Well, I failed in my plan to get this out by the end of January, but here are the books I liked in 2018. Unlike past years, here they all are in one post, I think it’s about 25. I tried, with mixed success to not write six gazillion words about each book.
My favorite book of the year
The Calculating Stars / The Fated Sky by Mary Robinette Kowal— if you have ever liked anything I’ve recommended ever, there’s a good chance you’ll like this. After a meteor wipes out the Eastern seaboard in 1952, the space race becomes a race against climate change, and humanity goes to the moon, and then Mars. These are books with lots of smart people solving hard problems under pressure. It’s like The Martian but with fewer potatoes, and more punch cards and representation. It’s amazing.
Here’s part two of my 2016 “Books I Liked List”. This is the list of books I really, really liked, for the list of books I just liked one “really” worth, head here. All the book titles like to the Kindle edition of the book, so enjoy.
I really did like this book quite a bit, though not as much as other people: you’ll find several online lists that have it as the best or one of the two or three best books of the year. (It was also one of three books on both these lists to be nominated for a Nebula Award for best Novel.) (Though now that I think about it, we’ve also got a Novella nominee in here.)
The book features two characters, he’s basically a mad scientist, she’s basically a magician. They meet
I went back and forth about whether to include this in the list, it’s a little “one of these things is not like the others”, but ultimately I decided I did really like it and who cares. Anyway, this is a straight out romance novel, a romantic comedy basically, featuring a cranky London West End leading man and his much nicer co-star. They are asked to pretend to be dating to prevent tabloid
So here’s my thing about headphones. I lose them or damage them quite a bit, your classic run them through the washing machine or such, and I don’t have very well trained ears. So I tend to buy cheap ones with the understanding that I’ll replace them pretty often. For the last few years, my go-to has been whatever The Wirecutter says is the best cheap in-ear bud.
That said, I do like the convenience of bluetooth wireless, especially when I’m commuting and the cable would have to run around bags, jackets and the like. So when The Wirecutter said that these Anker SoundBuds earbuds were the least-bad of the cheap wireless options and they were on a one day sale for $22, I took the deal.
Here’s a more detailed review than they probably deserve:
Some thoughts about my new laptop about two weeks in, which I gather I’m supposed to hate, but which so far I persist in kind of liking. I think it’s a little bit about expectations and what’s being replaced.
So I got the higher-end 13 inch MacBook Pro, with the touch strip, with a bigger SSD, but without the chip upgrades. It’s replacing a 2012 15 inch MBP that was definitely showing its age, with a screen that ghosts and dwindling battery life.
It’s small. For some reason I was expecting it to be even smaller, but it’s small. As advertised, it’s smaller than the 13 inch air, in terms of looks, that’s mostly via having a smaller bezel. Overall, it feels solid and well put together. The hinge feels nicer than the old one, but my old one was a little beaten up. When I pick it
I noticed that I didn’t have a copy of the Boring Software Manifesto on my own site, so here’s the original version from 2007 (yikes!) and a video version from 2013.
Several years ago, I coined the phrase The Boring Software Development Process, in response to a former employer where project management really didn’t think anything was happening unless we were trying to solve seven crises simultaneously.
The manifesto goes like this:
Boring software projects favor tacking exciting problems, and focusing our energy on the most interesting and valuable parts by avoiding wasting time on avoidable problems.
Boring software projects favor automated test suites over the excitement doing all your testing at the last minute and finding bugs after the project is “done”.
Boring software projects favor frequently integrating work from the whole team as opposed to the excitement of finding out whether you changes work well with the
It’s really small and light. The keyboard is six ounces, and is smaller than the iPad,and about the thickness of a binder cover. The stand folds flat. All told, including the iPad and its cover, the whole thing is well under two pounds, and easily fits in the pocket of my ScottEVest Nerd Jacket With Big Pockets.
Battery life of the iPad is about 4 times the battery life of my laptop (admittedly, the laptop
The Web Payment book is out for 50% review, which means that the draft is about half complete, and about a dozen or so people, including the publisher, will be the first readers (well, I guess it got an editorial review at the ⅓ mark). This is a little terrifying.
I did a quick breakfast talk this week on trust and projects. It wasn’t recorded, but pretty much everything I said is in my Trust-Driven Development book, which you should read. Yes, you. It’s good.
I’ll post some specific talk recommendations when the videos are posted. Well, there’s one talk up already Justin Searls posted his own recording, and what was ostensibly a talk about Rails 5 and RSpec becomes something more interesting about maturity in tools and where we go from there.
Okay, I really am doing this for a second week in a row, even though it’s a bit late.
The week in me:
The web payments book is continuing slowly. Currently, I’m writing about how to set up administrative users, which I’m convinced that most people are penny-wise and pound-foolish about. (“It’s the admin users, we can train them”, yeah, I’ve said it too).
