Books I read in 2015

  • Written by: Marko Samastur
  • Published on:
  • Category: Catchall

2015 was a year of completely missed plans and that was equally true when it came to reading. I read even fewer books than a year before, but at least I am happy with my picks. There were no complete duds and I liked almost all of them.

We bought a Kindle Voyager before our 3 months journey, but I did not read enough on it to form a definite opinion. I prefer to read programming books on tablet, but for everything else Kindle feels better. Paper still works best for me unless I want to make notes.

I have started an experiment of marking interesting parts and bookmarking them with Post-It bookmarks so I can return and transcribe them once I have finished the book. It is definitely more work than just sliding a finger across screen, but I am curious to see how this turns out.

As always unaffiliated links point to Amazon and are there only for those that are at least fine. I did not provide a link for The Trial because my copy doesn't have one and I am not familiar with any of the many available editions. Bold is reserved for those I found best: Missing Person, Poor Economics and The Arab of the Future.

  • The Trial by Franz Kafka. I expected to like this book more than I did. It didn't help that (old?) Slovenian translation sounds often very germanic and that it isn't finished. Dialog is often odd and it is unlikely you'll find brilliant stylistic passages, but it may win you over with pervasive mood of desperation, alienation and impotence (absolutely not sexual).
  • DIY Toolkit by Nesta. A good introduction on various tools and techniques NGOs can you use for better results in their work. Most of which will be familiar to UX practitioners and some of which would benefit from a deeper introduction.
  • Missing Person by Patrick Modiano. The kind of multi-layered books I would write if I had talent and more depth. A noirish pursuit of lost identity that is also an engaging exploration of self. Highly recommended.
  • Wyrd Sisters by Terry Pratchett. Started reading after I learned about Terry's death to console myself. It worked and the book lost none of its charm since I last read it.
  • Poor Economics: A Radical Rethinking of the Way to Fight Global Poverty by Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo. Absolutely fantastic book that everyone with even slight interest in international aid should read. I wish I had a copy of it with me at all times so I could throw it at anyone feeling the urge to pontificate on failings of the poor.
  • The Shepherd's Crown by Terry Pratchett. Last Discworld book, the only series I ever read. It was difficult to read about death of a character I liked for almost two decades. Terry died before he finished polishing text and it shows. It is not among his great, but it is a decent finish at a difficult time.
  • The Arab of the Future by Riad Sattouf. A controversial portrait of author's early childhood in Libya, France and Syria full of humor, humanism and barbed observations that may not be to everyone's liking. But they were to mine.
  • Debugging Teams: Better Productivity through Collaboration by Brian Fitzpatrick & Ben Collins-Sussman. Book with some useful advice that for me did not live up to its praise as I found most of it obvious or out of scope. I got really annoyed by its common use of female pronouns in negative contexts which is especially annoying in so male-dominated industry and its reliance on personal opinions where there has been ample research (e.g. open spaces).

This year will be busy, but I would still like to pick up the pace and read at least 15. Hopefully some of them will be fiction, but mostly I will read to learn and not for pleasure.

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