books I read 2015

Once when I picked up a book from the local library, the librarian asked to tell her what I thought about the book when I would bring it back. Well, why not write a few lines about all the books I read so everybody could see what I thought about it? I'm often also happy to have friends recommend a certain book or tell me this and that is not really worth reading. I won't comment about the tons of books I have read so far, but about books I read from now on.

1-star recommended not to read it empfehlung das buch nicht zu lesen
2-star not too interesting nicht allzu interessant
3-star average durchschnittlich
4-star good reading gutes lesematerial
5-star highly recommended sehr empfohlen

Overview of all Books

Overview of all Books

titleThe Innocent
authorDavid Baldacci

Will Robie is a professional assassin for a government agency. But in one job he gets in a rush, he hesitates to pull the trigger. Somebody else kills the victim and Robie is on the run. He is also assigned to be the contact person for the FBI in the case of investigating this murder. A murder, Robie should have performed but has not. Something is not right here and Robie wants to know what it is. After all, his live depends on it.

A few details in the plot are just not realistic. One could definitely not know how exactly multiple people would react in certain situations and design such an extremely detailed and fine grained conspiracy. Nevertheless: typical Baldacci: good plot, well written and engrossing.

authorCharles Maclean

Ed und Laura Lister's tochter Sophie wurde ermordet. Die polizei konnte den mörder nicht finden. Ed gibt aber nicht auf, er will den mörder seiner tochter finden und folgt auf eigene faust spuren. Diese spuren sind aber nicht ungefährlich, für andere und auch für ihn selber. Und vor allem ihn verwickeln sie in ungeahnte komplikationen.

Eigentlich ist die idee für das buch gut und es ist auch nicht schlecht geschrieben. Aber irgendwie fehlt mir einfach das gewisse etwas; das etwas, welches mich fesselt und es mir schwer macht, das buch beiseite zu legen. Es ist mir aber nicht möglich dieses etwas zu fassen. Vielleicht werden einfach zu viele verschiedene themen in ein und derselben geschichte miteinander verknüpft.

titleMastering Regular Expressions (3rd Edition)
authorJeffrey E.F. Friedl

I have read the first edition of 'Mastering Regular Expressions' many years ago and that was an enormous boost to my ability of using regular expressions. In the meantime, a lot has happened in this area and because in my current job I use non-trivial regexes frequently, I thought getting the latest version of Jeffrey's book might be a good idea. It was. Compared to the first edition, there is a lot of new and updated material.

Even though I already knew quite a bit about this topic, this is still one of the very best technical books I've ever read (and I don't give five stars easily). No light reading at all, though. But the writing style of Jeffrey helps a lot to make things interesting and approachable. At the same time he succeeds to think razor-sharp, not forgetting corner cases. Sometimes it's almost frightening how he remembers to check and point out all possibilities. And again, all this without becoming repetitive, boring or anything the like.

The 31-page index is quite complete and definitely useful and the hundreds of cross references in the text are a boon. I'd have appreciated a few more tables or, better yet, an appendix with the existing tables all collected once more in one place for easy reference. But then, this book is not a reference, it is a book from which you can learn the ins and outs of regular expressions. And it does a very good job teaching this, starting out with an introduction to regular expressions and simple examples. A complete regex beginner might stop reading after the first one or two chapters, get his or her hands dirty with regexes for a while and then continue reading after a few months of using regular expressions. Some more complex samples follow and then an overview of regular expression features and flavours. For casual users the difference between DFA and NFA engines might not be so important, but the more you use regular expressions and the more complex things you start to solve with them, the more such differences become apparent. When you start to apply your knowledge to larger amounts of data, suddenly knowing about efficiency, which has its own chapter, or the mechanics of processing (another chapter) makes a huge difference. Need to handle unicode? Yes, Jeffrey has this covered too, just as regex use in various scripting languages, such as Java, .NET, PHP, Perl, Python, Tcl. Four of them, Perl, Java, .NET and PHP, even have their own chapters (which I did not read all).

If you want to learn about regular expressions, I can not imagine a better or more complete book to turn to. And if you're just curious about regexes, then read the first one or two chapters and start being impressed by how much simpler many data manipulation tasks suddenly become. You'll definitely pull out this book again from your bookshelf and continue reading after some time.

titleOn Web Typography
authorJason Santa Maria

This book serves as a primer for (not only) web designers who are new to typography. And rightly so. These days there are so many options abound for typesetting text that the average Joe often is overwhelmed by all the possibilities, fonts, sizes, etc. and forgets to consider overall layout and legibility. All to often less variation in presentations, documents and web pages would be more. The book stresses the fact that typography should help in reading and understanding a text rather than get in the way of the reader. Very sound advice.

There are not really hard rules in typography, no clear wrongs and rights valid in all situations. So Jason starts out with a short overview of how we are reading, followed by some info on how type works. Without thinking about these 'mechanics', you'd have nothing to base your selection of typefaces, widths, sizes etc. on. The text then goes on explaining some more type-technical stuff like boxes, height, various attributes and how to choose typefaces which match or complement each other. Good advice also about creating a hierarchical typographic system for your project. Finally, some words about overall page layout (horizontal, vertical, grid), which I think is especially important in web design.

There are no hard rules given on how to typeset something, but sound advice. And this advice is not only true for web page design. In the part which talks about various typefaces (commonly called fonts), their features and their distinctions, you can easily feel the authors interest for the details of all the various fonts. For the non-professional designer this can, at times, be a bit too detailed, differences between shown fonts too small to really notice.

