Ivan’s Bookshelf

2017

Portrait old cover

Portrait Of An Artist, As An Old Man

by Joseph Heller
Fiction Date: 17-12-2017 Rating: 3

It's sincere, in some places too vulnerable, even a bit senile. It's a window into a world I've never seen before. The book is about the author trying to write a book that's at least as good as his previous books. And how he cannot do that, how ideas are killed in their infancy and so are hopes.
And there he is, in his own way, desperately open.

Scanner darkly cover

A Scanner Darkly

by Philip K. Dick
Fiction Date: 14-12-2017 Rating: 2

It was a slog, with a couple of good twists. The universe has had a lot of thought put into it, and it helps suspend the disbelief as a reader.
Yet, the writing and the plot makes it a challenging experience.

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The Silence of the Lambs

by Thomas Harris
Fiction Date: 11-12-2017 Rating: 4

Suspense at its finest, the book is a stellar page-turner of which you want more and more. The characters, feel real and I found myself rooting for almost everyone in the book.
It's pure entertainment.

Phoenix project cover

The Phoenix Project

A Novel About IT, DevOps, and Helping Your Business Win
by Gene Kim, Kevin Behr, George Spafford
Fiction Date: 06-12-2017 Rating: 3

It's the Office Space and Karate Kid about DevOps put into a novel. Makes for a good airport read — it gets slightly technical and somewhere insightful.
The situation described in the book is very, very recognizable to anyone who ships software in a big company.

On writing cover

On writing

A memoir on the craft
by Stephen King
Non-fiction Date: 20-11-2017 Rating: 4

A personal story of how the King of Horror came to be. Features a lot of rejections, writing advice and the process of editing a story. It's a rewarding experience that gives a glimpse on the discipline, the craft and the failures of writing.
It also emphatically advocates against adverbs.

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Чапаев и Пустота (Buddha's Little Finger)

by Victor Pelevin
Fiction Date: 15-11-2017 Rating: 5

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance sold as a rollercoaster of an adventure book featuring a split personality, soul-searching, and defining what things aren't. Okay, in this one, the characters start drinking vodka on the third page.
It's also the most fun book I read this year.

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The Rosie Project

by Graeme Simsion
Fiction Date: 07-11-2017 Rating: 3

It was predictable, stereotypical, impossible to believe and incredibly fun.
Like a good romantic comedy, there are no open questions, there are no unknowns and the stars in this world always align in such a way, that the most unlikely thing happens and advances the plot.
It's a cozy plot.

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Breakfast of Champions

by Kurt Vonnegut
Fiction Date: 02-11-2017 Rating: 2

I admired it, it was simple, to the point and it felt humble... Until there was too much of it. Yet, this was a hard read for me. The plot doesn't follow a traditional structure. It's sad and sincere. There's not a lot more to it than words.
I like the words in Breakfast of Champions. They are good words.

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Turn the ship around!

A true story of turning followers into leaders
by L. David Marquet
Non-fiction Date: 20-10-2017 Rating: 4

The book tells a story of how a literal ship, a submarine, could be figuratively turned around using some unusual management tactics. The author, a commander, exposes the steps the crew took to develop a clearer style of management. It worked for them.
It might work for us, too.

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The Crying of Lot 49

by Thomas Pynchon
Fiction Date: 30-09-2017 Rating: 3

It was an eerie reading experience. A world in a world in a play in a book that references some historical figures but not others, to the point where it sounds so plausible. A myriad of open threads make a ball of mystery that never resolves and shouldn't. It's a difficult, perplexing, ambiguous and rewarding read.

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Building Microservices

Designing fine-grained systems
by Sam Newman
Technical Date: 12-09-2017 Rating: 3

This is a great overview of how the microservices can work for your product, team and organization. It's not going to teach you how to build a service tomorrow, nor will it show you the one true way of building software. On the contrary, it highlights the advantages and pitfalls of the microservices approach to building software. You, the reader, can decide whether it's for you.
It's the kind of technical book that you read without a computer. I like those books.

Homo deus cover

Homo Deus

A Brief History of Tomorrow
by Yuval Noah Harari
Non-fiction Date: 28-08-2017 Rating: 4

How did we get here? The book explains what happened to us and why and argues how plagues, wars and famine have shaped our society. It features religions, including a new one.
A fascinating read.

Black swan cover

Black Swan

The Impact of the Highly Improbable
by Nassim Nicholas Taleb
Non-fiction Date: 12-08-2017 Rating: 4

If you can get past the tone, you are rewarded with an insightful read. We can't predict, so we might as well admit it and learn how to live. How? More exposure to the things that might help tremendeously and reduce the impact of things that might hurt.