Faster Than Normal
Turbocharge Your Focus, Productivity, and Success with the Secrets of the ADHD Brain
If you were a punk/fringe kid coming of age at the dawn of the Internet, you owe it to yourself to read Incredible Doom. The second volume lives up to the first and the pacing of story beats is incredibly well done.
The New Climate War
The Fight to Take Back Our Planet
Michael E. Mann
A wonderful treatise on climate change. Where we’re at. How bad it’s going. Why we need a carbon tax. And the cast of characters from doomists to denialists.
The New Megatrends
Seeing Clearly in the Age of Disruption
🤷♂️ Gave up
I was looking for some futuristic thinking but this books takes a deep look at current trends to extract the future and it’s a major fucking bummer. So I gave up.
I need to remember I don’t like Japanese fiction. It tends to be about nuance in conversation (which is thus lost in translation). I finished the short book but it never hooked me and
<spoiler> the ending was literally “I turned into a bird. THE END.”
Sea of Tranquility
Emily St. John Mandel
I didn’t get the book at first. Felt like a rehash of Station Eleven: there’s a pandemic and a book that exists through time. It also felt a little self-referential: author going on book tours talking about a book about a pandemic. But. The hook is pretty interesting and I didn’t hate it.
Tomorrow Sex Will Be Good Again
Women and Desire in the Age of Consent
A look at sex in the age of consent. I felt like the book didn’t really come to any big conclusions except that a side effect of requiring consent is that another expectation is piled on women to be assertive, know exactly what they want, and how to communicate that. And that is also somewhat problematic.
The Power of Regret
How Looking Backward Moves Us Forward
Daniel H. Pink
Turn regret into a positive force! Somewhat forgettable, but had echoes of The Upside of Stress, which I also liked.
How to F*ck Up Your Startup
The Science Behind Why 90% of Companies Fail--and How You Can Avoid It
An okay book. Similar to fifteen Medium posts smashed together, but nice to have all in one place with a linear theme.
Our Unfinished March
The Violent Past and Imperiled Future of the Vote – A History, a Crisis, a Plan
The Rema Chronicles
Vol 1: Realm of the Blue Mist
Amy Kim Kibuishi
I read this to make sure it was good for my son and it was good. A good mix of loss, mystery, adventure, and magic.
The First 90 Days
Proven Strategies for Getting Up to Speed Faster and Smarter, Updated and Expanded
Michael D. Watkins
Good advice on how to have success when dropping into a new organziation. Probably a 5★ rating, but I couldn’t find the charts online which are heavily referenced in the book. Maybe a bit business/management heavy, I’d love to hear more engineer/tech lead-centric advice. There’s also a good chapter on building the right team, which is relevant to me right now. A bit depressing there’s a whole chapter on office politics, but I guess that’s the game, isn’t it?
The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us
Purpose, autonomy, and mastery. I will probably re-read and reference this book quite a bit. It summarizes the human complexity, why monetary rewards (Motivation 2.0) quit working and at some point there needs to be an intrinsic drive (Motivation 3.0) to work.
What Can a Body Do?
How We Meet the Built World
A wonderful meditation on ability and disability; the human body and how it meets the world. I wish I had read this sooner. I was particularly moved by the Adaptive Design Association and their work to build bespoke assistive technology for people.
The Ends of the World
Volcanic Apocalypses, Lethal Oceans, and Our Quest to Understand Earth's Past Mass Extinctions
A look at the past five catastrophic life ending events in the Earth’s history and how we’re catapulting ourselves towards a new end of the world.
Emily St. John Mandel
This book, about a pandemic that sweeps through the world, was a bit close too close to home for me. I’m glad I stuck with it and it even though every page brought me panic, it ended up being a good read.
What White People Can Do Next
From Allyship to Coalition
Allyship is not the answer. Or that’s what Dabiri is asserting. Though the argument was pretty calmly laid out, it felt like you can’t say that. The crux of the idea is that that allyship (in terms of race) depends a lot of white guilt, acknowledging whiteness, and personal action while reinforcing the white savior/victim trope. Whereas coalition building cross-cuts race, social class, and unites people for a common good. I still think there’s value in allyship and acknowledging whiteness, but this book really challenges and tempers that point of view.
A Secret History of the Workplace
I loved this historical look at work and the workplace. From the pencil pusher, the efficiency-driving Taylorists, to the secretary, to the modern day knowledge worker; a chain of efficiency-seeking has produced our work environments. I’d love a follow up to this post-pandemic where remote work is now normalized.
Expressive Design Systems
Yesenia does an amazing job showing how a design system doesn’t have to be boring and can be living, breathing and creative. It was nice to bask in her wealth of experience. And that conclusion… whew. That’s the stuff.
The Hidden DNA of Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google
This guy loves Amazon, is jealous of Apple, appropriately suspicious of Facebook, and thinks Google is a god. I enjoyed the analysis of these companies but the latter half of haphazard opinions fell flat. I maybe need to learn more about the author’s history, but his accolades seemed to depend on me knowing who he was first. And the speculation about who could be another top company was basically a list of cool companies from 2017, hard to say his predictions panned out.
City of Ember
The Graphic Novel
DuPrau, Asker, Middaugh
My son had a third grade book report due on City of Ember, so I read the graphic novel version we got for him. Overall the dystopian setting is thick with metaphor. I enjoyed it quite a bit.
The Upside of Stress
Why Stress Is Good for You, and How to Get Good at It
This book shared a lot of themes with Everything is Figureoutable, but I loved it infinitely more. It was nice to have juxtaposition to figure out the style of books I like. The core idea is that stress kills you.. if you believe stress kills you. But if you can reprogram your mindset, stress can be a positive thing in your life.
