My Virtual Coffee Table

Posted by Phil Weber on February 28, 2006

Kathy Sierra asks, “What's on your (virtual) coffee table?Here, in roughly reverse chronological order, is my recent reading list.

As I entered my books into LibraryThing, I was surprised that I had read so many books last year. Most of my reading is technical in nature, so I tend to prefer electrons to atoms. Two factors contributed to my reading more than usual in 2005:

  • Our trip to China. There’s plenty of time to read on a 12–hour flight (especially when the movies are in Chinese!) I polished off four books on that trip, including the only fiction title on the list, which I purchased at Shanghai airport for the flight home.
  • Starting a new job. Two of the books on my list are related to my new position as a trainer, and Kathy is responsible, directly or indirectly, for both of them.
  • The first, Head-First Java, bears her byline. I purchased it after she revealed in an e-mail that “the exercises in our head-first books come right from our classes.” Variations of the book’s exercises have indeed proved effective in my C# classes.
  • In that same e-mail, Kathy recommended the other book, Designing World-Class E-Learning, whose primary message is that students learn by doing (and failing); to teach effectively, we must let students experience what we want them to learn. No more Death by PowerPoint!

The only disappointment on my list is Gerald Weinberg’s Weinberg on Writing. I bought it on Johanna Rothman’s recommendation; she seemed to promise that the book would help me become a prolific writer. Weinberg is an engaging storyteller, but his book is really about accumulating ideas for writing: he advocates carrying a notebook at all times and recording “stones” (ideas) with which you can construct “walls” (finished works).

Ideas are not my problem: I have a long list of topics about which I’d like to write. My problem is lack of motivation. After 40+ hours of work and 10 hours of volunteer work each week, all I want to do is sleep or watch TV. Unfortunately, I haven’t yet found a book to solve that problem.


Posted by Kelly on March 1, 2006:

Hey! I’m reading Learned Optimism too! My boss gave it to me. NO, not to change my attitude, but because I was reading a similar book and turns out his friend wrote Learned Optimism and he must have a case of them in his office. I especially got a kick out of the tests that show optimists basically skew reality. So pessimists are really more realistic. HA! My next question I hope the book answers is this: At what point then does optimism turn into denial?

Posted by CrzyDJM on April 5, 2006:

I just checked out “LibraryThing” and I’ve gotta say thank you for the heads up…

What a great site…

I’m “dmiller23462” on it, btw…

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