My reading summary for 2017 (with recommendations)

TL;DR No TL;DR today :) You either are interested in the recommendations or not really. I've promised not to make a typical year's summary, but I thought you guys...

10 months ago

Latest Post On Meditation. And Mindfulness. by Sebastian Gebski

TL;DR No TL;DR today :) You either are interested in the recommendations or not really.

I've promised not to make a typical year's summary, but I thought you guys may be interested in some book recommendations - frankly speaking I'm very happy with my book selection last year as it has turned out to be near to optimal: there were just few books I didn't rate positively & very few ones I didn't finish (just 2: "In Search of Certainty", "Hombres Buenos").

It may be a bit suprising, but ... there are no purely technical books on the list. And no fantasy / fiction either. Well, it's not like I haven't read any of these (you can check my full "Year in Books" on Goodreads), apparently none of them end up being "noticeable enough".

Crème de la crème

  1. Antifragile: Things That Gain from Disorder by Nassim Nicholas Taleb (Review)

    I kinda worship NNT for this book, I can honestly say that it has sort of opened my eyes & ... made me a lot of harm. What kind of harm? The same one I suffered from after reading Anderson's "Kanban" - I've started to see much more clearer even more immense amounts of nonsense & waste around. And it irritates me like hell (to see that others don't) - what's even worse: I keep getting more & more impatient about that ... Nevertheless it's a good price to pay - read this freaking book to get the 1st glimpse at the essence of how complexity & fragility get along together.

  2. Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow by Yuval Noah Harari (Review)

    This is a book about asking smart questions. No false propheting, no doomed-to-fail futurology, no speculations that will get outdated in 6 months - only valid questions that will (hopefully) make you thinking. Not about our goals or priorities (as humankind), but more about the side effects their realization will have on future generations. Author is not being judgmental, he's not trying to moralize either - he's actually provoking his reader to start thinking her/himself. A-we-so-me read.

  3. SWITCH by Chip Heath & Dan Heath (Review)

    The most psychological approach to the concept of "change" I've seen. No tricks, no "silver bullets", no haunted mumbo-jumbo, just valid observations & empirical facts. Regardless of whether you want to help yourself or aid others (as individual people or organizational units), it's very valuable. Personally I can tell that I've read tons of books related to change, starting with "change management" & ending with purely motivational ones - but "Switch is by far the best of all of them.

Few additional ones worth mentioning?

Biggest positive surprise(s)

  1. Narconomics: How to Run a Drug Cartel by Tom Wainwright (Review)

    Hey, don't laugh, one has to diversify his income sources, right? On more serious note - I LOVE knowing how stuff works, especially things I find non-obvious, stuff they won't teach you about in school or any job. Nacrobusiness is ... kinda fascinating as well -> how is it possible that governments keep losing wars on drugs, how can you organize large crime corporations, their supply chain, etc. Obviously I do condemn drugs & trading them, but I don't find anything wrong in learning about how "the darker side" of entrepreneurship works.

  2. Domain Modeling Made Functional: Tackle Software Complexity with Domain-Driven Design and F# by Scott Wlaschin (Review)

    Brilliant book about modeling in general (not just FP) - author perfectly grabs an idea of something I call "explicit modeling": fully utilizing idiomatic properties of language (in this case F# - which I'm not really a big fan of) to maximize expressiveness of code created. Your code doesn't represent model, it BECOMES model. You stop programming in F#, you start programming in context-specific DSL based on F#. I found this book more convincing & more "to-the-point" than canonical books on DDD. Instant classic.

  3. Streetfight: Handbook for an Urban Revolution by Janette Sadik-Khan (Review)

    Yet another book that has to some degree changed my perspective on the surrounding world. It's not about the book itself (style, composition, etc.) - but more about the principles & mindset behind it. Our cities gradual become worse & worse places to live. In fact, in our ignorance, we often don't really understand why (or rather we have a skewed, wrong understanding of that) - I had my enlightnment moments when I've spent majority of previous year (2016) in Copenhagen & Helsinki, then I've continued checking on this topic by reading this book. I strongly believe it's crucial to increase common awareness on the topic, expel myths & finally - start fighting to get our streets back.

Few additional ones worth mentioning?

Biggest disappointment(s)

  1. Weapons of Math Destruction: How Big Data Increases Inequality and Threatens Democracy by Cathy O'Neil (Review)

    I've expected it to be much, much better - especially keeping in mind the number of recommendations it got (from serious people who know their stuff). But I've found it surprisingly shallow, conclusions are pretty detached from the reality, overall narration feels a bit exaggerated (gutter press style) - instead of serious, pragmatic analysis I felt like I'm reading some sort of click-baitish stuff. I'm not saying that the problem doesn't exist - I can actually confirm that it's very serious, but approaching it in such a naive way won't help for sure.

  2. Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman (Review)

    Until some point I loved everything Gaiman wrote - EVERYTHING. Starting with comics (Sandman! Death!), then the collaborations with other authors (Good Omens!) & finally his own fiction (Neverwhere! Stardust! Anansi Boys!). But then he moved towards books for kids (still good - I've read them all anyway: Coraline, The Ocean ..., The Graveyard Book, etc.) and finally apparently got totally out of ideas & creativity (Trigger Warning). Culmination of this burn-out was Norse Mythology. Gaiman's unique magic is totally gone, this book is a short synopsis of nordic myths that could have been written by anyone else - I wouldn't be able to tell that it has been written by Neil if I didn't know that. Huge disappointment.

Few additional ones worth mentioning?

(Reading) plans for 2018

Ain't it obvious? Read, read & read :)

I don't set any plans in terms of how many books I'll read - it doesn't matter at all. Quality (careful selection) is much more important than quantity - sometimes it's much better to go slower throught somethign really thought-provoking, as you'll never know what kind of conclusions you can draw in the end. Because it's exactly what you get out of the book (& apply since then) what matters, right?

Anyway, 2018 looks really yummie:

Happy reading in 2018!

Sebastian Gebski

Published 10 months ago


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