Vagina Naomi Wolf
A damning indictment of modern medicine’s gaps in understanding basic female physiology and a comprehensive cataloging of the detrimental effects that Western culture has on female sexuality. The mind-body-spirituality-mysticism angle was a bit woo-woo.
I Think Therefore I Play Andrea Pirlo with Alessandro Alciato
Italian football maestro Andrea Pirlo talks about his career. But in what a way: the twenty short, unconnected chapters are told in the first person, using language that ranges from florid to something lifted out of a 1920s hardboiled novel.
The Unicorn Project Gene Kim
Having read The Unicorn Project, which I enjoyed, I’m struggling to recall how it differs from The Phoenix Project (though admittedly it’s been years since I it).
Beyond the Reach of Earth Ken MacLeod
Book two of the Lightspeed trilogy.
Beyond the Hallowed Sky Ken MacLeod
Socialism: check. Scotland: check. The classic MacLeod tropes are present and put to excellent use in this nearish future sci-fi trilogy.
Measure What Matters John Doerr
We adopted OKRs at work and faced some challenges with them. Wanting to read more about OKRs, I picked up Measure What Matters. Written pleasantly enough, it deals more with why one might want to adopt OKRs, and less with how to roll them out or how to deal with teething issues.
Empire of Light Gary Gibson
Part three of the Shoal Sequence. I got bored reading book two, so took a break from the series (which could have easily meant I’d never return to it). But nearly a year later I found myself thinking about some of the characters and scenes and felt excited to pick up Empire of Light. I’m happy to say I didn’t get bored in book three (though I am taking a break before starting the final book in the series).
Ghost in the Wires Kevin Mitnick
The memoirs of America’s most wanted hacker. While pleasantly enough told, it turns out that hearing the various ways that telephone company employees are talked into giving up information and access gets a bit boring.
Inspired Marty Cagan
While I’m a big fan of Marty Cagan’s product writing, I prefer his blog posts to the form that Inspired is written in, as more of a manual of product management. If you want a comprehensive overview of product management, this is your book.
The Advice Trap Michael Bungay Stanier
The Advice Trap: Be Humble, Stay Curious & Change the Way You Lead Forever is a book on coaching. The clever use of metaphors — advice as a trap, your inner advice monster — help you spot and check your urge to jump in with advice.
High Output Management Andrew S. Grove
High Output Management, written by former Intel CEO Andrew S. Grove, is the management classic of the tech industry. Published in 1983, it has inspired generations of Silicon Valley startups. But is it one of those works that was revolutionary in its time but is now of interest only as a curiosity of Silicon Valley history? …
Agency William Gibson
Sequel to The Peripheral.
Artemis Andy Weir
An easy sci-fi read about the capers of a young smuggler living in a colony on the Moon.
Termination Shock Neal Stephenson
Set in the very near future, Termination Shock is typical Neal Stephenson — a doorstop of a book that braids together interesting bits of history and novel ideas, this time centered around the climate emergency, geoengineering and confrontational geopolitics just short of war.
Guns, Germs and Steel Jared Diamond
Guns, Germs and Steel is subtitled “A short history of everybody for the last 13,000 years”. Not gonna lie: it took me quite a while to finish this book. It’s approachable enough but it’s also very repetitive.
Shape Up: Stop Running in Circles and Ship Work that Matters Ryan Singer
Shape Up describes Basecamp’s product development methodology. One of my tech leads has been singing the methodology’s praise, so I finally got around to reading it. While the book is delightfully brief and well-written, I found several parts of the methodology problematic. Further thoughts and critique to follow. Available free online.
The Ministry of the Future Kim Stanley Robinson
Robinson has portayed post-capitalist futures before — I’m thinking of the California trilogy, or more specifically Pacific Edge — but this is the first novel I’ve read describing how we might get from here to there.
Hidden Figures Margot Lee Shetterly
A history of the black women who worked as computers during the second world war and then at NASA during the space race.
Nova War Gary Gibson
Book two of The Shoal Sequence, it didn’t really introduce anything new to the world (which was what I liked about the first one).
Stealing Light Gary Gibson
Book one of The Shoal Sequence, Stealing Light is decent space opera with plenty of action and some tickling notions. Particular highlights:
An alien hegemony holds a monopoly on superluminal (faster-than-light) travel, and leases out the use of advanced technology to their “client species”.
Despite much effort, humans find true AI unachievable so develop brain-machine implants to allow superhuman computation.
The Catholic church’s priests are “metal-skinned” cyborgs, which makes “them free of sin because they are free of incorruptible flesh.” I also chuckled at the idea of a Pope Eliza and the Saints Presley and Autonomous Ethical Device Model 209.
The Fermi paradox is central to series, featuring a progenitor species leaving caches of high technology as traps for developing species (to keep check on the “rats in the basement”).
An alien species for whom eating in public is taboo and as repulsive a notion as excrementing in front of others is to western cultures.
Unfortunately, I’m pretty sure Stealing Light fails the Bechdel test. This says a lot, given the protagonist is female.
Bone Silence Alistair Reynolds
Part three of the Revenger trilogy. It got better than the second one, though the ending was very rushed.
Shadow Captain Alistair Reynolds
Part two of the Revenger trilogy. Easily my second-least-favourite Reynolds novel.
Showstopper! The Breakneck Race to Create Windows NT and the Next Generation at Microsoft G. Pascal Zachary
The story behind how Windows NT was created, as told by Wall Street Journal reporter G. Pascal Zachary. Beyond finding glimpses of what was the technical state of the art at the time interesting, I found it fascinating to see how a mammoth software project was run at Microsoft.
Catalyst Gate Megan E. O’Keefe
Book three of the space opera trilogy The Protectorate.
Chaos Vector Megan E. O’Keefe
Book two of the space opera trilogy The Protectorate.
Accelerate: Building and Scaling High Performing Technology Organizations Nicole Forsgren, Jez Humble, Gene Kim
Survey-based research into commoninalities and causal relationships of structures and behaviours of high performing teams. Persuasive but not exactly a joy to read.
Endless Loop: The History of the BASIC Programming Language Mark Jones Lorenzo
The first programming language I ever used was BASIC. I was twelve or thirteen when a classmate introduced me to it. The first thing I tried making was a text-based choose-your-own-adventure game. Little did I know that even in this first exposure to code I’d form conclusions that have stayed with me throughout my life. …
The Limits of Software Robert N. Britcher
Velocity Weapon Megan E. O’Keefe
Sci-fi set in a stellar civilization. Velocity Weapon stands out as... something different. Highly recommended.
Hatching Twitter Nick Bilton
Backstabbing and drama galore behind the scenes of early Twitter. Compellingly told and a quick read.
The Stone Sky N. K. Jemisin
I found part three of the trilogy quite hard going.
Ten Drugs: How Plants, Powders, and Pills Have Shaped the History of Medicine Thomas Hager
Penicillin was famously discovered by accident, but it came as a surprise to me how often accidents, serendipity and unintended side effects have played a significant part in developing new medicines. And in learning from Hager’s Ten Drugs how drugs were and — to an extent — still are researched, it becomes clear why this is the case. While theories of how the body works have always driven the prescription and research of medicines, these theories can be wrong. When the first use of inoculation as a method to prevent small-pox was introduced to England by a noble woman who had seen it practiced in Turkey, the medical profession rejected it. Not only because it came from a “barbaric” culture via a woman who was not a doctor, but also because it did not fit the prevailing theory of how illness is caused. Empiricism had not yet won the day, so proscribed wisdom trumped evidence.
Even when when a more methodical approach to developing drugs was developed by Bayer in the 1930s, the belief that dye chemicals could be effective medicines almost blinded the researchers from realizing that sulfa, an “extra” part they were adding to the dye, was, in fact, the active molecule with antibiotic properties.
The Effective Engineer Edmond Lau
Barking Up the Wrong Tree Eric Barker
Evidence-based self-help. Eric Barker examines the extremes of success and failure and draws on scientific research to reveal what predicates success and why it might come at too high a price to pay.
