James Williams

Books I Read In 2015

We're already a quarter into 2016 and I'm just getting this list out. I read lots of good things and some that were just meh. Here's last year's list.

Don't Make Me Think: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability (3rd Edition) by Steve Krug. Don't Make Me Think was a part of my self-study whilst preparing for my Material Design course.

I've been reading a lot lately about design these days. Don't Make Me Think: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability (3rd Edition) is something I've finished that has got me thinking about how I approach how I present information to my users.

Though focused primarily on web design, much of the content applies to mobile app design. It aligns with my current Material Design work in trying to present information in an intuitive and glanceable way guides the user from point A to point B with little turbulence.

The section on accessibility spawned an "A-ha" moment. A cluttered site with a confused design is frustrating to both sighted and blind users. I can't say that every design I do will strive for total accessibility but I'll try to tackle the low lying fruit like using the label tag in forms, alt text for images, and using a decent contrast between text and the background.

Don't Make Me Think is IMHO essential for any developer that wants to dabble in design.

Hooked by Nir Eyal.

Zero to One by Peter Thiel.

The One World Schoolhouse: Education Reimagined by Salman Khan‎.

I believe I enjoyed these somewhat when we read them for the work book club but I can't really think of anything from them that I apply to my every day work.

The First 20 Hours:How to Learn Anything.

I liked the concept of The First 20 Hours but the implementation was kind of painful. The first three chapters were pretty useful but the last six were either way too slow, like the chapter on Programming and Touch Typing, or so left field that they were boring (Ukulele, Wind Surfing, and Yoga). Given the recent buzz about AlphaGo, I might visit the Go (game) chapter.

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins.

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins.

Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins.

I had a couple of long flights panned and decided to start the Hunger Games series. All are great reads, though I like the first and second books better than the third. I hadn't watched the movies before reading each book so it was fun seeing how they adapted things. They did a good job IMHO.

Off-Course: Inside The Mad, Muddy World of Obstacle Course Racing by Erin Beresini.

As you may know from my Instagram, I do a lot of obstacle course runs. Off-Course is a feel good book about the craziness and pain that I and a growing number of people all over the world pay to endure. If you want to know a bit more about how OCRs work, check out Off-Course.

Listening Brands: How Data is Rewriting the Rules of Branding by JR Little.

Probably the best work related book I read this past year. I got it on a whim from Kindle Unlimited and have referred it to everyone at work that will listen. :D One of the basic premises of the book is that you don't get to 100% decide how your brand is defined or seen by the general public. Listen and embrace what your communities say/think and profit.

The Martian by Andy Weir.

I loved that it was sci-fi by felt more based in science and fact that some of the more Jetsons style sci-fi. A great story of survival.