Don't expect to be a top notch web page layout pro after reading this book, but heeding the advice given, you should not fall prey any more to some of the most common problems. And this is not only true for web pages, take the advice for all text you produce or set.

titleThe door into summer
authorRobert A.Heinlein

Dan Davis is an extraordinarily gifted engineer. His inventions are groundbreaking. But one day he finds himself cheated out of business by his partner and his fiancé. Things escalate and in the end Dan awakens 30 years later in the future, well preserved and not a day older, after being forced into "cold sleep". Things are a bit different in the year 2000 than they were back in 1970 and sure engineering has progressed a lot. Some patents, however, which have been applied for in his name while he certainly was frozen and sleeping, are disturbing him. An when he learns there is a classified way to not only travel forward in time, but also backward, he sets out to fix some things which have happened in the past...

The book is not only interesting to read; having read it in 2014, it was also interesting to see what an author thought life and technical achievements would be like in 1970 and 2000 - thought so back when the book was written in the 1950-ies!

titleThe Open Organization
authorJim Whitehurst

Are you a manager? Or are your managed? I've been both and I'm positively certain this book appeals to both. But first things first.

Jim Whitehurst does a really great job not only describing this other way of running a company, but also in confessing that coming from a conventional top-down style management position to this more bottom-up style was not an easy transition. This confession, I believe, can be quite important for somebody new to this style of running things. Important to realize that you can not always have all the answers; more important even, to realize that nobody expects you to have the answers to all problems. Most important, probably, to realize that people will not listen to you simply because you have some fancy title on your business card but for other reasons, reasons you have to work for.

The book is easy to read, of manageable size (about 200 pages) and well structured. In the first part Jim talks about why this management style is superior in many environments. Part two explains how things are achieved the open way and in the third part he provides some samples what to do.

The fact that throughout the book Jim talks about associates, rather than employees, emphasizes the fact, that he really believes in what he writes about.

From a manager perspective, the book gives ample suggestions on how to lead (rather than boss about) people and thus have them work with you, rather than against you. From the perspective of somebody being managed, it can give you some ideas where to challenge, where to support and when to shut up and accept some decisions. And those sandwiched between higher-ups and subordinates can get ideas for both directions.

Myself, I strongly believe in the concept Whitehurst describes in his book. And I do know it can work and yield good results, even though I (unfortunately) have never seen it implemented as thoroughly as described in this book.

titleThe Phoenix Project
authorGene Kim, Kevin Behr, George Sapfford

An extraordinary book! In essence, it is a management book. But it is written like a fascinating novel. If you have worked in IT for some time, be it as a manager or as a non-manager, you will find yourself right at home. The authors manage to tell a fascinating story of a company where Murphy is omnipresent in the IT department and how the crew gradually takes care of things and dramatically improves the situation. But it is not only a story for pleasure. It also very cleverly tells what is needed to convert to and run a successful IT organization based on the DevOps principle. The story takes up 90% of the book. The remaining 10% sum up the core information in concise format and give detailed information about some further reading.

I've never before read a management or technical book which was so interesting to read. And it still gives you all the relevant information. Just brilliant.

titleZero Day
authorDavid Baldacci

David Baldacci as the author is almost a guarantee for a good read. True also for this book, which obviously starts a new series with John Puller as the main figure. John is an investigator with the US Army and is sent out to Drake, a remote coal mining town in West Virginia. Puller is suspicious about this assignment, as he is sent there alone, rather than together with a whole team.

The book is easy to read and keeps you wanting to continue. It is possible to guess some things, but that's ok. The story strongly goes in the direction of the "Jack Reacher" books by Lee Child. What I found a bit distrubing at times is, that John Puller is too much of a hero; he's just too good and able to do too many things without help. Also the momentousness of the plot, the bad guys have been planning, is a bit too big for my liking. Nevertheless, Zero Day offeres good entertainment for a couple of hours.

authorMax Barry

Wil has been kidnapped at an airport by two guys. Together with one of the kidnappers, he is trying to survive. Who is trying to kill them and why, he does not really know or comprehend. Tom, his kidnapper and/or saviour is not really making much sense. Or maybe he is making sense, but it just is quite unbelievable...

The story is about an association of especially gifted people. People, who are able to influence others with words, who are able to make other people do their bidding by just making the propper sounds. The idea behind the story is quite fascinating and while it might not really be possible to command people by just using certain strange combinations of letters, using the right words certainly makes people more likely to do or not do something. Think about using "please", a trailing "or else..." or some phrase like "I bet you don't dare doing this." So, how far fetched is the idea really?

The story is told on two timelines. Most of the time it's fairly easy to see in which of the timelines a chapter is based, but there are occasions (few only) where it's not quite so obvious until later and I found that to be a bit disturbing. There certainly were a few words I didn't quite understand and when I looked some of them up, I had the impression that as a non-native English speaker, I'm probably not able to propperly appreciate the choice of words; I had no problem at all understanding the story, but I might have missed some fine details.

authorLiz & J.K. Brandon

Eine Vampirgeschichte, die nicht in schmuddeligen Höhlen oder dunklen Räumen spielt. Und eine Romanze.

Natalie Adam, eine junge Innenarchitektin in Wien, gerät in den Weg von Vampiren. Derweil glaubt sie nicht mal an die wirkliche Existenz dieser Spezies und weiss nur über sie, was man allgemein aus Speilfilmen und Geschichten hört. Dass einige unauffällig mitten unter uns leben, und auch nicht bei Sonnenschein zu Staub und Asche verfallen, ist komplettes Neuland für Natalie.

Eine höchstens mittelmässige Liebesgeschichte zwischen Mensch und Vampir.

Overview of all Books

Page last modified on 2015-Jan-08 21:17 GMT