December 31, 2017
What I Read in 2017
Here are the books that I finished this year (with my favorites in bold):
- The Daily Show (The Book) - I'm a sucker for oral histories, I've previously thoroughly enjoyed the SNL and ESPN ones. This one didn't disappoint. The talent that passed through The Daily Show over the years is amazing and I love to hear a little about how the sausage was made.
- The Complacent Class - A look at the various ways in which American society is moving away from risk taking and the problems that reduced dynamism will cause. Thoroughly thought provoking.
- The Confidence Game - I've always been fascinated by con artists. This would have been a good long-form magazine article but didn't work at book length.
- Mo Meta Blues - I saw The Roots in concert this week for roughly the 30th time, so I'm biased. Apart from various amusing anecdotes from living on the road, I most enjoyed the frank discussion of how Questlove and Black Thought have managed to sustain a partnership for almost 30 years (and how close it came to falling apart)
- Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind - Fascinating history of the evolution of humans and human culture. Entertaining, illuminating, and highly recommended.
- Tools of Titans - Interesting series of interviews with interesting people. Took a few ideas away that I was able to apply to my own life.
- The Undoing Project - The story of the collaboration between Amos Tversky and Daniel Kahneman as they essentially invented behavioral economics. That may sound dry—although not to me—but the book dives into the holocaust, the formation of Israel, war, friendship, jealousy, and love. The last 2 pages are the most beautiful and poignant thing I've read in years. I remain in awe of Michael Lewis.
- Unbreakable Runner - Changed the way I run in a way that made me faster, stronger, and less sore.
- The Manager's Path - I've been a manager of engineers for ~6 years. The experience of reading this book was like reading Code Complete after programming for ~6 years. It articulates many ideas I've stumbled into by trial and error much better than I had previously been able to articulate them. I strongly recommend to anyone managing engineers or any engineer who is being managed.
- Born to Run - Story of ultra-runners and the Tarahumara tribe of the Copper Canyons of Mexico who often run hundreds of miles. Interesting and easy read that would probably have been better at half the length.
- Basketball (and Other Things) - Reading Shea Serrano is like sitting around arguing with my friends over a beer. I mean that as a very high compliment.
- Drawdown - A detailed plan for what we would need to do to not just halt the growth of atmospheric carbon but reduce it. Interesting but dry. Like reading a book length PowerPoint deck. I left somewhat optimistic that global warming isn't as completely hopeless as I'd thought.
- High Output Management - If The Manager's Path was like reading Code Complete, then High Output Management was like reading The Mythical Man Month. Very good, focused, and timeless advice. Amazing to see how much of "conventional engineering management wisdom" I've learned seems to have come straight from this book. There were some anachronistic gender references, but still highly recommended.
- Radical Candor - You can get a lot of the high level thesis from this article, but the book length treatment had some good advice for how to give difficult feedback kindly.
- Can you guess when I went on vacation? ↩