What I Read in 2015

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At the beginning of the year I planned to track all the books that I read, that has not yet become a habit so I may have missed some from this list. They are not in an order of any kind, but I have tried to rate them to the best of my memory. I did not read as many books as I normally do, as I was focussed on finishing university and "going out into the real world" but I got through the 14 books of The Wheel of Time, which I loved!

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time

By Mark Haddon

Rating 5/5

I remember being recommended this book by friends while I was at school but I never got around to it, possibly due to the very childish front cover. However I finally decided to read it just before Christmas and I almost finished it in a single sitting. This book is written from the viewpoint of a 15 year old with Asperger's Syndrome and he is very literal. The storyline of the book is essentially his journey while writing the book. It starts off as a murder mystery of a neighbours dog and soon spirals out of control into a really fun and upsetting adventure. Absolutely worth reading and I regret waiting so long!

The Wheel Of Time

By Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson

Rating 5/5

This is the only book series I have ever read that I felt at absolute peace, ecstasy even, when I finished reading it. There are 14 books and a prequel. I barely stopped reading them, they were absolutely incredible. It is a high fantasy, in which all the main characters go from minor people to some of the most important people in the world. In that respect, it isn't very believable... it is also full of magic, so some people won't like it. However if you do like fantasy, this series is perfection. It feels very familiar, it has parts of Eragon and Harry Potter and other stories but it is such a large universe that there are still twists throughout the books.

Hardboiled Web Design (1st Edition)

By Andy Clarke

Rating 4/5

I was skeptical that Hardboiled Web Design would stand the test of time, but I read it because Andy asked me to give him feedback to help him write the new edition. Five years is a long time when it comes to CSS. Even the design trends change very quickly, let alone the actual technologies. However, the original edition was very forward thinking and cutting edge at the time so it actually wasn't too bad at all. Sure, there were some things that have changed quite a bit but it did not have me cringing while I read it.

That said, make sure to read the fifth anniversary edition which is a complete overhaul of the book.

The Shape of Design

By Frank Chimero

Rating 5/5

Frank Chimero is a brilliantly talented designer known for being a great author. The way he writes is just inspirational and The Shape of Design is no different. This book is about the mindset of design. As a developer, this is something I am trying hard to learn more about and I find it is far more useful to change the mindset than to get some tools and learn the techniques.

The Girl In The Spider's Web

By David Lagercrantz

Rating 3/5

The original author of this series was Stieg Larsson, who sadly died before it was published. This book carries on the series, based on notes that Larsson had previously written. It is in quite a different style, but you can almost feel the point at which he became comfortable writing the characters. It starts off okay but soon just becomes a great read and the characters are so brilliant that anyone that had read the previous books would have been waiting for their chance the revisit them.

The book is quite heavy on technology references and a large part of the plot is to do with not just hacking (as the previous books used it as a plot device) but the hacker organisations themselves. There are some bits that made me think "well yes that's correct but anyone that doesn't know about it will not understand it and anyone that does will just cringe that it is in the book"... but in some ways that makes it quite a charming read.

Cosmos

By Carl Sagan

Rating 5/5

I have watched Carl Sagan's Pale Blue Dot video many times, but I had never read his books. So I started with Cosmos and it was incredible. This is the kind of non-fiction book that I love, full of stories and history as well as the science itself. I'm sure there is a lot that is out of date but due to the writing style, even if all the science were found wrong it would still be an interesting read.

Learn You Some Erlang for Great Good!

By Fred Hbert

Rating 3/5

I reviewed this book for the Journal of Functional Programming. I had previously not touched Erlang at all but knowing that I wanted to improve my grasp of functional programming, I decided to read it. If you've ever seen the syntax for Erlang, you will probably agree that it is a daunting language to learn but this book does a great job at it. It is very funny throughout and goes from very basic concepts through to complicated projects.