Good to Great Jim Collins
I have a rule: don’t read books about running companies. I made an exception for Good to Great, published in 2001, and a best-selling classic in its field. Jim Collins and his team try to find the secret recipe for building a great business by analysing eleven companies that have gone from good to great and identifying the key commonalities between them.
Level 5 leadership, getting the right people on bus, the hedgehog model and turning the flywheel are all concepts that make up parts of Collins’s secret to corporate success.
The book is written in a conversational tone and makes good use of vivid anecdotes to illustrate its concepts. This makes the occasional repetitiveness tolerable (“this company outperformed the market 27-to-1 between the years 19XX to 19YY”).
“Good to great” is defined as 15 years of “okay” financial returns followed by 15 years of outperforming the market many times over. I find the notion of measuring success solely based on shareholder value a bit galling, but Collins does make the point that without the information that is available on publicly traded companies, the evaluation of greatness would hardly be possible. As a sop to someone with my delicate sensibilities, the book does examine how the “good to great” framework applies to a successful high school running program.
Some have argued that it’s time to retire Good to Great from the leadership canon:
“Good to Great is a classic from a period when all business books were required to be upbeat, flattering their readers. Publishers didn’t expect to sell books that even suggested doubt or failure. […] The belief on which the book relies, that stock price alone anoints the great, makes reading it today feel inadequate, ideological, and naive. Good in parts perhaps, but not great.”
The Art of Raising a Puppy The Monks of New Skete
A holistic but practical guide to choosing and raising a puppy. The narrative of the life breeding German shepherds in a monastery is alternated with canine developmental theory and guides on how to train yourself and your dog.
The Obelisk Gate N. K. Jemisin
Book two of The Broken Earth trilogy.
The Fifth Season N. K. Jemisin
A very different kind of fantasy.
Thinking in Systems Donella Meadows
A primer to systems thinking, Thinking in Systems is a staple of lists of books recommended to software engineers looking to improve their craft. Deservedly so, though I won’t lie: I found it a bit difficult to get into. Once beyond the basics of systems thinking, the book picks up.
As tends to happen when exploring a new discipline, I was surprised (and somewhat depressed) by the timeliness of Meadows’ application of systems thinking: criticism of GDP as a measure of society, the effectiveness of environmental regulations, the problems of media control. Remember, Meadows died in 2001.
If your interest has been piqued, Savikas’ review is good.
A Memory Called Empire Arcady Martine
A political space opera murder mystery spy thriller. With musings about how certain technological advances would affect the concept of self and the notion of a culture defined and driven by poetic narrative thrown in for good measure.
Developer Hegemony Erik Dietrich
The Last Emperox John Scalzi
Part three of the Interdependency series. Fast paced and a quick read.
Fish! A Proven Way to Boost Morale and Improve Results Stephen C. Lundin, Harry Paul, John Christensen
Inspired by the Pike Place Fish Market, Fish! is a business novel in the vein of The One Minute Manager. Coming in at 100 pages, it’s a pamphlet of a book. The four principles of Fish! are:
- Choose Your Attitude — while you can’t change work (or other circumstances), you can change the attitude you bring to it
- Play — playfulness energises and stimulates creativity
- Make Their Day — engage your customers
- Be There — really hear your colleagues and customers
Utopia for Realists Rutger Bregman
A well-written and easily approachable argument for universal basic income. Bregman contends that utopias are necessary vehicles for society to progress, while hammering home the point that the left is — and has long been — utterly bereft of a vision to which aspire to.
The Art of Business Value Mark Schwartz
The first principle of the Agile Manifesto is: “Our highest priority is to satisfy the customer through early and continuous delivery of valuable software.” But who defines what’s valuable? ...
The Art of Leadership: Small Things, Done Well Michael Lopp
Managing Humans is one of favourite books on engineering management. Short on structured, practical advice, it’s long on humorous stories and memorably named perspectives of situations you come across in worklife. Lopp’s latest book on management, The Art of Leadership is like a cross between Managing Humans and Camille Fournier’s The Manager’s Path. Split into three parts, the book covers behaviours needed by managers, directors and executives, respectively. While told in Lopp’s recognisable voice, it lacks the raw storytelling oomph of Managing Humans.
My favorite chapter is The Culture Creek. Built around a central metaphor, it revisits Lopp’s earlier thesis that origin stories are the bedrock of company culture.
Brushback K.C. Constantine
Small town police noir told mostly and masterfully through dialogue.
First, Break All the Rules Gallup
A very different take on people management. The result of tens of thousands of surveys into workplace performance, the book’s central theme is that great managers avoid seeking uniformity. Build on an individual’s talents, not their weaknesses. Lead by outcomes, not by rote scripts or SOPs. Spend more time with your best performers than your worst. I also found the Q12 to measure a workplace particularly insightful.
Recursion Blake Crouch
I quite enjoyed Blake Crouch’s Dark Matter, so was happy to pick up a copy Recursion. Quick to read and gripping, it has some fresh ideas. However, true to its title, it has plenty of recursion, which gets a bit tiring towards the end.
The CTO|CIO Bible Rorie Devine
A self-published little pamphlet that apart from production issues — spelling mistakes, awful typography, layout issues — is refreshingly to the point and coherent.
Echopraxia Peter Watts
The hardest of hard scifi, Echopraxia gives no quarter in terms of exposition. My favorite section is the appendix where the author explains the science and origin of the various concepts explored.
Team of Rivals Doris Kearns Goodwin
Immensely enjoyable biography of Abraham Lincoln masterfully told with excerpts of contemporary writing. As someone who reads very little history, I am in awe of the volume of research that must have gone into this book.
Coders: Who They Are, What They Think and How They Are Changing Our World Clive Thompson
Leadership and Self-Deception: Getting Out of the Box Arbinger Institute
A Philosophy of Software Design John Ousterhout
Gonzo Marketing: Winning Through Worst Practices Christopher Locke
I picked up this book in the early Aughts, read two-thirds, and finally finished it, some 15 years later, during lockdown. I can’t really recollect what I made of it when I first read it, but this time it was certainly a different experience, reading someone trying to describe how and why traditional forms of mass marketing wouldn’t work online, and what to do instead. Written in Locke’s characteristic, expletive laden voice (the author also has an alter ego called RageBoy), Gonzo Marketing is both punchier and more erudite than most business books. Sentences like: “As more companies graze their products on the pastures of civic concern, that concern is proportionally diminished,” made me smile with joy. But apart from a stroll down memory lane or a historical curiosity, I wouldn’t say the book is worth reading in 2020.
Drive Daniel H. Pink
The carrot and the stick drives only extrinsic motivation, which can work for routine, unrewarding work, but fails in triggering intrinsic motivation. Tapping into intrinsic motivation requires autonomy (to decide how to tackle a task), mastery (to give pleasure of a flow state and gradual improvement), and purpose (to give your effort meaning). Drive is clear, persuasive and, at around 200 pages, commendably to-the-point.
I found it difficult to write up my thoughts on An Elegant Puzzle. On the one hand, the book is gorgeous: it’s a beautiful hardback volume, printed in colour on thick paper. On the other, it’s not a very enjoyable read: it’s dense with prescriptive advice, interspersed by mostly superfluous diagrams. Larson does do a difficult and rare thing: he tells you exactly what he recommends to do. …
Neanderthals, Bandits and Farmers: How Agriculture Really Began Colin Tudge
A persuasive essay on the origins of agriculture. The author suggests hunter gatherers the world round likely practiced occasional “hobby farming,” which ultimately led to it being possible to over-hunt species to extinction. He further suggests that environmental changes in a specific region made hunting and gathering unviable, which led to a reliance on arable farming — after which there was no turning back.
Scrum: The Art of Doing Twice the Work in Half the Time Jeff Sutherland
A well written and rounded explanation of Scrum, the agile methodology.
Conversations with Friends Sally Rooney
Contemporary fiction, flawless prose and a dazzling portrayal of youth.
