Seth Holloway

More joie de vivre than savoir-vivre.

Books Read February 2015

One really long book dominated my reading this this month—I only finished two books, but they were both very good.

The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas. This book is a classic for a reason. I prefer modern books, but I decided to give Count of Monte Cristo a try, and I’m glad I did. The story was really good.

Warbound by Larry Correia. I’m really enjoying Larry Correia. He has the adventure fantasy story down. His novels are fun and well-paced with memorable characters, and they feel like the right amount of story per book. Warbound concludes the Grimnoir Chronicles, providing a fitting finish.


Books Read January 2015

Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson. A solid fantasty novel with an interesting magic system. In Mistborn, a select few people are gifted with the ability to burn a metal internally granting them abilities like improved strength or improved hearing. The elevated ability lasts as long as the metal remains with the metal burning in proportion to the power you demand of it. An even smaller group can burn all metals. I liked it a lot.

The Art of Conflict Management by Michael Dues. I now think that conflict management is the most important skill a person can have. I wish this stuff was taught in school! It was very helpful for me to learn the basics, which provided me with a framework for understanding conflict (“discomforting differences”).

Finding Your Element by Sir Ken Robinson. Ken Robinson had a great tech talk, so I thought I’d like the book. It was good, but not really what I need. I’d recommend the book to young people who are floundering as they embark on adulthood or middle-aged people struggling to understand where they fit into the scheme of things.

No More Mr. Nice Guy by Robert Glover. I don’t know how to feel about this book. I think it has a lot of really good information for nice guys who are unfulfilled; however, it raises some questions regarding masculinity and being kind but firm. Some of the positive points: men should spend time with other men, people should stand up for themselves and they should get what they want, and couples should evenly divide work.


Books Read in 2015

Here’s a recap of the books I read in 2015. They’re roughly categorized as fiction followed by non-fiction.

Fiction

Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson.

The Well of Ascension by Brandon Sanderson.

The Hero of Ages by Brandon Sanderson.

Mitosis by Brandon Sanderson.

The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson.

Words of Radiance by Brandon Sanderson.

Off to Be the Wizard by Scott Meyer.

Spell or High Water by Scott Meyer.

An Unwelcome Quest by Scott Meyer.

Assassin’s Apprentice by Robin Hobb.

The Blade Itself by Joe Abercrombie.

Hexed by Kevin Hearne.

Under Heaven by Guy Gavriel Kay.

14 by Peter Clines.

Hunters Unlucky by Abigail Hilton.

11-22-63 by Stephen King.

The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas.

The Chimes by Charles Dickens.

The Snow Queen by Hans Christian Andersen.

Warbound by Larry Correia.

Anathem by Neal Stephenson.

Things to shout out loud at parties. by Markus Almond.

Jesus’ Son by Denis Johnson.

Elantris by Brandon Sanderson.

Non-fiction

The Art of Conflict Management by Michael Dues.

Finding Your Element by Sir Ken Robinson.

No More Mr. Nice Guy by Robert Glover.

How to Fail At Almost Everything and Still Win Big by Scott Adams.

21 Great Ways to Manage Your Time and Double Your Productivity by Brian Tracy.

Choose Yourself by James Altucher.

The Choose Yourself Guide to Wealth by James Altucher.

Practicing the Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle.

The Obstacle is the Way by Ryan Holiday.

I Will Teach You to Be Rich by Ramit Sethi.

The $100 Startup by Chris Guillebeau.

Trust Me, I’m Lying by Ryan Holiday.

Becoming a Technical Leader by Gerald Weinberg.

The Phoenix Project by Gene Kim, Kevin Behr, and George Spafford.

Radical Acceptance by Tara Brach.

The Charisma Myth by Olivia Fox Cabane.

So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed by Jon Ronson.

Contagious by Jonah Berger.

Waking Up by Sam Harris.

Growth Hacker Marketing by Ryan Holiday.

The Art of Asking by Amanda Palmer.

The Willpower Instinct by Kelly McGonigal.

From Transgender to Transhuman by Martine Goldblatt.

To blog or to Goodreads

I haven’t decided how I prefer to track what I’ve read. You can see my attempt at using Goodreads here.


Books Read December 2014

It was a busy month for reading. Lots of good stuff!

