ITHCWY: Robert Ellison's Blog

Book reviews for June 2014

Advanced Web Metrics with Google Analytics by Brian Clifton

Advanced Web Metrics with Google Analytics by Brian Clifton

4/5

Very helpful book, but a generation out of date. Does not cover universal analytics or the new user ID collection but is a great foundation as long as you know this. I'll buy the next edition when/if it becomes available.

 

Book reviews for May 2014

The Quarry by Iain Banks

The Quarry by Iain Banks

4/5

This was a hard book to start because it's so sad to know that there will never be another Iain [M] Banks novel. I fell in love with his work after picking up The Wasp Factory with some birthday money in Guildford. I had (and loaned and lost) one signed book, Feersum Endjinn, which was the only really awful one. The Quarry was short, better than I thought it would be, not as good as his best. He'll be missed.

 

A Short Gentleman by Jon Canter

A Short Gentleman by Jon Canter

4/5

Unbearably British. Very funny.

 

Book reviews for April 2014

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

5/5

Took a while to start because The Secret History is one of my favorite books and I was pretty disappointed by The Little Friend - I can't really even remember it. The Goldfinch on the other hand will stick with me for a long time. It's a book where you inhabit someone else's life so deeply that it's disorienting to finish. Outstanding.

 

Book reviews for March 2014

Growth Hacker Marketing: A Primer on the Future of PR, Marketing, and Advertising by Ryan Holiday

Growth Hacker Marketing: A Primer on the Future of PR, Marketing, and Advertising by Ryan Holiday

2/5

Very short. Not as grubby as I was expecting. You'd be better off just reading The Lean Startup.

 

Waiting for Sunrise by William Boyd

Waiting for Sunrise by William Boyd

5/5

Outstanding WW1 spy/psychological literary thriller.

 

Constellation Games by Leonard Richardson

Constellation Games by Leonard Richardson

3/5

Engaging romp of an alien first contact mission to Earth as experienced by a video game developer.

 

Book reviews for February 2014

Five Billion Years of Solitude: The Search for Life Among the Stars by Lee Billings

Five Billion Years of Solitude: The Search for Life Among the Stars by Lee Billings

4/5

Epic book about the origins, frequency and long term outlook of life in the universe.

 

Countdown City (The Last Policeman, #2) by Ben H. Winters

Countdown City (The Last Policeman, #2) by Ben H. Winters

4/5

A search for a missing person is the backdrop for watching society start to collapse and the plot begin to thicken in the sequel to The Last Policeman. Here's hoping that the third book will be worth the wait.

 

Book reviews for January 2014

Why Does E=mc²? (And Why Should We Care?) by Brian Cox

Why Does E=mc²? (And Why Should We Care?) by Brian Cox

4/5

Has some new (to me) angles to help you try and understand relativity and quantum mechanics so I enjoyed it. I can feel that clarity starting to slip away again two days later though...

 

The 4 Disciplines of Execution: Achieving Your Wildly Important Goals by Sean Covey

The 4 Disciplines of Execution: Achieving Your Wildly Important Goals by Sean Covey

3/5

Not as religious as your typical business self help book, still wildly repetitive though. Important goal -> focus on leading rather than lagging metrics -> simple scoreboard -> peer accountability on a weekly basis -> win. It's pretty much scrum for the non-development crowd (assuming that having a captive customer can be counted as a leading metric which I think it does).

 

A Good and Useful Hurt by Aric Davis

A Good and Useful Hurt by Aric Davis

4/5

Well paced and strange book about catching a serial killer via unexpectedly powerful tattoos.

 

Last Man in Tower by Aravind Adiga

Last Man in Tower by Aravind Adiga

3/5

It's like an episode of the A Team with two important differences - the book is set in India and the A Team don't show up. This means that it doesn't end well.

 

Book reviews for October 2013

Never Go Back (Jack Reacher, #18) by Lee Child

Never Go Back (Jack Reacher, #18) by Lee Child

4/5

Exactly what you'd expect from Reacher. It's a solid thriller and totally on form.

 

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

4/5

The fascinating, troubling and ultimately morally ambiguous story of how a ubiquitous and storied cell line (HeLa) came to be, and the impact this had on the family of Henrietta Lacks (whose cells became HeLa).

 

The Lean Startup: How Today's Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses by Eric Ries

The Lean Startup: How Today's Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses by Eric Ries

3/5

The central idea of the book - better to construct small experiments and learn faster - seems right, but for a book about validated learning there is precious little data to support the hypothesis. Do Lean Startups return more money to investors or do they just pivot between slightly different ways to share photos before entering the deadpool at the same rate as Fat Startups? I want to believe Lean is better but a stack of anecdotes about IMVU just isn't enough to convince me.

Also, I hate all business books that start out by explaining how their profound ideas are applicable to all people at all times in all industries before stretching out a paragraph of insight over hundreds of turgid pages.

Lastly always read business books a few years after the peak of their popularity so you get the benefit of hindsight and a chuckle at the companies that are held up as shining examples of the author's methodology at the time but are now dead, festering or mostly incarcerated.

Having said all that I think that the approach is generally right and I appreciate that at several points in the book Ries states that there are no easy answers and no substitute for good judgement.

 

Book reviews for October 2013

Never Go Back (Jack Reacher, #18) by Lee Child

Never Go Back (Jack Reacher, #18) by Lee Child

4/5

Exactly what you'd expect from Reacher. It's a solid thriller and totally on form.

 

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

4/5

The fascinating, troubling and ultimately morally ambiguous story of how a ubiquitous and storied cell line (HeLa) came to be, and the impact this had on the family of Henrietta Lacks (whose cells became HeLa).

 

The Lean Startup: How Today's Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses by Eric Ries

The Lean Startup: How Today's Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses by Eric Ries

3/5

The central idea of the book - better to construct small experiments and learn faster - seems right, but for a book about validated learning there is precious little data to support the hypothesis. Do Lean Startups return more money to investors or do they just pivot between slightly different ways to share photos before entering the deadpool at the same rate as Fat Startups? I want to believe Lean is better but a stack of anecdotes about IMVU just isn't enough to convince me.

Also, I hate all business books that start out by explaining how their profound ideas are applicable to all people at all times in all industries before stretching out a paragraph of insight over hundreds of turgid pages.

Lastly always read business books a few years after the peak of their popularity so you get the benefit of hindsight and a chuckle at the companies that are held up as shining examples of the author's methodology at the time but are now dead, festering or mostly incarcerated.

Having said all that I think that the approach is generally right and I appreciate that at several points in the book Ries states that there are no easy answers and no substitute for good judgement.

 

Book reviews for September 2013

Dust (Silo, #3) by Hugh Howey

Dust (Silo, #3) by Hugh Howey

5/5

The best new SF series in quite some time draws to an end. Sad to see it go, can't wait to see what Hugh Howey comes up with next.

 

Brilliance by Marcus Sakey

Brilliance by Marcus Sakey

4/5

Understated X-Men shenanigans in thriller format.

 

Book reviews for September 2013

Dust (Silo, #3) by Hugh Howey

Dust (Silo, #3) by Hugh Howey

5/5

The best new SF series in quite some time draws to an end. Sad to see it go, can't wait to see what Hugh Howey comes up with next.

 

Brilliance by Marcus Sakey

Brilliance by Marcus Sakey

4/5

Understated X-Men shenanigans in thriller format.