Why Does Software Cost So Much? And Other Puzzles of the Information Age Tom DeMarco
I like reading “old” books on software design and engineering because it helps show me that despite the seemingly relentless pace of change, many of the problems we face (as individuals and as an industry) have, in fact, existed for decades. It lets me better see my technology biases; that even though it can seem like “everyone” is doing this or that, it’s not actually true.
Why Does Software Cost So Much?, published in 1995, is a collection of Demarco’s essays, some of which stand the test of time while others don’t.
How To Be a Woman Caitlin Moran
Funny and breathless but also in a way that reading too much in one sitting got a bit rich. Originally given to me as a gift by Vanessa years ago. When Kasia’s six-year-old daughter saw me reading it, her eyes got wide and she whispered to her mother: “Why is he learning how to be a woman?”
Untying the Knot — Feminism, Anarchism and Organisation Jo Freeman, Cathy Levine
Two brief essays on organising from the women’s movement of the 1970s. Jo Freeman’s The Tyranny of Structurelessness outlines how the lack of a formal structure does not mean there isn’t hierarchy, just that it’s informal, thus harder to resist. Cathy Levine’s response, The Tyranny of Tyranny, is a more impassioned argument against turning to formal structures and instead developing alternative ways of organising and living.
The Quiet War Paul McAuley
Scarred by the traumas of ecological collapse, Earth takes a conservative view on technological and social progress. Earth’s former colonies, tiny oases of direct democracy and genetic wizardry, dot the moons of Saturn, Jupiter and outer planets, feel differently. Hard sci-fi with political intrigue that spans the Solar System.
The New One-Minute Manager Kenneth Blanchard, Spencer Johnson
A strange little book, The New One-Minute Manager is a lightly revised version of the 1982 original. Criticised as derivative, at least it aims to be approachable and simple — unlike many other pseudo-scientific management theories. While in narrative form, the pamphlet is essentially plotless, and uses a small cast of characters as ciphers who converse entirely in exposition.
The Demon in the Machine Paul Davies
How could life spring from inanimate material? Can you bridge physics to biology? Starting from Maxwell’s demons — a 1850s thought experiment involving the nature of the second law of thermodynamics and entropy — Paul Davies examines how energy-efficient processes from cells to genes link fundamentally with information processing.
The Manager’s Path Camille Fournier
An engineer’s guide to grow from mentor to manager to CTO. The chronological structure works nicely, and is supported by personal experiences of the author and other professionals. However, the scope of the book also means that each level is fairly brief, I would have loved reading more “war stories” and challenges that managers at different levels face.
Emergence Ken MacLeod
The third volume of The Corporation Wars trilogy carries on directly from where part two leaves off. A few novel concepts are introduced but all in all, the action is wrapped up rather hastily and none too soon — all the factional jostling and fighting in frames action was getting a bit tired.
Insurgence Ken MacLeod
Volume two of the Corporation Wars trilogy reads as a continuous experience. More of the same, not much more to say.
Dissidence Ken MacLeod
Spontaneous consciousness as an infestation in exoplanetary mining robots, accelerationism as as political movement, earthlike lifeforms replicated from alien multicellular via directed evolution… Dissidence is the first volume of the Corporation Wars trilogy, and signature MacLeod.
Lean from the Trenches Henrik Kniberg
A practical explanation on how a large software development project was run using using kanban.
Bully for Brontosaurus Stephen Jay Gould
An even more eclectic collection of essays from the inimitable Stephen Jay Gould. I picked this one up four years ago, and — despite enjoying it every time I picked it up — took this long to finish. Notable essays include “matching to type” (on human’s inability to think statistically), on the number of chromosomes and haplodiploidy, and loads of reinterpretation of historical record.
The Uplift War David Brin
The third and by far the longest novel of the original Uplift trilogy. This one has neochimp protagonists.
Good Strategy/Bad Strategy Richard Rumelt
A well-written primer on what business strategy is (and what it isn’t). Illustrated by real-world case studies and personal experience.
Startide Rising David Brin
The second novel of the Uplift universe, the first starship crewed by neo-dolphins makes a discovery that has half the universe chasing them. More fun in an interesting universe where humans appear to be the exception to the rule of the evolution of intelligence.
Uplift David Brin
A whodunit in space with humanity just having joined the ranks of the galactic society of races.
Command and Control Eric Schlosser
Phenomenal piece of nonfiction that weaves together the hair-raising accident of a Titan 2 missile silo with the history of nuclear weapons and the Cold War.
Stand Out of Our Light James Williams
Primary Inversion Catherine Asaro
Space commandos with telepathic powers in an intergalactic war between two empires. The heroine is the heir to the Skolian empire who suffers from PTSD from being held as a psychic sex slave by the enemy Aristos. Yes, I know you’ll likely not be sold by this description.
The Checklist Manifesto Atul Gawande
Engagingly written and persuasive, this quick read will convince you of the value of using checklists to help manage complexity. A major theme, though little related to checklists themselves, is the value of building team cohesion (i.e. dealing with the different levels of power within a group of professionals), which reminded me a lot of Humble Inquiry (though through a very different approach).
Managing Humans Michael Lopp
The third edition has some new chapters and still is funny and captivating and sometimes even useful.
Thunderhead Neal Shusterman
Sequel to Scythe, this YA sci-fi adventure novel has twists and turns but the only new examination of a post-scarcity society is through the internal monologue of a near-omniscient AI.
Humble Inquiry Edgar H. Schein
Social norms and power dynamics can hamper effective collaboration. Schein argues that humble inquiries, in which the inquirer puts themselves in a position of vulnerability, can build better relationships. The book is short, but it could be shorter.
Behind Closed Doors: Secrets of Great Management Johanna Rothman, Esther Derby
Short, readable and loosely framed as a “business novel” (Sam, the protagonist, has just started a new job as a director of a software engineering group), BCD covers many key concepts and techniques of management.
Scythe Neal Shusterman
Young adult scifi; eminently readable and interesting imagination of a post-mortality world.
The Power Naomi Alderman
If one day women woke up with superpowers, how would the world change?
Homo Deus Yuval Noah Harari
Sequel to Sapiens, Homo Deus starts off slowly, sort of repeating Sapiens. I’m glad I persisted to the end, though, as the characterisation of modern Western ideologies as religions (liberal humanism, socialist humanism, evolutionary humanism) and the prediction of the rise of “Dataism” (which sees evolution as ever more complex data processing) are fascinating.
Lost Connections Johann Hari
A well written, persuasive (if at times a bit formulaic) account of how depression and anxiety is misunderstood, mistreated and directly fed by our modern ways of living.
Elysium Fire Alastair Reynolds
Set in the Revelation Space universe, Prefect Dreyfus returns in this space opera detective story.
Lean vs. Agile vs. Design Thinking Jeff Gothelf
A pamphlet that introduces the three titular methodologies and how they fit together.
The No Asshole Rule Robert Sutton
You can tell that this book originated as an article for HBR; while long passages of evidence from related studies bolster the case of the author’s titular argument, if you already buy it, it makes for a tedious read. Thankfully, it’s only 200 pages, and the latter half, less bogged down by citations of tangential research, picks up pace.
Sleeping Giants Sylvain Neuvel
A sci-fi novel told entirely through interview transcripts and journal entries.
The Bug Ellen Ullman
A literary novel that describes the act and nature and feel of programming like nothing else I’ve ever read. Something like Lorrie Moore’s Anagrams meets J. G. Ballard’s High-Rise.
Reamde Neal Stephenson
What can I say… Reamde bears all the hallmarks — both good and bad — of a Neal Stephenson novel. Gripping plot and interesting obsessions while overly long and descriptive in places.
The Consuming Fire John Scalzi
A competent second novel of a space opera-esque series set in an intergalactic empire with politics and schemes galore.
The Collapsing Empire John Scalzi
A competent first novel of a space opera-esque series set in an intergalactic empire with politics and schemes galore.
