Between my recreational, science fiction reads, I like reading books to brush up on product and business development, software development techniques, management and leadership skills, and business strategy. Strangely enough (tongue in cheek), the emails I get from Amazon are either full of sci-fi books or business books. Therefore, I was not surprised when UX Strategy: How to Devise Innovative Digital Products that People Want by Jamie Levy showed up in my Amazon recommendations. Since I work with clients on product development strategies, as well as potential product ideas for my business, UX Strategy looked like it had a lot of potential. The strong reviews on Amazon certainly didn’t hurt its cause, so I added it to my short list of books for 2016.
Even though I have a reading list that has grown to out of control proportions of 150+ books strong, I’m always on the lookout for book recommendation sources. I have a few friends and blogs that have become trusted sources. There’s my ever present nemesis – the infamous Amazon recommendation engine. For my latest read, I decided to try a new recommendation source – Gizmodo, one of the tech blogs that I follow. One of their must reads from a while back was Pines from the Wayward Pines trilogy by Blake Crouch. Since I follow the site primarily for tech gadget news, I was a little concerned about the potential quality of their book recommendations, but I figured it was worth at least a shot.
While I was a General Manager at Vitesse Semiconductor, traveling to our office in Woodstock, VT was always an interesting adventure. The town of Woodstock is your stereotypical quaint New England town that looks like it came straight off a postcard or out of the set of a Hollywood movie. The office there was a converted ski lodge off Route 12 on the outskirts of town. It wasn’t a big building. There were 2 offices upstairs, and a meeting area, break room, and space for about 10-12 cubicles spread across 2 rooms downstairs. From one of the upstairs offices, you could see the old rope tow that took you up the slight incline that had once serviced a single run ski slope.
I’m not 100% certain how I found my latest read, The Gift by Dave Donovan. My best guess is that my old nemesis, the Amazon recommendation engine, suggested it. The description looked promising, the reviews were generally positive, so I added it to my reading list. After that, I believe it showed up as an Amazon daily deal, so I snagged a copy for my Kindle. According to my Amazon purchase history, that was back in October 2014. OK, so I let it set for almost two years before getting around to reading it. At least it finally made it to the top of my queue unlike some other books that I fear will be buried on my reading list for years to come, or possibly even decades.
Given how often management theories change and evolve, there are very few “classic” management books. High Output Management by Andrew S. Grove qualifies as one. For those who are unfamiliar with Andrew (Andy) Grove, he was one of the founders of Intel Corporation, became its CEO in 1987, and served as Chairman of the Board from 1997-2005. He was an instrumental figure in many of Intel’s business strategies, particularly the decision to change Intel’s focus from memory chips to microprocessors. In other words, Andy Grove is synonymous with Intel. Even today, a lot of the business practices, strategies, and culture of Intel are a reflection of his philosophies of building and running a successful company.
One, a robot may not injure a human being, or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
Two, a robot must obey the orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
Three, a robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Laws.
These are Isaac Asimov’s easily recognizable and famous Three Laws of Robotics as laid out in his collection of short stories – I, Robot. For science fiction aficionados, these are easily identified and, most likely, committed to memory. Unfortunately for me, I just recently learned these laws. Sure, I’d heard them paraphrased many times and referenced in numerous books, but I never knew the true context in which they were used by Asimov. Now that I know the context, the rules are even more poignant and relevant in my mind.
William Hertling is one of my favorite authors. When he sends you an email saying his latest book is available, and you have over 160 books on your reading list, what should you do? Of course, you put Kill Process at the top of it.
Kill Process is Hertling’s first book since he finished the Singularity Series last year, which is a series you must read if you haven’t already. The good news is that you don’t need to have read any of the Singularity Series books to enjoy Kill Process. Kill Process stands on its own. As Will put it in his email, with Kill Process:
I’ve returned to the present day to explore data ownership, privacy, and analysis, as well as social media, computer hacking, and the world of tech startups
The hook was very intriguing, and I was anxious to jump into his latest work.
When I’m adding books to my reading list, I do my best to keep track of where the initial recommendation came from. It helps me to prioritize my reading list. There are sources I rely on that will move a book up my reading list, and certain sources that will advance a book to the top of it. For my latest read, The Hard Thing About Hard Things by Ben Horowitz, I didn’t have a recommendation source written down. It’s not that book wasn’t recommended. It’s that it was recommended by nearly every source that I use. They all gave it good reviews, especially if you were starting up or running your own business. Needless to say, I fit that description, so I decided I should prioritize the book for my 2016 reading list.
I’m not 100% sure exactly how I came across Q by Ben Mezrich. I’m pretty sure that I first saw it via the Amazon recommendation engine. The description was enough to get it on my reading list, and then a positive review by Brad Feld moved it up onto my 2016 reading list.
Within the first few pages of the book, it’s pretty obvious that the ‘Q’ in the book stands for Quarantine. The story takes place in the near future where an aggressive, highly contagious virus is wreaking havoc. In order to prevent the spread of the disease, “infecteds” and those suspected of being infected (“probables”) are rounded up and shipped off to a remote island. The story focuses on the mental struggles of a cop on the front lines who is responsible for capturing people identified by the government.
Hugh Howey is one of my favorite authors. I’ve read three of his series – The Silo Saga (Wool, Shift and Dust), Sand, and Beacon 23. There are other series he has written, but I’ve been having a hard time getting around to reading them. As a substitute while I clear some other books from my reading list, I decided to insert a few of Howey’s short stories to hold me over until I get around to another one of his long-form series. Here’s my quick take on Glitch, Promises of London, The Box, and The Plagiarist.