I read a lot of books, 45 this year to be exact, where about 80% were read in the last four months. I manage to do this largely thanks to audiobooks, as this lets me do mindless tasks while I’m getting through a book. This opens up huge portions of time, which otherwise would not be utilized well.
On top of this, I’ve cranked up the speed to 1.75 – 2.6 times the normal speed, depending on the narration. This is something I have slowly worked myself up to and I’m still increasing the speed when I get used to a new level.
However, audiobooks are not enough, as many of the books I want to read aren’t available in spoken word. This is especially true for computer science and programming books, which I try to spend some time reading every day.
I don’t like to waste my time on bad books, so almost all of the books I read have either survived the test of time, are held in high regard in the relevant community, or are recommended to me by someone I trust (preferably multiple people).
Some of the books I read are a bit controversial, weird or strange in some other way. Please read my Thoughts on Books to understand why I read the books I read.
Here is the list in no particular order:
Pretty comprehensive introduction to unit testing and why you should use it. The book gives a basic introduction to many types of tools and principles (mocks, fakes, other frameworks etc.) and explains why they are used. All examples are in C#.
Classic from 1993, newest edition is from 2004. The book lives up to its reputation and I highly recommend it to any software developer. The topics range from how to build quality code in software projects to team management. You can read a more in-depth review here.
Clean Code is another classic programming book on code quality and is written by Uncle Bob. The book is divided into three parts; basics on clean code, case studies with many refactoring examples, and a list of code smells. This is probably the best programming book I read this year, just because it is so value-dense. There are extremely few sections that can be cut, without removing any value. Full review here.
Other Software Development
This is a quite old book, but it is still interesting and relevant. The book covers what defines good design with many examples of everyday objects like doors, ovens and so on. When you have finished this book, you are going to find flaws with everyday objects everywhere, as you will be seeing the world from a new point of view. On top of this, you are going to have a better understanding of what makes something intuitive to use. I highly recommended the book if you create ANY type of user interface.
A short and shallow book. It contains a few interesting lessons from the authors career, but overall this book is just ok.
A short but relatively good introduction to agile development. It cover a lot of reasons why agile is good, how to use it, and how to convince others (including managers) to use it.
Soft Skills is surprisingly interesting. It covers loads of different areas of a typical software developers life, although nothing on programming. For example, chapters about fitness, real estate investing, and job interviews are included in this book. This is congested in short and easy-to-read chapters. Full review here.
This book focuses on software consultants. There are some interesting parts about what kind of firms to avoid when you are looking for a job, but the book is generally a “meh”. You can notice that the author probably is some kind of manager now as some advice he gives are a bit silly.
This book covers health related topics that are common for programmers. For example the author writes about things like sitting and standing at work, ergonomy, movement during work hours, and so on. The author knows about causation and correlation, which is surprisingly rare in similar books.
This book covers the computer science of many of the problems encountered in the daily life of any human. It contains many types of optimization problems, from finding a car parking spot, city planning and finding a partner to more advanced game theory problems. I believe this book is a great soft starter for more technical books on algorithms as it provides many real life applications for the algorithms. Full review here.
A pretty short book that mostly focus on how a leader should try to improve and challenge its subjects. The book also provides a significant part on how to get a project to a place where there is time for learning.
This short book contains many interesting thoughts on procrastination. I believe that the most valuable part of the book is the definition of the Resistance as this allows you to clarify who or what you enemy is. This helps you paint the picture of a constant war between you and the Resistance, which in turn motivates you to win. Full review here.
A classic self-help book about taking responsibility over your actions and life. The book provides some value, but be warned, it contains a lot of bullshit. The book was probably was a relatively scientific book for its time, but with today’s standard the book has many flaws. Thought vibrations, men go bald because of their hats (women wear looser hats) etc. The author also argues for the train wreck that is the law of attraction.
A book on how to master your mind, self image and so on. To my surprise, the author suggests many things that I already practice, but he also suggest things that are a bit ridiculous. The book suffers from selection bias and cherry picked evidence, so everything preached in this book should be taken with a pinch of salt. Of course, the author finds a way to mix christianity into sections of the book as well. Aside from that, I liked it.
