The Adventure Zone
Murder on the Rockport Limited!
Clint McElroy, Griffin McElroy, Justin McElroy, and Carey Pietsch
My Brother's Husband
A sweet story of a stay-at-home single father Yaichi meeting his brother’s husband Mike, a Canadian, for the first time. Mike and his neice Kana bond instantly. Yaichi struggles to accept Mike… or maybe he struggles to accept his brother Ryoji. There’s a wonderful story of love and loss and overcoming one’s own homophobic tendencies all taking place inside the backdrop of conservative Japan.
Good to Great 🎧
Why Some Companies Make the Leap...And Others Don't
I enjoyed this management book quite a bit. I grifted quite a few learnings and took copious notes. I appreciated the fact they heavily relied on research and allowed that to change and inform their opinions. Being written in 2001, however, some of the companies cited as “great” didn’t turn out that great; I’m not sure if this undermines the research or not. Not sure it’s gospel, but it points at some good basics for high performing employees.
A murderer commits the perfect crime, except for one detail. I recently read that this story written in 1925 and the rest of the Kogoro Akechi detective series inspired Shu Takumi to create the Phoenix Wright video game series, so I jumped on it. It was a fun read even if the translation was a bit clumsy and confusing in places.
Make Time 🎧
How to Focus on What Matters Every Day
Knapp & Zeratsky
A collection of 87 lifehacks that aim to help you reclaim your time, attention, and energy. Feeling out of time myself, this was a gem. I’ll probably pick up a physical copy to browse through occasionally.
The Impossible Fortress 🎧
Three horny teenagers devise a heist to boost the 1987 Vanna White Playboy from a local merchant. One of the boys, a video game programmer, meets a girl. Chock full of Ready Player One levels of nostalgia, I quite enjoyed this simple and fun coming of age story.
The New One Minute Manager 🎧
Blanchard & Johnson
An insufferable book filled with un-scientific anecdotes and an utterly ficticious power fantasy where a young mentee asks and praises a manager for his insights. On the surface Goals, Praise, and Redirects aren’t awful concepts but it’s presented in such a hokey way it’s tough to believe anything about it.
Writing for Designers 🎧
Content and copy are often an afterthought. Scott Kubie gives you a framework (Prepare, Compose, Edit, Finish) and some tools to start organzing and wrangling and improving your site’s content even if it’s not your expertise.
Hip Hop Family Tree
Book 1: 1970s-1981
The birth of Hip Hop in graphic novel form. A wordy but worthy adaptation. I was overwhelmed and slowed by the sheer density and numerous characters in this book, but the book does a great job documenting key players in the early rap scene and you get a sense of the competition and vitality surrounding this new art form in its early days.
Nonviolent Communication 🎧
Create Your Life, Your Relationships, and Your World in Harmony with Your Values
Marshall Rosenberg PhD
I’m willing to wager the audiobook is quite different than the paperback. It had the feeling of an gentile, elderly professor talking and sharing sensational anecdotes from his life’s work. The part that challenged me the most was about offering observations and feelings instead of judgements when conflict arises. I know I tend to cast judgements instead of trying to offer a) observations that stuck out to me and b) my feelings to those observations in a candid way. I also had some uneasyness of his take on positive feedback, but I think it stems from him being a somewhat literal person who is constantly driving towards meaning.
Managing Oneself 🎧
Peter F. Drucker
Short, quaint, and to the point book on the business importance of understanding your strengths and weaknesses as well as seeking to understand the strengths and weaknesses of others (managers, subordinates, peers, etc). I feel like I’ve learned a lot of these lessons over time.
Vol 8: Jetavana
The melancholic culmination of the Buddha’s story. Lots of storylines come to a head in this volume. It didn’t dawn on me until the eighth volume, but I find it interesting that in the West, Buddhism tends to be fairly apolitical. But the Buddha’s story is very intertwined with politics, kingdoms, land grants, and vengeful princes. What a wonderful retelling in a fitting format by Osamu Tezuka. I’m very glad I took this ~3,000 page journey of understanding more about the life of the Buddha.
Technically Wrong 🎧
Sexist Apps, Biased Algorithms, and Other Threats of Toxic Tech
Sara Wachter-Boettcher does an excellent job highlighting the areas where the tech industry repeatedly fails. Without proper criticism, technology causes harm and reinforces broken systems. This book pairs nicely with Brotopia and Weapons of Math Destruction and may the best starting point for tech criticism books, a diving off point for those more single issue books.
