My 5 best reads of 2021

January 1, 2022

2021 is now officially over.

As I read a lot, I thought I’d recap my best reads (books) of the last year, in hopes that you may find something of interest on here for your 2022 reading list.

  1. Acceleerate: The Science of Lean Software and DevOps: Building and Scaling High Performing Technology Organizations by Nicole Forsgren PhD, Jez Humble, and Gene Kim

    Although this book came out in 2018, and I started reading it at the end of 2020, I didn’t finish until well into 2021. This book provides a science-based view of DevOps, and explores what works and what doesn’t in the world of software delivery and business outcomes. This is a must-read for anyone in a technical leadership position, but also fascinating for anyone in a technical role and a desire for a deeper understanding.

    I read this on Kindle. There are some charts that would make me hesitant to listen to the audiobook version.

  2. The Knowledge-Creating Company by Ikujiro Nonaka

    An older book, published in 2008, it takes a look at what makes several Japanese knowledge-creating companies stand out as successful. For anyone interested in Lean Manufacturing or the Toyota Production System, this book’s themes will be quite familiar. Recommended for people in leadership positions or in product development.

    A good book to listen to in audio format or to read on an eReader or physical book.

  3. Commitment: Novel about Managing Project Risk by Chris Matts, illustrations by Chris Geary

    Perhaps unusual in that this book is a graphic novel, it’s still a great read. It’s a gentle introduction to the concept of Real Options as it applies to business and project-related decisions. It’s a quick read. I expect most can get through it in an afternoon. I recommend this book for everyone, as it has broad implications for leadership, as well as individual contributors.

    As it’s a graphic novel, there is no audio format. I don’t believe there’s an eBook format, either, so you’ll probably be stuck getting it in paperback.

  4. The Unicorn Project by Gene Kim

    This one is a sort of sequel to Gene Kim’s earlier seminal book The Phoenix Project. Both are novels about a fictional, but believable, IT project gone terribly wrong, and how the company overcame the problem by applying DevOps principles. The difference between the two is that Phoenix is told more from a management standpoint, while Unicorn is more from the standpoint of the individual contributors. Both are good reads for anyone involved in IT or software development.

    This is a great one for an audio listen on your daily commute. The narrative kept me engaged, without my mind wandering to people watching.

  5. Failure is Not An Option: Mission Control from Mercury to Apollo 13 and Beyond by Gene Kranz

    Not an IT book, per se, this book has all the elements of a good technical drama, plus space flight! It tells the story of NASA’s unmanned and manned space program through the eyes of author Gene Kranz, flight director for the later missions. It covers the same material as the popular movie Apollo 13 staring Tom Hanks, and much, much more, and in much greater detail. I recommend this book for anyone who enjoys a good story, especially one about real-life engineering and troubleshooting.

    This one also makes for a great audio listen if you’re so inclined.

  6. The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle

    Why stop at 5? Here’s a bonus recommendation!

    In early 2021 I read of the passing of Eric Carle, author of this timeless classic. As I had a newborn,I decided he should be introduced to the classic book. I’ve read this book with my now 1-year-old son more times than I’ve probably ready any other book in my life. I highly recommend it for anyone at all. 😉

    This one needs to be read in physical form. Sorry if you wasted money on a shiny new Kindle just for this one!


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