John Lewis, Andrew Aydin
What happened after the Civil Rights Act passed? John Lewis tells the tale of continued white violence, the decision going against the grain of the Vietnam War, and the rise of the black power movement and his eventual ousting from SNCC leadership by Stokely Carmichael. Parts of this book could be written today, and you feel the shame that we, as an American society, have not quite yet overcome.
Everything is Figureoutable
My review of this is conflicted. I really like the message of this book. That you can figure most things out. But beyond that I think I could only recommend this book if you often operate out of fear and self-doubt. There’s a few anecdotes in here (e.g. the luggage story) that really frustrated me. And it ends with an evangelical “You have a divine calling” sermon that felt like it undercut the message.
The Workshop Survival Guide
How to design & teach workshops that work every time.
Fitzpatrick & Hunt
Woodward, Costa, Petkoff
A justaposition of Trump versus Biden. Trump is clearly the loser and deplorable. But the juxtaposition itself seems to put Biden’s gaffes and Trump’s inssurection on the same level.
An Aria for the End Times
I loved this little post-apocalyptic sci-fi one-shot comic. I could see myself visiting this story time and time again.
Project Hail Mary
Another wonderful wild ride. Weir outdid himself. In any piece of sci-fi the thing I look for the most is something I haven’t ever thought of and this book did that in spades. I stayed up late and paced around the house reading this action-packed space thriller. Can’t wait for the movie adaptation with Ryan Gosling.
For The Many, Not The Few
Again, Reich and I are mad about the same things. I liked that. But I don’t think I had any new revelations, more a continuation of previous gripes.
A good handbook on the 24 steps needed to create a startup. Lots of focus on end-user profiles, which determines your beachhead market, which determines your TAM (Total Addressable Market), which determines your persona, which determines the DMU (Decision Making Unit), which determines your LTV (Lifetime Value), minus your COCA (Cost of Customer Acquisition), etc, etc. It’s a good step-by-step framework for starting a company and very relevant at this time.
Make It Easier to Do What Matters Most
How do you ease your burdens when essentialism is still too much? The sequel to Essentialism is a lot more practical. It has a very Sun Tzu/Art of War “Win without fighting” vibe, starting with flipping “Why is this so hard?” to “How can this be easy?”.
The Five Dysfunctions of a Team
A Leadership Fable
A business book about teamwork written in narrative format is shaky territory, but I think this gets to the heart of different workplace personalities and how they can effect team dynamics. I took a lot of notes, but probably the biggest takeaway was that “Teamwork is the art of getting people to row in the same direction.”
The Bomber Mafia
A bit of a pivot for Malcom Gladwell, but still the same formula of constructing an interesting narrative out of a few anecdotes. This time it’s about science and ethics in wartime bombings. The concept is fascinating and probably what’s more fascinating is that the ethical choice didn’t win; the USA won WW2 by ruthlessly carpet bombing with napalm and two atomic bombs… but maybe this Bomber Mafia planted the seeds we have today for laser guided missels. But as Martin Luther King once said, “When scientific power outruns moral power, we end up with guided missiles and misguided men.”
This may be the fastest I’ve ever read a book. The first page blasts off with action that leaves you turning pages until end. Of course there’s sciencing the shit out of shit –and that’s good– but this book sends you beat-by-beat to another world. Weir excels here in his unique mixture of science, space, and thrills.
The Manager's Path
A Guide for Tech Leaders Navigating Growth and Change
An incredible read. I loved how explicit the book was in defining tech and tech managerial roles. I appreciate any attempt to draw a line in the sand for such a complex topic like that. I also appreciate that it puts the onus on the manager performing in their role: “Your job is to get people promoted.” A knock out book.
Oscar Dunn and His Radical Fight in Reconstruction Louisiana
Mitchell, Edwards, Weldon
The story of Louisiana’s first black Lt. Governor, Oscar Dunn. This is a story that needs to be told and I hope it gets adapted to a screenplay. A critical point –during the Civil War Reconstruction– in the history of our nation, the tremors of which we’re still feeling today. Had history gone a bit differently for Oscar Dunn, he may have been Grant’s Vice President and America would be in a much more progressive situation today. Text-wise it was a dense historical book which can be a bit dry. Art-wise it was evocative but subpar, and added a bit more confusion than clarity.
The Cult of We
WeWork, Adam Neumann, and the Great Startup Delusion
Similar to Bad Blood, this is another look at a fraudulent company established around a cultish personality and receives billions in funding as a result. It’s somewhat appalling how much money gets thrown at untrustworthy individuals and seeing individuals melt reality to gain advantage of people and fleece millions or billions in cash.
Ask Your Developer
How to Harness the Power of Software Developers and Win in the 21st Century
One of my favorite books this year that I cite often, based on the simple principle that developers often understand the strengths and weaknesses of your product very well. Developers likewise are very intune with what’s easy and hard to achieve in the underlying systems, which may save you millions in the long run if you consult them first.
Thor & Loki: Double Trouble
Mostly interested in consuming the beautiful artwork of Studio Gurihiru, this was a great tale that has a loose but tie-in to the Loki series.
The Disciplined Pursuit of Less
Essentialism is a tough topic for me, a person who says “yes” a lot. Which I nodded along with a lot of what this book says, I still struggle with choosing essential when “supporting my family” is often the root reason for most tasks. Challenging, maybe a bit impractical, but good.
I Alone Can Fix It
Donald J. Trump's Catastrophic Final Year
Carol Leonnig, Philip Rucker
I’ve read a lot of Trump books, but this book is shocking. America’s entire coronavirus response in those critical first days and weeks were entirely centered around appeasing one petulent man’s ego and electability.