Vol 7: Prince Ajatasattu
Another enjoyable volume of this series. This volume highlights Buddha’s disciples, their personal struggles, as well as Buddha’s enemies and their attempts rid the world of him.
Breaking Up the Boys' Club of Silicon Valley
This should be required reading for any person in tech. Chang does an amazing job addressing a lot of the challenges and barriers that women face in a male dominated tech industry. It’s disheartening that sexism and bro culture still run rampant today. One particular point that hit close to home was the account of the 90s bro culture at Trilogy in Austin, TX. It was relevant because a lot of VC and CEOs in Austin are ex-Trilogy, which no doubt impacts our local tech scene.
Introduction to Disciplined Agile Delivery
I read this for work to better understand a client’s perferred agile method. This is maybe the worst book I’ve ever read. The entire second half is a weird agile power fantasy fan fiction where everything ends up hunky-dory. While I picked up a few things that will help me better understand work, I’m also fairly certain based on this book that we’re doing it all wrong.
Growing up in an apartment on the south side of Chicago, father with a disability working a boiler to send her to Princeton, becoming a lawyer, marrying a man who would one day become the first black President, becoming a mother, and becoming her role as the one-and-true “FLOTUS”. Michelle Obama’s story is special. A redefinition of the American Story.
Foundation and Empire
I struggled with this book but pushed on becuase I’m interested in the third book. Like the last book, I felt the chaptering and storytelling was very disconnected. The second half of the book was frustrating, but the twist paid off for me.
It’s the year 12,000 and psychohistorians can predict the future. Scientists establish a colony on the outer rim of the galaxy. The only thing I didn’t like about the book was the time travel between chapters; disorienting jumps of either 4 hours, 4 days, 4 months, 4 years, or 4 decades.
Decision Points 🎧
George W. Bush
It was both helpful and frustrating to hear Bush’s perspective of his presidency. You do see points where Bush was judged too harshly by the Left. But on the next chapter, I would get frustrated by some blatant hypocricy in his policies. I found Bush’s faith in God both humanizing and naive as a basis of government policy. I was also repeatedly frustrated by his Texan ability to go into great details about an old friend from Midland’s dog, but when it came to justifying Iraq or the Stock Market Collapse, it was a few bullet points of spin.
Vol 6: Andanda
Ananda, son of the devil. This was the best volume so far. An interesting story and twist and a lot of points of action converging story lines. Quite enjoyable.
Radical Candor 🎧
Be a Kick-Ass Boss Without Losing Your Humanity
The Radical Candor management philosophy seems in-part Kim Scott self-justifying her own candid personality, but I like the concept. Alternative management styles are ineffective or manipulative and dishonest in comparison. Being candid and clear prevents miscommunications. Kim Scott seems a great manager because she thinks about it and cares about it and there’s lots of takeaways from this book.
Trump in the White House
Probably the most neutral biography on the Trump Administration to date and you truly get the sense our country is being governed by a child. Former Chief of Staff John Kelly sums it up succinctly, “He’s an idiot. It’s pointless to try and convince him of anything. He’s gone off the rails. We’re in crazy town.”
White Fragility 🎧
Why It's So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism
In some ways the title of this book self-selects its audience which was likely intentional since its aimed at progressive whites. One thing I liked about this book was how it pointed out that we are all prone to discriminate, but it’s the institutional authority and oppression that makes it racism. Lots to think about and self-reflect from this book.
Blood, Sweat, and Pixels
The Triumphant, Turbulent Stories Behind How Video Games Are Made
An excellent look into the process of creating video games.
Flash Boys 🎧
A Wall Street Revolt
Amazing to learn about the value of a millisecond. Also frightening to know the stock market isn’t about being good at picking stocks, but more about frontrunning and trying to hijack well-meaning trades, like the card game of slaps. The whole stock market now seems like a house of cards and I wonder if all “successful” companies are just benefactors of these high frequency trading manipulations.
Russian Roulette 🎧
The Inside Story of Putin's War on America and the Election of Donald Trump
A relatively neutral account of the entire Trump-Russia collusion scandal. It’s a breath of fresh air to see the facts all laid out but also utterly frightening that America has been exploited and social media has been weaponized against us.
Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore 🎧
I enjoyed this. A classic unfolding mystery set in modern times. I was hooked by the protagonist’s web designer background. The greatest embellishment of this book however is when Clay codes a 3D model using Ruby.
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
🤷 Gave Up
The library called to return the loan and I didn’t renew. The life and perspective of a Nigerian woman is very outside my own and I enjoyed this immigrant story aspect of the book. But the story telling framework (at least in the first chapters) had a very Jane Austen’y “he likes her but is engaged to her but she like him who is married to her” vibe. I hope to pick it up again some day.
The Life-Changing Manga of Tidying Up
A Magical Story
Loved the Netflix show so much, I bought the book. Actually, there’s a book and a manga version of the book and I’ve never made an easier decision in my life. I definitely identify with feeling crowded and overwhelmed by “stuff”. I look forward to my own tidying journey and finding what sparks joy. Joy as a metric is maybe naive, but as good as any I suppose.
Can't We All Disagree More Constructively?
I picked up a single chapter of a book I’ve read before. It was 99¢. It read like a different book which was nice, but there was also quite a bit missing out of context.
The World of Edena
A beautifully illustrated and colored sci-fi creation story. Good, evil, the corruption of technological progress; it’s all thoughtfully explored.
Go Tell It On The Mountain 🎧
A uniquely American tragedy wrapped in a garment of pentecostalism. Perhaps due to my evangelical past, I was unexpectedly raptured by this book. Baldwin, a former preacher himself, respectfully and poetically captures the American pentecostal experience while also admonshing critique; its holiness, its other worldliness, and its patriarchal and hypocritical pitfalls.
Ottaviani & Myrick
A dull depiction of an otherwise interesting individual. I’ve always imagined Feynman as a charismatic and infectious individual, but this one seems very self-focused. This book however paired nicely with Grit showing that dedication and singular focus can achieve great results.
The Power of Passion and Perseverance
Wonderful look into the psychology of productivity and human achievement. A lot of success and mastery are less about talent and more about showing up and being intentional. Some of the anecdotes towards the end were lost on me.
Fire and Fury 🎧
Inside the Trump White House
I know this is the more salacious of the two Trump White House biographies but it’s not too far from how I imagine the hideous language, internal leaking, and power struggles to play out. At one point Wolff reminds the reader that Trump is a literal WWE Superstar (in the Hall of Fame even) and Trump’s entire being all started to make sense. His insecure bravado, his needing to be the biggest personality in the room, his rallies with violent language against his “enemies”; it all makes sense now.
Vol 5: Deer Park
Although most of the story is about the heroicism, deception, and tragedy surrounding Tatta, we finally get into Buddha’s teachings. The divinity of Buddha comes off awkward to me but I liked the first sermon on the interconnectedness of all living things. I found the second teaching to be an re-invention of the caste system based on animal kingdom rank. I suppose this is maybe a carryover from other animistic religions local to the Indian subcontinent.
The Fire Next Time 🎧
I didn’t know this would be the inspiration for Ta-Nehisi Coates’ book, even down to even the phrase “Between the World and Me”. I enjoyed this immensely. Baldwin has amazing insight into the struggles of young black men, and while I don’t completely agree with his views on religion, I can’t say that I’m too far away from them. It is a shame this book and Coates’ book written half-a-century later are so similar.
MLK on "The Other America" and "Black Power"
Martin Luther King
Two short homilies by Dr. King while very centered in the late 1960s they get to the root of some of America’s racial indivision today. I found “The Other America” to be quite an indictment against our society and am once again renewed by Dr. King’s relentless desire to root out injustice.
A Nation Under Our Feet Book 1
I enjoyed Ta-Nehisi Coates’ book so much I thought I’d give his Black Panther series another try. I like convergence of plotlines building up and there is beautiful imagery in this book, but was somewhat bored by this first volume. Not sure if it’s worth $20/volume to continue.
Weapons of Math Destruction 🎧
How Big Data Increases Inequality and Threatens Democracy
Eye-opening. Makes me want to throw all computers into the ocean. Prioritizing profits over fairness, people are just casualties in the wake of algorithmic irresponsibility.
Coda Vol. 1
The beautiful Moebius-like color palleteart of Coda is incredible and though it takes quite a few pages for the story to really unfold, it has all the makings of a modern classic like Saga.