Becoming a Technical Leader Gerald M. Weinberg
A guide to recognising the different styles of technical leadership and how to overcome the challenges one faces.
Bad Blood John Carreyrou
A compelling investigative telling of the story of Theranos, the Silicon Valley biotech startup built on an audacious vision, deceit and dysfunction.
Adapt Tim Harford
An eminently readable history of how trial and error — the evolutionary process — powers innovation.
Dark Matter Blake Crouch
Gripping and inventive. A quick read somewhat let down by the writing and the cloying pathos.
The Big Disruption Jessica Powell
A satirical novel of the excesses of Silicon Valley. I don’t know if I’m too close or too far from this culture for the satire to hit home for me; as with Dave Eggers’s The Circle, I found the exaggerated start-up tropes unfunny and the jeopardy of the plot unmoving. You can read The Big Disruption online for free.
The Last Wish Andrzej Sapkowski
A loosely joined collection of fantasy short stories about a “witcher,” a sword for hire exterminator of supernatural pests. The stuttered, sparse exposition is reminiscent of the fairy tales that it borrows elements from.
The Hard Thing About Hard Things Ben Horowitz
The meat of The Hard Thing About Hard Things is made up of Ben Horowitz’s republished blog posts, sandwiched in some life lessons and narrative of his experiences founding and managing Loudcloud and VC firm Andreessen Horowitz. Written in a conversational tone, it’s a smooth read throughout, but the central “how-tos” of doing things that a CEO does are more hard going. While interesting as a glimpse into the problems faced by a CEO of a publicly traded company, the bulletpointy advice pieces lack any momentum to carry the reader on.
A Seat at the Table: IT Leadership in the Age of Agility Mark Schwartz
The Inevitable: Understanding the 12 Technological Forces That Will Shape Our Future Kevin Kelly
After reading What Technology Wants, I was looking forward to reading The Inevitable. As a long list of categorised trends, I found it hard going. My favourite parts were the couple of pages at the end of each trend, where Kelly imagines a possible future that trend could lead to.
The Haystack Syndrome Eliyahu M. Goldratt
The Haystack Syndrome starts promisingly with a scathing damnation of classic accounting practices and how short it falls in helping a business measure its productivity. (This is the classic Goldrattian argument of cost world vs. throughput world.) The philosophical examination of the difference between data and information is fascinating if somewhat of less practical use. The next topic, how to meet market demand with production capability is also interesting. Skip the rest of the book: how to create an information system to schedule manufacturing is just abstruse.
1Q84 Haruki Murakami
Japanese magical realism, I guess. Long, sometimes longwinded. And I’m not convinced by the author’s portrayals of women or sex.
Other Minds: The Octopus and the Evolution of Intelligent Life Peter Godfrey-Smith
A fascinating premise but despite the great individual ingredients — evolutionary theory, theory of intelligence and personal experiences — this (fortunately) short book strikes flat a note.
House of Suns Alastair Reynolds
Space opera, huge timescales.
Gridlinked Neal Asher
Special agents in space. Combat preparation and armament descriptions get tedious.
The Three-body Problem Liu Cixin
A sci-fi novel that very obviously has been translated from Chinese — giving it all the more character.
Bit Rot Douglas Coupland
An odd collection of essays and stories. Coupland’s signature tone of voice and observations but not his finest work.
Dreaming In Code Scott Rosenberg
While aimed at non-programmers, I found the exploration of why software is the way it is fascinating.
2312 Kim Stanley Robinson
Intriguing yet infuriating. The language in places is clunky and the descriptions long and plodding, yet the political landscape of an inhabited solar system and individual ideas of art and culture shine brightly.
MaddAddam Margaret Atwood
Book three of MaddAddam trilogy.
Year of the Flood Margaret Atwood
Book two of MaddAddam trilogy follows the God’s Gardeners, a environmental revivalist movement. The religion — along with the sermons and songs — are particularly striking.
Oryx and Crake Margaret Atwood
A well-written and intense apocalypse tale.
Turn the Ship Around! L. David Marquet
A book on leadership that sucks you in by its first-person narrative and sense of peril and progress. Delightfully light on exercises or morals. The leader-leader model springs fourth from many familiar sources — the same that have inspired agile, lean and devops. It finally made it clear why “empowerment” always felt so hollow to me.
Ready Player One Ernest Cline
Effortless geek-fi. Fun and fast-paced technothriller sprikled with 80s nostalgia for music to video and role-playing games to films.
Marooned in Realtime Vernor Vinge
The human race has disappeared with lone survivors emerging from time-stopped stasis fields. Did humankind wipe themselves out or fall into the singularity? How many humans are needed to rebuild the human race and achieve technological critical mass? Stasis-field technology allows for a different kind of time travel narrative: by skipping forward unlimited periods of time, humans can live in geological time.
The Peace War Vernor Vinge
Post-apocalyptic world, authoritarian peace enforcement, stasis-field technology.
What Technology Wants Kevin Kelly
Fascinating book positing technology as a product and continuation of evolution. Highlights include how Amish evaluate and select technology, how inventions happen independently, many times, and how the size of the rockets in our space program has been dictated by requirements of extinct technology.
Eric Sink on the Business of Software Eric Sink
The collected blog posts or MSDN columns from Eric Sink on running an indie software business.
Revenger Alistair Reynolds
Space pirates. Okay, but hardly vintage Reynolds.
Made in Japan: Akio Morita and Sony Akio Morita, Edwin M. Reingold, Mitsuko Shimomura
Memoir of Sony co-founder Akio Morita with interesting views on product development.
The Five Dysfunctions of a Team Patrick M. Lencioni
Management as a business novel. Quick read, convincing points.
The Golden Notebook Doris Lessing
Doris Lessing’s The Golden Notebook is a deserved classic. With over fifty years since its publication, for the contemporary reader, the setting reads as period; but the ideas are as milestones for just how far we haven’t come. While not exceptionally long, the novel is broken up (on multiple levels) and is, like life, without plot, which can make it hard going at times.
A Primer on Jungian Psychology Calvin S. Hall, Vernon J. Nordby
A short but not very well written introduction to Jung’s work that — having been published in 1973 — relentlessly shows it’s age.
The Gene Siddartha Mukherjee
An eminently readable and fascinating history of genetics.
We Should All Be Feminists Chimmanda Ngozi Adichie
Well-illustrated presentation on the lack of gender equality. Adapted from a TEDx talk.
Void Star Zachary Mason
Gibsonesque sci-fi in a literary vein. Takes on the daunting task of imagining self-aware AIs as independent actors.
As I Lay Dying William Faulkner
Written in the vernacular, I found this short novel challenging to break into. I persevered and by the end I found myself chilled and shaking with macabre pleasure.
Seven Brief Lessons on Physics Carlo Rovelli
Mildly interesting, the lessons are disappointingly varying in quality.
Poseidon’s Wake Alastair Reynolds
Part three of a scifi series. Tedious, long and boring.
On the Steel Breeze Alastair Reynolds
Second volume of the Poseidon’s Children trilogy. Space opera with themes of speciation of AI, elevated cognition in elephants, extraterrestial species. Some surprisingly boring bits.
Blue Earth Remembered Alastair Reynolds
Total surveillance society, voluntary non-surveillance zones, human-animal mind links, commercially viable space launches.
What You Make It Michael Marshall Smith
Twilight Zone-like short stories. I liked that many of the stories take place in London and in the late 90s when you can still smoke everywhere.
Nonviolent Communication Marshall B. Rosenberg
A hippy-ish classic on understanding that our reality is interpreted (stimulus—interpretation—response). Demonstrates how taking responsibility for your own emotions and providing feedback for others is crucial — for example, in self-organising teams and agile working.
The Sellout Paul Beatty
Ever so cleverly written satire of “post-racial” America. Didn’t really get it, didn’t really find it funny. Must not be black or literary enough.
The Information James Gleick
The fascinating history of information from jungle drums to Shannon’s information theory, from France’s proto-telegraph system to quantum computing.
