2015 Book Recommendations

As 2015 comes to an end I thought I would create some best of lists. My first one is a list of my favorite books I think my readers might like. I read a lot, both blogs and books. All digital of course, I stopped buying dead tree books a few years ago. I wont even accept them if they are free, too much overhead to store them now.

This year I added Audible to my online services. It costs $9.95 a month but I have found it worth every penny. You get a free book credit every month and can buy 3 extra credits each month below the cost of many books. The ability to listen to books has drastically expanded my reading experience. I would not have had time to read The Martin for example, but took advantage of Audible and an 8 hour drive to dive into the story.


The Martian

The MartianThis might be the biggest book of the year to the geek world. Well short of The Force Awakens, but I have not read the new Star Wars novel (yes I have purchased it) yet so I don't feel like I could formally include it in this list.

I listened to the Martian on a drive down to North Carolina for my high school reunion. Has it been 25 years already? If you saw the movie the book is better and I hate to be cliche about it, but it is true. The book goes into more details and includes many excited stories that were omitted in the movie.

If you liked the movie then you should love the audio book. A friend at the dojo took my advice and told me she is loving it and can't wait to restart her experience. A great testimony indeed.


CyberStormOn my return trip from North Carolina I listened to another science fiction novel, Cyberstorm. I think this would make a wonderful movie. The book's scenario is set in today's world, heavily dependent on technology for electricity, information and even the logistics that supply out food.

When a winter (blizzard) storm of the century blasts New York City at the same time tension between the US and China is rising to breaking point create a scenario of paranoia. The main characters must negotiate more than a month in New York without power, food or communications.

As I enjoyed this book I kept thinking about how I and others might react in a similar scenario. I also pondered how comfortably dependent on modern technology for our day to day needs. We don't think about all the infrastructure we depend on just to support our basic life needs. What would you do without working plumbing for a week or a month?


The 4 Hour Work Week

The 4 Hour Work WeekWow, how have I not read this book before? This is right up my alley as a self diagnosed entrepreneur/developer. The book is an inspiration on to automate as much as possible in your life and your business. This gives you the freedom to do the things you want to do.

The Lean Startup

The Lean StartupEric Ries draws from his experience as a startup founder and observational research of the Silicon Valley startup scene to create a formula for startup success. He draws several conclusions in the book, one being that we are all entrepreneurs, even in large enterprises.

I encourage you to read The Lean Startup and apply the principles to your company or even yourself. You do not need to quit your day job and seek funding. But change the way you and your company operate so you not only improve your processes but make the right products and keep your company moving forward.

How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big

How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win BigThis might be my favorite book of the year. It spoke well to me and the things I am interested in doing, in a word succeeding. Dilbert creator Scott Adams takes you on a journey through his life, making small and large mistakes, yet showing how you can succeed. He also discusses the healthy lifestyle he lives and why. I can identity with the choices he has made on that point, hopefully the next year or so will find me succeeding at some other areas of my life too.

If you enjoy Dilbert, and what software developer doesn't, and have a type A, entrepreneur mindset you will like this book. If you like funny stories you will also enjoy this book.

Hooked - How to Build Habit Forming Products

HookedWonder why applications like Angry Birds and Candy Crush keep you coming back? Well the book Hooked goes into research around human behavior and offers many insights into how you can build a product, not just an addictive mobile game, that causes your customers to seek a deeper relationship with your offering.


EntreleadershipAnother business development book by Dave Ramsey, one of my favorite business and financial advisors. In this book he describes how his organization works. But more importantly he dives deep into his core business principles and how he deals with his employees and what he expects from them.

Personally I want to emulate many aspects of the Ramsey organization. If you are into business and startup culture I think this book will serve you well to encourage you to operate with high morals and ethical intentions.


Designing For Performance

Designing For Performance One of the top web performance optimization personalities finally produced a book. While offering technical insight Lara Hoagan makes the case for all organizations to make performance a first class feature requirement. In order to do this she uses examples from inside her company, Etsy, providing a real life example of these principles in action.

ASP.NET Web API 2 Recipes

Pro ASP.NET Web API RecipesMy favorite ASP.NET Web API personality is Filip Wojcieszyn published a rich collection of how to do many common tasks required to build web APIs. Filip covers topics that are just beyond the 'easy' scope through to what I consider rather advanced.

He goes through how to use ASP.NET Web API with and without IIS. He also has a rich chapter on routing, something that always seems to foul me up. The book follows that up with the more complex topic of content negotiation. The next chapter goes through various configuration and customization options so you can make your API perform better and improve management concerns.

Next he goes into details around how to implement various HTTP protocols, which if you are not familiar with HTTP you need to be. Next error handling and related topics are covered. Next he covers CORS and push communications. Finally he covers testing and security. There is also an OData chapter, but I have developed a bad taste for OData in recent years, so I did not pay much attention to the last chapter :)

Pro ASP.NET Web API Security

Pro ASP.NET Web API SecurityDespite Filip's ASP.NET Web API security chapter I wanted more. Every project I work on has security concerns, which is a good thing. Understanding advance techniques to secure your company and services' data is invaluable. This Web API Security book goes deep, I mean very deep.

Even if you don't need to know more about security, and you always need to know more, you will walk away from this book having a very intimate relationship and understanding with how ASP.NET Web API works under the hood and details about the protocols and technologies it implements work. This will only make you a more valuable engineer.

Ethan Marcotte's Responsive Web Design

Pro ASP.NET Web API SecurityOk this is not a new book, but this is the year I decided to read the book in depth. This is of course the original tome that defined responsive web design. Ethan's fundamental principles have not changed and can still be used today. I think the vast majority of developers should reference this book because the basics discussed in this book are not known by typical web developers. To be honest I am still trying to make these principles part of my second nature.

Windows Azure Data Storage

This year I really got into using Azure, in particular storage. This book covers everything from Table Storage through Azure SQL Server. It also covers Blobs, Queues, Service Bus and Local Storage. The book covers core concepts and provides useful code examples. It is also a little more than the online documentation, making it a good supplemental resource.


Think like a Freak

Think like a FreakMaybe I should have put this one under business, but I don't feel that would be justified. I love the Freakonomics series. I listen to the podcast and have read several of their books and of course their blog. The book is a collection of stories, some pulled from their podcast and others I am sure from their blog. Even though the content is available for free on other sources I like having a nicely curated and packaged version.

If you are not familiar with Freakonomics, a journalist and economist team up and evaluate potential misconceptions we all may have about all sorts of topics. I love their work because it helps keep my mind sharp and highly inquisitive. Personally I think it helps me understand the human mind better so I can architect better products.


There you have it the best of a great year of reading. Maybe one or more of these books will find their way to your Kindle or maybe you have also read some of these books. If the latter good for you! If not then what are you waiting for? Get started on your 2016 reading list right now.

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