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Here I share my opinion on the non fiction I've been reading. If you generally enjoy my blog posts you might share my view on most of them, but again, this is just what I thought and this isn't at all an analysis of these books.

Practical Object-Oriented Design in Ruby book cover
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An in depth look at how to be more efficient and future proof when writting object oriented code. Reading concrete examples that you can actually apply at your day job is refreshing compared to the countless impractical books out there. Here Sandi Metz explains how to write good and maintainable code if you don’t have time, if the system is evolving and so on. Note that this book is focused on Ruby, but I think that it can interest every developer.

✓✓✓Amazing book, everybody should read it

The Pragmatic Programmer
by A. Hunt & D. Thomas

The Pragmatic Programmer book cover
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This is one of the books I’ve heard referenced countless times by very smart people before I actually got to read it. Expectations were high, but Andrew Hunt and David Thomas delivered. This book dives into everything that a modern developer needs to aprehend in order to create good software and stay up to date. From ‘crash early’ to its general pragmatic approach, I find myself quoting from this book all the time. It really is a reference for any modern programmers and a must read.

✓✓✓Amazing book, everybody should read it

The Phoenix Project
by G. Kim, K. Behr & G. Spafford

The Phoenix Project book cover
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This book, vastly inspired by The Goal, is a novel describing a group of characters discovering the DevOps ideas on theirselves. The first chapters are all about discovering all the horrifying ways in which IT operations can fail. It’s a lot of fun. The rest of the book is spent in interesting explainations on how to fix and improve the situation. Being used to work in somewhat small companies, it made me rethink how I saw the DevOps movement as I never really really understood before how distant development & operations can be in larger groups.

✓✓✓Amazing book, everybody should read it

Managing Humans
by Michael Lopp

Managing Humans book cover
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The back cover of this books features an absolutely dithyrambic review from Joel Spolsky, so I knew it would be worth a read… and it didn’t disapoint! It’s really a must read for anyone working in software development. From the title, it seems aimed at managers, but really everybody would benefit from it as it’s more about interactions between people inside a company. Of course, like any books about humans, nothing is to be taken at face value and there are some generalizations I didn’t agree with, but overall the content is well written and insightful.

✓✓✓Amazing book, everybody should read it

How To Win Friends And Influence People book cover
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This must be one of the worse title for a book I’ve ever seen. Actually, only based on this terrible title, I avoided this book and considered it to be a cheesy self help book at best, a pile of ideas to manipulate people at worse.

However, after so many people recommended it to me I ended reading it… and I have to say that it was enlightening. It’s true that a lot of the ideas presented are mostly comon sense focused on a strong sense of empathy, but they are presented so clearly that the author makes you really think about the different interactions you can have during a day.

✓✓A must read

Rework
by J. Fried & D. Heinemeier Hansson

Rework book cover
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This is one of the books I read when I was still somewhat early in my career, and that had a large influence on how I see work and the importance of work / life balance. This book goes hand in hand with the blog Signal vs Noise and is full of insightful ideas about how people should create products and companies, such as “meetings are toxic”, “pick a fight”, “planning is guessing”, “fire the workaholics” and so on. Nothing is new, but the book itself takes every idea and push them further. The result is not perfect, but I really enjoyed it. Good points are made and I often find myself quoting it.

✓✓A must read

Programming Elixir
by Dave Thomas

Programming Elixir book cover
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Elixir is a very interesting and inovative new language, and this books is the perfect way to learn it. Dave Thomas does a fantastic job getting you to write code quickly and understand concepts that can be hard to grasp coming from an object oriented background. Overall, even if you don’t want to be writting Elixir most of your time, this book is a great way to understand functionnal programming concepts as well as distributed systems.

✓✓A must read

The Clean Coder
by Robert C. Martin

The Clean Coder book cover
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This book gets into what it means to be a professionnal programmer. It dives into everything ranging from ethics, to commitment to craftsmanship. It contains a lot of real and fictionnal examples and is a great read for any experienced developer. However I have the feeling that junior developers would not gain as much from reading it since it goes pretty deep situations you might not encounter in your few first years writing software.

