In 2016 my goal was to read 20 books. I ended up reading 24.
I actually started off the year reading avidly, but 3 things occurred which drove my spare reading time to almost nil:
- I started working on more projects at work which I enjoy working on in my free time as well.
- My wife not only became pregnant but delivered our baby in late November!
- Partially as a result of 2, we stopped traveling almost completely at the end of the year, outside of a last-hurrah trip to Chicago.
2016 marked a year of reading more specialized books to further my advancement as a developer and to deepen my knowledge of building worlds and multiplayer games as background research for Galapag.us.
- (8) Outsider in the White House – Bernie Sanders (not an autobio but has insightful details on how Sanders runs his campaigns and his offices)
- (6) Why Bernie Sanders Matters – Harry Jaffe (doesn’t use primary sources, gets stronger at end as journalist expounds more)
- (9) Building Microservices – Sam Newman (very clear application design philosophy of building smaller, tighter services)
- (7) Excession – Iain Banks (Gift from brother. Space fleets with AI. Sci-fi novel ending.)
- (7) Working with Unix Processes – Jesse Storimer (Very easy to understand primer on basic unix process management and logic.)
- (9) The Song Machine: Inside the Hit Factory – John Seabrook (started out rough (failed Pitbull reference) but I learned a ton about song producers and some recent pop stars. book will definitely be dated in a decade though)
- (7) American Passage: The History of Ellis Island – Vincent Cannato (definitely more than you ever want to know about Ellis Island)
- (10) Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future – Ashlee Vance (comprehensive w/ primary sources including Musk himself)
- (8) The Expectant Father: The Ultimate Guide for Dads-to-Be – Armin Brott, Jennifer Ash (explainer for what the wife will be going through)
- (8) How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of Character – Paul Tough (wanted to believe, but it fairly explains myths and uncertainties behind grit and character as teaching goals)
- (7) Getting Started with Dwarf Fortress: Learn to play the most complex video game ever made – Peter Tyson (in-depth, lays out step-by-step how to start)
- (9) Dungeon Hacks: How NetHack, Angband, and Other Roguelikes Changed the Course of Video Games – David Craddock (histories on online text games are hard to find, this is it)
- (9) The Happiest Baby on the Block: The New Way to Calm Crying and Help Your Newborn Baby Sleep Longer – Harvey Karp (most informative book I’ve read so far about following a process)
- (8) Building Applications on Mesos – David Greenberg (a little dry but a solid read for Mesos initiates)
- (10) Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration – Ed Catmull, Amy Wallace (worth it just for the inside stories on Pixar)
- (7) Docker Networking and Service Discovery – Michael Hausenblas
- (7) Immutable Infrastructure: Considerations for the Cloud and Distributed Systems – Josha Stella
- (7) Making Sense of Stream Processing – Martin Kleppmann
- (2) Honey Pots: Tracking Hackers – Lance Spitzner (very dated at this point)
- (10) Site Reliability Engineering: How Google Runs Production Systems – Jones, Murphy, Beyer, Petoff (the cutting edge of ops and devops)
- (5) High Performance Browser Networking: What every web developer should know about networking and web performance – Ilya Grigorik (this guy is the authority for optimizing browser performance, but this book is a pretty dry protocol specs overview)
- (7) One-Week Dungeons: Diaries of a Seven-Day Roguelike Challenge – David L. Craddock (scoping a complex project with arbitrary constraints for roguelikes, I love it)
- (10) Seven Seconds or Less: My Season on the Bench with the Runnin’ and Gunnin’ Phoenix Suns – Jack McCallum (indispensable courtside coverage of the Suns including their epic playoff battle with the Mavs)
- (8) Learning UML 2.0 – Russ Miles, Kim Hamilton (no-fluff primer for learning UML)
- (10) Game Programming Patterns – Robert Nystrom (in my opinion, one of the best nuts and bolts coding books out there)
This list above is probably a less interesting list than past years to anyone outside of myself. Nevertheless, what impressed me about the books on the list was depth to which the authors had researched and experienced their own stories. The amount of time it took the authors to travel down the paths of scaling data pipelines, or to iterate upon Dwarf Fortress, or to establish a long history of ground-truth work for the people of Vermont as Bernie Sanders has, or to build up the best animation company in the world.
To think that these people started at the same place and traveled so far from each other is something that I consider every day that my newborn daughter gets older. Where will she go, and how far away from her starting point will she end up?
In 2017 I think a lot of my job’s architecture buildout will be done, but my daughter will be more of a handful once she goes mobile. So I’ll set my goal for 2017 to read a modest 15 books. The good side is that, having gone to our local SoHo bookstore recently, after having not looked for new books in a while, I was awash with new books I wish to read.
The curiosity is still there, but not the time. I do also plan on writing on my blog more, to cope with a post-truthiness American mainstream world.
Feel free to look through my previous years’ lists of books.