Just a heads up for anyone who stumbles across this site. I’ve decided to stop updating this blog and instead focus my book blogging activities on Goodreads, which is a social networking site about books (nerd-alert).
Why, you ask?
A few reasons: it’s way easier to help people find out exactly which book I’m talking about (I was doing that with images on this blog), but on goodreads all the ISBN, amazon links, and cover images are automatically there when I search for the book. Also, it’s fun to be more social, especially with things that are done alone (like reading). I’ve been adding a bunch of people who I know, including some social media ‘friends’ who I just know through the internet. And finally, reach; I haven’t been putting a lot of effort into promoting this blog or getting it’s content out to people, but on goodreads my reviews of books are available for anyone who looks up the book on the site. So it’s much more likely that the stuff I write will be helpful to someone on goodreads than it is here.
So yeah, if you want to keep up with my reading, find me on goodreads.
The LOST of fantasy novels
And I mean that not just because it’s awesome, but also because it uses a similar flashback technique where the story isn’t told entirely linearly.
I completely enjoyed this book, it had a great energy to it that was really original. While I would consider it fantasy, it didn’t really use much of the standard fantasy conventions; there were no elves, and very little magic. It was a bit like a buddy cop movie in fantasy novel form. Except instead of being about cops, it was about a group of thieves who con people out of a lot of money and then get conned themselves (in a nutshell).
The world that Scott Lynch creates in this book also feels very real. It’s just something about the way he describes things that makes it all seem feasible.
I highly recommend this one, it’s a thick book, but it’s worth it.
Throw less at the problem
This book is by the guys who own 37signals, one of the coolest little companies on the planet (they make web apps). It’s a simple, no-nonsense business book, and it was fantastic.
I seem to be reading a lot of these short, straight to the point, business-type books this year, and I’ve enjoyed all of them. I really like the 37signals mindset that simple solutions and simple tools are better than complex solutions. Our world is already complex, you’re much better off helping people simplify their lives than try to make it more complicated with tools that are hard to learn and bloated with features.
I think the thing that I really like about this book is that while it is focused towards entrepreneur types who are starting their own businesses, the advice really applies to everyone, whether you work for yourself, or for someone. Also, one of the pieces of advice in the book is “Go to sleep”. Now that is advice we can all agree on.
More is different.
This book was really good. It looks at how technological changes are transforming the way people come together to form groups and affect the world.
That quote, “More is different”, sums up a lot of the challenges that are presented in the book (as well as the opportunities). A group of 100 people isn’t 10 times more complex than a group of 10; it’s an entirely different beast. And with the technology we have today (blogs, texting, twitter, email), it has never been easier to get 100 or 1000 people together for any reason. So the book talks about how groups are forming up to take down traditional organizations (the dictatorship in Belarus, the Catholic Church, operating systems manufacturers), and why the traditional organizations have such a hard time responding (they are still playing by the old rules).
One of the other big themes in the book is about the power law distribution: that group contribution is not equal, and open systems (like Wikipedia) thrive when they embrace this inequality. Most people who visit Wikipedia never edit it, but a few people do. Of those few who do, only a few ever make more than one edit, and a very small segment of the population of users makes a huge number of edits. Wikipedia is successful because of this dynamic, not in spite of it; the system is built so it only needs a small number of users to operate, but can accommodate millions.
So, like I said, this was really good, and I’d highly recommend it.
The most important thing a creative person can learn professionally is where to draw the red line that separates what you are willing to do from what you are not.
That’s key to success number 16.
I really enjoyed this book. Hugh Macleod, for those that don’t know, is the creator of the blog Gaping Void, where he shares drawings on the backs of business cards and business-ey type advice. This book is the book-form version of a lot of his blog posts and cartoons, reworked into something more focused.
There is pretty much no reason not to read this actually, it was so short, I finished it in one day on my way to and from school on the bus.
This book was really, really good. I’m sure there are some people who might want to kill me for saying that, but that’s a risk I’m willing to take. It outlines a scientific look at the existence of god, knocking down the idea that science can’t know anything about religion.
There either is a god, or there isn’t a god. It’s a specific question with a right and wrong answer. While we will never be able to ‘prove’ it one way or the other, we can look at the evidence and make judgments on how likely each of the two scenarios are. As Dawkins illustrates in the book, the no god scenario is way more likely, and is actually supported by evidence.
But I digress, it’s just a really good read that will get you thinking about the role religion has in our society.
This was a pretty good book. It covered a lot of the less glamorous areas of becoming a designer: things like actually getting a job and dealing with difficult clients. It also discusses the benefits/downsides of getting a job in a studio, in-house, as a freelancer, or setting up your own studio. I’m still not entirely sure where I plan on heading once I’m done school, I think working for an existing studio would be pretty cool, but I don’t want to rule anything out just yet.
I should note that while this book is geared towards graphic designers, the advice in it applies to probably 90% of design disciplines. I have no intention of becoming a graphic designer, but almost everything in it was relevant.
I read this book for it’s cover
This book was fantastic.
Essentially, it’s about the UK, but after the country is divided into 4 different nations based on the personality types of the people who live inside those nations. People were forcibly removed from their homes, and their families and brought to the other nation if a shadowy board of figures decided they were more like the people that lived in the other nation.
It’s a pretty subversive concept, and the writing makes it seem very real; he captures so much of what would actually be going on if this sort of event were to take place.
So, all in all, great book that I would highly recommend.
My brain hurts
I need a break from thick textbookey type books, I grabbed a novel from the libs and I’ll get through that this week.
Kinda weird to say, but this is a great book about documentation
This is the first textbook that I’ve finished reading this year; it was assigned for my Interactive Information Design class. What I really like about it is the way it breaks down all the types of documents it discusses (things like content audits, wireframes, personas, all that good stuff) into three layers of information. So you get a good sense of what actually goes into making any of these documents at a basic level, but also at a deeper level if it’s required for your projects.
The other thing that makes this book great is it provides advice on how to present each type of documentation to clients; emphasizing the areas where meetings can get derailed and suggesting strategies for keeping them on track.
This is also the first Dan Brown book I’ve ever read.