Different books give me different things, so it’s hard to rank them. But here are a few books that stand out from this year’s reading list.

  • The Stormlight Archive books 1 and 2 by Brandon Sanderson: The Way of Kings and Words of Radiance. I read seven Brandon Sanderson books in 2015, so it’s fair to say I enjoy his writing. This is set to be a 10-book epic fantasy series in the vein of The Wheel of Time, which Sanderson finished with aplomb. I hate having to wait so long to reach the conclusion, but I’m prepared to do so because the first two were so good.

  • Trust Me, I’m Lying by Ryan Holiday. The media is bullshit—read this book if you don’t believe me. Ryan Holiday talks candidly about the tricks he and so many others use to generate traffic.

  • So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed by Jon Ronson. Between this and Trust Me, I’m Lying I was really sad about the state of media and the rise of outrage porn. Real lives are ruined and only the media wins.

  • The Art of Asking by Amanda Palmer. Another book with ties to shame and acceptance. Amanda Palmer has a confessional style that is really disarming. People have been really mean to her, so her message of love and empathy is that much more amazing.

  • Radical Acceptance by Tara Brach. A breath of fresh air among the negativity in some of my other notable reads from the year. Reading this book made me feel better about myself.

  • Contagious by Jonah Berger. Contagious sheds light on why some things are shared and others aren’t, which was particularly interesting in the context of shame and media manipulation.

  • Things to shout out loud at parties. by Markus Almond. I love the style of this book. It’s a collection of no-more-than-one-page stories and thoughts so it’s very approachable. I think everyone should aim to write a similar book.

  • Jesus’ Son by Denis Johnson. Another book with a unique style. This one is a collection of stories about a junkie stumbling through life where the writing is as stark and jumpy as you’d expect from a junkie.

  • Becoming a Technical Leader by Gerald Weinberg. This book is unlike any other ‘how to be a leader’ book that I’ve read. It’s full of great ideas like, ‘maybe poor personal hygiene is about poor self-confidence so be mindful when offering advice’ and Satir’s interaction model. I highly recommend it for anyone who is becoming a technical leader.

  • The Phoenix Project by Gene Kim, Kevin Behr, and George Spafford. A modern version of The Goal, which helped reinforce past learnings about project management and software deployments.

I hope 2015 treated you well! I look forward to a similarly stimulating 2016.

Archive of notes from 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.

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