Moonwalking with Einstein
The Art and Science of Remembering Everything
The concept of “memory palaces” is compelling but I don’t think I was convinced or inspired to become a memory champion after this. Probably the biggest takeaway is that memory is not a fixed ability and photographic memory is an illusion.
The Pleasure of Limits, the Uses of Boredom, and the Secret of Games
I agreed with a lot of this book and enjoyed it but at times found it somewhat “preachy” as it jumped form anecdote to anecdote, which is a hard feeling to describe.
Morris, Morgan, Cliff, Riess
In the future, even monster hunters are a part of the gig economy. I love this universe so much. I loved the art. It was a good adaptation of the podcast. I think my only criticism is that this should have come with a content warning for drug abuse. The main characters solve all their problems with drugs and while funny at times, over and over it seemed pitiful instead of cool.
The Adventure Zone
The Crystal Kingdom
McElroy, Pietsch, McElroy
Tres Horny Boys are back! My favorite in the series so far.
101 Things I Learned in Architecture School
This simple book is as charming and is as charming as people say it is. Lots of short, practical takeaways and earmarked pages.
How it Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul
Stuart Brown M.D.
I loved this book and its look at the benefits of play from a biological and evolutionary perspective. Play helps us learn to adapt to an ever-changing world. It aligns with my ethos about prototyping incredibly well, learning to play with your digital products so you can adapt to the ever-changing tech landscape.
A good look at the difference between bad jobs, shit jobs, and bullshit jobs. Bullshit jobs are jobs that involve tasks that are pointless, unnecessary, or pernicious. Been there. A great essay on the value of the working class and the psychology of the kind of work we do.
Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World
A good book about harnessing and increasing your own productivity. Ironically, I probably would have gotten more out of this audiobook if I wasn’t multi-tasking and walking or doing dishes.
What Unites Us
The Graphic Novel
Rather, Kirschner, Foley
There’s no one I’d rather learn civics from than someone like Dan Rather who has seen America at some of its highest and lowest points over his decades long career. The graphic novel adaptation suffered a bit form overuse of graphical montage, Dan Rather’s head floating through history over amber waves of grain and upon American flags. It’s a hard task given the political narrative. There are quite a few books in this series of graphical novel adaptations of political books, that’s very much a crossover of my interests, so I’ll probably pick up another, but my expectations are a little low after this one.
I loved the zine so much I bought the graphic novel. A coming of age story at the beginning of the Internet. My worlds colliding. Reading Incredible Doom in its large format glory was as hoped. Having the books collected together brought out the beauty in the story lines as they collide together.
The Book of Five Rings
A Graphic Novel
Wilson, Wilson, Musashi, Kutsuwada
Centuries of civil war gave birth to the martial arts. While I could appreciate some of the ancient wisdom here, the general tone of militarism was not my jam. I’m sure this could be pivoted into a modern day Art of War style business treatise, but the only piece of advice I maybe walked away with is “Two swords is better than one.”
Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup
Elizabeth Holmes, a fraud by all accounts, but at times I felt bad for her because this sort of seemed like someone abiding in the “fake it till you make it” startup culture but took it a little too far, to the extent of becoming an abusive, tiny tyrant. A facinating book shining a light on absusive and manipulative business practices.
Ruin and Recovery in the Video Game Industry
What a book! While Schreier’s other book made me want to get into the games industry, this book made me want to stay the fuck away. It looks at the flash-hiring/firing culture of the games industry and what’s clear is that the employees are the losers in this game. When studios shut down, employees are left to worry and find their next paycheck, while executives make off with millions. The inequity seems criminal. It ends with a call for unionization, which… seeing the evidence… is hard to argue against.
Come As You Are
The Surprising New Science that Will Transform Your Sex Life
This book was recommended in some of the sex-positive stuff I encounter. This book explores the latest model for understanding human sexuality in that our brains are like a car with two pedals; a sexual accellerator (Sexual Excitement System) and a sexual brake (Sexual Inhibition System). Broadly spreaking, some people have a sensitive accellerator and some people have a sensitive brake, and this book narrows in on some of the statistical differences between (cis) men and women. It’s very much directed towards women, so not everything in this book applied to me and my anatomy, but it was a good read nonetheless.
Are You Smart Enough to Work at Google?
Trick Questions, Zen-like Riddles, Insanely Difficult Puzzles, and Other Devious Interviewing Techniques You ... Know to Get a Job Anywhere in the New Economy
This book was interesting, but also infurating. The tech hiring process is incredibly broken. In order to get a job you have to pass a bridge troll’s esoteric quiz show of impossible to answer Fermi questions and algorithmic gotchas, impress the judges like American Idol, and then after a few more months of interviews, you can have a job. It’s ridiculous. The effect is multiplied when smaller companies and startups try to imitate Google and futher bastardize the hiring process. That was my takeaway from this whole thing. Not that it’s clever or thought provoking, but how broken this all is.
Truth: Red, White and Black
This is the story of how the US government, when conducting the Captain America Super Soldier program, conducted another more secret program on ~300 black soldiers. The art work is a bit sloppy, enough that it drew away from the storytelling, but nonetheless, it was a great story and is ripe for a modern day adaptation/retelling.
Who Rigged It, How We Fix It
Robert B. Reich
This book is good because Reich is mad about the things I’m mad about; money in politics. It deconstructs the fairytale of America and explains how we’re really closer to an oligarchy than a representative democracy, across the political spectrum.
So you want to talk about race
An excellent primer on the latest perspectives of race theory in America. This book would be my pick if you’re open to updating your understanding on the arguments and greviences that Black America is bringing to the national conversation.
Understanding the 12 Technological Forces That Will Shape Our Future
Kevin Kelly is one of my favorite futurists and getting his vantage point on how technology will change our lives was thrilling. Would absolutely recommend this if you’re wondering about trends in technology, even though it’s over 5 years old.
