What I Read in 2019
Inspired by Fogus's "The Best Things and Stuff of 201X" posts, I decided to try something similar. Here is a list outlining some reading I did this year, and my thoughts on it.
- How to Read A Book - This was definitely the most impactful book I read this year. It completely changed the way I approach reading for retention and understanding, and I've already noticed a big increase in useful information that I can recall and use months after the initial read. The reading and note-taking strategies I took from this book paired with spaced repetition learning have made me really excited about learning again, without the worry and demotivation that come with not understanding or not remembering things I read in the past.
- The War of Art - A short book about struggling with the creative process and how to push through it. Very well written and inspired me to create and publish more.
- The Endurance - An incredible book about an incredible journey. The primary source photographs (and video!) bring it to the next level.
- Watership Down - A classic about adventure, leadership, societies and relationships. Reading this reminds me how much I need to spend more time reading older books.
- Permanent Record - Snowden's memoir is surprisingly well written, and his life even before the events of 2013 is very interesting. This is one I want to make a point of re-reading every so often, to keep the importance of privacy at the forefront.
- The Elements of Computing Systems* (nand2tetris) - As a developer who primarily gets paid for working with web technology, I've always felt somewhat inadequate and woefully ignorant of how computers actually work. Not only did this book remedy some of that, it also kindled an exciting interest in all kinds of computing topics that I thought were much farther out of reach.
- The Mythical Man Month - This one is a classic, and for good reason in my opinion. Some of the ideas have fallen out of favor or been revised, but most of them are timeless.
- Peopleware - Team dynamics and team-wide productivity became a very relevant topic for me this year, and this book really nails it. It's amazing to me how many of these ideas are so simple and so obviously correct, and yet many (most?) companies operate in the exact opposite way.
- The Goal / The Phoenix Project - I put these together because I read them back-to-back, and because they're basically the same book with different setting/characters. A lot of the dysfunction explored in these books directly parallel issues I've noticed at my $job, and I think the same would be true for many people who work in tech.
*I've read/worked through the first half of the book so far (the hardware portion), but still have yet to finish the second part (software).
Here, in no particular order, are some of the blog posts and articles I got a lot out of this year.
- Janki Method - Spaced repetition learning has been working pretty well for me, and this outlines some methods for technical/programming learning.
- Just Read the Book Already - The title sums it up. Need to spend more time reading, and this was a beneficial kick in the butt.
- All the best engineering advice I stole from non-technical people - Non-technical perspectives on technical things can be surprisingly poignant. I think a lot of us live in a bubble of tech content that largely just repeats the same ideas over and over. This was refreshing, and very well written.
Reading goals for 2020
In general, I want to read much more this year than I did last year. 50 books is the target, but I think I can do more. More specific goals include: