And a few almost cookbooks:
- Herbs & Spices: The Cook’s Reference by Jill Norman
- Tartine Bread by Chad Robertson
- The Elements of Pizza by Ken Forkish
- The Pizza Bible by Tony Gemignani
Business and tech:
- Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick
- CyberStorm by Matthew Mather
- The Sirens of Titan by Kurt Vonnegut Jr.
Food and living:
- Kompletní návod k vytvoření EKOZAHRADY a rodového statku by Jaroslav Svoboda
- Jediná kniha o jídle, kterou potřebujete by Karolína Fourová
Business and tech:
- An Elegant Puzzle: Systems of Engineering Management by Will Larson
- Never Split the Difference by Chris Voss
- Growing a Great Leadership Career by Anne Elder-Knight
- Equity Compensation for Tech Employees by Matt Dickenson
- Escaping the Build Trap by Melissa Perri
- Thinking In Systems: A Primer by Donella H. Meadows
- Cybersecurity for Executives in the Age of Cloud by Teri Radichel
- Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl
- The Mindbody Prescription by John E. Sarno
- Koupě bytu pod lupou by Evžen Korec
- Jak vybrat rodinný dům: 70 tipů by Martin Perlík
- Financování vlastního bydlení by Petr Syrový
Business and tech:
- The Complete Guide to Rails Performance by Nate Berkopec
- Scientific Advertising by Claude C. Hopkins
- Ogilvy on Advertising by David Ogilvy
- Seeing Ourselves Through Technology by Jill Walker Rettberg
- Sugar: A Bittersweet History by Elizabeth Abbott
- The Average Surfer’s Guide by Simon Short
- Let My People Go Surfing by Yvon Chouinard
Business and tech:
- The Making of a Manager by Julie Zhuo
- The Manager’s Path by Camille Fournier
- Start with Why by Simon Sinek
- Financial Markets Operations Management by Keith Dickinson
- It Doesn’t Have to Be Crazy at Work by Jason Fried
- The Surfboard: Art, Style, Stoke by Ben Marcus
- The Inner Game of Tennis by W. Timothy Gallwey
- Surfing: The Manual: Advanced by Jim Kempton
- Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup by John Carreyrou
- Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari
- The War of Art: Winning the Inner Creative Battle by Steven Pressfield
- Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain
- Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of NIKE by Phil Knight
- Lost City of the Incas by Hiram Bingham
- Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman
- I Have No Mouth & I Must Scream by Harlan Ellison
- And the Hippos Were Boiled in Their Tanks by William S. Burroughs
- The Lathe of Heaven by Ursula K. Le Guin
Business and tech:
- The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine by Michael Lewis
- Flash Boys: A Wall Street Revolt by Michael Lewis
- The Attention Merchants by Tim Wu
- The Intelligent Investor by Benjamin Graham
- The Coffeehouse Investor by Bill Schultheis
- American War by Omar El Akkad
- Narconomics: How to Run a Drug Cartel by Tom Wainwright
- Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain
- Good Cop, Bad War by Neil Woods
- In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto by Michael Pollan
- Salad Days by Ronnie Scott
- White Sands: Experiences from the Outside World by Geoff Dyer
- The Last Continent by Terry Pratchett
- Blindness by José Saramago
This book is, more or less, a written version of Dan Abramov’s Redux course where he builds the library from scratch. It’s a quick read that helps you understand the core principles of Redux architecture.
Business and self-development
I’ve read too many junk business and self-help books over the last few years. The ones that give you an insight into an unknown field are worth reading. But the ones that are like “I have it all figured out”, “What worked for me will work for you”, and “(Don’t or Do) Follow your passion” seems to be a waste of time. Read one and skip the rest.
The book looks at various aspects of the business—from marketing, ethics, accounting to operations, finance, strategy, and others. It’s a great read for a programmer as you are usually working with those teams and the book will give you a common language and a better understanding of each other. And also, MBAs really like to use acronyms and things like the plan of five P or a five S strategy—mention it (or a quote The Art of War) in a meeting and you’ll be taken seriously.