✓✓A must read

The Goal: A Process of Ongoing Improvement book cover
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This one is actually a novel about management, focused on a manufacturing plant in the 1980s. The style is not great, the hero is a bit antipatic to me, but the lessons learned through the book are very interesting. The story format works very well to explain the complex ideas behind the author’s Theory Of Constraints. It’s also surprising to see how some concepts can very much apply to software engineering and operations.

Good read if you enjoy the subject

Dataclysm
by Christian Rudder

Dataclysm book cover
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I was a big fan of the OkCupid data blog so I was happy to get a hold of this book, which is basically a longer and printed version of the blog. In it, the author analyses huge datasets about online dating in a funny yet interesting way. The writting is surprisingly good, and the information is neatly presented.

Good read if you enjoy the subject

Agile Web Development with Rails
by D. Thomas & D. Heinemeier Hansson

Agile Web Development with Rails book cover
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While I learned Ruby with _why’s book, I’ve actually learned Rails reading the first edition of this book back in 2005. Since then I’ve read some of the following editions, and they’ve always been a great way to get a good idea of how to build a web application. I’d say that it’s a great option for any newcomer to Rails that enjoy books rather than online tutorials.

Good read if you enjoy the subject

Work Rules!
by Laszlo Bock

Work Rules! book cover
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Google’s approach to human ressources, which I’d recommend reading to anyone interested in the recruitment process and willing to scan through a significant number of pages glorifying Google. While far from perfect, I consider it to be the best ressource I’ve read on recruitment since Joel Spolsky’s Guerilla Guide To Interviewing from 2006.

Good read if you enjoy the subject

why's (poignant) Guide to Ruby
by why the lucky stiff

why's (poignant) Guide to Ruby book cover
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This book is what drove a lot of people to Ruby, myself included. It’s weird, humoristic, filled with drawings and absurd comics… but it’s also very insightful and gives great examples of why Ruby is an interesting language. The only certainty everybody have about this is that are no other programming books like this, and I enjoyed it a lot. Nowadays the examples and references are very dated, but the book is available as a free PDF, so if you’re interested you should browser through it!

Good read if you enjoy the subject

Peopleware: Productive Projects and Teams book cover
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This book from 1987 talking about software could feel old and outdated, but it’s really not the case: a lot of ideas and concepts hold true even today. This book focuses on the human side of software development, and this quote sums the situation up perfectly: “The major problems of our work are not so much technological as sociological in nature”. Overall I didn’t learn something amazingly new reading this book, but it was a very interesting perspective with some ideas worth reading again.

Good read if you enjoy the subject

All Marketers Are Liars
by Seth Godin

All Marketers Are Liars book cover
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I don’t read a lot of marketing books, but I enjoyed this one. In it, Seth Godin explains how storytelling and the general experience are crucial to sell a product. The book, through a huge number of detailed examples, makes you think about why you’re buying a brand instead of another. I didn’t have any eye opening moment reading, but it was a very well presented piece on the subject.

Good read if you enjoy the subject

Facts and Fallacies of Software Engineering book cover
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This books doesn’t bring something radically new to the table, but it succeeds in giving a good state of the art. Here the author presents a wide variety of facts and myths (most well known, but not all of them), and tries to analyse them. All facts are layed out in the same way and this simple format makes the book really easy and fun to read as you can skip from fact to fact.

Good read if you enjoy the subject

slide:ology
by N. Duarte

slide:ology book cover
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This beautifully layed out book is a great reference document on how to give great talks, from ideas to presentation. When it comes to giving talks I usually refered to what Zach Holman put together on speaking.io, but giving talks is hard and this book is a great addition to my toolbelt!

Good read if you enjoy the subject

The 48 Laws of Power
by Robert Greene

The 48 Laws of Power book cover
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I’ve always wondered about books like Sun Tzu’s “The Art Of War” or Niccolò Machiavelli’s “The Prince”. They’re often cited as being must read, but I’m not sure I’d be able to go through them… and that’s why I picked up this book! In it, the author gives a summary of all the literature on power organized by topics. Each topics is called a “law” and comes with a lot of very interesting short stories from history. The only problem I had with the book is that it seemed to take the subject almost too seriously and seems aimed at people trying to become president… but taken with some distance it’s entertaining and provides good examples.

