What I Read in 2020

I’ve done this before (in 2016), I always think it’s a great idea to round out the year by summarising what I’ve read and learned. It’s far better than a quick check in GoodReads or The Story Graph!

The Phoenix Project

The Phoenix Project by Gene Kim

I try to read The Phoenix Project every year because it’s such a fundamental book for IT management.

What am I Going To Take Away? Every reread I pick up on something different. This year I’m going to try to model the workstations in a software development team.

The Unicorn Project

The Unicorn Project by Gene Kim

I had little doubt that I was going to enjoy any follow up to The Phoenix Project and The Unicorn Project didn’t dissapoint. It has to sit on that list of Must Read books for IT professionals.

What Am I Going To Take Away? The value of proper documentation and onboarding and the importance of end to end testing of an entire system.

When

When by Daniel H. Pink

I’ve always enjoyed Dan Pink’s books, Drive is a classic everyone should read. I didn’t think When was quite as strong but there’s lots of interesting stuff going on.

What Am I Going To Take Away? Are there optimum times of day to run certain scrum ceremonies?

The Mark of Calth

Mark of Calth by L.J. Goulding

A set of short stories set on Calth following the World Eaters betrayal of the Ultramarines during the Horus Heresy. I’m not usually a fan of the short story books but this one had some decent stories.

The Temp

The Temp by Steve Nelson

Some easy listening while we were going through the start of lockdown, a hapless temp who signs up for a whole set of weird jobs.

Unification (short story)

Unification by Chris Wraight

I don’t think I even remember this one. Something to do with a Death Guard warrior from the Horus Heresy to the “present day” in the 41st millenium perhaps?

Plague War

Plague War by Guy Haley

The continuation of the story from Dark Imperium. Ultramarines battle against the Death Guard.

Intelligent Design

Intelligent Design by David Spicer

A fun if fairly predicable story about AI taking over the world.

On Writing Well

On Writing Well by William Zinsser

Quite an interesting book about writing but, ironically, a little dry in places – especially when a section wasn’t something you were likely to find much use for (sports reporting in my case). Good examples of simplifying language.

The Solar War

The Solar War by John  French

I’ve been working through the Horus Heresy series but this was my first foray into the conclusion, The Siege of Terra – I’ll definitely read the others!

The Little Book of Ikigai

The Little Book of Ikigai by Ken Mogi

Less of a book about finding happiness and contentment and more about accepting the status quo in between lots of interesting facts about Japanese culture. Interesting but wasn’t a game changer for me.

Building Communities of Practice

Building Successful Communities of Practice by Emily Webber

Really interesting short read about taking a structured approach to building Communities of Practice. Maybe a little idealistic.

What Did I Take Away? Using a maturity model to slowly build and measure a community’s sustainability rather than going about it in a haphazard manner.

The Man With the Golden Gun

The Man With the Golden Gun by Ian Fleming

Classic Bond, very very dated in terms of his views about women, Russia, and pretty much anything. But still good fun.

Team Topologies

Team Topologies by Matthew    Skelton

Game changing. Proper strategies for organising teams and understanding how they communicate between them. Highly recommended.

What Did I Take Away? Consider architectural goals when designing team structure andbe aware of cognative load on teams. Consider the use of platform teams to provide platforms for product teams to consume.

Scientific Secrets for a Powerful Memory

Scientific Secrets for a Powerful Memory by Peter M. Vishton

Interesting book about human memory. Teaches and explains some of the memory hacks used by memory champions.

I Am Slaughter

I Am Slaughter by Dan Abnett

Despite having one of my favourite space marine chapters (the Imperial Fists) in it I didn’t really get to grips with this one. It’s the start of a long series and I’m not convinced I’ll pursue it. Maybe it was because I was having a rough few days while I was reading it and didn’t really give it a fair chance?

Insanely Gifted

Insanely Gifted by Jamie Catto

It’s ok to embrace you’re weird. Actually some good advice about embracing your deamons (not demons) and the fact that it’s rarely what people have said but you’re own baggage which drives your reaction. Some good stuff, if a little self help style – got me meditating though which can’t be a bad thing.

Spear of the Emperor

Spear of the Emperor by Aaron Dembski-Bowden

I wasn’t sure whether I’d do this but I really did. I loved that it was told from a mortal woman’s perspective as opposed to a space marine’s. Only problem is now I want to buy and paint even more models just so I can paint them in a slightly different shade of blue…

Getting Things Done

Getting Things Done by David    Allen

Really good book (see my review). I’d never really considered personal organisation as something you had to learn and develop. More as something which you should just know…

What Did I Take Away? Being organised doesn’t happen by chance. Develop a system and constantly challenge it. Get your commitments out of your head and onto paper.

The Advantage

The Advantage by Patrick Lencioni

I picked this up in an airport spotting it was by Patrick Lencioni (of 5 Dysfunctions fame). I have to admit I wasn’t blown away. After a repeat of everything in 5 Dysfunctions it all got quite woolly and repetitive.

What Did I Take Away? Try to define the team values before hiring anyone into it.

Understanding Non-Verbal Communication

Understanding Nonverbal Communication by Mark G. Frank

Everyone wants to know about non-verbal communication because they want to be able to tell when people are lying. In reality this course was so much more! Enjoyed listening about personal space and dominant/submissive posture.

What Did I Take Away? Consider my non verbal communication when delivering messages. Everything from where I’m sat to what I’m wearing plays a part in the communication.

Routine Machine

I was really impressed with this, I wasn’t 100% convinced when I bought it but it was on a £3 sale at Audible so I was willing to give it a go. I’m really glad I did. John is obviously obviously a director and investor in many many businesses – I’m not, but I do like a good routine and there was lots in here to like.

What Did I Take Away? Quite a bit actually! We’re the sum of our routines not our individual one of actions. Tracking and improving routines and handing them our internal computer leaving our mind decision free is a powerful thing. I also REALLY like the idea of tracking your routines and keeping an eye on the averages. A highly recommended book this one. Oh, and actually reflecting and implementing thigns from books instead of just reading them. So expect more book review posts next year.

A total of 22 books – considering the year we’ve all had I don’t think that’s bad!

Photo by Eduardo Braga on Pexels.com

Next year I want to do a lot more book reviews, not especially for you but for me. It’s not enough to just consume pages. I need to take something away and implement change from the best ones.

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