A book that tells you that you won’t be happy by following your passion. That is a good news for people who are not sure what their passion is. You pick something, get better in it, build a career capital that allows you to get more freedom, and find a mission that you can fulfill with the capital you built. That’s how you gonna love what you do. It makes sense, more sense than blindly following your passion and dreaming of becoming a lumberjack or a farmer in your cubicle.
An antidote to all of those self-help be happy books—you are not special, you need to lose, you need negative experiences. You won’t achieve much by only being positive. Care about things that are dear to you and ignore what TV and social media tell you, etc, etc.
Buddhism dressed up a little for millennials
And it’s orange and has a swear word in the title so it’s gonna be a best-seller.
A book with concrete advice on how to grow your audience through different channels. Each channel has a small case study and tells you at what stage and type of startup it worked. Not all the channels will be applicable to your business but this gives you an idea which ones to try out.
I’m gonna admit it. I wanted to read the startup Traction but I picked up this one instead by mistake. And I realized that there is something fishy going on when I was already in a third of the book. Sunk cost fallacy kicked in and I finished the book.
The result of that is gaining better vocabulary when talking with C-level execs. Apart from that, it gives you a framework to apply in your company to improve the company. If you are a CEO. Oh well, I’m not a CEO. So I can’t really tell you if it’s working or not. Sorry.
Firstly, the tone of this book makes you cringe. And apart from that, there is not really much that would stick with me. It tells you to define your goals, take mini-retirements/sabbaticals, be effective, cut out unimportant, automate, don’t multitask, and many other things that I can’t argue with.
Also, it tells you to learn to leave things unfinished—I should’ve read that before accidentally going through the CEO Traction, hey?
An eye-opening introspection into a corporate culture and HR practices that is both chilling and depressing to read. But, it’s still better to know the other side than to ignore it. You can decide whether you want to play along or face the consequences. It’s coming from an American background but it applies to Europe and New Zealand to a certain extent as well.
With a cheesy title comes a book with cheesy text and big letters. I’ve read this one because of work. The style might suit some and the general advice is not too bad. The benefit of the book is targeting Australians and capturing the specifics of their retirement plans, taxes, and others. Oh boy, and those testimonials at the end of each chapter—does anyone apart from the author likes to read them?
A long and very thorough description of events that lead to the US involvement in Vietnam and, eventually, to the war. Stanley Karnow lived there through those years and worked there as a journalist. The book is filled with personal experience with key actors and gives a lot of detailed background but doesn’t really go into many details of why.
A decent audiobook to listen to—well narrated. Isaacson describes stories around the major breakthroughs that led to the current state of computer technology. From Ada Lovelace to the internet. He focuses on the people and teams and gives lots of details about the personality of each inventor.
An interesting book covering the history of various fields of science from physics, cosmology, to chemistry, and paleontology. It tells you how we’ve came to know as much as we do now. The style is accessible and, despite the range of the topics, you are not getting lost. It is fascinating and informative read.
It is an account of greed in the investment banking industry in the 80s at Wall Street that the author lived through. The story is told by a graduate, the author, joining Salomon Brothers and becoming a bond salesman. He hated investment bankers but he still kept screwing the clients and getting the “fat paychecks with bonuses” coming each year to his bank account.
Never before have so many unskilled twenty-four-year-olds made so much money in so little time as we did …
There is a slight hint of what led to the financial crisis in 2008 which is described in another of the author’s books—The Big Short. Lastly, Lewis has a real talent for explaining complex financial instruments with simple and easy to understand analogies (e.g. mortgage-backed securities).
I didn’t have any idea how much a common thing like salt influenced the world history. Back in the day, having access to enough salt allowed you to preserve more food. More food led to feeding more people. Feeding more people get you bigger armies. Armies won wars. Winning wars gave you more power.
