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Agent to the Stars

by John Scalzi, Last Read 09 Sep 2016

In short, this book was entertaining.

The Martian Chronicles

by Ray Bradbury, Last Read 01 Sep 2016

I don't believe I was the right audience for this book. I generally don't read poetry, and this read more like an anthology of poems than a novel.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

by J.K. Rowling, Last Read 26 Aug 2016

First off, been a bit busy editing so I haven't been reading as much of other people's work. This was the audio book version and the narrator is fantastic. Enjoyed the book, specifically captivated by her descriptive power and interlaced plots. Fun read.

Programming Phoenix

by Chris McCord, Last Read 16 Aug 2016

For free weeks this time around, I'm tinkering with this web framework built on top of Elixir. I'm not sure yet, but it's interesting.

How to Write Science Fiction & Fantasy

by Orson Scott Card, Last Read 14 Aug 2016

Better late than never, right? I have read many Orson Scott Card books over the course of my life and have developed a deep and abiding appreciation for his work. Which made it all the more surprising that I had no idea that this book existed! A very valuable read for someone interested in writing genre, and for understanding the life and business of writing as a whole.

Harry Potter And The Chamber Of Secrets

by J. K. Rowling, Last Read 14 Jul 2016

There's a reason why she was the first billionaire author. These books are dynamite. I'm continually impressed by the imaginative environments, the interlaced plot stucture, and just how fun this book is. Loved it.

Turning Pro: Tap Your Inner Power and Create Your Life's Work

by Steven Pressfield, Last Read 22 Jun 2016

I know what you must be thinking, "Zack is reading Pressfield books so he can pad his yearly book count." In fact, that's incorrect. I'm reading them because they are powerfully motivating despite their small size. This book is about the dedication required to really finish a project at a high level. Perfect timing!

The High Crusade

by Poul Anderson, Last Read 11 Jun 2016

A delightful frolick through a hilarious what-if situation: what if 14th century Englishmen captured an alien spaceship and went on a galactic adventure? Immensely enjoyable, lighthearted, and very clever. My first read from Anderson and now I want to read much more.

It's Not How Good You Are, It's How Good You Want to Be: The world's best selling book

by Paul Arden, Last Read 20 May 2016

I saw a friend reading this and the large font size appealed to me. Oh look, I thought, I can read a book in minutes instead of hours, how fantastic! What I found was a motivational book with clever typography that suggests that goal setting and grit is necessary to get stuff done. I agree! In line with The War of Art, but with an advertising twist.

Consider Phlebas (Culture)

by Iain M. Banks, Last Read 13 May 2016

Finally back to science fiction, this brainy work is an interesting introduction to the Culture series. Originally piqued by the SpaceX naming of their recovery barges after characters in this series, I'm interested to see how it develops. While I enjoy the vivid imagery of this first book, I wasn't particularly in step with the characters or their motivations. Still, it was an interesting read and I've been told the series only gets better.

Betsy-Tacy

by Maud Hart, Last Read 11 Apr 2016

After the horrible oppression of 1984, I needed something less dark. I'm not sure it's possible to get more positive than this children's book about two girls growing up together. It is my wife's favorite series from childhood and I'd promised to read it for ages. It was just what the Doctor ordered...I barely even remember the cage filled with rats in room 101 now!

1984 (Signet Classics)

by George Orwell, Last Read 08 Apr 2016

This is a very difficult book to review. I hated it and I loved it, evoking the feeling of doublethink which is a cornerstone premise of the work. If the world is one big computer program, then 1984 is a programmer's manual found by chance that explains how it all works. Politics, power, the manipulation of people. 1984 is the despot's best friend, and the libertarians only hope of freedom. But oh my, it's horribly depressing. Several times I wanted to stop reading, but I had to know if Winston would stand firm. In the end, this is a work of art, written in the fashion of literature, that I don't want to ever read again.

Off to Be the Wizard (Magic 2.0)

by Scott Meyer, Last Read 21 Mar 2016

Light hearted and sometimes obvious in its humor, this is an enjoyable story of a nerd discovering a kind of magic he can relate to. Perhaps more on the Fantasy end of the spectrum, though the apparatus of the magic is technology, I still enjoyed this diversion from the harder sci-fi of late. It's a series, so perhaps I might read more. Will you like it? Are you a nerd that had a Commodore 64 and wished you could fly? Venn Diagram completed.

Raising an Emotionally Intelligent Child

by John Gottman, Last Read 24 Feb 2016

A bit off topic for what I normally read, but I really appreciate Gottman's focus on data and research rather than appealing to an authority regarding how to raise a healthy child. A bit jingoist at time (ahem, Emotion Coaching), but I like the approach. Fundamentally, I want to raise my kid without resorting to physical punishments. This seems like a good possibility.