Dracula Chronicles: Son of the Dragon by Victor Foia. An interesting retelling of the life of Dracula. This book, the first of three, tracks Dracula in his teenage years as he makes his first kill. The book was really good, but I was looking for more fantasy.

Spellbound by Larry Correia. Correia has the fantasy adventure story down. Very entertaining. I look forward to finishing the series (Grimnoir Chronicles) soon.

Alas, Babylon by Pat Frank. A slice of life in the alternate reality where the cold war ended with nuclear war. I could see this book as the precursor to The Road by McCarthy. I liked it.

At the Mountains of Madness by H.P. Lovecraft. Beware the elder things buried in Antarctica.

How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big by Scott Adams. Scott Adams is the creator of the workplace comic, Dilbert. In this book Adams lays out his lessons on life. Some of the high points: eat well, exercise, get into a routine, optimize your personal energy, learn as many different skills as you can (because success is likely to come from some combination of your skills), and passion is just a fancy way for successful people to say they got lucky. I really liked the book; I thought it was funny and informative, and I loved the humility with which the story was told. Where many books and life stories rewrite history and show how one success begot another, Adams instead talks about how his failures lead to success. The anecdotes were modest and on-point, which I found refreshing and brave.

Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl. A Jewish psychiatrist’s Holocaust story helps explain his world view and motivate his psychotherapy approach, Logotherapy. I appreciated that the book was honest without dwelling too much on the atrocities: rather than recounting every terrible thing that happened, Frankl picks a few key events that provide a broad understanding. Remarkably, Frankl does something constructive with his grief. In the book he mentions that Logotherapy might ask a patient why that patient does not commit suicide because the answer reveals your meaning, which you can then work with to heal. One of the most disturbing parts of the book for me was Frankl’s account of returning home to a nation that ignored the concentration camps or downplayed their significance; he writes that for many survivors life after the camp was harder than life in the camp.

Futures and Frosting by Tara Sivec. Futures and Frosting tells the story of how a single-mother is reunited with the father of her child; after a lot of confusion, the couple gets married and has another kid, then lives happily ever after. Without the humor, it would read like an angsty young adult love story.

Apprenticeship Patterns by Dave Hoover and Ade Oshineye. This was probably the most accessible technical book I’ve read. The application of pattern language to a career is really clever and worked well. As with software patterns, it’s nice to see the path.


Books Read November 2014

Leaders Eat Last by Simon Sinek. I loved this book because it resonated with my hopes for the future of business. Sinek also brought in some of my favorite psychological ideas in a way that I found inspiring—I’ve read a lot of the same research and come across the same ideas, but I had not synthesized the data into a coherent worldview. I’d boil it down to the following: short-term profit maximization is proving unsustainable even harmful for society; instead, you should treat employees as people to enjoy sustained growth.

American Gods by Neil Gaiman. Based on numerous positive reviews I was really excited to read this book; unfortunately, I didn’t care much for it. In the preface Gaiman says that the book is long and meandering, and he hit the nail on the head. I thought the main plot was pretty interesting, but the tangents did not add anything for me. At times it felt like I was reading a book for English class because I just didn’t understand the message.

The Emperor’s Blades by Brian Stavely. I liked the book, but I’m not sure I’m ready for another series just yet.

Poor Economics by Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo. An accessible summary of research about poor people worldwide. I loved the realistic approach to helping people. Some of my favorite tidbits were that people donated significantly more money when the message focused on a single, identifiable person and that when given money, poor people tend to buy more interesting food rather than more of the same (in the studies people still ate around 1200 calories but they would incorporated more meat and indulgences like tea rather than eating another 500 calories of rice).

Language A to Z by John McWhorter. Great course by the Great Courses.

Customs of the World by David Livermore. Good course by the Great Courses.


Books Read October 2014

The Road by Cormac McCarthy. A short but powerful book—I see why it was made into a movie. Turns out the apocalypse is no fun.

God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater by Kurt Vonnegut. I’m ashamed to admit that this is my first Vonnegut book. I’ve broken the seal, and I enjoyed it. The book has a socialist bent, so I’d love to hear what a strong capitalist thought of this book.