What Happened 🎧
I enjoyed hearing Hillary’s perspective on her candidacy and the ensuing fallout of the 2016 election. Even though I voted for Hillary, this was maybe the first time I got the whole picture of her platform and what she personally values. I agreed with a lot of her perspectives. I wish this had come out more in the election, not overshadowed by Trump’s idiocy.
A Higher Loyalty 🎧
Truth, Lies, and Leadership
Part book on integrity and leadership, part thinly encoded message. Comey is no stranger to political circus cases and goes in depth on most of them, but what I found most valuable about this book as an American was a look inside at the FBI and how it attempts to be neutral in its examination of the facts.
Between the World and Me 🎧
Incredible. Every sentence is potent. Not a single word in this book is wasted. I was arrested by Coates’ poeticism on multiple occasions, forced to ponder his words.
The Audacity of Hope 🎧
Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream
It’s a bit haunting that nearly all of the topics covered here (identity politics, Supreme Court appointments, campaign finance reform, racism in America) are just as relevant today as they were in 2006. I feel like this is the book and the roadmap the Democratic party needs, but wonder if anyone over there has read it. I miss Obama the Orator.
Vol. 4: The Forest of Uruvela
Siddhartha undergoes more ascetic trials. You get a sense of how counter-cultural Buddha was to the mainstream religious activities of the time. That punk rock aesthetic I appreciate, but I still struggle with some of the attitudes Siddhartha presents.
Analog, A Cyber-Dystopian Noir
Vol. 1: Death By Algorithm
It’s the year 2024 and the whole world has been doxxed. I was swept up by this near-future Sci-fi exploration that is entirely too relatable. Recommended by Tim Smith, I was sold by the words “cyber-dystopian noir” and it delivers on all those adjectives.
Vol. 2: The Day After
Aboslutlely horrifying depiction of the day after the atomic bomb. Melting flesh hanging off victims’ bodies. Begging for water. No food. Radiation sickness setting in. What a horrible thing that the gods of war have brought into this world.
A History of Japan
The reconstruction of post-war Japan told from the perspective of a struggling manga artist. This edition of Showa is nearly the opposite being very autobiographical with a bit of history mixed in, but you get a sense of the highs and lows involved in rebooting an economy.
Going Offline 🎧
While I know about PWAs and have built PWAs and have given talks on PWAs, I wanted to get Jeremy’s perspective of building an offline Service Worker. He’s such a good explainer of things and he filled the gaps on Offline Experiences and Service Worker capabilities that I had never put together.
A History of Japan
The decline of Japan’s military empire, the atom bomb, the Emperor becoming human, and the post-war occupation. This volume really enaged me as it centered around Mizuki’s personal struggles and attempts to rejoin society after the war.
An enlightening exploration of the political climate and circumstances that allowed a loud-mouthed, pathetic loser to became history’s biggest authoritarian monster. The story is told so succinctly and honestly. My only criticism is that the Holocaust was extremely underplayed.
The Three-Body Problem
A slightly slow start but then around Chapter 5 this book goes full-WTF. This explosion of mysteries is fuel to get you through the rest of the book. I didn’t feel like it paid off. In a lot of ways Three Body Problem was like a season of Lost, and not in a good way for me.
Accessibility for Everyone 🎧
An extremely well-written book that covering Inclusive and Accessible practices with a convicting personal tie-in to Laura Kalbag’s brother Sam who depends on accessible technology.
The Adventure Zone
Here There Be Gerblins
Clint McElroy, Griffin McElroy, Justin McElroy, and Carey Pietsch
I struggled with this and I don’t know why. I love The Adventure Zone. I love Carey Pietsch’s art. I dreamed of this comic listening to the podcast. For whatever reason tho, this just felt dumbed down to “D&D with curse words”.
Andre the Giant
Life and Legend
As a fan of Box Brown’s incredible Tetris graphic novel, this was an insta-buy. Brown illustrates the larger-than-life struggles of one of the most renowned entertainers the world has ever known. Rest In Peace, Andre the Giant.
The Naked Sun
The Robot Series
Another amazing piece of sci-fi. In this episode Detective Baley visits another planet where people only communicate with each other remotely. A fascinating exploration of telepresence and nearly a characterization of our modern web-enabled world.
The Caves of Steel
The Robot Series
A detective story set in the future where robots threaten to replace humans in the workplace. So much to identify with in this compelling piece of sci-fi that feels even more relevant 65 years after its original release.
