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.