Summary of My 2017 Readings

02 Jan 2018

2017 was a good year for me in terms of reading as I managed to read 12 books in total, meanwhile learning German, listening to engineering podcasts, attending two conferences and taking several courses online. Without further ado, here is the list of books I read and my own summaries of them:

  • The Obstacle is the Way. “The impediment to action advances action. What stands in the way, becomes the way.” This book is a good and informal introduction to the philosophy of Stoicism explained through examples of people who turned challenges into triumphs. The stories are taken from Human History.
  • The Daily Stoic. A daily reader book of Stoic meditations taken from several books, such as: the Meditations of Marcus Aureilius, Enchiridion of Epictitus, Letters of Seneca and many others. It’s a mind opening activity to start your morning with a contemplation on a Stoic meditation.
  • Man’s Search for Meaning. Enlightening book about Logotherapy, the meaning of life and the personal experiences of Viktor Frankl, the author, in suviving four concentration camps during the second World War.
  • Siddhartha. The story of a man who goes on a journey in search for himself. The novel is beautifully written and bears a lot of references to Buddhism and to the personal life of Gautama Buddha.
  • The Personal MBA. The best business book I have ever read which packs a lot of information and lessons in one volume. I like how the book dissects the various business topics such as: Finance, Marketing, Sales, Value Creation & Delivery and Management into smaller digestable chunks which serve as mental models. After reading the book cover to cover, you can refer back to specific mental models for reviewal and the book would serve as a reference.
  • The Effective Engineer. “To solve problems right is efficiency, to solve the right problem is effectiveness.”, this book defines what effectiveness is for engineers and aids them in adopting a mindset towards increasing impact. The book packs a lot of lessons and engineering war stories.
  • The Lean Startup. How to build the things that are needed, and how to know that they are needed in the first place. This is definitely a great book that every engineer should read. After finishing the book, I couldn’t see how problems can be solved otherwise. I also like how the book established the term: “Innovation Management”, in addition to applying the Scientific Methodology of research and discovery to building products and businesses.
  • Certain to Win. A book about applying the doctrine of maneuver warfare to business development. This book is one of the inspirations behind “The Lean Startup” book, whose feedback loop of “Build, Measure, Learn” is based on Boyd’s decision making model: the OODA Loop. A very recommended read.
  • Managing Humans. A book about engineering management as written by a software developer who made it through the ladder of leadership. I personally like the Rands in Response blog, on which this book is based. A light and entertaining read. I liked it.
  • Left of Bang. How to, methodically, improve your situational awareness and stay out of trouble. I especially like this book because it deployed the scientific method correctly with regards to situational awareness. The book describes six macro dimensions when analysing the surroundings in addition to going even deeper by explaining the various clusters of body language that would aid you in establishing a baseline of behavior wherever you go. A very recommended reading.
  • Naive Set Theory. I always wanted to read this book to supplement my studies of Formal Logic which I began a couple of years ago. I like this book because of its simple language, short explanations and length (~100 pages). My favorite concise introduction to Set Theory so far.
  • Introducing Go. I wanted to explore the land of Golang, but I didn’t want to read huge volumes and so I picked this very short book up (~100 pages) which served as an elaborate tutorial with cool exercises. I would say this book gave me a taste of Golang and I liked it. Off to bigger books now!