The Man in the High Castle

by Philip K. Dick, Last Read 20 Feb 2016

PKD's finest work, The Man in the High Castle is scintillating literature in the tradition of Vonnegut and only barely resembles the category of science fiction. It is absolutely nothing like the Amazon produced series (just as Blade Runner barely mirrors Do Androids?), but each are intriguing in their own way. Honestly, I'm still puzzled as to what this book means, but perhaps that is its very point. . .I'll need to consult the I Ching.

Redshirts: A Novel with Three Codas

by John Scalzi, Last Read 13 Feb 2016

An immensely enjoyable tale with a clever point of view. Like Star Trek? Ever wonder what it must feel like to be one of the disposable cast of extras, seemingly killed off each episode for ratings? Then you'll enjoy this fun read. Only critique I would give is that the author holds dogmatically to Stephen Kings "thou shalt only use 'said' for dialog tags", so the audio book version gets confusing at times, but if you can ignore that, you'll love it!

The Dark Forest

by Cixin Liu, Last Read 05 Feb 2016

Carrying forward the incredible story from the Three Body Problem, this may be the most thoughtful Sci-Fi on this list and is shaping up to be the best trilogy I've read. The scenarios of the Wallfacers, the intrigue of the Wallbreakers, and the incredible plot twists throughout make this a must read. Couldn't recommend it more, though many folks have said it bogs down at the beginning.

The Varieties of Scientific Experience: A Personal View of the Search for God

by Carl Sagan, Last Read 28 Jan 2016

I love Carl Sagan, so for me this book is partially about finishing the canon of his works, and also partially to try and wrap my head around a scientific view of religious experience. If that floats your boat, you'll find this valuable, though not as amazing as his other works.

Old Man's War

by John Scalzi, Last Read 22 Jan 2016

Scalzi is channeling Heinlein in this enjoyable space marines epic which is built around the twist of sending old, rather than young, folks to war. I'll have to check out the sequel some time.

The Three-Body Problem

by Cixin Liu, Last Read 16 Jan 2016

A short review just wouldn't cut it for this book, I had to write a full length review. That can be good or bad. If you're interested in reading me go on and on about this book, check out the Full Review.

Machines of Loving Grace

by John Markoff, Last Read 09 Jan 2016

Often times, Artificial Intelligence breakthroughs are portrayed as being catastrophic to humanity. The author promotes a view where Intelligence Augmentation is more of a worthwhile goal and likely outcome. In other words, building intelligences that can help us, rather than overtake us. Honestly, the book was boring with the author meandering constantly with theme-less chapters. Wouldn't recommend it even though I like the topic.

The Windup Girl

by Paolo Bacigalupi, Last Read 29 Dec 2015

Absolutely loved the book. . .except for two incredibly graphic rape scenes which violated the titular character. Not entirely sure why. . .

The Writer's Journey

by Christopher Vogler, Last Read 19 Nov 2015

An extensive elaboration on the Cambellian Heroes Journey as it relates to writing a story and being a writer. I enjoyed it, but it could have been heavily edited.

How Fiction Works

by James Wood, Last Read 18 Nov 2015

An academic's view of how fiction works, which, in a former life I was rather academic so I don't mind the name-dropping aspect of the book. Like Nabokov? You'll wish you did by the end of the book.

Snow Crash

by Neal Stephenson, Last Read 14 Oct 2015

This well loved book didn't quite resonate with me. I'm not sure why, but the parody/hyperbole was just a bit too foreign for me to grasp.

Neuromancer

by William Gibson, Last Read 28 Sep 2015

I remember really enjoying this one as a kid, but it wasn't quite the same on the re-read. I appreciate the fever-dream quality which Gibson brought to the work. He truly is a master and this bears that fingerprint.

Harry Potter and the Sorceror's Stone

by J.K. Rowling, Last Read 06 Sep 2015

I read the first chapter several times, admiring the mastery of the economy of each word properly chosen to introduce the story most effectively. It really is remarkably well-written fiction and very enjoyable.

Superintelligence

by Nick Bostrom, Last Read 26 Aug 2015

The most thorough work on Artificial Intelligence which I have ever read. It concerns itself primarily with the pathways and risks associated with developing a true super-intelligence and makes a rather compelling case for it plausibly occurring in our lifetimes.

The War of Art

by Steven Pressfield, Last Read 17 Aug 2015

When I started writing my own book, I didn't understand the author's premise. I wasn't having self-defeating resistance to writing, I was enjoying every minute of it. But then, somewhere along the path to maturity, it hits. The inexplicable self-defeating cycle of prioritizing other things. Read this book if you struggle staying on track.

The Hero with a Thousand Faces

by Joseph Campbell, Last Read 11 Aug 2015

From the perspective of a comparative mythologist (I made that up), Joseph Campbell links together the great stories of the world and finds commonality. It became the blueprint for many great stories of modern day.