The War of Art
Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles
The idea is that creative people are inspired by muses and encounter supernatural resistance, they could even be called angels and demons. From a practical standpoint, I agree with the ideas of dedication and continuous practice to become better at your craft, but I probably carried too much evangelical baggage into this to be fully inspired.
After the insurrection, I decided to take another tour of duty into the psyche of Trump and Woodward’s book showed up at my library. The book starts off with quoting Trump saying “I bring out rage in people” and starts from there. The biggest revelation is the incredible dysfunction between Trump and his national security team. The icing on that shit cake is that we were on the brink of nuclear war with North Korea. I guess to Trump’s credit he placated and machismo’d Kim Jong Un enough to force him to back down.
A Promised Land
What to say. This book is very detailed and verbose, just like Obama the Orator. Hearing Obama’s thoughts on his historic presidency and the challenges he faced throughout that journey are invaluable. I appreciate how honest and candid he is about his impressions of political figures both alive and gone. I appreciate the behind the scenes looks at how his White House operated and functioned and to what standard they held themselves to. It’s inspirational to say the least that people who want to serve our country and its citizens really do exist.
A Hopeful History
Are we a world of collaborative people or every-man-for-themselves? Bregman sets out to reprogram how we view humankind by calling out what is good in our innate nature and debunking a log of bedrock psychology experiments from the 1960s and 1970s that seemed to prove man was born evil. I needed the dose of optimism this book provided, such to the point that I bought it for friends and will probably continue doing so.
The Undoing Project
A Friendship That Changed Our Minds
The story of the bromance between Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky (both Isreali citizens) and how their cooperative work blended together to change the field of psychology and inform what we now call Behavioral Economics. Their work, “The Undoing Project”, led to the understanding that mankind is not as rational as economic models predict. We’re quite irrational at times. Their collaboration gave birth to ideas like “framing”, prospect theory, and the discovery of dozens of other biases that inform human decision making.
The Death of Ivan Ilych
Recommended by another book, perhaps Glaude’s Begin Again though I can’t remember, was an interesting tangent to follow. Very Russian and somber overall, but there’s something timeless about the Nature of Man and society hidden in this book. You could easily be reading a story about an embittered man working at a startup in the Valley. I’m glad to have travelled down this path.
Lead from the Outside
How to Build Your Future and Make Real Change
Stacey Abrams is a fascinating human being and this book is a masterclass in getting work done from a minority position. But it’s also a book about “adulting”. In some ways, in order to be an effective leader, you must get your own house in order first.
The Definitive, 100% Objective Guide to Modern Cinema
A funny jaunt through “classic” 90s films that get completely taken down over their absurd their plots. The recaps of Harry Potter and Face Off were probably my favorite.
James Baldwin's America and Its Urgent Lessons for Our Own
Eddie S. Glaude Jr.
Eddie Glaude Jr uses James Baldwin’s life as a vehicle to explore America’s past and present racial divides. Baldwin’s life is a quintessential American tale, yet something other. Baldwin almost always has his feet into two realities, his American (native son) half and his “elsewhere” half. This will be a book I revisit often.
Ready Player Two
I enjoyed Ready Player One and it’s nostalgia factory, but this sequel fell on its face. I should have bailed in the first chapters, but the late hook hooked me. It’s like an episode of Star Trek featuring Q, but the nostalgia namedrops are squeed unnecessarily into every paragraph, it’s so distracting, like in Back to the Future II where Marty goes to the future and there’s Pepsi everywhere… it’s like that.
How the FBI Protects America in the Age of Terror and Trump
Andrew G. McCabe
Another look and defense of the FBI from former acting director Andrew McCabe, a protégé of James Comey. The book naturally affirms Comey’s account of events and a great deal of the book is spent warning about danger of Donald J. Trump.
A Prosecutor's Thoughts on Crime, Punishment, and the Rule of Law
I was hoping for some juicy gossip from someone who was politically dismissed from his role as DA of the SDNY, for which a lot of Trump’s crimes fall under this jurisdiction, but this book is not gossipy and is somewhat dry. It’s about justice. It’s about fairness and due process. I appreciated Bharara’s perspective and the look into how justice (and the rooting out of organized crime) works at the district level.
My Lesbian Experience with Loneliness
A tale of getting older, finding a career, claiming your mental health, and allowing self-discovery. It’s a humble, overly-honest, self-depricating telall that I really enjoyed. Often mentioned along with My Brother’s Husband (which I read last year) this book also unapologetically brings the stories of LGBTQ communities in Japan to life.
This Fight is Our Fight
The Battle to Save America's Middle Class
I expected to enjoy this book, but I did not expect it to make me so angry. Sen. Warren lays it all out on the table and takes big business to task. This book will leave you hungry for policy change.
Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World
Productivity advice is starting to repeat itself but I like how this book talks about addiction. The suggestion of a “digital detox” is challenging to me but I may be approaching that point. Similar to themes in Hyper Focus, I think the main takeaway is about setting and intention and scheduling time appropriately.
How to Be More Productive in a World of Distraction
This book is very much in my interest wheelhouse. Lots of good tips and my key takeaway was about setting a a few intentions each day. I will say tho, I think I’ve heard all the advice on productivity now and all these books are starting to repeat themselves.
The 30-Day Money Cleanse
Take control of your finances, manage your spending, and de-stress your money for good
Ashley Feinstein Gerstley
This book feels a lot like the South Beach Diet applied to personal finance. I liked it fine enough, it was a very quick read, but I don’t think it was very memorable or will have a major impact. The author also quotes Tony Robbins at one point, so that maybe tells you all you need to know.
Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World
A defense of the generalist! I loved this book and was particularly smitten by the chapter about Nintendo’s Gunpei Yokoi. It’s particularly refreshing to read a book that is less about optimizing your life and more about broadening your perspective.
Heir to the Empire
Star Wars: The Thrawn Trilogy, Vol. 1
🤷♂️ Gave up
After a huge Star Wars kick, I tried this book, but had a tough time with the faux-British Empire stuff. Maybe one day I’ll try again.
Star Wars Lost Stars
A fantastic culmination of a wonderful series, ending at the Battle of Jakku which ties perfectly into the latest trilogy. I like the explorations on why people would join and fight for the fascist Empire and I’m hungry for more storylines. Manga is an excellent format for the Star Wars universe.
Star Wars Lost Stars
More great. This confirmed my spidey-sense that I shouldn’t let my 7yo son read these books because it gets a little sensual in parts.
The Truths We Hold
An American Journey
I have admired Kamala Harris’ rapier wit and prosecutorial skills in the United States Senate. I didn’t know much about the VP candidate beyond what I’ve seen on TV. My biggest impression was a dry personality, not that she has to impress me becuase levity is an admirable quality in an elected official, but I was glad to pick this book up and learn a bit more about her background, what makes her tick, and the policies she believes will bring about progressive reform.
Star Wars Lost Stars
Two children from the same planet but separate castes join the newly formed Empire as it brings unity and stability to their edge of space. However, after their enlistment, they end up taking two different paths.
A Case for the American People
The United States v. Donald J. Trump
A behind the scenes look at the 10 Articles of Impeachment drafted for President Trump by a lawyer from the congressional prosecution team. Although only two Articles were voted on, you see (again) the self-serving behavior and the betrayal of public trust created by Donald J. Trump.
Utopia for Realists
How We Can Build the Ideal World
Rutger Bregman is probably most well known for his takedown of billionaires at Davos or his TED talk where he asserts poverty is not a lack of character, but a lack of cash. This book continues those presentations advocating for Universal Basic Income (UBI) and dispelling lies from yesteryear. For me, the book reframed UBI from being some liberalistic ideal to what all labor and society has been building towards for centuries. Lots of data and case studies I’d never heard about. For instance, for $4500/yr is enough to lift most people out of poverty. That seems so achievable. Productivity is at record level, innovation has never been faster, and yet, we have a falling median income and billionaires are getting richer… something has to change.
How to Be an Antiracist
Ibram X. Kendi
Initally I shied away from this book. I worried it —because of the strong typeface or Kendi’s academic pedigree— was going to lecture me. Or perhaps my worry was that this book would be a source of shame. But it is not. Instead Kendi’s obsession of understanding this delicate subject is wrapped in a heartwarming personal narrative. The crux of the position is that everyone, regardless of race, is in a constant battle with racist and anti-racist attitudes and ideas. To be holistically anti-racist, we must also inclusively look at how classist, anti-feminist, heteronormative, and capitalistic ideas (especially standardized testing!) all factor into the equation and then do the hard work to uproot racist policies and inequities.
Inside Apple's Design Process During the Golden Age of Steve Jobs
My first ever 5 Gold Star rating. This book is incredible and sums up nearly my entire ethos about prototyping and how to build successful and creative software products. It’s good to know I’m not delusional. So many takeaways, I hope to do a proper review soon.
The Nameless City
Faith Erin Hicks
A young boy dropped off in a strange city with a sordid political past. He attends the military training academy for the ruling class and meets his father who has been stationed in the city his whole life. He befriends a young girl, a street urchin, who teaches him how to parkour from rooftop to rooftop. A mix of a coming of age story and a classist political drama, it’s an enjoyable read and I’m looking forward to continuing the series.
The Adventure Zone
Petals to the Metal
Clint McElroy, Griffin McElroy, Justin McElroy, and Carey Pietsch
Another fun one with tres horny boys. Probably the best and most emotional arc of the whole series. I teared up a bit. But the pacing is very compact; a lot of dialog, sound effects, particle effects cram each panel. It works, but it does feel somewhat busy or claustrophobic.
How to Do Nothing
Resisting the Attention Economy
🤷 Gave Up
I picked this book up because Obama listed it on his reading list. I devoured the first two chapters, highlighting every anti-capitalist screed, but I was lost in the third chapter’s focus on the essentric greek philosopher Diogenes. And further lost in the fourth chapter as it went a bit art school. I tried hard to like this book, and I did like this book, but I slipped away from it as it meandered about.
Talking to Strangers
What We Should Know about the People We Don't Know
Library recalled this with like an hour left in the audiobook 😭 I loved the spy stuff and the explorations around Timothy R. Levine’s truth-default theory, but the latter half of the book had a morbid obsession with rape, suicide, torture, and murder. I felt that brought major bummer overtones to an otherwise interesting look into a fascinating dynamic of human-to-human communication.
Why We Sleep
Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams
Matthew Walker PhD
Provoking read! Basically anything less than 8 hours of sleep is trying to kill you. While I’m suspect of cure-alls and broad claims, this book presents a lot of science to justify the importance of sleep. I’m definitely re-evaluating some of my late night habits and may need to prioritize more, quality sleep.
Stand at Attica
Frank "Big Black" Smith
The story of the 1971 Attica Prison riots as told by someone on the inside, Frank “Big Black” Smith. A pertinent read in our era of police violence, echoing a lot of the same criticisms as the Black Lives Matter movement. Militarism coupled with structural and outright racism is an awful disease.
A man wants to get out of the raiding business, but is eventually drug back by his brother’s misfortune. I enjoyed this little tale, gory violence, and a wonderful little bit of world-building.
