< expLog

Books I read in 2017

I've been fairly remiss in updating my book list this year: as I filled in the comprehensive book list I decided to review my favourites. I read 70-odd books this year, which is a bit disappointing; but I've been reading many more technical books, and there are a lot of half-finished ones I haven't listed here.

My favourite series this year was The Laundry Files by Charles Stross; simultaneously mixing office humour, jokes aimed at programmers and a lot of the Cthulhu mythos. I've read a lot of books by Stross, and for some reason I'd managed to skip this series completely.

“…You heard of Alan Turing? The father of programming?” “Didn’t he work for John Carmack?” – The Jennifer Morgue, Laundry Files Book 2

On the programming front, the most readable book was probably Linux Kernel Development which was interesting, well written and not overwhelming. Deep C Secrets won the award for the most puns, being very useful and frequently making me laugh. Java Concurrency In Practice was the most useful given what I work on, and is a book I'd strongly recommend to anyone working on Java — it clarified several concurrency fundamentals.

Given my burgeoning interest in photography, it's inevitable for a few photography books to find their way in here: my favourite was The Photographer's Eye; closely followed by Magnum Contact Sheets which show several amazing photographs by Magnum photographers, with descriptions and photographs they took before and after the photograph they chose. I'm slowly coming to appreciate the importance of intent in a photograph. Ansel Adams' autobiography was fascinating, giving an insight into what the life of a master photographer can look like.

Finally, and somewhat uncharacteristically for me, I also really enjoyed reading something of History: Indian Summer covers a fascinating period of Indian history in detail — our independence — and all the entailed from the perspectives of several key figures in history. This was eminently readable and very satisfying.

I'll round this post off with books that helped adjust how I think: Boyd: The fighter pilot who changed the art of war — the biography of the military theorist and fighter pilot who defined the OODA loop; and Thinking in Systems by Donella Meadows. (I need to revisit both of these topics much more carefully).

I'm currently (in 2018) catching up with the books listed in Gates Notes, starting with Black Flags.