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2015 Year In Review

2015 wasn't the best year for me, though 2014 wasn't exactly an easy year to top. Recovery has been tough but it's made me stronger. Nothing is impossible with my family and friends. My convictions and ambitions are stronger than ever.

Significant Events

Books I Read - Sorted by Favorites

  • Class: A Guide Through the American Status System
  • The China Mirage: The Hidden History of American Disaster in Asia
  • The Martian
  • The Soul of an Octopus: A Surprising Exploration into the Wonder of Consciousness
  • Between the World and Me
  • Fahrenheit 451
  • The Prime of Life: A History of Modern Adulthood
  • Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future
  • A Lucky Life Interrupted: A Memoir of Hope
  • Scrum
  • Station Eleven
  • Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration
  • The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
  • Street Smart: The Rise of Cities and the Fall of Cars
  • Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions
  • Astoria: John Jacob Astor and Thomas Jefferson's Lost Pacific Empire: A Story of Wealth, Ambition, and Survival
  • A Walk in the Woods
  • Einstein: His Life and Universe
  • Startup Communities: Building an Entrepreneurial Ecosystem in Your City
  • Modern Romance
  • Who Gets What — and Why: The New Economics of Matchmaking and Market Design
  • The Three-Body Problem
  • The Grace of Kings
  • The Design of Everyday Things
  • The Book Thief
  • The Next America: Boomers, Millennials, and the Looming Generational Showdown
  • The Innovator's Dilemma
  • Superintelligence: Paths, Dangers, Strategies
  • Tribal Leadership: Leveraging Natural Groups to Build a Thriving Organization

November Book Reviews

Here are the books I read in November in order of how much I liked them. You can find my entire bookshelf on Goodreads.

Class: A Guide Through the American Status System

Read this book if you want to be shocked at how much class pervades American society and how little has changed in the last 30 years. I highly recommend this book. 

This book discusses a lot of middle class insecurities that result in things like the value we attach to brands. It's definitely a controversial book, but it's deeply entertaining and informative. The conclusion of the book is to transcend class and not let class get in the way. 

More book reviews below the fold

Read More

October Book Reviews

Creativity Inc main takeaways:

  • Good ideas always take revision
  • Feedback systems with candor improve ideas
  • Postmortems are beneficial even when things go well - important for everyone to learn
  • Creativity and mistakes come hand in hand - a culture of learning from mistakes breeds creativity and improvement

Read this book if you're interested in how they made Pixar movies. Also if you lead any teams.








Scrum main takeaways

  • Effective teams are core to doing significant work
  • Prioritization and focus are key
  • "Done" needs to be defined
  • Collect feedback early
  • Regular retrospectives ensure that the team is constantly learning and improving
  • Working long hours and the ethos of busyness is counterproductive
  • Planning over a long term is hard - better to have overall vision recognizing 

Read this book if you use Scrum at work. It really explains what certain practices are for.

Street Smart main takeaways:

  • Bad commutes are psychologically stressful
  • Walking has benefits in addition to physical exercise
  • Cars create artificial worlds
  • Congestion pricing could alleviate traffic but is politically contentious
  • Transportation can perpetuate inequality

Read this book if you're interested in urban transit









The Soul of an Octopus main takeaways

  • Octopuses have personalities as varied as people
  • People tend to discount the intelligence of animals, but they're often manifested in different ways
  • Octopuses have insane sensory perceptions and might be able to see through their skin
  • They exude emotion through changing skin colors

Read this book if you want a good read about something unusual.








All The Light We Cannot See

This book is so much more than a pretty cover. It's one of those books where the language transcends the story itself and immerses the reader in a beautiful, tragic world where a boy and a girl are propelled into situations beyond their control. 

I highly recommend this book.

The title of the book partially alludes to radio waves and other wavelengths beyond what's visible to the naked eye. Radio plays a central role, but in many ways parallels modern cellular communication. Although data connections are not as tenuous, the creation and dissemination of information still loses meaning in translation. Yet it connects us when we otherwise cannot physically, creating bonds beyond our physical reality.

“So how, children, does the brain, which lives without a spark of light, build for us a world full of light?”