The Phoenix Project
A Novel about IT, DevOps, and Helping Your Business Win
Kim, Behr, Spafford
A modern translation of Goldratt’s The Goal for IT departments. I lvoe how the Theory of Constraints applies the enterprise development as well as it does to industrial manufacturing. An intensely cathartic read and one I’d heartily recommend if you are a part of an underperforming or dysfunctional team.
What the Dog Saw
And Other Adventures
A good but somewhat unmemorable collection of Gladwell’s essays for the New Yorker. No giant takeaway but the stories were interesting enough.
A Cyborg-Dystopian Noir Vol. 2
Dugan, O'Sullivan, Spicer
A billionaire, who doxxed the Earth, is building an authoritarian AI in order to rule the world. Churches are armed to the gills. And a small group of bounty hunters must deliver a package to save the world. This book hardly sounds like fiction but is an excellent ride.
A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life
I did not like this book. The whole book is based on the idea that humans experience suffering, which is very.. um.. Catholic. Additionally there’s frequent
X is true, if you don't believe it, it's because don't understand it assertions that highlight their own laziness the third and fourth time around. At one point he argues that a monarchy is the best form of government and basically says “Don’t @-me”. Unbelieveable, really. Only the last ⅕ of the book is salvagable where it speaks that communities should possess people in the warring first-half of life and the unifying last-half of life, there you achieve a balance of perspective.
Head Lopper Vol. 3
The Knights of Venora
More war, gore, and swords! A battle of epic proportions, political subterfuge, and a mysterious egg.
Head Lopper Vol. 2
The Crimson Tower
More war, gore, and swords. This time the Head Lopper is joined by two C-3P0 and R2D2 types as they enter a cruel game.
Crime in Progress
Inside the Steele Dossier and the Fusion GPS Investigation of Donald Trump
A book that offers some background and a defence of the contents contained within the infamous Steele Dossier. Inside contains a list of all of the Trump Family’s lies and crimes and the decades of money laundering for the Russians. A must read if you want a chronological look at how the Trump-Russia scandal broke out and the partisan politics that exonorated an impeached, guilty man. I will say, I feel there’s something that’s not being told here, but I can’t put my finger on what it is.
Never Split the Difference
Negotiating As If Your Life Depended On It
Weird this transcends into a business book, but interesting to learn the art of negotiation from the lens of a former FBI hostage negotiator. Similar to Daniel H. Pink’s To Sell is Human, but from a very different perspective and authority. I don’t frequently find myself in hostage or contract negotiation situations, so I’m sure my new found skills will atrophy, but hopefully will raise self-awareness of when I am being mirrored, nudged, or leveraged in a negotiation. Probably the greatest day-to-day takeway is reframing “No” as a starting point for negotiation (typing this sounds very date-rapey, but it makes more sense in context).
Head Lopper Vol. 1
The Island or A Plague Of Beasts
War, gore, and swords. I really enjoyed the art and color in this book. The story felt a bit jumpy as it kicked off, but overall it was a fantastic fantasy adventure.
Is This Guy For Real?
The Unbelievable Andy Kaufman
I hesistated on this book because I wasn’t sure I’d care about Andy Kaufman. Box Brown however did an amazing job and humanized the provocateur using professional wrestling as a lens to understand his dream of being an entertainer.
Another confirmation of that there’s a dangerously incompetent man in the White House. This time from inside the White House, supposedly. Huge if true, I guess. In the era of Deep States and Fake News I feel credibility is everything, and without a name attached to these alarm bells, the “Warning” falls flat. I also disgree with the author’s conclusion that the worst thing we could do is to remove an incompetent man from office, one who ignores and lacks the ability to understand security briefings. It seems like the extreme systems we have were put in place just for this.
Coda Vol 3
This book might be the best one in the series because all the magical rules and major players are well-known.
The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck
A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life
The author sounded like someone I’d never want to talk to, so I’m not sure why I’d listen to his self-help advice. There’s some decent principles and discoveries here, but though it rages against entitlement, it sounded like an entitled asshole giving himself license to be an entitled asshole. Bookend it with some Buddha parallels and … woof. I waited a long time to get this from the library and I’m not sure why this book is so popular. Maybe the punchy title appeals to airport bros?
The third installment of the series my wife and I affectionately call “Gamma Turds”. Another driving space war adventure with all the twists and turns and payoffs you crave in a fun read. There are two more books in the series, but after 12 weeks of this series, I’m at a good point to take a bit of a break.
An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones
This is such a short, fact-based book that it’s hard to critique. It spurred a lot of thinking about my current habits and the kind of habits I’d like to possess. The idea of habit stacking (tying habits to other habits) is very compelling and in someways I already do that with audiobooks and podcasts.
A Business Graphic Novel
Goldratt, Zimmerman, and Motter
I liked the book so much I bought the comic! A great little refresher and introduction into the Theory of Constraints. The art was a tad low-budget (compared to other graphic novels I read), but the content, storytelling, and subtle modernizations were wonderfully done. I’ll keep this around whenever I want to remind myself to design processes around bottlenecks.
A Very Stable Genius
Donald J. Trump's Testing of America
Philip Rucker and Carol Leonnig
Possibly the best biography of the Trump administration. Trump’s impulsivity, ignorance, and the yes-men that surround him are erroding an institution. I was re-appalled by the now infamous Tank Meeting. The blatant and admitted use of American troops to fabricate a border crisis in exchange for votes terminates my faith in the executive branch. How we’ve fallen protecting the fragile ego of one petty, revenge-driven, narcissistic man-child.
I gorydamn love this series. I was a bit apprehensive about picking up the second book in the series, but it is a speeding train ride from beat to beat and the space between the beats is filled with even more depth and world-building.