The Management Myth Matthew Stewart
An enthralling takedown of management theory as a science, from Taylor’s jawdropping fabrications to Tom Peters’ inane business-self-help gurudom. The historical critique, which can get a bit heavy, is carried along very cleverly by the author’s own hilariously narrated experience as a management consultant.
A Grain of Wheat Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o
The interweaving lives of villagers days before Kenya’s independence.
It’s Our Turn to Eat Michaela Wrong
Nonfiction narrative of John Githongo, a whistleblower on Kenyan government corruption. But more than this, it’s also a wide-ranging introduction at the history and culture of Kenya.
Snows of Kilimanjaro and other stories Ernest Hemingway
Early Hemingway short stories; the voice is there but not his greatest work.
Creation Steve Grand
Part pondering meditation on reality and consciousness, part recipe for creating artificial life.
I Love Dick Chris Kraus
I struggled to get into this novel, the first half is composed mainly of letters. By the second half the author finds her voice and the narration blooms to include art criticism.
Talking with Tech Leads Patrick Kua
Imagine reading a three–four page interview on the role of tech lead. Now imagine repeating this another 34 times.
Pre-suasion Robert Cialdini
An academically cited look at what influences our thinking (the titular tenet being that scene-setting factors have significant impact). Interesting and somewhat incredible.
Antifragile Nicholas Nassim Taleb
Big thoughts and little thoughts presented and then polished in meandering essayistic prose. Irritating and brilliant, I put it down for a few months only to pick it up and finish it with gusto.
Seveneves Neal Stephenson
Hard-cum-epic scifi starting from the present day and ending 5000 years in the future. I’m struck by how much Stephenson has matured as an author.
Disrupted Dan Lyons
Funny and fast-paced experiences of 50-something journalist trying to reinvent himself as a marketer at HubSpot, a dysfunctional startup.
A Fire in the Sun George Alex Effinger
The Handmaid’s Tale Margaret Atwood
Sapiens Yuval Noah Harari
A history of the human species, Sapiens is compelling, intriguing and aimed at a mass audience. It’s examples and elaborations are a bit repetitive.
Origin Stephen Baxter
Evolution of homo sapiens with a scifi treatment with a solution to the Fermi paradox. Great treatment of non-human characters.
The Firm: The Story of McKinsey and Its Secret Influence on American Business Duff McDonald
An eminently readable history of McKinsey & Company.
A Deepness in the Sky Vernor Vinge
Much more enjoyable plot that Vinge’s earlier Zones of Thought novel. Great treatment of non-humanoid aliens as protagonists.
Digital vs Human Richard Watson
A essayistic overview of how new technologies might evolve and change our society. The first-person tone helps make the density and breadth covered manageable.
Counterstrike Joshua Dalzelle
Military space scifi. Part three of the Black Fleet Trilogy.
Call to Arms Joshua Dalzelle
Military space scifi. Part two of the Black Fleet Trilogy.
Warship Joshua Dalzelle
Military space scifi.
Terminal World Alastair Reynolds
Steampunkish and original, yet I struggled to finish it. The only Reynolds novel I’ve not liked.
The Third Wave: An Entrepreneur’s Vision of the Future Steve Case
Part memoir, part musing of how the “third wave” of the Internet will play out, the Third Wave is confusing in structure and slim in practical prediction.
Geek Mafia: Mile Zero Rick Dakan
A sequel and much worse for it; it’s devoid of everything that made the first novel somewhat interesting.
Geek Mafia Rick Dakan
Hero gets unfairly fired from his own company and gets helped up a beautiful geek-chic goddess; obviously he gets the girl. Pure comic book fantasy from start to finish.
The Spy Who Came in from the Cold John le Carré
Cleverly structured and sparse writing; a spy classic with literary oomph.
Industries of the Future Alec Ross
A shallow look at how the world is changing and how robotics, software, big data and genomics are the future. I don’t think I learned anything new.
A Fire Upon the Deep Vernor Vinge
Some fantastic sci-fi ideas, the main plot gets rather boring. Rare exploration of non-humanoid races and explanation of the Fermi paradox.
The Circle Dave Eggers
Never Let Me Go Kazuo Ishiguro
A haunting dystopian novel that sets the reminiscence of growing up in an English boarding school in sharp contrast of the looming, terrible truth.
Annihilation Jeff VanderMeer
Short and strange.
Didn’t See It Coming Marc Stoiber
A brief, interesting take on how advertising and marketing has changed.
The Peripheral William Gibson
Even more difficult to get into than usual for Gibson.
Calculating God Robert J. Sawyer
The only good thing about this “scifi novel” are the explanations of how DNA and the fundamental forces work. I’ve read business novels with more thrilling narratives.
Pacific Edge Kim Stanley Robinson
Melancholy, sweeping and so literary that it feels odd to call it scifi.
Crossing the Chasm Geoffrey Moore
How to bring technology products to a mainstream market. While somewhat dated — it was published in 1991 — it still has plenty to offer.
High-Rise J. G. Ballard
The second novel that reading as an ebook didn’t do justice.
Life Before Man Margaret Atwood
Lyrical and sometimes poignant, the story of a married couple whose field of gravity pulls and swings other lives into their wake.
Makers Cory Doctorow
A rambling near-future novel filled with interesting little gems of technological innovations. Flat on plot and characters. Makers is available online for free.
Pushing Ice Alastair Reynolds
An enjoyable standalone scifi novel that explores the notion of starfaring sentience in a vast universe and the effects of relativistic faster-than-light travel.
Century Rain Alastair Reynolds
A standalone parallel worlds novel. Very enjoyable.
Redshirts John Scalzi
For Whom the Bell Tolls Ernest Hemingway
The Broom of the System David Foster Wallace
Breathless and absurd. I didn’t really enjoy it.
East of Eden John Steinbeck
All too often, I find the best books I’ve read the least possible to summarise.
Pitch Anything Orren Klaff
Reading Pitch Anything at the same time as Non-Violent Communication definitely added to the sleaze factor. But it’s an interesting formula/theory of influencing people.
Non-Violent Communication Marshall Rosenberg
The Deadline Tom DeMarco
Despite the totally unrealistic plot and clunky and contrived characters, I enjoyed this business novel about software development.
The Everything Store Brad Stone
A readable company biography of Amazon. Paints a picture of a company moulded very much after the image of its founder, Jeff Bezos.
The Hidden Family Charles Stross
The Family Trade Charles Stross
The Gold Coast Kim Stanley Robinson
Life in pre-apocalyptic Orange County, CA.
The Wild Shore Kim Stanley Robinson
Life in post-apocalyptic Orange County, CA.
The Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow Cory Doctorow
A short piece of science fiction. The free-to-download ebook comes packaged with a talk on how DRM hinders creators and an interview of Doctorow.
Built to Sell John Warrillow
Yet another cheesy “business novel.” A guide on how to make your business sellable with a light narrative veneer. A quick read and I liked it!
The Red Men Matthew De Abaitua
Literary scifi set in Hackney, London. The fantastical sometimes obscures the plot. Interestingly, upon republishing the novel, the author cut back heavily on the “literary bits.”
Creative Mischief Dave Trott
Funny if peculiarly simplistic tales of advertising.
Wireless Charlie Stross
The Quantum Thief Hannu Rajaniemi
After starting the sequel, I decided to reread this. Enjoyed it perhaps even more than the first time!
The Petrified Ants Kurt Vonnegut
Unpublished, rather unremarkable collection of short stories.
Bounce Matthew Syed
Fascinating yet repetitive exposition on how innate talent is overrated, and mindset can dictate your chances to succeed.
Cat’s Cradle Kurt Vonnegut
Classic Vonnegut, if less lyrical than some of his novels.
Red Mars Kim Stanley Robinson
Necessary But Not Sufficient Eliyahu M. Goldratt
In one sentence: a limitation cannot be diminished by technology without an accompanying cultural change.