As you probably don’t know, I’m working on a new book for Pragmatic. Title’s not set yet, but it’s about handling payments on the web and all the variously logistics and aggravations that entails. The initial draft is 50% done, which means it goes for technical review. I’m hoping it
If any of you are still following this blog via an RSS reader, first off, thank you for your patience in the hope that I would put something here worth reading. Second off, I’ll cross post the links here, starting wtih last week’s The End Result Is Not The Cost, which, I suppose could be read as a full-throated defense of bloated consulting fees, but which I prefer to see as a comment on the hiidden work that goes into producing any kind of useful production software. Enjoy!
I really did want to get this done sooner, but I didn’t.
See part one for the other books I liked in 2015. Consider this the books I really liked. You could call it a top ten, but there’s more than 10. But still, my absolute favorite books of 2015, alphabetically by title.
In trilogies, first books get to have all the fun. The first book is where you get the full thrill of discovery, of learning about a new thing. The third book has to actually finish a story, which sometimes, feels a lot more like work. I was happy that Ancillary Mercy, the third book of maybe the most decorated SF trilogy in the last five years, really does stick the landing.
But… it might not be the landing you expect. I think it’s fair to say in the end, a
Thanks to the literally one person who encouraged this list last year, I’m presenting the 2015 list of books I liked. Last year, I split between Fantasy Books I Liked and SF Books I Liked. This year, the split didn’t work out evenly, so I have “Books I Liked”, and “Books I Liked Even More”. Here’s the first batch: “Books I Liked in 2015”.
First, the Books I Liked. Well, not all of them, but especially the ones I thought I could write an interesting paragraph about.
I think there’s a lot of potential in prose fiction that’s structured like a television season, meaning a series of novella-length stories that build to tell a connected story, with a common set of characters, and anyway, you don’t need me to tell you what a season of television is like.
This week I sort of broke ground on the book that will probably be called Master Space and Time in Ember. Here are some things I know or am reasonably sure about.
It’s going to be pretty much a complete rewrite. I mean, some of the cranky rants might still be there, but all the technical content will be new. A new example application, too, though I’m still trying to figure out what that might be. (I’ve been using the time travel agency for years, it might be time to branch out. Later update: yep, it’s going to be a different example, but obliquely inspired by the time travel idea.)
By complete rewrite, I mean: Ember 2.0 (eventually), Ember data 1.0. Ember CLI, ES 6, pod app structure, Mocha as a test library (probably). We will talk about creating a back end server.
In case it’s not clear, this is going to be somewhat ambitious. It’s going to be longer than the current book.
I’m also hoping for some clever design, both layout and structurally.
This is the sequel to Ancillary Justice, which one all the awards last year. It’s also the middle book of a trilogy, and like many middle books, leaves some plot unsettled. While Ancillary Sword continues the somewhat ambiguous gender roles of the first book, the tone is much different. The first book was more of a quest, but in this book Breq now has command of a her own ship (it’d be spoilery to explain why), and a mission to protect a planet from the events triggered by the end of the first book (is that vague enough?).
So this book is more, well, anthropological, and more of a mystery (Breq uncovers some corruption). The descriptions of the Radch culture remind me of Jack Vance and a little bit of Urusla K. Le Guin. What’s interesting about Breq’s viewpoint here is not so much the gender thing (which fades into the background), but the way Breq is able to integrate information from all different inputs–Leckie does a great job of handling Breq’s somewhat alien point of view.
While this book may not have the technical splash of the first, I think I enjoyed it more, and I’m looking forward to the third book this year.
Every year, I’m determined to write a post about my favorite books of the previous year. Every year, I fail at it, in part, because of my tendency to want to write a 2000 word essay on each one.
This year, I’m doing it as part of my new “things that make me happy” blog posts. And I’m splitting it into two parts: fantasy novels this week, and SF novels next week. This isn’t every book I liked in 2014 (a great year for new books), but it’s a list of the books I liked the most. This is also not a place for quibbles and complaints, this is about books I loved and what I loved about them.
This is a split book, half the chapters are about Darcy, an 18-year-old who is skipping college and has moved to Manhattan to finish a novel for which she has already received a sizable advance. The other half is Darcy’s novel, a YA paranormal romance.
Just on a technical or structural level, the book is impeccably put together. We see Darcy having experiences that bleed into the novel, we see her talking about old versions prior to the one we are reading, and we see her obsessing about getting the ending written even before we read it. The Darcy sections are really fun, there’s a lot of great scenes about writing and the YA publishing scene, and the novel-within-the-novel is a perfectly publishable YA novel that doesn’t feel like Westerfeld’s normal style. That’s all really hard to do.
If you have any interest in fiction writing or fiction writer’s process, I really recommend this book.