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. I finished this before seeing the movie. My overall reaction is, “wow.” I didn’t like it, then liked it, then loved it, then didn’t like it. It was original and well written, for what that’s worth.

The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni. I’ve now read a few Lencioni books, and I really enjoy them. I find his novel approach to business lessons is very accessible. This book says you need to first establish trust so that people will speak freely. Without trust, people cannot engage in productive arguments, so people do not buy in—they just quit arguing. Once you have trust, an open exchange of ideas, and commitment to a shared vision, you can start holding people accountable. Finally, you can focus on results. The five dysfunctions are presented as a pyramid, which highlights the need to achieve the previous level before moving up—I thought that was kind of like Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs applied to business.


Books Read September 2014

I have a lot of series started now, and I’m not sure which one I will continue next.

Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie. This book is really well written and historically important—the amount of controversy around this novel is unreal! Unfortunately, I did not care for the book. I made it through about 2/3 before I decided I’d much rather be reading something else. Fear not! I’ve read the summary so I know how it ends ;–)

The Legend of Drizzt: The Collected Stories by R.A. Salvatore. I always like Drizzt stories. This is a sequence of vignettes that is less interesting than a complete story. It fills some gaps, but also spoils entire books; I’d say you should read it after you’ve read all the other books.

Hounded: The Iron Druid Chronicles, Book One by Kevin Hearne. I found this very entertaining; I found it to be an interesting, fresh take on Druidic magic.

Storm Front (The Dresden Files, Book 1) by Jim Butcher. A couple years ago I tore through the Dresden Files series on Netflix, so this reading was a long time coming. Unsurprisingly, the book is better than the show, but I’d recommend both.

Crucial Conversations by Kerry Patterson. This is a very useful book that offers “tools for talking when the stakes are high.” Some of the biggest takeaways for me: focus on what you can do better and ‘start with heart,’ that is, be honest and heartfelt without blaming. I plan to re-read again sometime.


Books Read August 2014

Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain. I loved the insight into the restaurant industry. Bourdain is a really good writer, which complements his crass, honest style. If you want to know what the people in the kitchen are up to, read this book.

The Forbidden Tower by Marion Zimmer Bradley. Apparently this is the worst of the Darkover series, so it’s unfortunate that it is where I started. I’m not sure I’ll continue the series.

Dragonquest (Dragonriders of Pern #2) by Anne McCaffrey. Meh. I liked this book when I read it, but I don’t have overwhelmingly positive memories now.

Collected Fictions by Jorge Luis Borges. Sol Stein raved about Borges, and Borges sounded like an author worth reading. Short stories are really different for me because I normally read technical books or novels. That said, I found Borges’ stories to be interesting.

Street Smarts: An All-Purpose Tool Kit for Entrepreneurs by Norm Brodsky and Bo Burlingham. Following Lean Startup I was feeling entrepreneurial and this book looked good. It was good. Lots of good lessons. I’ve noticed that a lot of business books rely on personal anecdotes from a single success; it’s not bad, and I understand that making millions of dollars over many years would certainly teach you a lot, but it is odd when every lesson takes you back to a story from a single company.

Monster Hunter Vendetta by Larry Correia. I’ve now started two Correia series (Grimnoir and Monster Hunters), and I really like both. He writes really fun, fast-paced books that remind me of action movies. I’ll be reading more of these as soon as I clear out my queue.


Books Read July 2014

July was my most prolific month in a while because I resolved to finish three books that had been half-read for quite a while.

Practical Object Oriented Design in Ruby by Sandi Metz. This book is insanely highly rated online and came highly recommended by a friend. I agree with those positive reviews. While the examples are in Ruby, I think there’s enough generic information that everyone could learn something from this book. I really like how thorough and fair the book is in consistently describing advantages and disadvantages.

Stein on Writing by Sol Stein. I’ve now read a few books about how to write well, and this one is my favorite. Classic writing advice is to “show, don’t tell” but this is the only book with examples at how to follow through with that advice. I was inspired by numerous before and after examples.

On Writing by Stephen King. Stephen King is such a good writer! There are a lot of good lessons in the book, although I’ve read most of them elsewhere. That said, it was good to get King’s perspective on each, including show don’t tell, keep dialogue realistic, and edit relentlessly. Plus, this book led me to Stein on Writing, which had more examples.

Robin’s Laws of Good Game Mastering by Robin Law. There was a lot of good information here, but I preferred the Sly Flourish guide that I read a few months ago. There’s room for both, but Sly Flourish feels like an updated version of Robin’s Laws.

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey. A nice refresher on some things that I needed to relearn. The seven habits are (1) Be Proactive, (2) Begin with the End in Mind, (3) Put First Things First, (4) Think Win-Win, (5) Seek First to Understand, Then to be Understood, (6) Synergize, and (7) Sharpen the Saw. I think 3 and 7 resonated most with the current me. Covey conveys a refreshing message of hope through his “abundance mentality” and suggests that you live a life of integrity. Here’s to being more effective!

Rich Dad Poor Dad. Interesting ideas and well written. I respect that a rich person is willing to reveal his secrets, like incorporating to avoid paying taxes. At times it was off-putting as he sounded like a heartless asshole (for example, saying that more money won’t help people so it’s okay to pay them low wages) but it is fascinating to read how a rich person views the situation.

The Warded Man by Peter Brett. In a world where demons attack at night, the world needs a hero—and they get him. This was an entertaining fantasy tale. The first book did not feel as deep as Wheel of Time or A Song of Fire and Ice or Kingkiller Chronicles, although I expect the characters would grow into their own as the story unfolds.

Quiet by Susan Cain. Introverts are taking over the world! Quiet is a good book that tells you it is okay to not go out every night.

The Three Big Questions for a Frantic Family by Patrick Lencioni. Lencioni is a management consultant and business writer who teaches with entertaining fables. I gave this book a shot because I previously read and enjoyed The Five Temptations of a CEO, where management lessons unfold on a late-night train ride. It was a quick read that was overall worthwhile (though I would not spend $15 on it). The premise is simple: apply tried-and-true business tactics to your family and reap the rewards. Not to spoil it for you, but the three questions are (1) What makes us unique? (2) What’s our top priority right now? (3) How will we achieve our goals? Pretty easy in theory, though I suspect that answering these questions and keeping up to date with the priorities is challenging.


Announcing Swiftgive, free mobile fundraising and tipping

I’m proud to present Swiftgive.com. Swiftgive provides free, mobile-friendly money transfer. By scanning a QR code you can easily give some money.

If you’re trying to raise money, just create a fund on the site. After creating a fund, you can direct people to your fund’s webpage (which would look something like this) or buy specially coded marketing products directly from the site. All marketing products have your fund’s give code on them (basically fancy QR codes). Give codes are readable by most barcode reading apps.

Here’s an example—feel free to scan it and give us a few bucks ;–)

donate to swiftgive

My friend and Oilfield Intelligence co-founder, Ken, came up with the idea when he was rushing to the airport late one evening. He took a bus from the parking lot to the terminal and the bus driver provided excellent service, helping him with bags and even cracking jokes the entire drive. When Ken went to tip the driver, he realized he didn’t have any small bills (nobody carries cash anymore!). He had a cell phone and a debit card, but no cash. So, he did what any industrious programmer would do: he created a prototype of what tipping should look like. I joined him to help flesh out the concept and we’re now ready to pull back the curtain.

We’ve talked to musicians, valets, and friends in various fields, and the response has been positive. Anyone looking to accept money—be it tips or fundraising—can sign up and use the site for free. You can even help promote someone else’s fund.

In an alpha launch we helped transfer over $1,000, so we think the idea is helpful. We definitely hope that it is.

There are other services out there that offer mobile payments, but Swiftgive approaches the problem a little differently. Swiftgive believes that mobile tipping and fundraising should be easy and inexpensive.

Swiftgive makes it easy to get professional quality marketing products to show off your fund. Receivers don’t need a smartphone to accept money—just an email address and debit card. Also, Swiftgive uses debit cards only. Other services generally rely on credit cards—they use payment processors and pass the fees onto you. Credit card fees (usually around 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction) can eat away a substantial amount of your earnings, especially for small payments. This is the same reason any self-respecting business owner will grimace when you try to buy a pack of gum with your Visa. We’re more interested in getting money to people than to credit card processing companies.

Go forth and raise some money or tip that bus driver for great service—even if you don’t have any cash.