The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing
Daniel H Pink
I’m a sucker for pop-sci, but I really liked this book. Timing can play such an essential part in success or failure and this book elevates and explores some of the scientific research around this topic.
Space Cowboys! I struggled with this book. It reminded me of a season of Firefly, so theoretically I should really like it, and there are many great parts about the book but the writing in some areas (like the awkward sex scene, the boxing match, and the “I’m two weeks from retirement” scene) was just too awful to redeem itself.
A History of Japan
This volume was full of military history (what ships, what planes, what islands, what generals, number of troops, etc) which made it hard to consume. But the more I read, the more I appreciated it. You sense the gamble of War and the human costs. Had Japan not lost one critical battle, they would have went on to conquer Hawaii and California. It’s quite interesting to learn about WW2 from the Japanese perspective.
Vol. 3: Devadatta
This book begins to deal with Siddhartha’s ordeals and makes the story much more engaging and spiritually thought-provoking. My favorite part was viewing humanity through the lens of Naradatta and Devadatta who had become more animal than human.
A History of Japan
Similar to Barefoot Gen, Showa tells the story of Japanese society from the “Roaring 20s” to their own Great Depression to the eventual the rise of the facist imperialist and militarist complex, with a bit of yokai lore mixed in.
Vol. 2: The Four Encounters
Tezuka does such a great job illuminating this complex story. However, Siddhartha’s abandonment of Yashodara and Rahula is tragic and a part of the Buddha story I struggle with.
Vol. 1: A Cartoon Story of Hiroshima
Harrowing autobiographical tale of atomic war centered around a boy’s life in Hiroshima in 1945. Worrisome parallels to modern times and oligarch-driven nationalism and militarism.
Vol. 1: Kapilavastu
Excited to continue the series, but this volume was mostly setup for the rest of the story.
The Silence of Our Friends
The Civil Rights Struggle was Never Black and White
Long, Demonakos, Powell
This hit close to home. It feels like a sequel to March but breaks from the meta arc of the Civil Rights Movement to zoom in on two families (one white, one black) in Houston, TX.
A History of Music
Aoki, Boyle, and Jenkins
👎 Gave Up
I thought I’d really like this but the pacing is frenic and filled with too many forced jokes.
The Quest to Rediscover Microsoft's Soul and Imagine a Better Future for Everyone
Great to hear from someone mid-process of turning a big ship around. Nadella also lays out the vision for Microsoft’s three big bets: Mixed Reality, AI, and Quantum computing.
So You've Been Publicly Shamed
A convicting read about how public shaming has made a comback on social media.
The Games People Play
A graphic novel was the perfect medium to tell this intriguing story of soviet Russia, Japan, and the US all colliding epic moment in video game history.
The Righteous Mind
Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion
Great book for understanding our current political climate from both sides.
John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, Nate Powell
This 3-part anthology leaves you speechless. Read my review of March.
Overwatch: Anthology Volume 1
If you like Overwatch, you’ll enjoy the lore surrounding it.
The Imposter's Handbook
A CS Primer for Self-Taught Programmers
Excellent break down Computer Science concepts in simple terms.
Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration
Incredible insight into how a creative company keeps producing amazing stories.
How-to Solve Big Problems and Test New Ideas in Just Five Days
Great collection of case studies where product teams buckle down for a week and try to improve their product.
Thoughts on Finding Common Ground and Advancing the Common Good
Sen. Booker’s positivity is infectious and this book will make you want to get involved in politics.
The Lean Startup
How Today's Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses
👎 Gave Up
Once I looked up his startup (imvu.com), a chat app with 3D avatars that do virtual grinding, I lost faith.
When to Rob a Bank
...And 131 More Warped Suggestions and Well-Intended Rants
Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner
The Psychopath Test
A Journey Through the Madness Industry
WARNING: After you read this book, you’ll think everyone is a psychopath.
Weaving the Web
The Original Design and Ultimate Destiny of the World Wide Web
I feel that if you work on the Web, this is required reading.
Think Like a Freak
The Authors of Freakonomics Offer to Retrain Your Brain
Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner
Eats, Shoots & Leaves
The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation
👎 Gave Up
I wanted to get better at writing, but I really hate when grammar nazis are condescending pieces of shit.