Superfreakonomics Steven Levitt, Stephen J. Dubner
The Post Man David Brin
The Player of Games Iain M. Banks
Woken Furies Richard K. Morgan
Lean Startup Eric Ries
Peopleware Tom DeMarco, Timothy Lister
The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest Stieg Larsson
The Girl Who Played with Fire Stieg Larsson
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo Stieg Larsson
The Phoenix Project Gene Kim, Kevin Behr, George Spafford
The Goal for devops. Easy to get into and hard to put down. Not as fundamental as The Goal.
Shift Hugh Howey
As the sequel to Wool, it lacks much of the ambiance.
Wool Hugh Howey
Great scifi despite the language being a bit too descriptive.
Broken Angels Richard K. Morgan
Altered Carbon Richard K. Morgan
The Technician Neal Asher
Pygmy Chuck Palahniuk
Paul Graham: The Art of Funding a Startup Mixergy
An interview packaged into an ebook, each section foot ended with links to related articles.
The Restoration Game Ken MacLeod
Modern spook-thriller sci-fi with MacLeod’s trademark scenes of Edinburgh and a tapestry of political theory and history.
Critical Chain Eliyahu Goldratt
It’s Not Luck Eliyahu Goldratt
The sequel to The Goal, it reads well and offers tantalizing methods to analyze and plan for action.
Newton’s Wake Ken MacLeod
Space opera in a human-seeded, post-Singularity universe where backups and resurrection are everyday technology.
The Goal Eliyahu M. Goldratt
The Goal is a business book written as a novel. And while yes, the characters are incessantly conversing in exposition and consequently paper-thin, the format succeeds in making it an absorbing read. I guess we just can’t help how our brains are wired.
Engine City Ken MacLeod
Final in a trilogy that I found started slowly but picked up momentum as it went on. The philosophical undercurrents were interesting if a little shallow.
Dark Light Ken MacLeod
As in the original Star Wars trilogy, the middle one is the best.
Cosmonaut Keep Ken MacLeod
With the narration split between two corners of the universe and 100K years, it starts slow. But as the first of an excellent scifi trilogy, stick it out.
The Fall of Hyperion Dan Simmons
Abandons Hyperion’s frame story structure while employing an unique twist on a omnipotent narrator. The full scale of the Hyperion universe blooms.
Hyperion Dan Simmons
Classic sci-fi with a literary bent. Resurrected 18th century poets meets religious ethics meets Canterbury Tales.
Neverwhere Neil Gaiman
Very English, and kinda fun if you know London.
Binary Michael Crichton
A poor thriller notable only for being one of Crichton’s pen-named earlier novels.
What the Dog Saw Malcolm Gladwell
An eminently readable collection of Malcolm Gladwell’s New Yorker articles.
Under the Banner of Heaven Jon Krakauer
An exposition of Mormonism, its bloody history, and the extremism of its breakaway fundamental sects.
Big Short Michael Lewis
An illuminating and enthralling investigation into how the credit crisis came about and a look at the rare and colorful personalities who recognized the lunacy of it as it was happening.
Consider Phlebas Iain M. Banks
Highly recommended, proportionately disappointed. As the first of a very successful sci-fi series, I can only hope it gets better.
Managing Humans Michael Lopp
An immensely readable digest of the wisdom of a veteran of development better known by his online nom de plume, Rands (of Rands in Repose).
Singularity Sky Charles Stross
Hard science sci-fi, a bit heavy on military jargon.
Zero History William Gibson
Marketing, sercret brands; nice ideas yet ultimately flat.
Anathem Neal Stephenson
Ambitious, heavy, neolexic, ontological.
The Quantum Thief Hannu Rajaniemi
Long-future scifi. Fast-paced, great tech, doesn’t explain a thing (this is a good thing). Interesting concept of how sensory filtering technology can reimpose privacy.
Confessions of an Ad Man David Ogilvy
Ad legend Ogilvy’s rules of the trade. Written as if dictated. Interesting and mostly relevant, but amusing and quaint even when dated.
Life, Inc. Douglas Rushkoff
A searing, overwhelming, and suspiciously plausible take on how corporatism took over the world.
Imperial Bedrooms Bret Easton Ellis
Brooding and ominous, dulled only by its opaqueness.
Absolution Gap Alastair Reynolds
A bit more character-drive, it ends smack-bang up against a wall.
Redemption Arc Alastair Reynolds
Book three is the turn of the Revelation Space series.
Chasm City Alastair Reynolds
Not as good as the Revelation Space series’ eponymous first novel.
Revelation Space Alastair Reynolds
Fantastically complex far-future scifi.
Galactic North Alastair Reynolds
Classic sci-fi short stories skipping along the future history of the Revelation Space universe.
Footnotes in Gaza Joe Sacco
Beautifully drawn and studiously researched, wish the topic hadn’t been so extremely specific.
How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional World Charles Yu
Intriguing notions of the nature of time, nice writing, some great sci-fi concepts and terminology, but way too long.
When Gravity Fails George Alec Effinger
Classic cyberpunk set in the Middle East. Written in 1986, the style is concise and nearly perfect.
City of Ruin Mark Charan Newton
Standard fantasy gets even weirder with vampires, transmogrifying human-spiders and flying monkeys.
Nights of Villjamur Mark Charan Newton
Only so-so fantasy.
Bombardiers Po Bronson
Who knew finance was so violently hilarious?
Tipping Point Malcolm Gladwell
A fascinating look at how little changes can have large-scale social effects. Covers most of psychology’s most interesting 1960s experiments. Definitely better than his later books.
True History of the Kelly Gang Peter Carey
Posited as Ned Kelly’s journals written for his daughter. Exceptional tone, vivid exposition.
Haunted Chuck Palahniuk
A Canterbury Tales-esque knitwork of horrid little stories based on urban-legend-worthy facts, fears and freak accidents.
The Informers Brett Easton Ellis
Fragments of the lives of disaffected LA rich. Unremarkably classic Brett Easton Ellis.
The Steel Remains Richard Morgan
A strangely “small” fantasy epic. Enjoyable and above most of the dreck, yet not great. (BTW, I recommend reading the hilarious Amazon reviews moaning about the main characters are gay.)
The Alienist Caleb Carr
A fascinating imagining of the birth of profiling as a technique to catch a serial killer in 1890s New York.
Vellum Hal Duncan
Some great myth and language-to-godhood ideas, but ruined by the painfully choppy flashback-narration.
The Count of Monte Cristo Alexandre Dumas
A very long, quixotic revenge story.
Assassination Vacation Sarah Vowell
Vowell as a tour guide to American history, pointing out strange, amusing and poignant connections.
The Passionate Programmer Chad Fowler
While its first edition title, “My Job Went to India (And All I Got Was This Lousy Book): 52 Ways to Save Your Job,” is still recognizable, The Passionate Programmer contains sound advice and perspective for programmers. The practical exercises may be helpful to some.
The Road Cormac McCarthy
The bleakness of the milieu accentuates the beauty of the characters and the language. Unasked questions left unanswered.
The Devil in the White City Erik Larson
An awesome non-fiction novel intertwining the World’s Columbian Exposition, held in Chicago in 1893, and the story of H. H. Holmes, one of America’s first serial killers.
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland Lewis Carroll
Not nearly as absurd as popular recollection would have it.
The Metamorphosis Franz Kafka
Man turns into bug, freaks out family, dies in allegory of alienation.
Pride and Prejudice Jane Austen
Pre-Victorian society is surprisingly alien. But then so are most religions.
The Raw Shark Texts Steven Hall
Brilliant concept, passable writing.
The Damned Utd David Peace
A violent and foreboding paen of hubris and despair, The Damned Utd fictionalizes, in parallel, the rise and fall of football manager Brian Clough.
The Gum Thief Douglas Coupland
Definitely a Coupland novel.
Here Comes Everybody Clay Shirky
A fascinating look at how communication tools have and continue to change society. Much is familiar from Shirky’s talks at various conferences (Aula, Gel).
