what if? by Randall Munroe
If you're a fan of xkcd you'll love this book. Munroe started the the what if? site to field and answer off-the-wall physics and math questions from folks. He compiled many of those, and their answers, into what if? It's a fun read, filled with lots of compelling scenarios and humorously-answered responses.
A Million Miles in a Thousand Years by Donald Miller
This book came as a recommendation from my wife. I wasn't sure what to expect but I read it anyway. In it, the author describes how, while learning to write a more compelling story, he learned to approach his life in the same way. All good stories have tension and struggle. Characters are defined by their experiences and how they react to them.
The author felt his own life was boring and unsatisfactory, two things he suspected would lead to a decline in his ability to continue as a compelling author. In order to live a more satisfying life, he decided to find and live new experiences, especially those that provided tension and uncertainty.
I enjoyed this book because it left with the idea that it's not enough to go after our dreams. It's just as important to seek out experiences that take us out of our comfort zone so that we can truly grow as humans. Then we can write truly compelling stories.
Thinking in Systems by Donella H. Meadows
I had learned from past experiences to approach (computer) systems and their design holistically, but this book gave me new ways of, well, thinking in systems. Now I see stocks, inputs/outputs, and feedback loops everywhere!
I posted several ideas about systems thinking in practice as a result.
Whether you're new to your career or an old hand, pick up a copy of this book and I bet you'll find useful guidance in how you approach your work.
The Year Without Pants by Scott Berkun
I picked this book up because I work remotely and I was curious what someone else had to say about the lifestyle (there are no shortage of opinions on this topic online, of course). It was compelling for me because Berkun compared the transition from an in-office experience to 100% remote, the same I'd done when I started working for Etsy 3 years ago. He reflected the same feelings and concerns I had at the beginning: uncertainty about how my progress would be measured; not knowing if my ideas and communications were being ingested or ignored; anxiety about feeling alienated and alone in my home office.
The book primarily explores Automattic, in general, and WordPress.com, in particular. Specifically, Berkun details the experiment that was him coming on board to determine if creating small teams made sense as the company grew. Was a flat hierarchy still tenable? Could teams meet the demands of a growing company? Would people balk at the structure?
The stories were generally interesting and I felt a sense of camraderie for the characters involved. Despite that, while I can't quite put my finger on it at the moment, the book felt just a tad superficial; it felt like an honest and transparent look into how Automattic behaved and also felt like a carefully curated expose.