15 Books That Changed Me

Since a lot of folks are talking about the books that influenced them, I thought I’d add my own take…

  1. The Practice of System and Network Administration, by Thomas A. Limoncelli and Christine Hogan. This book is perhaps the first to put the practice of system administration all together into one book; something for everyone to learn.
  2. Programming Ruby, by Dave Thomas. It was this book that introduced me to the joys of programming in Ruby – finally an object-oriented scripting language that was easy and fun and everywhere.
  3. OpenVMS System Management Guide, by Lawrence L. Baldwin, Jr., Steve Hoffman, and David Miller. Through this book I learned OpenVMS administration, and indirectly, found HoffmanLabs.
  4. Starting FORTH and Thinking FORTH, both by Leo Brodie. I learned FORTH through these books and never stopped loving it.
  5. The Towers of February by Tonke Dragt. I read this book in middle school (age 11 perhaps?) and never stopped looking for it since. I now have a copy (after 30 plus years looking for it). It’s a beautiful science-fiction book about alternate worlds written as a diary.
  6. Learn Any Language by Barry Farber. Foreign languages can be fun and help you to expand your mind. I’m still working on French and Russian.
  7. Code Complete by Steve McConnell. This book shows you how to write understandable – and maintainable code. Every programmer should be required to read this book.
  8. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy. This novel cemented my love for 19th century classics…
  9. Re-imagine! by Tom Peters. Who knew that a business book could be beautiful and pithy? This is a wonderful book, and is a lesson in business as well as an example of excellent graphic design. Business was never this fun!
  10. Getting Things Done and Ready for Anything by David Allen. These books really show you how to get it done – and can change your life.
  11. The Stainless Steel Rat by Harry Harrison. Not only did I fall in love with Jim diGriz (the “Stainless Steel Rat”) but it was through these books that I was first introduced to Esperanto. Learn it!
  12. Quick and Easy Math by Isaac Asimov. This book is a delightful and easy read (like all of Isaac’s books) but also shows you how to do math in your head. Best reading on the subject in my opinion.
  13. Learned Optimism by Martin Seligman. Optimism never appeared so critical. Martin’s experiments show you exactly how costly pessimism can be in all areas (well, except one….).
  14. The Memory Book by Harry Lorrayne and Jerry Lucas. This is one of the books I’ve owned the longest. It covers a lot of memorization techniques and applications as introduced by the two authors through an interview they had with each other. This is a delightful book.
  15. The Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande. After you read this book, you will never look at checklists in the same way again.

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