No more computing books

One of my bad habits is constantly buying computing books. This wouldn’t be so bad if I  read them, but I have amassed a huge backlog of books that will most probably never be read and which ends up being a waste of money.

A couple of posts I read recently have led me to the decision that I should stop, or at least drastically cut down on, buying computing books. The first post talked about “learning voyerism” where you are really more interested in the idea of learning new things instead of learning the thing itself and the second talked about spending time going deeper into topics instead of boucing lightly through many different ones.

It is very difficult to stay focused on one thing when there are so many things happening in the world of computing all the time. There are a tonne of new and exciting languages and frameworks being released all the time. And while it would be great to try them all, that can only mean that you’ll never actually become good at one of them.

I have always been a bit of a generalist and while knowing a bit about everything isn’t a bad thing, there is a fine line between knowing a bit of everything while being proficient at some things and knowing not quite enough of everything to be unable to do anything at all.

Books of 2016

Really did not read a lot in 2016 as I’ve been spending more time watching screencasts on Pluralsight and Udemy.

Stand out book was “The Pheonix Project”, which is a must read for anyone who works in IT. The final instalment, “Death’s End”, of the Three-Body trilogy came out, which I half wish I had never read.

  1. Ruby Performance Optimization (10/2/2016 – Programming)
  2. Elasticsearch Quick Start (15/3/2016 – Programming)
  3. The Expert Beginner (16/4/2015 – Programming/Careers)
  4. Speaking JavaScript (Skimmed) (21/4/16 – Programming)
  5. Grokking Algorithms (2/5/2016 – Programming)
  6. The Pheonix Project (28/6/2016 – IT management)
  7. Real World Machine Learning (1/7/2016 – Programming)
  8. How Your Motorcycle Works (13/8/2016 – Motorcycles)
  9. Death’s End (10/10/2016 – Fiction)
  10. OCA Java 8 Programmers Guide (Skimmed) (16/10/2016 – Programming)
  11. Elastic Leadership (21/11/2016 – Management)
  12. Software Architecture for Developers (27/11/2016 – Programming)
  13. Managing Humans (15/12/16 – Management)
  14. Ego is the Enemy (23/12/2016 – Self-Development)

Books of 2015

This year’s standout books were “The Dark Forest” which was the follow on from last year’s “The Three-Body Problem” and “I am Pilgrim”. “Brain Maker” was a real eye opener into the workings of the gut biome. Sadly most other books didn’t really grab me. I’ve also started keeping a track of books I ended up skimming through.

  • The Tiger that Isn’t (4/1/15 – Statistics)
  • It’s not all about me (24/1/15 – Psychology)
  • Just Fucking Ship (28/1/15 – Business)
  • Story of Your Life and Others (5/2/15 – Fiction)
  • Traction (Skimmed) (10/2/15 – Business)
  • The Mom Test (22/2/15 – Business)
  • Stop Reading Self-Help Books (24/2/15 – Self-Help)
  • The Shell Collector (27/2/15 – Fiction)
  • JFDI (1/3/15 – Self-Help/Business)
  • Smartcuts – Audiobook (10/3/15 – Business)
  • Effective Javascript (Skimmed) (19/4/3015 – Computing)
  • Servers for Hackers (Skimmed) (20/4/2015 – Computing)
  • How Adam Smith Can Change Your Life (29/4/15 – Life)
  • Better than Before – Audiobook (15/5/15 – Psychology)
  • I Am Pilgrim (19/5/15 – Fiction)
  • The Zen Programmer (10/6/15 – Life)
  • Nikon D610 Experience (22/6/15 – Photography)
  • 31 Days to Overcome Your Fear of Shooting Street Photography (23/6/15)
  • How to Shoot Street Portraits (28/6/15 – Photography)
  • Adobe Lightroom 6 Training (28/6/15 – Photography)
  • The Flash Photography Field Guide (Skimmed) (2/7/15 – Photography)
  • The Street Photography Composition Manual (4/7/15 – Photography)
  • SEO 2016 (15/7/2015 – SEO)
  • Growing Rails Applications in Practice (17/7/2015 – Technology)
  • Make Love not Porn (3/8/2015 – Psychology)
  • Brain Maker (23/8/2015 – Health)
  • The Dark Forest (7/9/2015 – Fiction)
  • Total Recall (15/10/2015 – Autobiography)
  • Meta programming Ruby (21/11/2015)
  • No More Mr. Nice Guy (9/12/2015 – Self-help)
  • Redis in Action (Skimmed) (19/12/2015 – Technology)
  • Can you go? (18/12/2015 – Training)

Books of 2014

Didn’t read as much as I wanted/hoped this year. This year’s stand out books were “How to Fail at almost Everything and Still Win Big”, “All that is Solid”, “The Obstacle is the Path” and “The Three Body Problem”.

  • The Millionaire Fastlane (3/1/2014)
  • How to Fail at almost Everything and Still Win Big (15/1/2014)
  • Hooked: How to build habit-forming products (26/1/2014)
  • The Power of Habit (23/2/2014)
  • Go for No! (25/2/2014)
  • All that is Solid (31/3/2014)
  • Manuscript Found in Accra (1/4/2014)
  • Fluent in 3 Months (23/4/2014)
  • David & Goliath – Audiobook (25/4/2014)
  • Be Iron Fit (27/4/3014)
  • No Exit (5/4/2014)
  • The Obstacle is the Path (10/6/2014)
  • The 1 Hour China Book (16/6/2014)
  • Beyond Training (10/7/2014)
  • On the Shortness of Life (18/07/2014)
  • Software as a Disservice (7/9/2014)
  • How to fix Your Software Project (15/9/2014)
  • Growth Hacking Handbook (Skimmed) (10/10/3014)
  • The Martian (21/10/2014)
  • How to Get to the Top of Google (Skimmed) (31/10/2014)
  • Smart Calling (Skimmed) (31/10/2014)
  • The Three Body Problem (26/11/2014)

Books of 2013

Managed to read a lot more in 2013 compared to 2012.

