I recently saw an article on another blog where the author documents all of the books that he read during the course of the year. I like to think I read a lot and it's always a mix of professional, self-improvement, knowledge expansion, productivity, and entertainment.
I liked the idea so much that I'm going to do the same here. This is my list from 2016, the permanent archive of everything will be here.
2016 has been one of the most stressful in my 46 years of life on this planet. Massive changes socially, personally, professionally, and societal have created a situation where I just want to see the year be over, so I can begin moving in a positive direction again in 2017. This was also a year where I re-subscribed to Audible and consumed a fair number of my book titles through this medium. I still consider this "reading" the book, as most are unabridged, and it allows me to leverage time I would otherwise use listening to music or podcasts.
In reviewing the books I read this year, they were broken down in the following broad genres:
- Entertainment (55%)
- Non-fiction (15%)
- Computing (15%)
- Biographies (7.5%)
- Self-improvement (7.5%)
2017 Resolution? More Non-fiction and Self-improvement, less Entertainment.
I started 2016 in the middle of my first title, but since this is the first time I'm documenting my readings, I believe it's acceptable to include carryovers in the year in which they were finished.
The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine (Audible) -- The housing crash of 2008 was devastating for our country and the world. Three people were able to see the crash coming and making huge bets that it would happen (and then getting rich from it), this is their story. Additionally, it is a look into financial market grey areas, where lack of oversight, legislation, and morals allowed this to happen. If you don't believe the financial system is rigged, maybe you should read this book and ask yourself that question when you're finished. Yea, and it was made into a movie, which is pretty good too.
Thing Explainer: Complicated Stuff in Simple Words (Kindle) -- From the author of the XKCD comic, Randall Munroe, a delightful look at extremely complex objects and concepts, told with simple comics and drawings and annotated using only the 1000 most popular words.
Sanibel Flats (A Doc Ford Novel Book 1) (Paperback) -- Yep, you read that right, a real, honest to goodness, physical, book. This was the only physical book I read all year, and that's because it's not available in eBook format (actually none of the first 5 books in the Doc Ford series are available via eBook). I purchased these at a Doc Ford restaurant on Captiva in 2015. One of the first family vacations I took with my wife and new son was to Captiva Island in Florida. The inspiration for this trip were the Doc Ford novels that my aunt suggested I read. This is the story of how Doc Ford ended up in his lab on Sanibel Island and the path that led him to become a "quiet" Marine Biologist in Florida. I had never read the first 5 books, so this book steps me back in time in the series to the beginning.
Childhood's End (Audible) -- Classic science fiction from Arthur C. Clarke. I decided to read this when I heard that SyFy was doing a 3-part Miniseries of the book. Oddly, I didn't go back and watch the mini-series, but the book was a great exploration of what the human species collectively wants to accomplish. What is our ultimate desire and what are we willing to sacrifice to accomplish it? To what end?
The Short Victorious War (Honor Harrington Book 3) (Kindle) -- Continuing the Honor Harrington series I started reading in 2015. In this installment, Honor continues to struggle with her rising star as the People's Republic of Haven attempts to plot the downfall of the Manticoran Star Kingdom, then they meet Honor.
pfSense 2 Cookbook & The Book of PF: A No-Nonsense Guide to the OpenBSD Firewall (Kindle) -- Both of these books were purchased as I opted to more fully leverage the capabilities of my chosen firewall solution (pfSense). I preferred the later, but both were worthwhile in maturing my use of the platform and expanding my use of the system I had built.
Avogadro Corp: The Singularity Is Closer Than It Appears (Singularity Series Book 1) (Kindle) -- What happens as we build increasingly adaptable and intelligent computer systems? What if they started to learn on their own? A fictional, and entertaining, look at what could happen as our thirst for Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning continues to grow. Can sentience be built?
A.I. Apocalypse (Singularity Series Book 2) (Kindle) -- An adaptable virus is unleashed on the Internet and it quickly turns sentient, but then has its own social issues to work out. Do we have any recourse now that our computer systems have all been taken over?
Field of Dishonor (Honor Harrington Book 4) (Kindle) -- Honor Harrington is betrayed by someone she thought was in her past. How will she overcome this setback and lead her crew to a successful outcome without also dishonoring them?
Dead of Night (A Doc Ford Novel Book 12) (Kindle) -- Doc Ford again finds himself wrapped in a mystery, this time as he strives to why a reclusive scientist has hanged himself and how that relates to a biological threat to the Florida wetlands he calls home.
Disrupted (Audible) -- Dan Lyons talks about his real-life experience in a technology startup, HubSpot (yes, it's a real company). This former Newsweek editor, author of Fake Steve Jobs, and technology journalist joins a startup late in his life where he's the oldest person working there. His experiences will make you wonder how any of these startups ever make it...but they do. He then takes these experiences and turns them on their head in the HBO series Silicon Valley on which he writes.