Juliet, Naked Nick Hornby
Doesn’t really stand out, though has it’s moments.
The Fourth Hand John Irving
Certainly not one of Irving’s best.
Red Seas Under Red Skies Scott Lynch
Not as good as the first Gentlemen Bastards novel, but enthralling nonetheless.
The Brooklyn Follies Paul Auster
Gentle and Irvingesque, a temperate Auster.
The Lies of Locke Lamora Scott Lynch
What sold me was the blurb on the cover by George R. R. Martin. Fantasy, yet eminently readable.
Black Man Richard Morgan
Standard fare for Morgan’s near-future scifi action.
A Million Little Pieces James Frey
Forceful, yet overshadowed by its infamy.
A Widow for One Year John Irving
Market Forces Richard Morgan
A cyberpunkish, somewhat unbelievable novel of hypercapitalism and the falling apart of a marriage.
The Prestige Christopher Priest
The Prestige’s finest merit is that it inspired a great (eponymous) film. Otherwise the broken up narrative is contrived and dull.
Woken Furies Richard Morgan
Morgan’s third Takeshi Kovacs novel, Woken Furies is cyberpunk in the classic vein.
Stand on Zanzibar John Brunner
Published in 1968, Stand on Zanzibar is experimental, prescient, and way too long.
Daemon Daniel Suarez
Daemon has some great ideas, uses existing yet fantastic technology brilliantly. While it reads smoothly, the excitement and characters are rather lackluster.
Polttava tie Veijo Baltzar
Puhekielellä kirjoitettu romaani mustalaisperheestä 60-luvulla. Lopussa pikakelataan 15 vuoden yli ja päädytään ihmeelliseen mustalaisväestön integrointiprojektiin, joka huipentuu hämmentävään mustalaisten pelastukseen.
The Fifth Child Doris Lessing
Stylistically unremarkable, socially unfamiliar, yet haunting.
Snuff Chuck Palahniuk
Flips between several points of view of people at a gangbang. Short and a quick read, but not Palahniuk’s finest work.
Karl Marx Francis Wheen
Eastern Standard Tribe Cory Doctorow
A quick jaunt in a scifi tomorrow. My first ebook. You can get Eastern Standard Tribe online for free.
Axiomatic Greg Egan
A collection of Egan’s short stories. The tagline says it best: ”science fiction for people who like science fiction.”
The Last Colony John Scalzi
Still true to his Heinleinian roots, Scalzi’s The Last Colony is a quick and fun read with a cast of rote characters in sticky pickles. While better than The Ghost Brigades, I now wonder if there wasn’t something in my tea when I so highly appreciated Scalzi’s debut, Old Man’s War.
White Noise Don Delillo
Like the Salt Plains, White Noise is breathtaking in its beauty, deft in its bleakness, and unrelentingly flat.
Next Michael Crichton
A chillingly paranoid novel dealing with genetic research. Both absurd yet based on thinly fictionalized true stories.
Miss Wyoming Douglas Coupland
One of Coupland’s better novels, Miss Wyoming is especially reminiscent of both Chuck Palahniuk and Brett Easton Ellis. Are we sure these guys aren’t just one guy?
Anansi Boys Neil Gaiman
Gaiman returns to gods and myths his second adult novel, a tangled yarn of characters that finally find resolution in the center of a spider’s web.
Blindsight Peter Watts
First contact in a scientifically plausible future world where vampires are an extinct subspecies of humans.
Forever Free Joe Haldeman
A sequel of Forever War, the origins of the universe turn out to be a scifi writer’s joke.
The Ghost Brigades John Scalzi
Though fast-paced and enjoyable enough, still a somewhat disappointing sequel to the fantastic Old Man’s War.
Diaspora Greg Egan
Heavy on math, imagined physics and what-if evolution of human society, Diaspora is an episodic novel short on characters and, well, traditional plot devices.
Accelerando Charles Stross
Android’s Dream John Scalzi
Interstellar intrigue and some nifty gadgets, Android’s Dream is a runaway-thriller in a lo-sci-fi setting.
Worlds Joe Haldeman
It is interesting to note that Haldeman’s novels have not recurring themes, but recurring settings and backstories.
Altered Carbon Richard Morgan
Richard Morgan’s debut novel is a solid cyberpunk thriller. Rather low on the exploration on the effects of tech advances, it nevertheless is introduced Gibson-like and deftly. When the richest individuals can extend their lifespans indefinitely, how does this affect their minds? Interplanetary travel is possible through “needlecasts” in which consciousness is transferred into bodies (e.g. of convicts), called “sleeves”.
The Forever Peace Joe Haldeman
Haldeman revisits the themes of his most successful novel, The Forever War.
The Forever War Joe Haldeman
A crisply written classic scifi novel originally published as short stories in scifi magazines. The author, a Vietnam veteran, envisions a future where interstellar war is the only constant. Fighting for control of wormholes, single military missions last centuries, and the world they return to is never the same.
Old Man’s War John Scalzi
A deftly written piece of science fiction with a great nod towards Robert A. Heinlein.
Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town Cory Doctorow
What if your mother was a washing machine and your father was a mountain? And what if the brother you’d killed came back with nothing on his mind except killing you and your all your other brothers? You get Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town online for free.
Glasshouse Charles Stross
Set in the far future and endowed with some great technological suppositions and a nicely developed “future history”, Glasshouse (like all too many scifi novels) is short on stylistic or artistic merits. Blobby characters with adolescent emotions and sex scenes. Maybe futurepeople never grow up?
Lunar Park Brett Easton Ellis
Compared to Ellis’s earlier works, Lunar Park feels like a smaller novel. The style also feels more mature. Unfortunately, neither of these notions struck me as an improvement.
Rant Chuck Palahniuk
I enjoyed Fight Club (though, seeing the movie first, I thought it was better). Lullaby and Diary were basically entertaining, if repetitive.
So my expectations weren’t high for Rant — but boy, was I in for a treat. The first portion reads as a story of a strange kid-cum-cult-figure. And from there it goes totally off-the-hook scifi.
Palahniuk’s cultural research and signature observations on modern life aren’t as rough on the surface, the repetition’s been curtailed, and the writing is quicker, smoother, and more outside than inside.
Shiny Adidas Tracksuits and the Death of Camp Might Magazine
You Shall Know Our Velocity Dave Eggers
Last Exit to Brooklyn Hubert Selby, Jr.
Hunger Knut Hamsun
I Was Howard Hughes Steven Carter
The New York Trilogy Paul Auster
The Long Tail Chris Anderson
The second book I’ve recently read that’s been expanded from a single article, The Long Tail suffers from repetition and circuitous treatment of the main themes. While the concept of long tails is fascinating, I found it hard to keep interested and finish the book.
jPod Douglas Coupland
Like most of Coupland’s other novels, jPod was a quick read. Better than some, though not as good as maybe Generation X and Shampoo Planet. I especially enjoyed the humorous references to and appearance of the author.
Freakonomics Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner
I great read, well written and fascinating. There was some repetition due to the book’s structure, but it didn’t distract too much from the whole.
Spook Country William Gibson
Another great novel by Gibson. I think I will end up missing some of the future in Gibson’s work, but I totally agree with Gibson’s notion that “the future” is already here.
The Constant Gardener John le Carre
Duluth Gore Vidal
Turned onto the Washington trilogy by my sister, I thoroughly enjoyed the surprising satirical nature of Duluth. Great intertextualism and wonky takes on literature theory. Funnily enough, my sister couldn’t get into Duluth at all, and abandoned it after chapter two.
How to Lose Friends & Alienate People Toby Young
After finishing the book (which was a quick read, and okay), I googled some of the main characters’ names. As I had presumed, others had done all the sleuth work for me.
