Original post

  • “In Praise of Slowness” by Carl Honoré – talks about the benefits of slowing
    down in different aspects of life. The book has some good ideas in it, but
    it’s wildly drawn out, mixing in a lot of irrelevant information in order to
    reach a “book-worthy” page count.
  • “SQL Queries for Mere Mortals” by John L. Viescas and Michael J. Hernandez –
    a very slow and gentle introduction to SQL. A good book for SQL newbies. My
    main criticism is the somewhat low signal-to-noise ratio; at 750 pages this
    book really doesn’t cover that much. The authors use an interesting 4-step
    translation for queries from the initial human language through progressive
    “machine”-ization until the final SQL code. I found this to be rather useless
    – all the human language expressions for nontrivial queries are almost
    unreadable (20-line wall of text). On the positive side, the book is
    well organized with many examples throughout each chapter, additional examples
    at the end of each chapter and a bunch of exercises (with solutions available
    from the book’s website). Another good thing is that the authors focus
    on standard SQL and test their queries on multiple databases, discussing the
    quirks of each (though the choice of databases is somewhat MS-centered).
  • “Microservices in Action” by Morgan Bruce and Paulo A. Pereira – microservices
    is one of the most buzzy buzzwords for today. If you wonder
    whether it deserves a whole book – your intuition is right; it doesn’t. Thus
    this book spends most of its time on domain modeling and design for enterprise
    applications patterns, tools like Docker and Kubernetes and general “modern”
    development practices like using intricate continuous integration & deployment
    workflows. If anything, this book does a better job listing the deficiencies
    of microservice architectures than convincing readers they’re an improvement
    over the status quo, IMHO. The overview of modern cloud development is decent
    and the diagrams are good; there are also some real examples to run.
  • “The Wild Trees” by Richard Preston – tells the stories of explorers and
    scientists who pioneered discovering and climbing the tallest trees on Earth,
    in Redwood National Park in the north of California. Some biographic accounts,
    many climbing stories and also interesting botanical and biological details.
    It’s amazing how recent all of this is and how much is still unknown about the
    flora and fauna of tall tree canopies around the world. Excellent book, highly
  • “A People’s History of the United States” by Howard Zinn – according to the
    author, the goal of this book was to present American history not from the
    usual point of view of famous politicians and military leaders, but from
    the daily lives of ordinary people. That’s an interesting undertaking, but the
    execution is, IMHO, terrible. First of all, the book is universally
    negative on pretty much any aspect of the topics it presents; in case you
    didn’t know, American history is a saga of militant imperialism driven by
    greedy corporations and the ever-evil top 1%. Moreover, the author can’t help
    but drag the reader into rather aggressive socialistic populism, including
    calling for the workers of the world to unite in the afterword. As a history
    book, it’s one of the worst I have ever read; as a one-sided political
    propaganta it’s a fascinating case study if you want to understand how today’s
    partisanship emerged.
  • “Artemis” by Andy Weir – life of a petty criminal in the first human city on
    the moon, set at ~2070. Has a similar vibe to The Martian, but with less
    science and more of a “crazy adventure” flair to it. Not a bad book overall –
    I really like Weir’s style of science fiction, but not as good as The Martian.
    The plot is too much of an action movie, getting quite silly towards the end.
  • “Deep into Yellowstone” by Rick Lamplugh – nice stories about Yellostone NP’s
    history, features and wildlife – with a focus on wolves and elk. Interesting
    insights into the minds of people who spend a lot of their time volunteering
    in the park and participating in advocacy for conservation and protection of
  • “Antifragile: Things That Gain from Disorder” by Nassim Taleb – in which
    Taleb summarizes his philosophy, covering material from earlier books as well.
    Some parts of it I liked, some parts not so much. It combines some really
    interesting insights with pages upon pages of vitriolic attacks on many
    people and institutions.
  • “Steinbeck: A life in letters” by John Steinbeck – a collection of letters
    Steinbeck wrote througout his life. The book is enormous – over 900 pages –
    but at the same time easy to read because it consists of many short (1-4 page)
    letters. It took me a while to get through, but I liked it overall. It
    provides a glimpse into Steinbeck’s life and mind from a very unique point of
    view. Made me think about the lost art of letter writing; seems to have been
    very popular before telephones became ubiquitous, and it’s a shame few people
    do this any more on a regular basis. Social media is the outlet now, but it
    doesn’t fill the same needs.
  • “The Conscious Parent” by Shefali Tsabary – a mix of parenting advice and
    inspirational self-help book. I have mixed feelings about this one – much of
    the parenting advice I agree with, but still not sure about parts of it. The
    book is difficult to read through because of repetitive and preachy tone and
    general lack of organization.


  • “1-2-3 Magic: Effective Discipline for Children 2–12” by Thomas W. Phelan