  • 7 Habits of Highly Effective People – Audiobook (3/1/2013)
  • Taming text (18/01/2013)
  • The 10X Rule – Audiobook (21/1/2013)
  • Copy Hackers #1 (15/02/2013)
  • Running Lean (16/02/12013)
  • Rails as she spoke (14/04/2013)
  • HTML5 for Web Designers (17/04/2013)
  • CSS3 for Designers (22/04/2013)
  • Designing Web Applications (25/04/2013)
  • Responsive Web Design (29/04/2013)
  • The Little Book of Redis (07/05/2013)
  • New Sales Simplified (08/05/2013)
  • The Icarus Deception (24/05/2013)
  • Choose Yourself (05/07/2013)
  • Miracle of Self Discipline – Audiobook (7/7/2013)
  • Mastering the Fujifilm X-Pro 1 (9/7/2013)
  • Shift (20/7/2013)
  • Mastering Modern Payments (16/8/2013)
  • Islam made Simple (21/8/2013)
  • Dust (16/9/2013)
  • Art of Running Faster (19/10/2013)
  • This Book Will Teach You How Write Better (20/10/2013)
  • No B.S. Wealth Attraction in the New Economy (9/11/2013)
  • Swim Speed Secrets (17/11/2013)
  • Let Go (24/11/2013)
  • Faster: Demystifying the Science of Triathlon Speed (29/11/2013)
  • Zen to Done (21/12/2013)
  • Influence (25/12/2013)

Stand out books were “The Icarus Deception”, “Choose Yourself”, “Dust” and “Influence”.

Books of 2012

Just realised I never posted my list of books read in 2012. So here it is!

  • Ikiagi (7/1/2012)
  • I was blind but now I see (15/1/2012)
  • Working with Unix Processes (25/3/2012)
  • Objects on Rails (10/4/2012)
  • Tmux (20/4/2012)
  • JavaScript the Good Parts (27/4/12)
  • Do the Work (7/5/2012)
  • The War of Art (16/5/2012)
  • Wool (18/7/2012)
  • Scalable and Modular Architecture for CSS (20/9/12)
  • Practical Object Orientated Design in Ruby (15/10/12)
  • Master Space and Time With JavaScript 1-3 (1/11/12)
  • Greyskull LP (15/11/12)

Not really a good year for “number of books read”. Stand out books were definitely “Wool”, “Ikagi”, “I was blind but now I see” and “Do the work”.


A shot in the dark is definitely better than walking away from the chance altogether. Trying can create a percentage chance above zero, whereas walking away guarantees that it is zero.

I always enjoy reading Sebastian Marshall’s blog. Primarily because I feel like I can relate to a lot of the things he talks about and his general attitude towards life and business. His book is a great culmination of those things. I thoroughly recommended checking out his book and blog.

Books of 2011

Another year another list of books that I read in 2011. I never read as much as I want/should.

  • Why We Get Fat (11/1/2011)
  • Start Small, Stay Small – Audiobook (30/1/2011)
  • Never Let Go (2/2/2011)
  • Ignore Everybody (10/2/2011)
  • The Hero Handbook (21/2/2011)
  • Mindfulness in Plain English (3/3/2011)
  • Programming Amazon EC2 (18/3/2011)
  • How to Make Money (7/3/2011)
  • Eloquent Ruby (6/5/2011)
  • Snow Crash (18/5/2011)
  • Get out of Jail Free Card (19/5/2011)
  • Hyperion (6/6/2011)
  • Anything You Want (1/7/2011)
  • The Fall of Hyperion (29/7/2011)
  • Motorcycle Roadcraft (6/9/2011)
  • Sport Riding Techniques (20/9/2011)
  • Recipes with Backbone (19/12/2011)
  • The Secrets of the Rainmakers (20/12/2011)
  • The Lean Startup (25/12/2011)

The only book that really stands out for me this year is “Hyperion”. I don’t usually read fiction, but on this occasion I’m extremely glad I did. Never before has a book gripped me as much as this one did. And excellent story which had me desperate to keep going to find out what happened. “Why we get fat” is a very good book on the basics of the modern science behind the obesity epidemic spreading across the world. I found it very hard to read Gary Taubes previous book “Good Calories, Bad Calories”, but this was extremely easy to take in.

I certainly want to be able to read more in 2012. But that’s something I say every year.

The Lean Startup

I finally finished reading The Lean Startup. The main gist is that we need to be creating fast feedback looks for products/changes we make, so that we can quickly see what is and isn’t working. It’s a good extension of what to do once you have you minimum-viable product up and running, as it’s easy to fall into the trap of just adding features, without actually adding any value. I especially liked the parts on doing a cohort study of your users. Instead of measuring figures like engagement as a total for a specific time, you would track engagement for people who signed up in January only, then sign ups in February, then March, etc. This gives you a better picture of whether you’re actually improving your service or only appearing to improve because of growing figures.

Overall the book wasn’t too bad. I felt that perhaps the first half was a lot more “actionable” and my interest fell off once past the half way point, so I ended up just steaming through after that. Definitely worth reading if you’re in the startup arena though.

I’ll be getting another copy soon anyways as I’ll be seeing Eric talk when he comes to London in January.