Books and research formed a large part of my work in 2023 and will continue to play a large part next year. There is a lot to be said about reading a good book, and there are plenty of them out there. When you stumble upon one, you tend to find a few more and I do like to keep up with people on LinkedIn, Twitter and Mastodon just to see what they are reading now and get inspiration.
So, I’ve included a few books I’ve read this year, along with some notes as to what I got from them and why I chose them.
The most recent book I read was “Turn the Ship Around!” – a fascinating story of inverting leadership principles in the US Navy. A book with ideas that I will undoubtedly return to. If you want to make your business more equitable and effective, then you can’t afford to miss this one.
Secondly, and although I knew about it for a while, I finally got around to reading “Drive” by Daniel Pink. It is a thought-provoking book that hinges on self-determination theory and individual motivation. This book inspired me so much that I put together a discussion about it and the theories it’s based on. Positive psychology, effective leadership strategies, and management techniques will, I believe, become a core part of my future research.
The Psychology of Computer Programming is over 50 years old but still has many relevant individual and team motivation ideas. It shows its age in places, but the updated Kindle edition has put much of that right. It is a good book for understanding what makes software engineering a fascinating human subject.
Of course, you can’t talk about team dynamics and software delivery without mentioning Flow. I started but have not yet completed this classic on positive psychology. While it is a profoundly educational book, it’s written with a light touch, making it very readable.
Similarly AgendaShift and Building Microservices. Two books that I enjoyed starting but not completing. In some ways, these books represent my growth and change throughout the year. In January, I was very concerned with increasing my technical expertise while simultaneously being interested in sustainable organisational change. As the year progressed, I realised my core interest was much closer to human motivation and leadership.
Turn the Ship Around! L. David Marquet
Drive: The Surprising Truth about what Motivates Us, Daniel Pink
The Psychology of Computer Programming, Gerald M. Weinberg
Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
Agendashift: Outcome-oriented change and continuous transformation (2nd Edition), Mike Burrows
Building Microservices 2nd Edition, Sam Newman
Fluent Python: Clear Concise and Effective Programming, Luciano Ramalho
Structured Design: Fundamentals of a Discipline of Computer Program and Systems Design, Edward Yourdon & Larry Constantine
Thinking Fast and Slow, Daniel Kahneman
The Mathematical Experience, Philip J. Davis & Reuben Hersh
I changed clients during the year and needed to improve my Python quickly. While I wouldn’t recommend “Fluent Python” for the beginner or even advanced Pythonista, its structure and explanations are brilliant. A book to dip into and to have on the bookshelf.
Similarly, Stuctured Design. This is a recommendation from a talk by Kent Beck—another classic text that gives a framework to code design and architecture theories.
The final two books are also “nice to haves” in terms of what they represent and the background they provide. However, both give excellent insights into how humans have learned to adapt and think over time. Thinking Fast and Slow is a seminal work about learning how your brain works. Similarly, when it comes to understanding the brain of the mathematician – The Mathematical Experience gives excellent context and background. Both will be returning to the top of my to-do pile very soon.
I hope you enjoyed this short tour of some of the books I’ve read in 2023. These books have informed my direction as much as my knowledge as I seek to find the core subject and heart of my motivation for writing and sharing my thoughts. I hope that with further research and more focus in 2024, I’ll be able to discover insights into how software product delivery works best for teams and organisations.