Book Reviews

  • The Hard Thing About Hard Things Review

    This is my review of The Hard Thing About Hard Things. Like with Accelerate or No Rules Rules I was not expecting much coming in, but was blown away by the book. There’s a lot of wisdom in here for sure.

  • Accelerate Review

    This is my review of Accelerate. I’ve long wanted to read this one. But I was procrastinating on it because in my mind I thought I’d already be familiar with its message. And to a degree that was the case. But I also found a lot of interesting information that I didn’t expect. Like the causal relationship between engineering practices and company outcomes. Both in the hard things like better financial results and accomplishing group goals. But also in the soft ones like improving team morale and job satisfaction.

  • Building Mobile Apps At Scale Review

    This is my review of Building Mobile Apps At Scale. I wanted to read this book to better understand the challenges of building complex mobile apps. My teams have relatively recently expanded to include mobile engineers, so I primarily wanted to have enough of a grounding in this tech space so I could have a decent conversation. Turns out a lot of the complexities are the same as in backend or web development. They’re just accentuated by the distribution channel of app stores. But I believe a lot of the modern and common sense approaches to development - automated testing, CI/CD, progressive releases, etc. - carry over.

  • No Rules Rules Review

    This is my review of No Rules Rules. This is a book about Netflix and the culture they’ve built over there. The main idea is that their unique culture has allowed them to achieve their extraordinary results. And that this could work for your company too. Indeed, among the FAANGM companies, Netflix the most focused, most customer driven, and arguably the one impacting the cultural zeitgeist the most these days. It’s also the smallest of the bunch, which means it punches way above it’s weight class.

  • A History Of The Ancient World Review

    This is my review of A History Of The Ancient World. I had planned on doing more history reading in 2021. But the year whizzed by and I found myself in December having read nothing. A quick search for “top history books” surfaced a number of interesting choices. I chose this one because it covered a period of history I feel I don’t have a good grasp on - pre-Roman/Greek antiquity from the start of civilisation onwards. It also tied in nicely with my study of epic poems (a great deal of which were written in ancient times, or drew inspiration from it).

  • Staff Engineer Review

    This is my review of Staff Engineer: Leadership Beyond The Management Track. It is a book about being a “staff engineer”. As far as I know, it is the only book about the topic. It is by Will Larson, the author of An Elegant Puzzle, and much like that book, it is a compilation of his writing on his blog, as well as his separate staffeng.com website.

  • Atomic Habits Review

    This is my review of Atomic Habits. As the name implies it is a book on habits. It looks at how to effectively build good habits, and how to drop bad habits. It also makes the case that the habits one has are what determine success, rather than the goals one sets or the motivation one has.

  • Crucial Conversations Review

    This is my review of Crucial Conversations. It’s a relationships book with a lot of applicability in the workplace. It’s a nice read for managers, hence it got on my reading list.

  • Team Topologies Review

    This is my review of Team Topologies. It’s a management book (oh no, not again), which looks at some good patterns for organizing teams in larger organisations. It proposes a set of team types and team interaction modes between them which aim to maximize ownership, delivery, efficiency, etc.

  • 21 Lessons For The 21st Century Review

    This is my review of 21 Lessons For The 21st Century by Yuval Noah Harari. It’s in a way a followup to his Sapiens and Homo Deus books. The former I read, but didn’t get around to writing a review here – no shameless self-linking today! Now, Sapiens focused on humanity’s past, and Homo Deus on its distant future. But this one has a bit of both, and manages to keep the focus on the near future - what will happen in 10 or 20 or 30 years, and how one can be best prepared for that.

  • Help Them Grow Or Watch Them Go Review

    This is my review of Help Them Grow Or Watch Them Grow. This is a management book focused on the career growth aspects of the manager’s job. It’s a short book, and perhaps not a classic, but it is nonetheless a very worthwhile read and it’s had quite the impact on how I approach career conversations and career growth with my team.

  • The Effective Executive Review

    This is my review of The Effective Executive by Peter Drucker. This was a great read. I don’t think I’ve fully assimilated it yet, but I’ve made copious notes and will come back to them. But what I did manage to get out of it has both changed the way I see my job as a manager and solidified that some of the things I was doing were the right things.

  • Clean Architecture Review

    This is my review of Clean Architecture by Uncle Bob. The book is undoubtedly a classic and I feel bad for not having read it earlier. I think it might have helped with a project or three. Better late than sorry for sure, and unlike other books I read too late (SICP primarily) I did feel I got a lot out of this book, and I came out a better developer on the other side. It certainly gave me a bunch of ideas to try out in Jupiter.

