice to keep in mind when meeting people.

A personal journey of Daniel Reingold — one of the top telecommunication Wall Street analysts — through the worst crysis in the industry. He openly discusses insider trading, CEOs fudging their numbers and other illegal activities on Wall Street.

This is one of the best books I read last year. It answers the question why Euroasian civilisation dominated the world. It starts from its location and climate, continues through crops and animals that are available for domestication and compares it to other continents. From that it moves to the development of germs in more dense population and how it played its role in wiping out a few entire civilisations.

William Finnegan talks about seeking perfect waves from 1960s when surfing wasn’t such mainstream sport as it is now. He starts in Hawaii, goes through Indonesia, Tonga, Samoa and Australia. For a surfer it is a beautiful book.

Andrew Skurka — a long-distance hiker — talks about hiking gear. A few useful advices that might save you some wasted money.

A chilling story of North Korean concentration camps that is told by a guy who was born there and escaped. In the end it turns out that there might be some troubles with his credibility but still — it is a reminder of dangers (or the fortunate lack of them) in different societies.

A book on motivation and its three stages: first — food, shelter, reproduction, second — rewards and punishments and third — autonomy, mastery and purpose. Therefore from a certain point money is not a good motivator anymore. Also, coined the terms extrinsic (you get rewarded for doing something) and intrinsic (you want to do something) motivation.

Apparently this is a classic, but it falls down into the bucket of common sense advices for me.

This book has everything that you need to know about tea. It starts with the history of tea and goes nicely into the relationship of Western civilisation and tea culture. It also gives you the answer why English drink tea with milk.

It continues with the different teas description and goes into deep details of their manufacturing. After that it goes into the tea drinking culture and health benefits.

Even if you are not a tea enthusiast you will find a interesting pieces of knowledge in the cultural, geographical and historical chapters. And skip the tea specific ones.

As opposed to the Story of Tea, this one is a bit more practical and is focused on buying, drinking and steeping the different types of teas.

Actually I haven’t finished this book. I couldn’t get over the author’s style and the message from first 50 pages was not worth it to push through it.

Fiction

And I read some fiction too.

I would recommend Dune, American Gods and Lords of Flies — I loved these books. Fight Club seems slightly overrated and Chrysalids and Neuromancer are not my cup of tea.