Teaches how to eliminate negative thoughts and adopt a positive mindset. Author is super patriotic, super religious, and really wants you to find faith in God to be happy. There book contains a lot of silly things about God… Really a lot. Probably not worth the time for any person that is not religious. Most of the advice are something like: study the Bible and pray a lot. A more fitting title would be The Power of Positive of Thinking Through God. The book is totally worthless, as it is just Christian propaganda. I couldn’t take anymore of it, so I stopped after 1h20m.
The Happiness Advantage covers how happiness and positivity can lead to success and the various other benefits they can have. The author also explains both well-known concepts about happiness, such as how emotions can spread among people, and other less known concepts. The books have some flaws that are discussed more in the full review I did.
The Power of Habit covers the basics on how habits work (cue, routine, reward) and how to manage, change or create them. Overall, a quite interesting book.
The Manifesto mostly contains examples of cases where checklists are good. The guidelines are to keep checklists short and not enter obvious things. The checklists should also be modifiable by the people that actually use them and not read only lists from management.
The new edition of the popular version from 1936. Based on only having read this version I would probably recommend the old version over this one. The advice given in the book ultimately boils down to that you should appeal to people’s core values in order to influence them. Everybody wants to be heard and have an impact. The book also includes sections on how to criticize, give positive feedback, and what actions you should avoid.
This book covers tips on how to be productive, deal with people and prioritize. Other than these seven habits described below, the author recommends that you live a life centered around defined principles, i.e you should have a life manifesto (not unlike many organisations). Having these principles to guide your decisions makes it much easier to not act on emotion and not get affected by environmental factors. Overall, a quite good book, although it suffers from the same ‘author is religious’ issues as almost all other books in this genre. You can read my full review here.
Based on the rule that you should outwork others and thus dominate your field. The author promotes the idea of taking responsibility for everything and not making any excuses. Thus, there is always something you can do that will minimize the negative effects. The main part of the book promotes something the author calls ‘massive action’, which basically is what you would think. Whatever you think is a reasonable effort (i.e number of cold calls to potential clients), do 10 times that.
A man’s journey from impoverished rural boy to corporate tycoon. It is interesting that the book is written in second-person perspective, but other than that, there is nothing special to this book.
Not a super exciting read, but these laws are good to know, especially for impulsive people. Every law is introduced by many examples where some historic figure used it, so the book contains many mini stories, which some people may find very interesting. I think the book is too long and a bit boring, but I would still recommend it to many people.
The 4-hour workweek is a book that makes you question your goals and lifestyle choices. The author advocates the idea of living the life you want now, and not just preparing for some vague future. He explains ways to significantly reduce the number of hours you work per week (thereby the title), and still have enough money to do the things you want. (Yes, it is not this simple, but this is the core idea). I really recommend the book as the author makes some really good points.
Rework is short and packed with useful information for any person interested in side projects or entrepreneurship. It does not have any dragged out sections or unnecessary parts like almost all other books in this genre. The author gives solid and concise advice on business topics ranging from who you should hire and how to work effectively to how you should build an audience. I like the authors view on most topics, but it is important to keep in mind that the advice is just advice.This book is probably one of the better books I have read this year. See full review here.
The Innovators is an easy-to-read book that explains the history of the digital revolution. It includes things as transistors, processors, personal computers, Internet, World Wide Web, programming, and much more.
A book with interview and job searching tips. It is quite clear that this book is meant for people who are experiencing troubles with getting getting a job, so it wasn’t very relevant for me. It is painfully explicit and always has a million examples for every concept. The author tops it off by involving christianity into his book on job searching… The book has an extremely high bullshit to value ratio and could easily have been edited to one tenth of the length and still provide the same information.
Thesis: a small minority of highly educated people, that are good at working collaboratively with automated systems, will become a wealthy aristocracy. The vast majority will earn little or nothing, surviving on low-priced goods created by the first group, living in shantytowns working with highly automated production systems.
The book is quite interesting and the author does a good job defending his thesis.
This book explains why skills trump passion and why “follow your passion” generally is bad advice. The author is on a quest to find out what defines a great job and how to get it. Eventually he concludes that there are three things that great jobs have in common, Creativity, Impact, and Control. I really liked the book as it was entertaining and interesting, and would recommend it to anyone who want some kind of career. See full review here.
The book explains the mindset of a real estate investor. It also covers the basics of real estate investments and gives an outline of how to get started. The author makes some questionable assumptions in all calculations, like the fact that you only buy real estate 20% under market value. Overall, I think the book provide some value.
