Books read in April

Difficult Conversations (1st) – A quick read full of the kind of good advice that will be difficult to put into practice.  Like Getting Things Done, it feels like the way to get the most out of this book is to try out their techniques and then read it again.  Experience putting their recommendations into action will help bring out some of the nuance that gets glossed over in a first reading.  Come to think of it this is probably true of most self help books.

Equal Rites (17th) – Another Discworld novel. I know I’m coming to these late but I’m really enjoying them. I read one of this book’s sequels first (Lords and Ladies) so it was kind of interesting to go backwards in the development of the characters and setting. Like all of the Discworld books I’ve read so far it was a ton of fun and a quick read.

Design for the Real World (23rd) – I picked this up based on a Mike Monteiro talk from Webstock ’13 called “How Designers Destroyed the World“.  Who could ignore a talk with a title like that?  I’m really glad I did.  Papanek skewers (in, at times excruciating, detail) the entire design profession.  The thesis is pretty straightforward.  Designers have an outsized effect on the world we live in and to use it for anything but the greater good is an abuse of the skills required to be a designer.  He provides an interesting framework for evaluating whether a design is “good” enough and there are some great examples of good design as well as some hilarious and/or terrifying examples of bad design.  All in all though, there are probably just too many examples and there are some sections that feel pretty dated (the second edition was written in the 80’s).  (There are also some mind blowingly prescient parts too.)  If you’re involved at all in the design of anything (and that includes you, software people), I highly recommend this book, but don’t be afraid to skim sections that feel like a parade of design examples or product ideas. Probably the best book I’ve read this year.

Note: As of this post I’ll be using Amazon affiliate links.  If that bugs you, it’s pretty easy to circumvent.  I promise it’s not going to effect the content here.

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