As a mid-career professional with a computer science, physics, and engineering background, my love for learning and personal growth extends beyond my profession. Reading has always allowed me to explore new ideas, perspectives, and concepts. In this blog post, I’ll share my thoughts on many books I’ve recently read, covering topics such as politics, economics, personal development, and more. Each book has left a unique impression on me, and I hope my insights will inspire you to pick up one (or more) of these titles.
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- Animal Farm by George Orwell
George Orwell’s classic allegory, Animal Farm, is a cautionary tale about the pitfalls of power and corruption. I found the storyline fascinating, particularly how the animals’ initial goals of creating an equal society quickly deteriorated due to poor leadership. The book serves as a reminder that unchecked power can lead to disastrous consequences, even with the best intentions.
- Basic Economics by Thomas Sowell
Thomas Sowell’s Basic Economics is an accessible and straightforward guide to understanding the principles of economics. Sowell uses real-world examples to highlight the impact of economic forces on our everyday lives. I appreciated the clear explanations and data-driven approach, which allowed me to grasp complex concepts more quickly. This book is a must-read for anyone interested in understanding how economics shapes the world around us.
- Can’t Hurt Me: Master Your Mind and Defy the Odds by David Goggins
David Goggins’ memoir and self-help book, Can’t Hurt Me, is a powerful story of overcoming adversity and pushing personal boundaries. I related to Goggins’ relentless pursuit of excellence and his ability to achieve remarkable feats despite numerous obstacles. The book is inspiring and motivational, encouraging readers to challenge themselves and strive for greatness in all aspects of life.
- Clean Code: A Handbook of Agile Software Craftsmanship by Robert C. Martin
Clean Code, by Robert C. Martin, is a game-changer for anyone looking to improve their programming skills. The book emphasizes agile development and maintainable code, which resonated with my engineering background. By implementing Martin’s suggestions, I’ve noticed a significant improvement in the efficiency and readability of my work. Clean Code is an essential read for software developers at any level.
- Designing Data-Intensive Applications: The Big Ideas Behind Reliable, Scalable, and Maintainable Systems by Martin Kleppmann
In Designing Data-Intensive Applications, Martin Kleppmann provides a comprehensive guide to understanding the complexities of modern data systems. I found the book invaluable for learning how to design reliable, scalable, and maintainable systems. Kleppmann’s practical insights and real-world examples make this book an essential resource for anyone working with data-intensive applications.
- Easy Spanish Step-By-Step by Barbara Bregstein
Barbara Bregstein’s Easy Spanish Step-By-Step is an enjoyable and effective method for learning Spanish. The book’s step-by-step exercises and examples allowed me to build my vocabulary and improve my grammar skills. I appreciated the systematic approach to language learning, making the process more manageable and enjoyable.
- The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin by Benjamin Franklin
The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin offers an entertaining and enlightening account of one of the United States Founding Fathers. I admired Franklin’s ingenuity, curiosity, and dedication to innovation. His accomplishments as a statesman, scientist, and inventor serve as a reminder that continuous learning and exploration can lead to incredible achievements.
- The Bogleheads Guide to Investing by Mel Lindauer, Taylor Larimore, and Michael LeBoeuf
The Bogleheads’ Guide to Investing is a solid foundation for understanding the stock market and investment strategies. Based on the principles of John Bogle, founder of the Vanguard Group, the book offers a straightforward, data-driven approach to investing. As someone with an engineering background, I appreciated the logical and systematic methods presented, which helped to demystify the world of finance and make investing more accessible.
- The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark by Carl Sagan
Carl Sagan’s The Demon-Haunted World is a passionate defense of critical thinking and scientific skepticism. The book emphasizes the need for scientific literacy and rational thought in a world where pseudoscience and superstition often sway. I found Sagan’s call for a more scientifically literate society both timely and essential, reminding me of the value of skepticism and rational inquiry in all aspects of life.
- The Denial of Death by Ernest Becker
Ernest Becker’s The Denial of Death is a thought-provoking exploration of human mortality. The book delves into the philosophical and psychological perspectives on how we cope with the inevitability of death. I appreciated the interdisciplinary approach to understanding our relationship with mortality, providing a unique lens through which to view the human experience.
- The Limits of Power: The End of American Exceptionalism (American Empire Project) by Andrew Bacevich
Andrew Bacevich’s The Limits of Power critiques US foreign policy, arguing that it has led to overreach, excessive militarism, and a loss of respect for democratic values at home and abroad. While not directly related to STEM, the book offers a fascinating perspective on the broader implications of political power and influence. Bacevich’s analysis is eye-opening and compelling, prompting me to consider the role of American exceptionalism in shaping global politics.
- The Path to Power: The Years of Lyndon Johnson I by Robert A. Caro
In The Path to Power, the first volume in a biography of former US President Lyndon B. Johnson, Robert A. Caro provides an engaging portrait of LBJ’s early life and political career in Texas. As an engineer, I enjoyed learning about the political machinations and behind-the-scenes maneuvering that shaped Johnson’s leadership style. Caro’s meticulous research and vivid storytelling make this biography a captivating read.
- The Phoenix Project: A Novel about IT, DevOps, and Helping Your Business Win by Gene Kim, Kevin Behr, and George Spafford
The Phoenix Project is an enjoyable and relatable novel for anyone in IT or software development. The book tells the story of a fictional company’s struggles to implement DevOps practices and transform its IT operations. As an engineer, I appreciated the story’s practical lessons and insights, shedding light on the challenges and benefits of adopting DevOps methodologies.
- The Practice of Enterprise Architecture: A Modern Approach to Business and IT Alignment by Svyatoslav Kotusev
In The Practice of Enterprise Architecture, Svyatoslav Kotusev offers a guide to aligning IT systems and strategies with overall business goals. I found this book valuable for understanding how to create more effective and efficient organizations through the discipline of enterprise architecture. Kotusev’s practical suggestions and real-world examples make this book an essential resource for IT professionals and business leaders.
- The Principles of Product Development Flow: Second Generation Lean Product Development by Donald G. Reinertsen
Donald G. Reinertsen’s The Principles of Product Development Flow guides lean product development, emphasizing speed, efficiency, and continuous improvement in developing new products. I found the book essential for refining my engineering practices and understanding how to optimize product development processes. Reinertsen’s approach, which combines lean principles with practical insights, resonated with my engineering mindset and significantly impacted my product development approach.
- The Surprising Science of Meetings: How You Can Lead Your Team to Peak Performance by Steven G. Rogelberg
Steven G. Rogelberg’s The Surprising Science of Meetings provides valuable insights into the psychology and sociology of meetings, offering practical suggestions for making them more productive, engaging, and effective. I appreciated the data-driven approach to understanding how meetings can be improved to foster better communication and teamwork. This book is a must-read for anyone looking to enhance team performance and maximize their meeting time.
- The Unicorn Project: A Novel about Developers, Digital Disruption, and Thriving in the Age of Data by Gene Kim
The Unicorn Project, another novel by Gene Kim, explores modern software development and data management challenges within a fictional company’s efforts to modernize its practices. I found the lessons on digital disruption, data management, and adapting to technological change highly relevant and valuable; although, I liked the Phoenix Project more, and think there is a lot of duplicative information in his book. The story is engaging and insightful, offering practical advice for tech professionals navigating today’s rapidly evolving landscape.
In this blog post, I’ve shared my personal insights and experiences with books that have inspired and challenged me. I hope these reviews encourage you to explore these titles and expand your own horizons. From politics and economics to personal development and technology, these books offer a wealth of knowledge and inspiration for professionals in any field. Happy reading!