What I Read–Book Edition

This is a list of books I’ve read recently, with a Twitter-fitting review for each. I’ll update it periodically.

Fiction

The Martian – I greatly enjoyed this book; I was planning to try to get it some attention, but just before I tweeted, I learned it’s about to be a major motion picture. Oops. :-)

Wool – Great dystopian sci-fi. The writer is the closest thing the self-publishing industry has to an evangelist, and he’s awesome at it.

Ready Player One: A Novel – a light, fun read; I loved it.

Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore – Fun and odd.

Seveneves: A Novel – I love Stephenson’s earlier work, and some of his later work (e.g. Reamde). This one was a mixed bag—it managed to reduce the magic of spaceflight to a boring set of “delta-v”s. On the other hand, every time I considered putting it down, there was a twist that pulled me back in.

Non-Fiction

Bulletproof SSL and TLS: Understanding and Deploying SSL/TLS and PKI to Secure Servers and Web Applications – If you want an accurate, up-to-date book on TLS, this is the one to buy.

Command and Control: Nuclear Weapons, the Damascus Accident, and the Illusion of Safety – A terrifying and great book; if you don’t know why you should still be afraid of nuclear weapons, you need to read this book.

Countdown to Zero Day: Stuxnet and the Launch of the World’s First Digital Weapon – A great book; reads like a techno-thriller… but it’s non-fiction.

An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth: What Going to Space Taught Me About Ingenuity, Determination, and Being Prepared for Anything – Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield’s memoir. I wanted to be an astronaut as a kid and this reawoke that interest to a surprising degree. But it also clearly pointed out the trade-offs (37 out of 52 weeks a year on the road) that I couldn’t imagine making with a family.

How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big: Kind of the Story of My Life – Cartoonist Scott Adams’ memoir and suggestions for success in life; it’s similar in ways to Hadfield’s memoir in being a mix of stories and advice. There were parts of this I really disliked, but there were some great parts too. The best was the repeated advice that goals are for suckers, systems are for winners — similar to Hadfield’s advice, this points out that life is more about the journey than the destination, and if you ever make it about the destination, you’re going to be in very bad shape after you realize you’ve reached it and can’t imagine what to do next.

On Writing Stephen King writes about writing — how he does it and how to do it well. It’s awesome.

Stories I Only Tell My Friends – Rob Lowe’s memoir; I had low expectations, but this book crushed them– it was funny, surprisingly interesting and very well-written.

What I Read–Book Edition

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