Mary Rose Cook's notebook

The public parts of my notebook.

My homepage.

Books I read in 2017

The Effective Engineer , Edmond Lau

Make sure you’re building the right thing. Prioritise your day. Reflect.

Universal Principles of Design , William Lidwell

Useful one-page primers on various design techniques.

The Secret of Childhood , Maria Montessori

The most interesting thing I got out of this was that children have a completely different frame of reference to the one you have.

Shoe Dog , Phil Knight

The autobiography of the founder of Nike. Though it had information in it, and a narrative, and I enjoyed reading it, the book left no real impression on me.

The Humane Interface , Jef Raskin

Treatise on some aspects of user interface design. The stuff on modes is fascinating. And the exploration of the Canon Cat is a wonderful view into a computing metaphor that is brilliantly designed, and mostly alien.

Understanding the Four Rules of Simple Design , Corey Haines

An exploration of design decisions made when implementing a small domain.

Smart & Gets Things Done , Joel Spolsky

Useful advice on hiring programmers.

The Lazy Teacher’s Handbook , Jim Smith

Constructivism says that learners have to actively make meaning. This book contains lots of activities and techniques that a teacher can use to push the work of learning back onto the learners.

The Perfect Thing , Steven Levy

Some interesting information about the process of designing the iPod. But mostly boring reflections on the iPod’s cultural effects.

Thinking in Systems , Donella H. Meadows

A useful primer on what systems theory is. I wanted more practical advice on thinking systemically.

Never Let Me Go , Kazuo Ishiguro

A waste of time.

99 Bottles of OOP , Katrina Owen and Sandi Metz

A fastidious and rigorous exploration of techniques for producing high-quality object-oriented code. I found it extremely useful.

A Life in Secrets , Sarah Helm

A history of some of the women spies dropped into France during WWII. I found the details of the operations much more interesting than finding out what happened to the agents.

Zero to One , Peter Thiel

Peter Thiel’s advice for startups. The stuff about avoiding monopoly markets was very interesting.

How to Read a Book , Mortimer J. Adler and Charles Van Doren

The material on inspectional reading, analytical reading and synoptical reading was useful. The other three-hundred pages of words were not.

Mindset , Carol S. Dweck

I got a lot out of this. I’d read about the growth mindset and the fixed mindset before, and had taken some steps to working on my own mindset. But reading lot of examples helped me go much deeper on changing my ways of thinking.

The Stand , Stephen King

A fun story, but I didn’t find it meaningful.

Troublemakers , Leslie Berlin

A history of Silicon Valley. The central thesis, that Silicon Valley is a network that relies on previous generations of entrepreneurs helping the next, is somewhat interesting, but the book is mostly a lot of what, and not much why.

Self-knowledge , author unknown

A short book about examining your life. It has several super-useful reflective techniques.

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