Week 22 of 2017, 1st post of the 4th year (May 2017 - May 2018)

I haven’t reviewed some books that I intented (I finished all of them by May 23rd of 2017, so they’re unreviewed books from the 3rd year), I just want to write brief opinion on each since there’re quite a lot of them.

  • Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain by Betty Edwards

  • Fugitives And Refugees: A Walk In Portland, Oregon by Chuck Palahniuk

  • White Oleander by Janet Fitch

  • Essential Scrum: A Practical Guide to the Most Popular Agile Process by Kenneth S. Rubin and Agile!: The Good, the Hype and the Ugly by Bertrand Meyer

  • The Pragmatic Programmer by Andy Hunt and Dave Thomas

  • Einstein: His Life and Universe by Walter Isaacson

  • Babel No More by Michael Erard

  • Bioinformatics for Dummies by Cedric Notredame and Jean-Michel Claverie

  • A textbook on highload systems

Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain by Betty Edwards:

I like the personality of the author, her dedication. I even subscribed to her blog recently, but I can say about the book, that I didn’t like it as much. It was a total misfit for me as a beginner in drawing.

Throughout the book, there are some useful exercises and I liked the idea of an author sharing students’ impovements in drawing. Also, in the beginning chapter or close to it, there was some really nice phrase or explanation of how to break down mastery in drawing to the few key elements such as lines, perspective, shadowing, relations between objects. Also, there’s some positive energy in the book, the author made it really encouraging.

But, generally, there are too little exercises and too much talking about the sides of the brain. I did not like the “innovative” focus of the book and it gave me little value besides common sense about what drawing is as a skill.

Fugitives And Refugees: A Walk In Portland, Oregon by Chuck Palahniuk:

I liked “The fight club”, also some guy showed me an essay by Chuck, some writing advices by him. I’d probably seen something like that before by Stephen King in his book “On writing”. I mean, the advices were similar in some ways. And I liked it.

But speaking of the book, I expected it to be a little different. While it was more like his guide to the town, some recipies of nice dishes and couple of strange moments from Chuck’s biography.

I can totally agree with people who say the book is something super intimate, just for fans of the author. I don’t think, I’m that huge fan of him.

White Oleander by Janet Fitch:

It’s a fiction book, written in what I’d call a modern style. I don’t really know what that means, but I saw a heart-breaking story of a young child, a girl who gets abandoned by her charismatic, intelligent and selfish mother. She goes through some horrible experiences at foster homes and becomes really cynical and lost in a way.

This piece of writing seems to talk about importance of good parenting, describing almost graphically some nasty things the girl has to go thorough all alone.

Eventually, she’s not an angel, just a human.

Also, it’s just one of the perspectives on the book. There could be a lot more of them.

The books talk about agile, but I liked the first one more since it focused more on a description how scrum works in a team, while the other book focused much more on the “philosophy” of agile. I hated it when I was a student at a law school. Sometimes we had one subject, and they’d give 15 “core principles” of law or justice or something like that in a book. Then there’d be another subject which would define the same principles differently, and would give you 7 instead of 15. Then the third book would say, “it’s all bullshit, in reality there are only 5 main principles”. And each of the principles would be just completely made up out of the air. So, the second book, basically, seems to me highly promotional, instead of being more descriptive, full of fluff. Just like it was in the law school with principles of law.

The Pragmatic Programmer by Andy Hunt and Dave Thomas:

It’s a really famous book, a lot of programmers far more experienced than me say how awesome it’s.

For me, I can totally agree that every beginner at programming should read it, it’s a lot of nice insights, it could be a great intro to programming in general, important tools, some buzz words and well known design principles.

But as for me, I didn’t find anything super insightful for myself. Maybe, I already passed that stage where advice of getting familiar with the console or bash scriping, or learning some simple scriping language for automation seems really insightful.

Einstein: His Life and Universe by Walter Isaacson:

The book’s a good example of why a lot of times it’s better to read a bio of a person written by himself rather than anyone else.

The book’s, basically, full of praise to Einstein as the genius mixed with facts from his biography.

I don’t like to read stuff like that, because, practically, there’s nothing interesting about it.

I also recall reading some weird book about Vladimir Kramnik, the ex champion of the world in chess. It made me feel, like wtf. It was full of praise to the grandmaster, talking about how smart he was etc. Not my cup of tea.

As many other nerds, maybe, like every nerd, I really loved “Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman!” because reading it you kind of could see how Feynman thought, what he found exciting in life, his learning and working experiences, thoughts. You could see some irony in there.

But Mr. Isaacson’s book disappointed me.

Babel No More by Michael Erard:

I liked the book, because it clearly showed how most people who know a lot of languages are kind of enslaved by it, always looking for ways to refresh, retain the knowledge, most of the times not being able to make money with it.

And also I could see that everyone there is just like me – even the “hyperpolyglots”, if they don’t practice languages, it fades away.

Bioinformatics for Dummies by Cedric Notredame and Jean-Michel Claverie:

A book that I didn’t like, because for the most part it’s pulling out vast and unnecessary descriptions of GUI of some online databases they use to store info about different proteins and genes.

Sad, I would have liked to read more about, maybe, algorithms bioinformatics use, anyting, but descriptions of the interfaces of some sites!

A textbook on highload systems:

Unfortunately, I didn’t save the author’s name and it’d be hard to find this book, since I got it for free on some site where I followed a link from some blog I don’t read anymore.

But I liked it a lot. It was a basic introduction on how companies handle highload on their servers.

I’ve been focused on front-end more, but it’s always nice to see the other side of the boat.

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