The Gunslinger

by Stephen King, Last Read 10 Aug 2015

People say they love this book, that it's King's finest. I can't help but read it as a shadow of Cormac McCarthy and thus didn't enjoy it as much. I've been told the later books make for a very compelling series. Will revisit.

Slaughterhouse Five

by Kurt Vonnegut, Last Read 08 Aug 2015

I had never read a book like this before. At once very meta -- it refers to itself regularly -- and from the perspective of an unreliable narrator, it was frankly mindbending. I think I liked it. Maybe?

Eats Shoots & Leaves

by Lynne Truss, Last Read 02 Aug 2015

Amusing look into one person's life long relationship with grammar. It's fun, short, and perhaps you'll make sense of some grammar along the way. Although, I think it's just made me re-read everything I write like ten times.

On Writing: 10th Anniversary Edition: A Memoir of the Craft

by Stephen King, Last Read 27 Jul 2015

A very motivating book for an aspiring writer, King lays out the tremendous path towards mastery that begins and ends at the same place: in the chair and writing relentlessly (although without adverbs and only with 'said's). Loved it.

Armada

by Ernest Cline, Last Read 10 Jul 2015

It is difficult not to compare with Ready Player One, but I think it's better to set that aside and enjoy this book on its own. If you do, you'll find a fun tribute to "The Last Starfighter."

Starship Troopers

by Robert Heinlein, Last Read 09 Jul 2015

What was the movie thinking? If you've seen it and think you know what Heinlein was writing about, you are mistaken. This book is esprit de corp, the existential joy of fighting alongside brethren for a common purpose. With a good bit of military realism thrown in as well. Loved it.

An Astronaut's Guide to Life on Earth

by Chris Hadfield, Last Read 27 Jun 2015

I am a strong proponent of advancing progress towards space travel. This book is an interesting autobiography with some good life advice thrown in as well.

The Demon Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark

by Carl Sagan, Last Read 18 Jun 2015

Love, love, love this book. Sagan encourages skeptical thinking as a way to avoid bullshit and the manipulative hold of charlatans. I wish this was required reading in our schools and churches, truly would protect a lot of people.

Childhood's End

by Arthur C. Clarke, Last Read 12 Jun 2015

Visionary science fiction. An alien arrival with religious overtones forces the reader to question their beliefs in this alternate history of Earth (at least that is how I think of it). By the end, if you're not asking existential questions about humanity and our purpose, then you didn't read it!

Blood Music

by Greg Bear, Last Read 05 Jun 2015

A short review just wouldn't cut it for this book, I had to write a full length review. That can be good or bad. If you're interested in reading me go on and on about this book, check out the Full Review.

2001: A Space Odyssey

by Arthur C. Clark, Last Read 05 Jun 2015

I love the cadence of Clark's writing, there's just something very _clear_ about it. That said, this is a decent book but not my favorite from him.

Refactoring

by Martin Fowler, Last Read 31 May 2015

A short review just wouldn't cut it for this book, I had to write a full length review. That can be good or bad. If you're interested in reading me go on and on about this book, check out the Full Review.

The Forever War

by Joe Haldeman, Last Read 30 May 2015

A short review just wouldn't cut it for this book, I had to write a full length review. That can be good or bad. If you're interested in reading me go on and on about this book, check out the Full Review.

The Martian

by Andy Weir, Last Read 25 May 2015

It is a travesty that I haven't written a long review of this. LOVE THIS BOOK. Much more witty than the movie, which was very well made.

The New Turing Omnibus

by A Dewdney, Last Read 09 May 2015

A short review just wouldn't cut it for this book, I had to write a full length review. That can be good or bad. If you're interested in reading me go on and on about this book, check out the Full Review.

Foundation and Empire

by Isaac Asimov, Last Read 05 May 2015

A short review just wouldn't cut it for this book, I had to write a full length review. That can be good or bad. If you're interested in reading me go on and on about this book, check out the Full Review.

Second Foundation

by Isaac Asimov, Last Read 04 May 2015

A short review just wouldn't cut it for this book, I had to write a full length review. That can be good or bad. If you're interested in reading me go on and on about this book, check out the Full Review.

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep

by Philip Dick, Last Read 03 May 2015

A short review just wouldn't cut it for this book, I had to write a full length review. That can be good or bad. If you're interested in reading me go on and on about this book, check out the Full Review.

The Grand Design

by Stephen Hawking, Last Read 26 Apr 2015

Basically Hawking doesn't like the whole Intelligent Design stuff, so he wrote a short book describing how cool the universe is without it requiring a creator. I loved his previous work, but this one comes across as flabby and negative (and I'm not an ID proponent either). If you want to read a good version of this, read Carl Sagan's Cosmos.

