Books of 2015

I was hoping to read more this year, but I've started very slowly, with only a few books the first half of the year. But almost all of them were good, and only one really disappointed me. I'm not covering purely technical books this time, maybe I'll do it next year.

  • Countdown to zero day: First book of the year, it was mentioned at lunch by a coworker. The book is about the Stuxnet virus: how it was discovered; the impact; the remaining questions; etc. You'll read it as a spy novel. The style is not great, but the story is so unbelievable, it's hard to stop reading. Also, the author did a great job to not be too technical, you don't need any particular background to understand it. Now would be a good time to read it, while following conversations about #32c3.

  • Proxima: Your classic space opera. A group is send to a new planet to colonize it, and everything goes wrong. Good read while commuting to work, and there's some good ideas. I will read more in this series next year.

  • Witches Abroad: First Pratchett in a while! We follow a small group of witches traveling in foreign parts of the discworld. As always, it's hilarious. I really need to get back to the discworld universe. One book a year is not enough!

  • The prince: My first time reading it, and it was good! I'll admit that the content is different from what I was expecting. It's not as "cold" or "brutal" as I thought it would be if you put the text in its historical context. Machiavelli is very practical in his explanations.

  • How to stop sucking and be awesome instead: It's fun to read in commute. There's some good advice, and it's not only for engineers / managers. I think everybody can read it and get something from it, you don't need any technical background to enjoy the essays.

  • Seveneves: I love Stephenson. I'm a huge fan of the Cryptonomicon trilogy and the Baroque Cycle. However, Reamde was kind of disappointing, and so I had high expectation for this novel. The book is divided in two parts: for the first one, it was like I watching Gravity), where everything that will go wrong, will go wrong. The second part is not as entertaining, but is still good. Despite the last part, it's still one of my favorite read for this year. The first part is really captivating, and you just want to know what's going to happen next.

  • The Pentium chronicles: Great book on project management. When I got the book, I was expecting something similar to Inside The Machine: a very technical book about the Pentium: how it works, what were the decision taken while designing the processor, the various challenges, etc. Although you'll find some of that in the book, it's more about how to manage a large and risky project in a company like Intel. Different teams want different things at different time. Marketing want to go in different direction; how to respond to change of schedule; how to handle frustrations in the team, etc. I highly recommend this book to anyone in a manager position or who want to become manager.

  • caliban’s war: book 2: Another typical space opera, ideal for the commute. There’s a TV show now, saw the first episode (it is/was free on Google Play). I think I’ll stick with the book for now, and wait to hear what people are saying about the show. I’ll keep reading this serie.

  • The Three Body Problem: Another book mentioned by a co-worker during lunch. It's an interesting SF book. Not the best I’ve read, but entertaining. There's also some insight on Chinese culture (the author is chinese).

  • The Martian: a novel: Great SF book. Fun to read, lot’s of details. Engineers will love this book. Interesting to see how he approaches problems and solve them The book was in my "to-read" list for a while, and I wanted to read it before seeing the movie, which I did.

  • Structures: or why things don’t fall: if, in general, you are curious, definitely take a look at this one. I’ve learned some things about architecture and why some things are the way they are. I’ll definitely look at buildings with a different yey now (especially churches / cathedrals / bridges). Also really good to force you to ask the question ‘why is it that way’ instead of saying ‘this is stupid’.

  • Nexus: This is a great SF series. It reminds me of babylon babies, I have the same excitement reading the books. If you are interested in AI, and what it could mean for the future of humanity, read this book: there's a lot of interesting ideas.

  • The soul of a new machine: Interesting book about a computer build by Data General in the late 70s. There's some technical information, but it's mostly about the people who worked on the project. The part I really enjoyed is that the author put a great effort to put everything in context. Like for "The Pentium Chronicles", if you are a manager or interested in learning more about working with people, I highly recommend this book. Also, I would not be surprised if the authors of Halt and catch fire got some ideas from this book :)

  • Console wars: The war between Sega and Nintendo. This two companies created amazing hardware and software in the late 80s and early 90s. Like a lot of kids from my generation, I got interested in computers because of video games. And so I had high expectation for this book, but sadly it was a disappointment for me. I was expecting something more technical, but the author almost only talk about the marketing part. It also focus only on the U.S. market, and I was hoping to learn more about the launch of the consoles in Japan. I can see how this would be interesting if you are interested in the pop culture side of video games though, but this is not my case.

  • Crux: Second volume in the Nexus trilogy. Still entertaining, and there's some really great quotes. I loved the action. The last volume in the series will probably be my first novel of 2016.

  • The Dark Forest: Second volume in "The Three Body Problem" trilogy, and I can't say I enjoyed this volume. There's three parts: the first two are really not that exciting, but the last one is really good. I've spend a lot of time questioning the actions the characters take in the first two parts, and I don't feel like the explanations given in the last part are satisfactory. Also, the style is still not really good: I can't say if it’s due to the translation or not (I remember having a similar problem with some of Gibson’s book in their french version).