Book review roundup

Here’s a quick roundup of books that I’ve read this year. Also see my review of The Software Craftsman by Sandro Mancuso.

Flow by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

A book I read after seeing the recommendations by Daragh Byrne and Xavier Morera on Simple Programmer.

This is a deep book, that is quite long and heavy. Very thought-provoking. I think I will read this book again because it covers so much I feel like I’ve forgotten some important things after only 3 months.

You can learn some of the basics of this book by reading Daragh’s article and Mihaly’s TED talk.

One of the themes is avoiding Television because it is too brain-dead to stimulate your mind. I mostly agree with this but I think it is more to do with how programs are made that a problem with the medium itself. There are some good documentaries and thought-provoking films that I think provide growth for the viewer. I also think that most programs are just too slow.

Being able to speed up a video to the point where you have to work hard to understand it is a good way to achieve flow. I almost always watch Pluralsight videos above x1.0 and if they are quite simple I’ll try x2.0 speed. Also removing all the punctuation from a presentation is a way to be more interesting, something that CPG Grey has been doing very successfully for a while now.

The Obstacle is the Way by Ryan Holiday

This is a book that I strongly recommend buying. Very easy to read, and relevant to everything that you do every day. It will make you a better person. Buy it.

The Black Swan by Nassim Nicholas Taleb

The reviews for this are highly mixed. Many people say that it is a fantastic book, and plenty of others say it’s badly structured and full of rants and ramblings. So who is right? Everybody! Taleb is a brilliant mind with a very prickly persona and he would not let any editors make any significant changes to what he wrote. The book could have been half the size and none of the key points would have been missed. You need to take the rough with the smooth with this book.

However if you persevere with it, you’ll be very well rewarded for your effort. There are many great ideas in this book. I will surely be reading his other books in the future.

The Golden Rules of Blogging and when to Break them

This covers 28 “golden” rules about blogging, and discusses the circumstances in which you could break them. There is a risk rating associated with breaking each rule (low/medium/high). Reading this book hasn’t changed my opinions on blogging, but I agree with the advice that it gives and if you are just getting started with blogging then I think you will get a lot of value out of reading this.

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