Twenty Bits I Learned About Design, Business & Community
Dan is a calm and cool river. It was great to hear his reflections on creating Dribbble and echos some of my own experience.
The Making of a New Tribe and the Remaking of the World
A nice summation of the programming industry and would recommend. I found the juxtaposition of the “10× developers are real” and “systemic misogyny” chapters a bit ironic, but I suppose those are two prevailing headwinds that do exist and that our industry must overcome. It was also nice to see friends appear in this book.
The Making of a Manager
What to Do When Everyone Looks to You
The pathway from Individual Contributor to Manager. This is one of the best and most honest management books I’ve read. While I entusiastically would recommend this book, the use of Facebook as the primary case study woven throughout the book soured the impact some for me due to their ethical failures.
After a few recommendations, I finally picked up this book. It was a wonderful escape to a harsh dystopian future, but a compelling universe nonetheless.
The Power of Thinking Without Thinking
A tribute to the gut instinct! It’s a nice blend of research data and anecdotes that lend credence to the idea that you should follow your gut.
The Tipping Point
How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference
Listening to a book about social epidemics while a pandemic is breaking out wasn’t the smartest move. That said, I appreciate the connection of popular phenomenon to Connectors, Mavens, and Salesmen. It also made me wonder if you can become a famous author by you interviewing popular Connectors, Mavens, and Salesman.
Why We're Polarized
An extremely level look at why America is experiencing increasing polarization. Some key factoids that grabbed me most were:
- The more politically engaged you are, the more warped your perspective of the other group becomes.
- Parties are weaker, but partisans have gotten stronger
- Our primary system favors demagogues and extremists.
Vol 10: Time and Again
The culmination of G. Willow Wilson’s run on Ms. Marvel. A bit surreal at times and you could sense the series was losing steam (bringing in new authors like Hasan Minhaj to spice it up), but in general, a good end to a five year series.
Shadow of the Batgirl
The story by Sarah Kuhn is amazing and the art by Nicole Goux is unforgettable. I will probably buy physical copies of this book and hand them out.
How to Control Your Attention and Choose Your Life
No miracle tips discovered (turn off notifications, etc) but it does make you reflect on your triggers and how the need for distraction is sometimes coupled with depression. I also realized my book reading here might be a form of distraction.
Vol 9: Teenage Wasteland
Kamalah is tired and weary and figuring out love. Probably the best part is that it made Kamalah and her friends more multi-dimensional.
David and Goliath
Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants
An intereting look at how in order to beat the odds or the status quo, you must be clever and quite often break the rules. Filled with interesting anecdotes but ends on a slightly gruesome note.
Tools and Weapons
The Promise and the Peril of the Digital Age
Brad Smith, Carol Ann Browne
An important summation at the legal history around data and privacy, the effect on data and privacy are currently having on our democracies, and a glimpse of how those impact future AI. It takes off around Chapter 11 for me when talking about the impact of AI on the workforce and society. It’s great that a company like Microsoft is weighing establishing its moral compass with focus on safety, transparency, and accountability.
The Happiness Advantage
How a Positive Brain Fuels Success in Work and Life
Pleasure, Purpose, and Meaning. That’s the secret to being happy at what you do. A simple message that goes beyond general “power of positivity” advice and is more science-driven. It echoes a lot of what I discovered personally over the last year as well as reinforces some points from other business books I’ve read. This will probably be a book I visit again.
The Story of Success
I enjoyed this book and found the “10,000 Hours” of deliberate practice stuff interesting, but very minor to the overall book and not sure why its so widely criticized. The parts I found more interesting (and don’t hear discussed much) were the parts about privilege, cultures of honor, and the phenomenon around Power Distance Index.
Vol 8: Mecca
Wilson, Alphona, Miyazawa
A flashy real estate developer mysteriuosly becomes mayor and his goons begin kidnapping and over-policing superheroes! What modern day events could this be alluding to? Another great story and I’m happy comics are tackling these subjects.
Apollo 11 and the Dream of Spaceflight
A historic account of the centuries mankind’s curiousity and steps towards that “one small step for mankind” made by the crew of the Apollo 11. An excellent read. Fetter-Vorm has a gift to for transporting you across time.
The Art of Doing Twice the Work in Half the Time
This book changed my perspective of Scrum quite a bit. I was also able to pinpoint parts of the methodology I don’t agree with or have seen implemented poorly.
The Elements of Style, Fourth Edition
A simple, short, opinionated book on writing and grammar. It was a good rundown on “the rules” even though my ebook version had a typo and two Chapter 18’s in it. Reading about grammar and punctuation made the English language seem quite inefficient. Me write pretty one day.
I Am Alfonso Jones
Medina, Robinson, Jennings
The story of fifteen year old Alfonso Jones who was murdered by a police officer while shopping for a suit. While the pacing of this book is frenic (61 chapters over ~150 pages), the message is not lost; no justice, no peace.
They Called Us Enemy
Takei, Eisinger, Scott, Becker
It’s hard to believe this is a story about America imprisoning its own citizens and immigrants. It’s one of those “maybe we’re the monsters” sort of situations. It’s very relevant to today and I think George Takei for shining light on this horrifying chapter of American history.
The Wizard and the Prophet
Two Remarkable Scientists and Their Dueling Visions to Shape Tomorrow's World
Charles C. Mann
Absolutely stunning book. At its core, this is a book about Technologists vs Conservationists, covering over 100 years of debate over climate change, peak oil, genetically engineered foods, and population control. All perfectly personified in the storied lives of two American scientists.
Vol 7: Damage Per Second
Didn’t really expect a dissertation on Internet privacy and security but this was a fun series and I like that Kamala faces a manifestion of society’s problems.