This famous book mainly describes a mindset about money. It also defines six rules with variable usefulness. 1. Don’t work for money, make money work for you. 2. It’s not how much money you make, it’s how much money you keep. 3. Mind your own business. See yourself as a business and work for yourself. 4. Corporations, use them well. Mostly to avoid tax on every single thing you do. 5. The smart don’t get ahead, the bold do. 6. Work to learn, don’t work for money.
Don’t let the title fool you! The Millionaire Fastlane is actually much, much better than this silly title suggests. After a bit of a rough start, the author starts to articulate many of the thoughts that have been brewing inside my mind for a long time now. Among other things, he preaches for total responsibility of actions and choices, to value time as the most important resource, and the extreme value of continues education. One of the biggest reasons I liked the book is that the author comes off as much smarter than typical authors in this genre at the same time as he is quite relatable and lays out his arguments in a very convincing and well written way. See full review here.
In this book, the author interviewed the most knowledgeable people in the financial industry and condensed it into one book. There were many things I did not like in this book. Firstly, for a book this thick, it provides very little actual value. Secondly, there are suspicious sell pitches to companies the author stakes in. Thirdly, there was a lot of mentioning of the power of compound effect, but next to nothing on purchasing power and inflation…On top of this, the book is very focused on people living in the US. The few parts I liked were the authors views on personal responsibility, providing value, and investing in yourself.
Very unscientific and contains some really questionable suggestions by the author. For example the author wants the reader to only read this book and stop reading other books. On top of this the reader should accept everything the author writes as true. The target audience for this book seems to be religious people. The book is mostly garbage, but a minimal about of value can be extracted. The value can be summarized with these sentences: Focus on providing value as there is enough riches for all. You should not need to trick people into making deals as both should get something out of the deal. Focus on creating new riches instead of stealing someone else’s.
A quite interesting book on the core management of money. It contains many stories of rich men in ancient Babylon and how they thought about money. The book also covers wisdoms on things like if you should lend money to your family and so on.
Antifragile – Systems that improve where there is chaos and disorder The book covers the importance of considering the whole spectrum of possible outcomes from worst case to best case and how there often is an imbalance that you can exploit. The author also has many interesting thoughts on the current society structures like banks, corporations and government incentives. The only drawback is that the author is extremely defensive and a bit smug (the world against the author etc).
Trust Me I’m Lying is an interesting book that contains the confessions of a media manipulator, who claims to have grown tired of the current media system. It covers the basics of how media manipulators play the media and why the current media system is so vulnerable to these methods. For those of you that have high trust for the media in general, this book can be quite eye-opening. For the rest of us, the book brings more of a confirmation of the depressing state of the media today. Overall, a very interesting book. Read the full review here.
A lot of interesting thoughts about humankind and its institutions and imagined orders. The book contains both a history of humans and interesting thoughts about things like money, capitalism and laws.
An interesting book about a bunch different scientific topics (fossils, evolution, big bang, geology, yellowstone etc). The book also explains how experts come to their conclusions and how we know the conclusions are true.
A classic by Richard Dawkins, where he convincingly argues that evolution is driven by selfish genes, not full DNA strings/individuals.
When I feel unmotivated, I sometimes start a fiction book to get my mind off the current workload. This short break gives me enough strength to start a new non-fiction book afterward.
I don’t like spoilers, so the descriptions below are very brief.
The world is full of radiation and reduced to rubble. A small group of people have survived in the metro tunnels of Moscow, which isn’t very hospitable either…
The year is 2044 and the real world is an ugly place. However, there is an interesting contest with many puzzles concealed within a virtual world, which basically is an extremely realistic MMORPG. The one who finds and solves all the puzzles will get some kind of massive reward. Ready Player One is a very interesting and entertaining story, especially for people who have played any MMORPG before or is familiar to 80s nerd culture.
In The Humans, an alien is sent to earth to halt technological progress. As I don’t like spoilers, I won’t say more than it is an entertaining and interesting story.
I re-read this book again this year, as it combines my interest for space and science in a quite scientifically accurate story. It really is a page turner.
This book reminds me of The Martian in some ways, but less science and more fiction. I also thought it was slow and too long. I didn’t like it as much as The Martian, but Seveneves is still an ok book.