Reading 2012

Updated 31 Dec 2012

Top books this year

A Poetry Handbook, by Mary Oliver (5/5)
A beautifully poetic explanation of the craft of writing.

The Grammar of Graphics, by Lealand Wilkinson (5/5)
A systematic algebra for describing charts and graphics.

Just Enough Software Architecture, by George H. Fairbanks (5/5)
If you could read only one book about software architecture, this should be it. It’s a great examination of the process of architecting, and a reminder to always be conscious of why you’re using a certain approach.

All the rest

Medium Raw, by Anthony Bourdain (4/5)
War-stories from the kitchen. A much more mature rant than some of his earlier writing.

A Thousand Dreams, by Larry Campbell (4/5)
The writing is a bit dry, but the insight on some contemporary Vancouver history (which I only knew in general terms) was great.

Flashman, by George MacDonald Fraser (5/5 - re-read)
Flashy, you delightful cad! Enjoyed it as much as the first time I read it.

The Wallstreet Journal Guide to Information Graphics, by Dona M Wong (4/5)
A great basic reference for visual literacy and data presentation.

Blindness, by José Saramago (4/5)

An Artist of the Floating World, by Kazuo Ishiguro (4/5)
Subtle, but that carried me along.

Beer is Proof God Loves Us, by Charles Bamforth (3/5).

Proofs Without Words, by Roger B. Nelsen (4/5).

The Cluetrain Manifesto, by Christopher Locke et al. (4/5 re-read)
Interesting to re-read this 10 years later. Some of it is totally prescient, and some seems fairly naive. A little too much romanticizing of craft traditions, and nostalgia for “the old ways”, but it captures the changes of the Net pretty well.

The Game, by Ken Dryden (4/5).

Old Man’s War, by John Scalzi (2/5)
Standard space-marine fluff. Not really my kind of sci-fi.

The Time Machine Did It, by John Swartzwelder (3/5)
Absurd stream-of-consciousness by the most prolific Simpsons writer. Some awesome moments in there.

How to Wrap Five Eggs, by Hideyuki Oka (3/5)
A few interesting packages, but would have be nice to have the description of the contents closer than the appendix.

Steal Like an Artist, by Austin Kleon (3/5)
A nice compact reminder to keep moving. I love the idea of exploring your creative family tree.

Damn Good Advice (For People with Talent!), by George Lois (3/5). Rapid-fire advice and autobiography from an iconic ad man – the original Mad Man (a show he hates). You definitely know his work even if you don’t recognize his name.

The Code of the Woosters, by P.G. Wodehouse (3/5)
Wonderful in places and wonderfully dull overall.

Man Descending, by Guy Vanderhaeghe (5/5).

Snow Country, by Yasunari Kawabata (4/5).

The Social Life of Small Urban Spaces, by William H. Whyte (3/5)
Really interesting material, but the format of this book (photos and long paragraphs) makes it tough to pick out the important points.

It’s Not How Good You Are, It’s How Good You Want to Be, by Paul Arden (3/5)

The Worst Journey in the World, by Apsley Cherry-Garrard (3/5)
I didn’t survive the journey. Fascinating subject, but too laborious for me… I’ll have to try again another time.

The Curve of Time, by M. Wylie Blanchet (4/5).

Information Graphics: A Comprehensive Illustrated Reference, by Robert L. Harris (4/5)
Lots of examples to pick out the details from. Doesn’t directly recommend any approach over others.

Dropping Ashes on the Buddha, by Seung Sahn (3/5)
A collection of koans and teaching stories from a Korean Zen master. I didn’t find this as good as the collection of teaching letters to his students, “Only Don’t Know”.


You can also check out everything I've been reading on Goodreads.