Good read if you enjoy the subject

Machine Learning for Hackers
by D. Conway & J. M. White

Machine Learning for Hackers book cover
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This interesting book takes an “action oriented” approach to machine learning. It gives a lot of examples and gets you writing code quickly with R. It also doesn’t get too mathematical on the reader. Overall I enjoyed it as a good introduction to machine learning, but it’s probably a bit too simplified for any hardcore data scientist.

Good read if you enjoy the subject

Four Rules of Simple Design
by Corey Haines

Four Rules of Simple Design book cover
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I discovered this ebook after listening to an episode of The Ruby Rogues, and I don’t regret spending the extra time to read it. The author explains the four rules of simple design enounced by Kent Beck a while back. To do so the author uses his experience in code retreats where he saw a lot of examples surrounding various implementations of Conway’s Game of Life. Overall it’s a well written piece that drives the point home.

Good read if you enjoy the subject

Design Patterns in Ruby
by Russ Olsen

Design Patterns in Ruby book cover
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This one is pretty hard to review: it’s design patterns… but in Ruby… and that’s pretty much it! Besides the lack of excitement of the subject, the book does the job well of referencing the mostly used patterns, with precise details and schemas. The explainations are not perfect, but again, it’s a good reference book.

~Interesting book, but don't go out of your way to read it

Herding Cats
by Hank Rainwater

Herding Cats book cover
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This book, subtitled “A Primer for Programmers Who Lead Programmers”, was actually the first book I read related to my profession that wasn’t technical. It was a few years back and I didn’t lead programmers at this point, but it was very instructive and gave me a new view on what my boss was doing. There are a lot of over simplifications and stereotypes, but the book still gives interesting pointers that - of course - need to be analysed and not blindly applied.

~Interesting book, but don't go out of your way to read it

The Art of Deception
by KD Mitnick

The Art of Deception book cover
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In this book Kevin Mitnick mostly talks about Social Engineering meaning the way to manipulate people in order to gain access to classified information. There are a lot of examples and short stories on the subject, and they were interesting… however, I really didn’t like the style in which they were written and this made reading the book a bit hard. I feel like it’s a great book to discover the social aspects of information security, but if you are already aware of it like I was, a lot of it will seem obvious and you’ll find yourself skipping a lot of paragraphs.

~Interesting book, but don't go out of your way to read it

Agile!: The Good, the Hype and the Ugly book cover
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This book explains all the main concepts behind agile and try to stay out of the hype. It’s refreshing to see a book not treating agile like the perfect solution to everything, and it’s a good reference to check for terms and ideas. However, I didn’t really learn anything new. I still think that it’s a good starter book for someone not familiar with agile, or a nice way to refresh one’s memory.

~Interesting book, but don't go out of your way to read it

Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life book cover
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After hearing a lot about nonviolent communication, I decided to give this reference book a read. It has some interesting points and focuses a lot on empathy which is always a good thing in my opinion. There are a lot of precise examples from the author’s experience and everything is generally well written. However the directions given on how to talk to other people seem very contrived and I can’t see myself realistically using this mode of communication. Overall, while I liked and agreed with the general ideas mentioned in the book, I’m still not convinced by the whole approach.

~Interesting book, but don't go out of your way to read it

A Bigger Prize
by Margaret Heffernan

A Bigger Prize book cover
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This book offers an interesting perspective on the way we operate, and challenges the way we view competition, essentially saying that it mostly leads to issues. The alternative offered is, of course, collaboration. This seems interesting, but the author basically repeat this point over and over and over again with different examples. These examples are very well documented and detailed, but it they get too long and tedious. It seems the same point could have been with a 10 pages articles than with this long book. Overall a lot of potential, but the way it was executed made it very hard to enjoy.

×Don't pick it up unless you really like the topic

Where Good Ideas Come From
by Steven Johnson

Where Good Ideas Come From book cover
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I once saw Steven Johnson’s TED talk about the content of this book. I really enjoyed it so I decided to buy it and give it a read… and I was completely disapointed. Some people might enjoy it, but personnally I only saw one concept: “all ideas are derivative”. This is great for a talk, but after a few hundred pages of just repeating the same basic idea with different examples I grew tired and gave up.

××Not really worth checking