Interface Stephen Bury
Zodiac Neal Stephenson
Mainosvalokuvauksen ABC Jukka-Pekka Asikainen, Tarja Ranninen
Paris to the Moon Adam Gopnik
Adiós Hemingway Leonardo Padura Fuentes
The Partly Cloudy Patriot Sarah Vowell
The Grail Tree (Lovejoy) Jonathan Gash
The third and final volume in the Lovejoy At Large omnibus, I was glad to be done with it. As much as I liked the Lovejoy TV series, the lonewolf, womenizing and women-striking Lovejoy of the novels just isn’t the same.
Gold from Gemini (Lovejoy) Jonathan Gash
Judas Pair (Lovejoy) Jonathan Gash
The Last Tycoon F. Scott Fitzgerald
Eleanor Rigby Douglas Coupland
Bright Lights, Big City Jay Mcinerney
Washington, D.C. Gore Vidal
1876 Gore Vidal
Burr Gore Vidal
Cod Mark Kurlansky
The Wayward Bus John Steinbeck
Tortilla Flat John Steinbeck
The Da Vinci Code Dan Brown
The Girls’ Guide to Hunting and Fishing Melissa Bank
Oracle Night Paul Auster
Born Free Laura Hird
Insanely Great Stephen Levy
American Psycho Bret Easton Ellis
The Plot Against America Philip Roth
Chump Change Dan Fante
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn Mark Twain
A Prayer for Owen Meany John Irving
How to Win Friends and Influence People Dale Carnegie
The Dean’s December Saul Bellow
The Secret History Donna Tartt
Coin Locker Babies Ryu Murakami
American Gods Neil Gaiman
Porno Irvine Welsh
Gary Benchley, Rock Star Paul Ford
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay Michael Chabon
Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom Cory Doctorow
To Kill a Mockingbird Harper Lee
Crypto Steven Levy
God Emperor of Dune Frank Herbert
Children of Dune Frank Herbert
Lake Wobegon Days Garrison Keillor
Dune Messiah Frank Herbert
Dune Frank Herbert
Book of Illusions Paul Auster
This Side of Paradise F. Scott Fitzgerald
System of the World Neal Stephenson
The Wine of Youth John Fante
Deadeye Dick Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.
The Confusion Neal Stephenson
Quicksilver Neal Stephenson
Dr. Bloodmoney Philip K. Dick
Genius — The Life and Science of Richard Feynman James Gleick
Helsinki 12 Tuomas Vimma
Palm Sunday Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? Philip K. Dick
Darwin’s Radio Greg Bear
The Great Gatsby F. Scott Fitzgerald
My Life and Times Henry Miller
Sylvia Beach and the Lost Generation Noel Riley Fitch
Glamorama Bret Easton Ellis
Ever Since Darwin Stephen Jay Gould
Grand Central Winter Lee Stringer
Kitchen Confidential Anthony Bourdain
Kil’n People David Brin
Detective novel set in a future with some great technological advances. What if you could copy yourself and send this copy to work instead? What would you do if physical danger wasn’t a risk, just have a copy take the risk and download the experience afterwards? But what if you wake up and you’re the copy?
Neljä päivänlaskua Mika Waltari
Hey Nostradamus! Douglas Coupland
Aiotko kirjailijaksi Mika Waltari
Diary Chuck Palahniuk
Maria & José Erlend Loe & Kim Hiorthøy
Hand to Mouth Paul Auster
Megakesä Katri Manninen
Bombardiers Po Bronson
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas Hunter S. Thompson
Jack Kerouac: Angel-headed Hipster Steve Turner
Snow Crash Neal Stephenson
The Autograph Man Zadie Smith
Kentucky Ham William S. Burroughs, Jr.
Tender Is the Night F. Scott Fitzgerald
Madame Bovary Gustave Flaubert
The Human Comedy William Saroyan
Dharma Bums Jack Kerouac
Speed William S. Burroughs, Jr.
A Moveable Feast Ernest Hemingway
Wampeters, Foma & Granfalloons Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.
Jack Frusciante Has Left the Band Enrico Brizzi
Wasted Krissy Kays
Fast Food Nation Eric Schlosser
Muistikirjasta Anton Tšehov
On the Road Jack Kerouac
True Romance Quentin Tarantino
Atomised Michel Houellebecq
The Sun Also Rises Ernest Hemingway
Lullaby Chuck Palahniuk
All Families Are Psychotic Douglas Coupland
Rules of Attraction Bret Easton Ellis
Pattern Recognition William Gibson
Mockingbird Wish Me Luck Charles Bukowski
Crossroads of Twilight Robert Jordan
Girlfriend in a Coma Douglas Coupland
In Search of J.D. Salinger Ian Hamilton
Brave New World Aldous Huxley
Great Jones Street Don DeLillo
Herzog Saul Bellow
A Signal Shattered Eric S. Nylund
Signal to Noise Eric S. Nylund
Shampoo Planet Douglas Coupland
Galapagos Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.
Less Than Zero Brett Easton Ellis
Sad Movies Mark Lindquist
Women Charles Bukowski
Take the Cannoli Sarah Vowell
Down and Out in Paris and London George Orwell
Septuagenarian Stew Charles Bukowski
A Man Betrayed J.V. Jones
The Baker’s Boy J.V. Jones
Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason Helen Fielding
The Road to Los Angeles John Fante
An Outline History of Denmark Helge Seidelin Jacobsen
Microserfs Douglas Coupland
Ask the Dust John Fante
Populäärimusiikkia Vittulajänkältä Mikael Niemi
An Underachiever’s Diary Benjamin Anastas
Ham on Rye Charles Bukowski
Sieppari ruispellossa J.D. Salinger (suom. Pentti Saarikoski)
Winner Take Nothing Ernest Hemingway
Ghost of Chance William S. Burroughs
Henry & June Anaïs Nin
A Tapestry of Lions Jennifer Roberson
The Flight of the Raven Jennifer Roberson
Birds of America Lorrie Moore
Play the Piano Drunk Like a Percussion Instrument Until the Fingers Begin to Bleed a Bit Charles Bukowski
Screams From the Balcony Charles Bukowski
We Ain’t Got No Car #7 Jack Saturn
My Name Is Aram William Saroyan
Post Office Charles Bukowski
Factotum Charles Bukowski
Nälkä Knut Hamsun
Welcome to the Monkey House Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.
Franny & Zooey J.D. Salinger
The Days Run Away Like Wild Horses Over the Hills Charles Bukowski
Hot Water Music Charles Bukowski
Bukowskin elämä Neeli Cherkovski
Tropic of Cancer Henry Miller
A Word in Time Philip Howard
Like Life Lorrie Moore
Sam the Cat Matthew Klam
Elämäni ja rakkauteni Frank Harris
Fight Club Chuck Palahniuk
Hell’s Angels Hunter S. Thompson
Naked Lunch William S. Burroughs
Aleksis Stenvallin elämä Veijo Meri
Isännät ja isäntien varjot Pentti Haanpää
Underground: The London Alternative Press, 1966-74 Nigel Fountain
The Victim Saul Bellow
Winesburg, Ohio Sherwood Anderson
Oh man, I liked this book! I’d never heard of Sherwood Anderson before (being the literary ignoramus I am) but this book totally made me a fan. The introduction was also pretty funny. It explained who Anderson was and how he never knew how to write a novel. The writer of the introduction, Malcolm Cowley, suspected Anderson didn’t quite grasp time and this is why Anderson’s stories sometimes jump, without warning, decades forwards or backwards in time.
Yhden yön pysäkki Rosa Liksom
Queer William S. Burroughs
Lounaalla Charles Bukowski
I read this book in Finnish. A diary of sorts (Buk says plainly that he wrote it because he was contracted to do so), it was a quick read. Buk’s day to day life is similar to the world of his “fiction”, but his active presence in the narrative has a definite quality of banality to it (as do all diaries, I suppose). He talks about his death often, he can’t get over the fact that he has lived into his seventies. (March 2003)
White Teeth Zadie Smith
Who Will Run the Frog Hospital Lorrie Moore
Kuviteltu kuolema Veijo Meri
All Tomorrows’s Parties William Gibson