Another interesting part of the book is how different cultures used different means of salting and preserving the food. From fish sauce in the Roman empire and still in use in Asian cuisines with soy sauce to a plain use of crystals.
Salt was worth more than gold.
A book that goes to the roots of id Software and takes you to the journey of the most influential games of the 90s—Wolfenstein 3D, Doom, and Quake. It draws the relationship between John Carmack, John Romero, and Tom Hall. It’s a great story and if you played those games at that time you won’t be able to put the book down. I listened to an audiobook and it was perfectly narrated.
This is probably the geekiest book that I read last year. It tells you where our modern vegetable came from, what we lost and gained through the selection and breeding, and how to choose the most nutritional varieties. Also, it shares many other tips like how to store it (don’t put tomatoes in the fridge), or what is the best way to prepare so you get the most nutrients (cook your tomatoes). I love learning about things that you can use (and eat) every day.
It shows you what random facts you can learn by studying Google searches dataset. Those would be presented with some funny and some quirky moments. At the end, there is a discussion about the limitation of the data analysis.
A chilling story about two climbers facing a tough decision. It goes to a description of what goes through one’s head in an almost impossible situation. It’s a raw encounter with powerful unforgiving mountains.
A few short stories from a near future about robots—it is an entertaining book filled with logic around three laws of robotics that Asimov defined. The book was written in 1950 but somehow feels up to date.
A surreal story of seeking American Dream by going to Las Vegas with a pack full of drugs. Two guys on drugs doing crazy things described in a great style and language. I loved the book but I hope it is not based on a true story. I’m slightly suspicious that it is (at least partially). There is a movie version with Benicio Del Toro and Johny Depp—a great adaptation of the book.
- Odd and the Frost Giants
- Ghost in the Wires
- Norse Mythology
- The Spy Who Came In from the Cold
- The Little Pocket Book of Pug Wisdom
Those two are not very entertaining but they will help your career. The Ten-Day MBA gives you a solid understanding of different parts of a company. It will help you make better decisions as a programmer and have more empathy for others.
The latter was depressing but if you aim to climb a corporate ladder it’s an eye-opening experience into a big companys’ culture and politics.
I just loved that book — totally recommended if you haven’t read or listened to it yet. Growing up with these games and following the authors in the game magazines throughout the 90s makes it even more fun.
I love learning about ordinary things and I would have never thought that salt had so much impact on the history of mankind. And Bryson’s book gives you an entertaining peek into the history of science with lots of details presented in a cohesive way.
One is a surreal road trip to a pop culture of the 70s filled with substance abuse, and the other is a cruel raw encounter with a mountain. Both books are like a bizarre car wreck — you are chilled to the bone but unable to turn away.
And what have you read last year? What book would you recommend to put on the reading list for the next one?
Somehow computer related
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.
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.
Business and tech:
- Influencer: The Power to Change Anything by Kerry Patterson
- Contagious: Why Things Catch On by Jonah Berger
- Eloquent Ruby by Russ Olsen
- Antifragile: Things That Gain from Disorder by Nassim Nicholas Taleb
- Domain-Driven Design by Eric Evans
- A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking
- Metro 2034 by Dmitry Glukhovsky
- Trojan Horse by Mark E. Russinovich
- Roadside Picnic by Arkady Strugatsky
- The Martian by Andy Weir
- The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
- Galveston by Nic Pizzolatto
- Blood of Elves by Andrzej Sapkowski
- Malevil by Robert Merle
- Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
Business and tech:
- Irrational Exuberance by Robert J. Shiller
- Don’t Make Me Think, Revisited by Steve Krug
- The Mythical Man-Month by Frederick P. Brooks Jr.
- Notes to a software team leader by Roy Osherove
- The Mature Optimization Handbook by Carlos Bueno
- Practical Object Oriented Design in Ruby by Sandi Metz
- The E-myth Revisited by Michael E. Gerber
- Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson
- Kettlebell Simple & Sinister by Pavel Tsatsouline
- The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey