Monthly Archives: December 2019

What I Read, Normally

I admit that I rarely read professionally any more… maybe one or two books a year.  Honestly, the books in the business genre mostly just started sounding repetitive and/or derivative and/or silly.

So instead, I’ll share some more personal reading choices:
For the last five years I’ve been relearning and expanding my learning about mathematics, mostly in number theory and algebra.  I admit that although starting all these books quite some time ago, I haven’t been able to finish any of them yet.  They are extremely challenging but I find myself grinning or laughing out loud sometimes at the beauty of mathematics.

  • “Abstract Algebra” by Dummit and Foote
  • “Elliptic Tales: Curves, Counting and Number Theory” by Ash and Gross
  • “Proofs from THE BOOK” by Aigner, Ziegler, et. al.

Since I was about 12 or 13 years old I’ve been an avid reader of science fiction and fantasy.  My three favorite authors of all time in these genres are Robin Hobb (“Assassin’s Apprentice” series), Stephen R. Donaldson (“Thomas Covenant, the Unbeliever” series) and Orson Scott Card (“Ender’s Game” series).  Recently, I’ve started browsing my local chain bookstores (Indigo/Chapters here in Canada), taking photos of interesting-looking books, and then buying them in Apple Books and reading them on my iPhone.  Here are my three recent reads that I consider good:

  • “The Rook” by Daniel O’Malley”The Hive” by Orson Scott Card
  • “The War Within” by Stephen R. Donaldson
  • “Night Without Stars” by Peter F. Hamilton
  • “The War Within” by Stephen R. Donaldson

A bit of philosophy and/or science also passes my eyes from time to time.  I particularly enjoyed these two:

  • “Mind and Cosmos” by Thomas Nagel – A critic of materialistic naturalism.
  • “The Fabric of the Cosmos” by Brian Greene – An introduction to (relatively) modern cosmology and physics.

I have done _some_ professional reading lately.  I tend to only read stuff that I hear recommended lots of times or stuff that’s likely to challenge my mindset.  I’m not normally looking for the latest and greatest, and I almost never read anything about “agile” methods anymore… it’s probably been at least 5 years since I read an “agile” industry book.

  • “Creativity, Inc.” by Ed Catmull – I’ve been a fan of Pixar since the early 1990’s when I started doing professional development for NeXTSTEP and discovered Renderman.
  • “Thinking, Fast and Slow” by Daniel Kahneman – I read this after reading a kind of biography of Kahneman and Tversky,…
  • “The Undoing Project” by Michael Lewis which brought me to sobbing tears at the end.

FWIW, I regularly re-read the Scrum Guide… not necessarily all at once, but skimming or focusing in on particular parts.  I’m often surprised at what I find.  It’s a good document in many ways, and as I teach and practice Scrum, I find an organic synthesis between the real life experience and the words written there.

Those are the four “big” categories of my reading over the last decade.  I read other types of books too, but not enough to consider them categories that I really appreciate and come back to.