2012 must be the year I read more than any other year. The amount of material I had to read for university isn’t coming close for sure. I thought it would be fun to go through my Amazon/Kindle/Audible/SAP-Press/Bol.com accounts and share some of the most interesting books I came accross this year.
Steve Jobs – Walter Isaacson
This is the first audiobook I listened to in my car driving between home and work. This book was one of those listens you’d wish the drive would be a bit longer so you could listen some more. Even though I already knew most of the stories on Apple and Steve Jobs, especially on the era until 1998, I got a bunch of new insights and ideas from this great book. I also read Inside Apple by Adam Lashinsky, but that is more fanboy stuff providing a little look behind the scenes of Apple Inc.
How an economy grows and why it crashes – Peter Schiff
I read a lot of books on economics and politics this year in an attempt to better understand what the hell is going on exactly with this ongoing world-wide economical disaster we are in. Think about it. How many people really know how our system works, where the money comes from and how things like inflation work? This is a very fun book on how an economy works and at what moment it starts to fail. It tells the story of an island with a small population where one of the islanders developed an advanced fishing device (a net). With the net he could catch more fish than he needed to stay alive and he got time to do other things than fishing. And so an economy was born…
No, They Can’t: Why Government Fails – But Individuals Succeed - John Stossel
It was a great year for freedom politics. Ron Paul got mainstream attention and the LP even got over 1 million votes in the US Presidential elections! Who would have thought a few years ago. A cool book on big government influence on our (personal) freedom is this one by John Stossel. Stossel debunks a lot of myths with some insights I hadn’t heard before, like for example the one on having a minimum wage, which actually makes people poorer. Interesting stuf!
De kracht van scrum (The power of scrum) – Rini van Solingen
Of course I heard about scrum before and I even participated a bit in a project some years ago that used this methodology. But I still hadn’t seen a completed overview of what scrum really was and how it exactly works. This book is easy, fun and fast to read because it uses a short real life story to explain the steps of the methodology and the new roles for the project team members.
Presentation Zen and Presentation Zen Design – Garr Reynolds
Garr Reynolds books on delivering presentations are great. The Presentation Zen books are stuffed with ideas and examples on how to create cool presentations, far away from the common text-filled slideware. You really want to get these books in paperback since they are filled with nice color pictures and you can go through them more quickly when looking through the examples.
Why School?: How Education Must Change When Learning and Information Are Everywhere - Will Richardson
I’m still very disappointed in the degree of innovation in schooling over the last 15 years; a period in which the internet went from small to really really big. Kids nowadays still have to go through the same schooling system as 15 years ago. Yes they maybe use an iPad now and the teacher uses a digital blackboard, but the true power of internet isn’t used. A problem I see here is that all kids have to follow the same program and do the same tests, while these programs are made for the ‘average kid’. This is not optimal for kids that fall behind and for those that want to be challenged more on certain subjects. Specific online classes for specific (small) groups could help here. This book discusses these issues and discusses ideas on a new and modern way of educating.
SAP HANA – An Introduction – Bjarne Berg, Penny Silvia
From all the books on SAP BI I checked this year this one on SAP HANA is definitely the best one of 2012. Of course it covers a totally new topic which made the other new books on some ‘older’ topics like SAP BW and Web Intelligence a bit less appealing. But, the book itself is setup very well and is useful for everybody, whether you have to start using HANA as a developer or you just need to know what it is and how it works on a high level. Check my review from a few months back.
No Easy Day – Mark Owen
No Easy Day is the story of an US Navy SEAL who operated in the team that killed Osama Bin Laden in Pakistan in 2011. This is a very interesting (and very exciting) look into the life of such an über warrior. Only the best of the best are good enough for this job and the selection criteria are therefore extreme. The book tells us about several missions which point out how these guys have to adapt to changing circumstances all the time and make their decisions under a very high pressure. In the Bin Laden mission numerous things went very wrong (one of the helicopters crashes at the arrival), but eventually they managed to get the job done. Very exciting!