Sunday, January 01, 2012

The books I read in 2011


Pragmatic Thinking and Learning: Refactor Your Wetware, Andy Hunt read march
Probably one of the few books I can attribute a habit to; to write in the morning, either on this blog or my diary. It explains our brain and learning process in programming and computer terminology. For me in evoked a new appetite for learning, and made me aware that I really need to change some of my habits, and create some new ones to manage to stay focused. Also the first mention of "The black Swan" and the Dreyfus learning model.
"Se it, do it, teach it".

Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business,  Neil Postman, March
An analysis of how TV changed our society in one generation. My review here : "Visual stimulation is a substitute for thought".

Steve Jobs, Walter Isaacson, read December
Defenatly an inspiring and good read for all of us that are fascinated by Apple and their products.
In addition to getting a feel for how Silicon Valley was in the 1980´s and the story of Next and Apple I found the Pixar story very interesting. Without Steve Jobs we would probably not have had Toy Story and all the other wonderful films that came out of Pixar that was finally bought by Walt Disney Company.

The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains, Nicholas Carr, April
In many ways a natural follow up to Amusing ourself to death. An analysis of how internet shapes our thinking - or even worse - how internet makes our thinking shallow.

"More information but less knowledge"

Is internet and Google making us stupid ? This is the quite scary possibility that Nicholas Carr explores, with great insight. For me, the book was an eye-opener.


Don't Make Me Think: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability, Steve Krug, May
Steve Krug is an expert in usability and this book is an easy to understand first read for anybody that own or design a website. It explains why its so important to guide our brains with clear labels, consistent navigations etc. Full of real-life examples from well tuned websites like Amazon to other not so successful web sites.

Presentation Zen: Simple Ideas on Presentation Design and Delivery, Garr Reynolds, May
Fed up with your own presentations and powerpoints that never look the way you want ?
This book inspired me to change and learned my a lot of simple ideas that really makes a difference. There is definitely a before and after this book in my presentations. It also was the first recommendation I read for the book The Art of Possibility: Transforming Professional and Personal Life by the conductor Ben Zander

The Leopard: A Harry Hole Novel, Jo Nesbo , July
Joe Nesbo at his best. In this book he puts Harry Hole in situations that you just simply cannot find logical ways to escape. Yet he does. You cannot leave the book once you started

Mindstorms: Children, Computers, And Powerful Ideas, Seymour A. Papert October
A classic that also gave its name to the popular programmable Lego robots. Read my review here.

Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap... and Others Don't, Jim Collins, Sept
Great book based on in-depth research and analysis. Read my review here

Onward: How Starbucks Fought for Its Life without Losing Its Soul, Howard Schultz, May
The really fascinating and educating story of how the Starbucks founder returned as a CEO and turned the company back to its roots.

Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, Daniel H. Pink, Sept
A book that changed my perspectives. As the title indicates, many surprising stories about human motivation, based on research and knowledge that never found its way into business. Our current business operating system (motivation 2.0)- built around external, carrot-and-stick motivators–doesn’t work and often does harm. Daniel Pink suggest and upgrade to Motivation 3.0 that is based on intrinsic motivation with the pillars of 1. Autonomy – the desire to direct our own lives. 2. Mastery — the urge to get better and better at something that matters. 3. Purpose — the yearning to do what we do in the service of something larger than ourselves. And If you don´t want to read the book - at least watch this great animated video from RCA.

"The problem with making an extrinsic reward for the only destination that matters is that some people will chose the quickest route, even if it means taking the low road."

"Pay your son to take out the trash and you have pretty much guaranteed the kid will never do it again for free."

Six Thinking Hats, Edward de Bono, October
Ever had the feeling of having your ideas being knocked down immediately in your first attempt to present it to a group ? This is a simple way to avoid such communication. Parallel Thinking is an Alternative to Argument. A simple and fascinating method for conducting parallel thinking by using imaginary hats corresponding to six different modes of thinking.  Each thinker puts forward his or her thoughts in parallel with the thoughts of others, rather than attacking the thoughts of others.

Business Model Generation: A Handbook for Visionaries, Game Changers, and Challengers, Alexander Osterwalder, November
The new visual language of Business Models,  full of real-life examples. A must-have for both entrepreneurs and anyone with a slight interest in Business Models.

The Island, Victoria Hislop, June
A novel about the not so distant history of how life was for those diagnosed with leprosy. A touching story about women  separated from their family in a leper colony at the greek island Spinalonga.

The North-West Passage: Being the Record of a Voyage of Exploration of the Ship Gjoa, 1903-1907, Roald Amundsen,  June
The perfect book to read at sea. It is hard to grasp what kind of courage that these guys really had; staying two winters in the Arctic to complete the first trip through the North-West passage. Amundsen describes the life of the Eskimos with the mind of an anthropologist. They also conducted research collecting observations related to the magnetic north-pole.

Three in Norway: By Two of Them, J.A. Lees, W.J. Clutterbuck ,  July
I found the original, more than 100 years old, print of this book in the attic - a left over from my grandparents. This  is an extremely witty, poetic and well written travel diary about three friends (british) who spend a summer in Jotunheimen, Norway. Their reports and reflections of daily life constituted by fishing, canoeing. hunting, hiking and cooking is full on anecdotes and takes you into the spirits of these times. A classic that has been reprinted many many times.

Juliet, Naked: a novel,  Nick Hornby, August
A funny and entertaining novel in classic Nick Hornby style about a guy with very few interests in life. One being an songwriter whose career ended many years ago.

Lean Software Development: An Agile Toolkit, Mary Poppendieck, March
The primary textbook on how to apply the principles from Toyota Production System (later termed Lean) on Software development. I had the pleasure of attaining a lecture with Mary Poppendieck many year ago and she is great. She has worked with Google, Dell and many of the big companies to help them develop faster. See her great talk "Competing on the basis of speed"

Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity, David Allen, november
I guess this book has become somewhat a bible in personal productivity. Although very useful with techniques and principles that I use everyday, I feel the book is slightly outdated with its references to filing cabinets and pen and paper based systems. If you think this is a quick fix to get rid of your stress you might be disappointed. Se my blog post on "Todo or not todo is that the real question ?"

The Inner Game of Tennis: The Classic Guide to the Mental Side of Peak Performance, W. Timothy Gallwey,  July
Although I never been a Tennis player nor intend to be so, this classic book outlines ideas that can been applied to mastering any sport or skill. Its basically Zen applied to learning. Great book that have spun of a whole series of  books on Golf, Skiing work, stress etc. Just search Amazon for "the inner game"

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