A few centuries ago books were not available for average people. They did cost a fortune. A normal person had to work for years to save the money for a book. That’s why almost nobody owned a book. And even if the family was able to afford one, then they often had just one at home—the bible.
In the 17th century the amount of information an average person consumed during the entire lifetime is less than the information contained in an average newspaper.
Isn’t that amazing? A single print of today´s New York Times contains more information than an average person in the 17th century had available during his whole life.
This is completely the opposite for us today. In the Information age there are thousands of websites created each day and we are constantly surfing the Internet. We have a tremendous amount of information available at our finger tips.
However, we consume a lot of content solely for the purpose to entertain us. We are spending our time on social networks, we watch videos on youtube, we play games on our phones and we consume movies on Netflix.
But the majority of people has no time for reading a good book, which inspires us or brings us further in life. And indeed, I also think it is quite a hurdle to find some quiet time to sit down and start reading a book on a constant basis. But you don’t have to.
We spend a lot of time to commute from home to work in the morning and back home in the evening. That’s a perfect time to listen to audio books.
If it takes you about half an hour to go to work that will give you about 1 hour of “reading” time per day. That’s maybe a small book per week.
Even if you go by car by yourself, you don’t have to put a lot of focus on driving. You know the way to work intuitively, because you drive there every day. Therefore, you can use the time to focus on listening to audio books.
I try to read about a book each month. Looking back to the previous months I was able to finish 9 books within the last half year. I have a subscription with audible and for a couple of Euros I get one free book per month.
Wow, this was a long introduction!
Let’s get to the meat of this page now.
I have created a list of my favourite books here, that inspired me the most. They are divided in three categories: Agile, Software Development and Personal Development [Disclaimer: if you purchase a book via the links I will earn a commission fee].
I am going to give a super-short overview of each book and my opinion about it.
Ok, here we go:
I have seen a couple of youtube videos from Eric and in my opinion he is not the best speaker on stage. However, this book he has written here, is an awesome piece of information and contains a lot of very useful ideas.
In fact, with this book he started a whole movement, the Lean Startup movement. The goal of the Lean Startup community is to build a business or product in the most efficient way possible to reduce the risk of failure.
Eric explains the concept of a Minimum Viable Product (MVP)—an early version of the product, but good enough to sell to the customer. For instance, the MVP for dropbox was a video explaining the expected features. Overnight the video was shared thousands of times on social media and a couple of thousand people signed up on the website for a trial version. Even though the product was not built yet, one knew that there is a huge market for dropbox.
Jeff shares a lot of his work experience with different projects and explains his attempts to find the best working methodology.
Interestingly, this book has been published in 2014, which is rather late compared to the first version of the Scrum Guide in 2010 and the first paper about Scrum “SCRUM Software Development Process” in 1995. But this also shows that Jeff wanted to make sure he can share a lot of his working experience before he finally decided to write this book.
I actually read this book twice. After I met Jeff at an Agile conference in Amsterdam I was quite impressed and decided to read it a second time.
However, during the second round I noticed how often Jeff praises himself. I fixed this company, I fixed that company, the FBI struggled for years with introducing a new system and I fixed it within a few month, etc.
This is actually quite annoying, but I somehow didn’t notice it during the first round. So my advice: just read it once.
Anyway, Jeff achieved a lot in his life. Thousands and thousands of companies adopted Scrum and a huge portion to this success goes to him. However, I just think that having a bit more humility would be nice.
2) Software Development
Robert C. Martin, also known as uncle Bob, gives a lot of Examples on how to write clean code. For instance, he explains how you should name your variables or classes, when to write new methods and when to create a new class. He gives tips in which order to put your methods and how to structure your project.
There are many examples of “dirty” (but functional) code and then a detailed step-by-step explanation on how to refactor the code and make it readable and maintainable.
In my opinion this book is mandatory for every professional software developer.
I read this book when I was working as a .Net developer for a couple of years and I was under the impression that I am quite experienced in C# and the .Net framework. This book completely destroyed this impression, because it contains so much more insights about C# and the .Net framework compared to the level of my knowledge back then.
If you want to become a professional C# developer, then you should put this book under your pillow and sleep on it for a couple of weeks.
Joseph Albahari gives a lot of detailed explanations of the C# language features and how to use them by giving many code examples.
The book also gives a complete overview about the Net Framework and it´s most important classes. For instance, Joseph Albahari explains how the List<> class is implemented under the hood. Did you know why adding another element to the list sometimes triggers a copying of the whole list to a new place in the memory?
In total this book consists of more than 1000 pages and it took me a couple of weeks to go through it. But it is definitely worth it—best book about .Net and C# I read until know.
3) Personal development
The Miracle Morning: The Not-So-Obvious Secret Guaranteed to Transform Your Life (Before 8AM) – Hal Elrod
He actually died at age 20. Hit head-on by a drunk driver at 70 miles per hour, he was clinically dead for 6 minutes, broke 11 bones, and eventually woke from a coma to be told by doctors that he would never walk again.
I am also subscribed to his Email list and in November 2016 I got a mail from him telling that he got diagnosed with a very aggressive form of cancer. He survived and is cancer-free now.
This guy is so an inspiring personality—not only because his life is marked with so enormous ups and downs, but I have also seen a couple of presentations from him on youtube, which are extraordinary.
The same is valid for his book The Miracle Morning. Hal inspires the reader to go up earlier every morning and practice the 6 life SAVERS:Silence, Affirmations, Visualization, Exercise, Reading and Scribe.
To me this book had a very positive influence and I really go up at 6 a.m. every weekday for about 2 years now.
If you are looking for some inspiration to get you off your butt and achieving goals, then this book is for you.
Most people and organization communicate from the outside to the inside of the circle. When you ask about their business or job, they start with what they are doing, then explain how they do it. Maybe they end with why or they leave out the Why completely.
However, great leaders communicate from the inside of the circle to the outside. They start with why they do what they do. A famous example is Martin Luther King and his speech “I have a dream”.
Simon Sinek gives a lot of examples of successful companies and how they communicate their why. People buy not what you do but why you do it.
The Golden Circle is a very powerful concept makes you think of why you do what you do.