Connor Smyth

a close up of a book shelf filled with books

Books This Year – Update

I wrote a blog post earlier this year discussing the books I had read so far this year. You can read it here, WEEKLY NEWSLETTER – MAY 11, 2020.

The Omnivore’s Dilemma

Michael Pollan

I thought this was a great book. It was eye-opening to see the realities of American agriculture and the incredible impact it has on the way the economy functions. Michael Pollan teaches about the difference between corn the food and corn the commodity, what is missing around the modern American dinner table, and the value that is achieved when sourcing your own food from nature.

One topic of discussion that I found very interesting was viewing vegetarianism from the individualism perspective as compared to the holistic perspective. From the individualistic perspective, vegetarianism is good to prevent the undue suffering towards the animal but without the cultivation of species of the animal, such as cows, pigs, and chickens, they would likely become extinct. This is the new omnivore’s dilemma.

Don’t Make Me Think, Revisited: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability

Steve Krug

My friend gave me this book as well as Clean Architecture for my birthday this year. If you create software, manage teams that create software, perform QA on software, design software or anything in between, you need to read this book. The lessons in this book are timeless. Although the book is in its third edition, it is mainly to update some of the examples and add a mobile section.

What I really appreciate from the book is the resources referenced. In particular, it is an article about accessibility research that Steve Krug references by Janice Redish and Mary Frances Theofanos. It is a very informative read, Guidelines for Accessible and Usable Web Sites:
Observing Users Who Work With Screen Readers

Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration

Ed Catmull with Amy Wallace

This is a re-read for me but the lessons are good to be revised every once and a while. In fact, this time I recognized in my manager many of the attributes Ed Catmull describes as what goes into a good manager. For as much praise as our great managers give us, we do not give nearly enough to them. So I told mine that I believed he embodies many of the attributes in this book.

As a developer, Ed is an icon in the industry for his development in computer motion graphics, the Pixar Image Computer, and texture mapping.

Clean Architecture: A Craftsman’s Guide to Software Structure and Design

Robert C. Martin

When I read the first few chapters of this book it felt like a bit of a horror story because the stories of what bad software architecture could look like are too familiar. What I learned very quickly is this book is for anyone who is interested in creating well-architected software.

This is another one of the books that my friend gave me for my birthday. She knew that I was thinking about the role of technical director in my future and this book helps teach lessons that can put you on that path. The book discusses the SOLID principles, which if you’re not familiar with I would recommend either reading the book or watching one of Uncle Bob’s lectures about them.