The books I read in 2021

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

A year ago I expected to read few books in 2021 and I definitely have “achieved” that for the same reasons as I did the last time. I read exactly as few books as in 2020 and even though I had only two reading goals for 2021, I managed to fail both.

I read one fiction book and it wasn’t a great match. Enough people I like with more clout recommend Niven’s book that there’s little harm in me not joining. If we are friends, then it’s probably not for you either (but I could be wrong).

The other three I read for work and I would recommend each of them highly to those interested in their topics. That is especially true for Inclusive Components which would get its own post if I trusted myself to find time writing it. Every web frontend engineer should read and think about it, but I would also recommend it to everyone who works with them or needs to consider web UI.

The list:

  • Kill Your Friends by John Niven. Rare books can stand the test of time and current personal mood. This is not such book, but I suspect I would enjoy it and its humour more if I read it when it came out. Last two years especially did not cultivate in me an appetite for despicable psychopaths without any redeeming qualities.
  • The Manager's Path by Camille Fournier. A concise introduction to engineering management ladder, from tech lead to CTO with lots of helpful advice for each role. A useful read both for those who want to learn about expectations of each role when considering their career choices as those who already perform them and might need some friendly advice.
  • Inclusive Components by Heydon Pickering. I bought a printed version of this book because I expected it to have a lasting value and it does. Some small bits have been obsoleted, there are parts I disagree with and I find the chapter about tables weak compared to others, but it's a fantastic book, a goldmine of insights, techniques and genuinely thought provoking ideas.
  • High Output Management by Andrew S. Grove. When reading early chapters I didn't understand why it is so highly regarded, but I changed my mind before half way through. It reads as a textbook from a practitioner, building on concepts and ideas from earlier chapters, focusing on building a mental framework to use instead of tips for specific problems. Still relevant after decades in "print".

The circumstances and reasons that led to my abysmal reading record of last two years have not really changed, but my outlook has. I feel more thirsty for reading than I’ve felt in a long time and double digit number of books read does not feel unachievable. Of course, aiming for a healthy split between fiction and non-fiction. The list itself is hazy, but I want to read one of the earlier Pratchett’s and god willing, I’ll try not to read any books on management.

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