Ringworld (Audible) -- Another classic science fiction novel this one by Larry Niven that takes you on an interstellar mission with a crew of aliens who have to work together to save their respective species. In it, they explore a strange new world that was manufactured, but then abandoned...or so they believe.
Dark Light (A Doc Ford Novel Book 13) (Kindle) -- Doc Ford makes a chance discovery of an object sunk in the sea, that later is tied to a mysterious shipwreck and equally mysterious owner of a home on the island. How are these related and will Doc Ford lose his heart or his mind?
You're Never Weird on the Internet (Almost) (Audible) -- Felicia Day is well known to geeks, but the story she tells of her life growing up in a not-so-typical family and finding her path to success may not be so familiar. She narrated the book herself and I believe that added a lot to the experience. She also talks about her experiences with online bullying in what is an important story to hear.
One More Thing (Audible) -- This book is a series of fictional short stories by B.J. Novak. I really believe that this should probably be read and not listened to. The stories each quickly build and make you think, not really something you can listen to as you drive (which is what I did) as you have to focus on them. Unfortunately, the re-readability is low as the stories each have a "twist", that will be spoiled once you've read or heard them.
The Last Firewall (Singularity Series Book 3) (Kindle) -- Artificial Intelligence is now a way of life, more so now that everyone has neural implants that give them direct access into the Internet. But if our minds are linked directly to the network and AIs roam that vast cyberspace, what is to stop them accept the Last Firewall in our minds?
The Turing Exception (Singularity Series Book 4) (Kindle) -- The last installment of the Singularity Series, AI has now moved to the molecular level and nanotech is reshaping our landscapes and creating catastrophic new ways for us to destroy each other. Yet amid destruction there is still hope that humanity and machines can coexist, or is there?
Swift Programming: The Big Nerd Ranch Guide (Kindle) -- The Big Nerd Ranch books are great primers into various programming topics. Apple has released a new programming language, Swift, and I wanted to learn it, so this is where I started.
The Swift Developer's Cookbook (Kindle) - Another great programming book on the Swift language. Erica Sadun (@ericasadun) is well-known for her programming books and in this one she is entertaining and informative. A definite recommendation.
Once Dead (The Rho Agenda Inception Book 1) (Kindle) - Revisiting the Rho Agenda series of books that I read in 2015 (which I really enjoyed), we go back in time and learn the origins of the former CIA agent Jack Gregory and learn how he became "The Ripper". We also get visit the first time Jack and CIA agent Janet Price meet, partnering up to save the United States against terrorism.
The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo (Audible) -- I'm not quite sure why I listened to two different female entertainers biographies, but I also enjoyed listening to Amy Schumer narrate her own biography about her not-so-meteoric rise to comedy stardom. She opens up about the world of stand-up comedy and the work that it actually takes to become successful. She also talks about her semi-autobiographical movie, Trainwreck. Amy also talks about her experience with sexual abuse and terrorism, topics you may not expect a comedian to address in such a raw fashion. Well worth the listen.
Kiss, Bow, or Shake Hands (Kindle) -- In my new role at work I find myself working with a much more diverse set of people and companies than in my previous job. Knowing what is acceptable in one culture, that may be offensive in another, is a set of skills that everyone should have to work in our new global economy. This book was recommended by a great speaking and presentation coach (Steve Mandel) that I had the privilege of working with, twice, in 2016.
At this time of this writing I'm currently reading four books, I'm not sure I'll get them all finished by the end of the year, but here's to hoping:
The Innovators: How a Group of Hackers, Geniuses, and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution (Audible) -- Walter Isaacson is one of the great Biographers of our time. He writes entertaining books, exploring really fascinating people. In this book he discusses a large list of people who shaped our Digital Culture. He explores and builds the story of how we ended up where we are and how innovation is truly an iterative process.
To Pixar and Beyond (Audible) -- The history of Pixar shortly after Steve Jobs purchases it, as told by the CFO (Lawrence Levy). An insightful book on how Pixar became the animation powerhouse they are today, from extremely humble and often precarious beginnings. I'm only listening to this book as I take long walks, in homage to Steve Jobs (and Lawrence Levy) who both took long walks together to discuss the future. I figure I own every movie they've ever released, might as well know who I'm supporting. :)
Pandora's Star (The Commonwealth Saga Book 1) (Kindle) -- The first in Peter F. Hamilton's Commonwealth universe. In an era where we can easily travel through the stars, a mysterious event causes concern among not only humanity, but other alien cultures. A team is assembled to determine the cause of the event, but they don't find what they expected.
Dead Wrong (The Rho Agenda Inception Book 2) (Kindle) - The second installment in the Rho Agenda Inception trilogy. Here we delve deep into the alien mystery that surrounds the Rho Agenda trilogies. Will Jack and Janet be able to save the world, a second time?