Vol 6: Civil War II
Wilson, Alphona, Miyazawa
Kamala Khan gets politically conflicted by her heroes, her friends, her family and using inhuman precognition to detect crimes-not-yet-comitted. It’s not everyday superheroes confront possible human rights abuses.
Dare to Lead
Brave Work. Tough Conversations. Whole Hearts.
management book I read that was dedicated entirely to the emotional side of the job.
Vol 5: Super Famous
I was afraid this wouldn’t live up to the previous arc which I loved so much. But it shattered my expectations and really delivered on the inherent fun of the Kamala Khan series.
Talk like TED
The 9 Public-Speaking Secrets of the World's Top Minds
A little TED fanboy-ish, but I felt like this cemented a lot of my thinking about giving talks. Garnered a few takeaways I may try to fold into future talks.
Colfer, Donkin, Rigano
The harrowing story of two brothers’ escape from poverty across the desert and sea to Europe. Made even more personal for me becuase I know people who have made this journey.
An economically efficient society. Income is guaranteed and labor is reduced to four hours a day. The good parts of religion appropriated. The commune is governed and controlled by behavioral social science and engineering. There is something both inspiring and frightening about this new controlled utopia, like the humanity had been stripped out of society.
Where Do We Go From Here
Chaos or Community?
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr
I wish we were forced to read this book in high school after the “I Have a Dream” speech. It’s a roadmap –a prophecy– for America with so many social and racial insights from one of America’s greatest social organizers. It’s the next chapter of American History that we were supposed to embark on. Fixing poverty and militarism. It’s nearly socialism in its vision and that makes me wonder if that’s why I’m only reading this book now.
The Age of Surveillance Capitalism
The Fight for a Human Future at the New Frontier of Power
Amazing insight into the atrocities of our modern tech industry as well as how surveillance and totalitarianism are intertwined. In her own words: “What is at stake is the dominate principle of social ordering in an information society and our rights as individuals and society’s to answer the questions: Who knows? Who decides? And who decides who decides?” This book should be required reading for anyone entering tech.
Coda Vol. 2
A slow start on this issue but this twist on the story of a someone trying to “save” their partner is touching and powerful.
A Story of Justice and Redemption
Justice applied unequally is inequality. Bryan Stevenson humbly shares stories of his life’s work of getting people off of death row. It’s eye open and may force you to rethink your opinions on capital punishment. I think even most conservative people could agree that murder is wrong and when a judicial system produces life-threatening errors that result in the murder of innocent men and women, it needs to be re-evaluated.
A Process of Ongoing Improvement
Eliyahu M. Goldratt
This book had a few things going against it right out of the gate; the cover and the use of narrative. But it worked! The narrative personalized what would otherwise have been a few boring business principles. Within the first chapter I was hooked by the parallels between industrial bottlenecks and website bottlenecks.
To Sell is Human
The Surprising Truth About Moving Others
Daniel H. Pink
I didn’t plan on reading this, got lured in by sacharrine pop-sci, but it turned out to be an interesting book. Traditional sales relied on information asymmetry where the buyer was ignorant, but the Internet has eradicated that and now sales must modernize. Not to mention that lots of us are in the business of selling in some form or fashion. The book gives some practical human interaction tips that may be helpful for selling your ideas.
The Mueller Report
The Washington Post
It’s very clear that Trump obstructed his own investigation and the only reason he wasn’t indicted is because Mueller (per DOJ policy) couldn’t indict a sitting President. At the very least, Trump misled and repeatedly asked people to lie on his behalf in order to mislead the American public. His administration has forged a conspiracy. It is clear that he has abdicated his duty to faithfully execute the law.
Ruined by Design
How Designers Destroyed the World and What They Can Do To Fix It
Measure What Matters
Objectives and Key Results… I have an averse reaction to bizspeak but Doerr warmed me up to the idea of OKRs. Setting quarterly goals and evaluating those with measurable key results seems beneficial to the person and the organization. Employees have a right to know how they’re measured. I think a weakpoint in this framework is “Good OKRs” vs. “Bad OKRs” is somewhat nebulous and probably takes practice. Overall, I found this book to be similar to and on par with Drucker’s, Collins’, and Drove’s books.
Life and Work
I agreed with a lot of the Dalio’s Principles, especially around transparency and openness in your organization, but began distancing my stance when talk began of doing psychometric testing on your employees. And at “Use public hangings for misbehavior.” That said, I think there’s value in writing down your personal and corporate principles and even systemitizing that if possible.
The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress
Robert A. Heinlein
A computer on a lunar slave colony becomes a sentient AI. First it starts of learning jokes… then quickly begins manipulating politics. If this isn’t a parable for the present, I don’t know what is. This book is really well constructed and I found the reimagination and deconstructing of marriage as a function of economics an interesting addition..
The Adventure Zone
Murder on the Rockport Limited!
Clint McElroy, Griffin McElroy, Justin McElroy, and Carey Pietsch
I was able to appreciate this volume way more than the last. I think it’s the mix of action and mystery that kept me entrenched. Love these tres horny boys.
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 think the biggest takeaway from me was “getting the right people on the bus first” before you decide where you’re going. 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.
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.
Whereas most management books are business erotica, this book focus on giving practical management tips for building and growing your teams. I wholeheartedly recommend this book if you are a manager, potentially becoming a manager, or spend any amount of time being managed. It raises the bar on understanding workplace psychology.
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.
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.
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.
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.
How Politics Became Our Identity
America is being socially sorted politically and its polarizing our society and social groups. Lilliana Mason take a sociological look at this widening gulf of partisan politics, the influence of anger and outrage, and whether or not we can fix it. It’s a good book, thick with charts and graphs, but I’d maybe recommend the podcast version first before diving into the (somewhat dry) book.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 social justice 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 social justice 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.