Reading 2016

Updated 03 Sep 2018

Top books this year

UI is Communication, by Everett N. McKay (5/5)
Just framing the UI, and the design process, as a conversation suddenly makes so many things obvious and easier. I couldn’t articulate before why certain UIs really frustrated me, but they were conversations with annoying, pedantic, forgetful people.

The Lady and the Monk: Four Seasons in Kyoto, by Pico Iyer (5/5)
A beautiful exploration of cross-cultural understanding and misunderstanding. Read while in Kyoto.

Teamwork Is an Individual Skill, by Christopher Avery (4/5)

All the rest

Get Jiro!, by Anthony Bourdain (3/5)
Fun and trivial, a dystopian future where chefs rule the world. Lots of familiar themes from Bourdain.

Oishinbo, Volume 1 - Japanese Cuisine, by Tetsu Kariya (3/5)
Now I know how to eat nori.

Oishinbo, Volume 3 - Ramen and Gyoza, by Tetsu Kariya (3/5)
Weaker than the previous ones. And some of the translations felt like they were done by a high-schooler.

Oishinbo, Volume 4 - Fish, Sushi and Sashimi, by Tetsu Kariya (3/5)
Better than the ramen edition, I think. Have to see which of these fish are available locally.

你最喜欢谁? Whom Do You Like More?, by Yuehua Liu (4/5)
Very basic story, but not too repetitive. Includes recorded readings (normal and slow speed) which really help practicing to read.

Oishinbo, Volume 2 - Sake,by Tetsu Kariya (3/5)
A bit more detailed information than some of the other volumes? Still, these have such a repetitive format, it’s hard to stay interested.

In Praise of Shadows, by Jun’ichirō Tanizaki (4/5)
“Westerners are amazed at the simplicity of Japanese rooms, perceiving them no more than ashen walls bereft of ornament. Their reaction is understandable, but it betrays a failure to comprehend the mystery of shadows.”

The MetaHack Interviews, by Avi Solomon (4/5)
Came for the interview with Ted Chiang, stayed for the other interesting bits that sent me off searching for more information.

So Me, by Graham Norton (4/5)
My favourite talk show. Can only read it in his voice.

Fluent Forever, by Gabriel Wyner (4/5)
Some really good tips, especially the focus on learning the sound-system, which is almost never taught effectively. Mostly focuses on how to create and use flashcards. Read Paul Nation’s “What do you need to know to learn a foreign language” for a broader overview (e.g., tasks for input vs developing fluency).

连个想上天的孩子 Two Children Seeking the Joy Bridge, by Yuehua Liu (4/5)
Another good graded reader, great for increasing reading fluency. My minor irritation with this series is that the footnote numbers for new vocabulary often split a two-character word or compound, making it harder (as a beginner) to recognize them as a single unit.

Ex-Formation, by Kenya Hara (3/5)
My favourites were the solid smoke shapes, and the bottles-as-bodies.

A Fire Upon the Deep, by Vernor Vinge (3/5)
Sci-fi meets fantasy? I liked the whole premise of the zones, and some of the hard sci-fi, but the softer bits were pretty weak and not really compelling. Probably won’t read #2.

Tetris: The Games People Play, by Box Brown (3/5)
Fun, quick history of a perfect game. Read ‘The Making of Prince of Persia’ if you’re interested in a developer view of this era of programming.

Zone to Win, by Geoffrey A. Moore (4/5)
It’s a good articulation of a rational strategy that seems to fit the problem. Changing to adopt such a strategy is probably as hard as the original problem. I recommend ‘Good Strategy, Bad Strategy’ as a good compliment.


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