Jacob Evans

Summer Reading

The summer of 2020 is going be a little different for me than the summers of yore because I'm going to be more intentional about reading. In fact, when asked about my ideal vacation, I'll often remark that all I need is a nice beach, some shade and a stack of books.

I really enjoy reading, especially during the summer months, but as of late I've enjoyed watching TV shows more.

Ironically, after watching Inside Bill's Brain—an excellent documentary about the interests, accomplishments and habits of Bill Gates—I was inspired to be more intentional about setting asside large chunks of time to read non-fiction, and I figured the first step might be to draft a list of books I'd like to read.

Here's the list I came up with, in no particular order:

  • Righting Software by Juval Löwy. This book came highly recommended from a friend. Software architecture is hard. The point Juval makes about architecting for volatility really resonates with me. I'm about a third of the way through his book and look forward to finishing it.
  • The Mythical Man-Month by Frederick P. Brooks Jr. This is an oldie but a goodie and I have all but forgotten the, now proverbial, lessions Frederick so eliquently articulates about the art of managing projects and developing software. A reread of this book is definitely in order.
  • Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport. My brain has become increasingly addicted to "hits" of digital diversions, like the news, Reddit, Twitter and even email. As per Newport's guidance, I have determined to perform a digital detox during the month of May. I'm sinserely hoping to reclaim some time and attention, and more importantly, increase focus during my time away from unnecessary distraction.
  • Remote by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hanson. Over the last few months my work has transitioned to 100% remote work-at-home. I'm hoping to hone my practices and habits to better support my goal of working remotely for the rest of my life.
  • Loveability by Brian de Haaff. Who doesn't want their software products to delight users and be loved by customers? This book has been on my list for a long time and now that I've started working on my own commercial software endeavors, it's the right time to give it a read.
  • On Writing Well by William Zinsser. Writing is hard, writing well is even harder. I have worked at improving my writing, but I recognize I've still got a long way to go before I can confidently say I write pretty good. I started this book some years back but look forward to reading it again from cover-to-cover.
  • A New Kind of Science by Stephen Wolfram. I have developed a growing interest in cellular automata and its universal implications. It's an understatement to say Wolfram has a lot to say about the subject.
  • Paul: A Biography by N.T. Wright. I could benefit by reading more about the past and history's influencial figures, and perhaps Saul of Tarsus is a good person to start with. I cannot think of a more qualified contemporary New Testament scholar to write a voluminous biography detailing Paul's life than Tom Wright, so I'm looking forward to digging into this read.

Most of these books (totaling 3,745 printed pages) will be devoured on my most favorite reading device: the first generation Kindle Oasis. Don't get me wrong, I like paper, but the advantages of Kindle's Paperwhite display enhance the reading experience without making too many compromises. The killer features for me are easy page turning, text size control and a soft backlit display for bedtime reading.

I'm excited to rekindle a vociferous reading habit and I look forward to sharing my thoughts here about each title in my eclectic summer reading list.