jml's notebook

Recent(ish) reading

I used to do a quarterly post on my personal blog listing what I'd read that quarter. That fell by the wayside earlier this year, for reasons that I haven't looked into.

Here's some stuff I've read since my last post:


The Wind's Twelve Quarters, Ursula K. Le Guin. I bought this just after she died, because I wanted to have a legit copy of The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas to give to Jolie to read. It's twelve short stories from various stages of her career, each with a short preface. I hate even attempting to review them, especially since the details have faded. What I remember is her passionate intensity, her heavy (but not heavy-handed) playfulness, and her intimidating intelligence. The stories are universally excellent, but very few are entertaining.

The Flowers of Vashnoi, Lois McMaster Bujold. I love Bujold and will read anything she writes. I didn't get into this one as much as others. I wonder if she likes Ekaterin?

Uprooted, Naomi Novik. This is charming. Howl's Moving Castle meets Polish fairytales, or something. I enjoyed it so much I went and bought three volumes of her Temeraire series, which is not quite as good.

The Consuming Fire, John Scalzi. I mostly buy Scalzi's books to support his blogging habit. This sequel to The Collapsing Empire is fun, light reading that only rarely insults your intelligence.

The Labyrinth Index, Charles Stross. I've been reading The Laundry Files for an age, and don't really know how to stop. This one is probably my favourite of the last three or four.

Temeraire and Throne of Jade, Naomi Novik. Dragons: check. Napoleonic naval fiction: check. Bromance: check. I don't think I could recommend it strongly if these are not your things.


Managing Humans, Michael Lopp. I've been trying to get better at being a manager, and I thought I'd revisit the book that got me into this in the first place. I found it very hard going. Lopp definitely has good advice, but so much of it is predicated on assumptions that just don't hold for me. Also, he is way too brash and confident. These days, I'd recommend The Manager's Path by Camille Fournier instead.

Accelerate, (too many to list here). This is a review of a bunch of research that shows that lean practices in IT correlate (and sometimes cause!) great outcomes for the business as a whole. If you already believe that, you're not going to get a huge amount out of this book. I think 80% of the people who talk about it haven't read it (it's very dry), and that's actually OK.

The Internet of Garbage, Sarah Jeong. I have a deep and abiding interest in rubbish. Jeong points out that much of the Internet is garbage and we don't have systems in place for dealing with it. It's a very good, short analysis of the problems we're facing now. I only wish it were longer.