  • Radical Candor Review

    This is my review of Radical Candor by Kim Scott. This is a management book as you can surely surmise. The central idea is that one should practice radical candor in a work environment - a style of interacting with others where one both seeks and offers good and constructive and sometimes hard to hear feedback.

  • Getting To Yes Review

    This is my review of Getting To Yes by Roger Fisher, William Ury, and Bruce Patton. It’s another book on negotiation, and it’s the second in the series I review, after Never Split The Difference. This is the original which started the whole trend.

  • Never Split The Difference Review

    This is my review of Never Split The Difference by Chris Voss. This is a book on negotiation and it’s written by the former head negotiator of the FBI. So the credentials are quite good, and I think the author delivers.

  • Work Rules Review

    This is my review of “Work Rules” by Laszlo Bock. The author is the former head of HR at Google - or of people operations as they’re known there. The book aims to present what makes Google special from this point of view, such that it’s consistently considered one of the best places to work in the world, and what other companies might learn from their approach.

  • High Output Management Review

    This is my review of “High Output Management” by Andy Grove. Now this book is a classic. Folks who chose to read it will read it regardless of what I say here.

  • An Elegant Puzzle Review

    In which An Elegant Puzzle, an engineering management book by Will Larson is reviewed and found excellent.

  • Algorithms To Live By Review

    This is my review of Algorithms To Live By, written by Brian Christian and Tom Griffiths. The book aims to highlight with fun and pertinent examples some problems and algorithms for solving them. It is decidedly pop-science, so don’t expect any heavy math - or any math at all. But it was a fun and easy read, suitable for a vacation. And the historical framing of the problems is great no matter your technical level.

  • Peopleware Review

    Managed to finish Peopleware this last week. It’s a classic of software development, so it barely needs an introduction or review from me. But since it’s been a while since the last non-”Friday Blast” article, here we go.

  • The Manager's Path Review

    Another month, another book review [1]. This time it’s “The Manager’s Path” by Camille Fournier. This was quite the good read and I felt like I got a lot out of it. It seem to pop up a lot on first time managers reading lists and its been recently doing the rounds at work as well. Mostly cause there’s a lot of us these days.

  • Deep Work Review

    I recently finished reading “Deep Work: Rules For Focused Success In A Distracted World”, by Cal Newport. This is an interesting book. Good for sure, and perhaps life-changing if you need and can integrate it’s advice.

  • Better Angels Of Our Nature Review

    Finally finished this book. It was a long read.

  • Dictator's Handbook Review

    I recently finished The Dictator’s Handbook. It was a good and quick read and definitely worth a checkout. It’s the popular version of academic works in the selectorate theory branch of political science. A branch the authors more or less started.

  • Spatial Data Analysis Review

    It’s been almost three months since I did one of these things. Not great. So this is my review of Spatial Data Analysis by Christopher Lloyd.

  • The Next 100 Years Review

    I’ve recently finished reading “The Next 100 Years” by George Friedman. This is another geopolitics-for-the-masses book, after Prisoners Of Geography, and I actually read them back to back. It was perhaps too much and some themes repeated themselves. But I guess it’s good for better remembering these things. Nevertheless, this was an interesting read.

  • Prisoners Of Geography Review

    I’ve just finished reading “Prisoners Of Geography - Ten Maps That Tell You Everything You Need To Know About Global Politics”. The title is a bit long, but the book isn’t and is approachable to boot. It’s an introduction into geopolitics - or how the geography of the world affects politics and the development of states. It’s follows the same vein as “Guns, Germs and Steel” or “Why Nations Fail” (my review). But where those two tried to impose a unifying theory of why the world is the way it is, this one has more modest goals, and looks at geography as one factor shaping nations today. Which is nice, because there’s no need to twist the data to fit the model.

  • Java Concurrency In Practice Review

    This is a book review for Java Concurrency In Practice, by Brian Goetz, Tim Peierls, Joshua Bloch, Joseph Bowbeer, David Holmes and Doug Lea. The author’s are a who’s who of the Java world. The tl;dr is that this is a very good book and you should go out and read it[1]. I didn’t have that much experience with modern concurrent programming, past basic threads/processes and lock-based concurrency, and I feel much better informed and prepared after reading this book.

  • Why Nations Fail Review

    This is a book review for Why Nations Fail? by Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson. The tl;dr is that this is a good book and an easy read and you should go out and read it.

  • Designing Data Intensive Applications Review

    This is a book review for Designing Data-Intensive Applications, by Martin Kleppmann. The tl;dr is that this is a very good book and you should go out and read it. It’s the kind of book where you can genuinely feel a better developer at the end of it than at the start.

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