Books Review 2017

December 29, 2017

I have enjoyed a lot of reading this year so I wanted to to reflect on some of the things I read and enjoyed. In a previous post I covered some of the articles I read this year. In this article I will cover books.

As part of my Goodread’s Challenge I read 30 books this year. I was happy to achieve the goal with a diversity of books. Last year I started reading the Discworld series and this year I read 8 Discworld books. I read 10 non-fiction books (3 of which were programming related), 6 comics and 6 non-Discworld fiction novels.

Disc World:

Terry Pratchett’s Discworld universe is thoroughly entertaining. It makes me very happy to know that there are so many books for me to go through.

Non-Fiction:

  • Programming: As part of a book club at work we read Design Patterns, Seven Languages in Seven Weeks and Clean Code.
    • I would highly recommend Design Patterns to every programmer. The first read through can feel a little dry but the goal of the first read should be to become aware of the terms and understand the general idea of these patterns. After that the book works as valuable reference.
  • The Death and Life of Great American Cities: This is probably one of my favorite books. I had always wanted to read a book that analyzed how people organized themselves at a macro level. Jacobs takes this strategy to analyze neighborhoods in large cities. She uses the analysis to makes recommendations for improving city planning and city level policies.
  • Biographies:
    • Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman: The book has plenty of entertainment value just by covering so many crazy things that Feynman was up to. What I enjoyed the most though was seeing how Feynman thought about things. He is popular for solving difficult problems so seeing him describe his thought process was the best part of the book.
    • Ball Four: I didn’t grow up on baseball so I am missing out on a lot of history of the game that people hear growing up. This books covered some of the history but more importantly gave me an inside look on the culture of “old school baseball”. Jim Bouton’s personal story is important but the main value of the book is the view it gives you in the actual culture.
  • The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion: This is an interesting read on a fascinating topic. One of the main conclusions of the book is that when it comes to morality everyone thinks emotionally/instinctively first and then rationalizes it. One side may think that they are special but based on the studies they did, it didn’t seem like it.

Fiction

  • American Gods: This book slowly grew on me and I don’t mean while reading it. After finishing the book I found myself going back to the world the book created. I would find myself thinking about different scenes and parts of the story. I have been thinking about it so much that I definitely want to go back and read it again.
  • JLA: Earth 2: This has to be one of the worst comics I have ever read. The whole story is half-baked, underdeveloped and inconsistent.

Special mention to Atlas Shrugged as the only book this year that I started and abandoned.

I haven’t decided what my goal for next year is though I know I want to revisit some of the books I have read in the last few years.