The Elegant Universe

by Brian Greene, Last Read 11 Apr 2015

String theory, string theory, string theory. Is it real or imaginary? Who knows? But Brian Greene (former prof at Cornell) sure loves it and wants everyone to believe in it. I'm not convinced.

Smalltalk Best Practices

by Kent Beck, Last Read 09 Mar 2015

Want to write code in an Object Oriented Language that is nice for your future self and your friends? This is a good place to start. Provides names to common patterns and pitfalls.

Eon

by Greg Bear, Last Read 26 Feb 2015

Another one that I really need to write a long review. . .this book is awesome. Hard science, crazy out there ramifications of science that still feel like they might be plausible, and a really interesting story to boot.

Pale Blue Dot

by Carl Sagan, Last Read 08 Jan 2015

Sobering reflection on how inconsequential we are, populating just one tiny planet in the vast cosmos. But hey, reality check! He then paints a humanistic future, love Carl.

Foundation

by Isaac Asimov, Last Read 05 Jan 2015

A short review just wouldn't cut it for this book, I had to write a full length review. That can be good or bad. If you're interested in reading me go on and on about this book, check out the Full Review.

Cosmos

by Carl Sagan, Last Read 01 Jan 2015

A short review just wouldn't cut it for this book, I had to write a full length review. That can be good or bad. If you're interested in reading me go on and on about this book, check out the Full Review.

Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

by Douglas Adams, Last Read 27 Oct 2014

Was fun as a kid but wasn't my cup of tea upon re-reading. I need a buffered analgesic.

Dune

by Frank Herbert, Last Read 04 Jul 2014

Yeah, best sci-fi of all time and I NEED to write a review. I know. This is so high for me because it (as far as I know), originated a lot of the elements of modern sci-fi that I prize, stuff later found in Ender's Game and the like.

Ready Player One

by Ernest Cline, Last Read 19 Jun 2013

OMG, so much fun in the nostalgic romp that is this trip through VR and the 80s. Wildly entertaining and worthy of a full length review.

Land of Lisp

by Conrad Barski, Last Read 13 Apr 2013

There are a few programming books that I enjoy simply because they take a different approach. This book uses simple games to teach Lisp, and it's very well executed. Fun games, fun illustrations, much enjoy.

Learn You a Haskell for Great Good!

by Miran Lipovaca, Last Read 12 Mar 2013

Haskell is a religion to which I'm not an adherent. I mean seriously, how many times have I been told that Functional Programming is the future. . .so when is that going to happen already? That said, great book for learning Haskell, really had fun reading it!

SICP

by Harold Abelson, Last Read 14 Feb 2013

All the wizard references are fun for a bit, but I just didn't get that much out of this. Not sure why it's referenced so often.

Compilers

by Alfred Aho, Last Read 31 Jan 2013

I'll be honest, I skimmed through most of this, mostly to satisfy my curiosity on how compilers work. The thing is, if that is what you are after, there are much shorter tomes. This is an undergrad book.

The Little Schemer

by Daniel Friedman, Last Read 30 Jan 2013

Socratic method to learn Scheme? Yes please! Very well done and I recommend it extensively.

The Art of Computer Programming Volume 1

by Donald Knuth, Last Read 31 Dec 2012

There is a group delusion when it comes to this series of books. Perhaps, it is like hazing, where individuals go through a bad experience and then force it on others, somehow feeling better about it in the process. This book is no longer relevant, and while it may serve a historical function for some, is not useful for programmers today.

The Algorithm Design Manual

by Steven Skiena, Last Read 21 Nov 2012

Incredibly useful book for programmers today looking to learn about algorithms. If you think you should be reading TAOCP, you are wrong. Read this instead (unless you are building in a fictional Assembly language).

Ender's Game

by Orson Scott Card, Last Read 10 Dec 2008

This may have been the book that got me fired up about Sci-Fi originally, and then when I re-read it a number of years back. Incredible execution of the child-genius motif (see Dune) overlayed upon space marines, with a twist. Love it.

A Brief History of Time

by Stephen Hawking, Last Read 15 Sep 1997

Hawking at his finest, this book drew a young highschool Zack to see Hawking deliver a lecture in Seattle and increase his fervor for Physics. Truly a stunning landmark book in explaining things like black holes to the masses. A+

QED

by Richard Feynman, Last Read 07 Aug 1997

A short review just wouldn't cut it for this book, I had to write a full length review. That can be good or bad. If you're interested in reading me go on and on about this book, check out the Full Review.

Six Easy Pieces

by Richard Feynman, Last Read 08 Jul 1997

A distilled version of his lectures, which makes this much more approachable that the former.

The Feynman Lectures on Physics

by Richard Feynman, Last Read 12 Aug 1994

Read during the window between highschool and college, this series of books fired my passion for science as an understandable and explainable discipline, not just wizardry for smart people. That said, it's quite a haul to get through these, but it's worth it.