What are you reading? July 2019 edition

  • (Still) Currently reading

    • Technical
      • Planar Microwave Engineering - Thomas H Lee
        • Stalled out on this one. Picked up a new RF book (below) that was a bit more practical and engaging.
      • A Practical Guide To RF And Mixed Signal Printed Circuit Board Layout - Brendon Parise and Scott Nance
        • As mentioned above, I wanted a more practical look at RF layout, this is a nice compendium of knowledge about stackups and best practices. It made me really fearful about putting large power planes on a board, as they act as wideband antennas. So I am re-evaluating some of my practices as a result, which is a positive.
      • Financial intelligence for entrepreneurs - Karen Berman
        • This one is a much more practical look at numbers and how balance sheets, P&L and cash flow all fit together. One thing I like about it is it asks questions like, “Where do you put your salary…top line (COGS) or bottom line (expense)?” Stuff like that I never even thought to ask. About halfway through this one.
  • Recently finished

    • Business

      • Critical Business Skills for Success (Audible) - I ended up returning this after 2/3rds of the way through. It was just not great. Listening to the content was a struggle, mostly because this book was written from the perspective of large corporate finance. It was basically useless unless you were planning on becoming an executive at a large company, and even then, it was a high level overview. There were some interesting discussions of the future value of money, but I don’t think I’m in a place where I need that for business. It was useful maybe from an investing perspective, but this book was not written from that perspective and there are much better investing books out there.
    • Enjoyment (summer reading/listening)

      • Cryptonomicon - Neal Stephenson

        • I had been trying to finish this one for a long time. I went back and forth to it. I found the first 1/3 of the book quite slow and confusing because it jumps between different timelines. I decided to pick it back up because his newest book (Fall) is set in the same universe, as is REAMDE, apparently. I ended up getting into it and enjoying it.
      • Built to Sell - John Warrillow

        • I don’t remember why I decided to read this, I think I found it on a list somewhere on HN or something. It’s from the perspective of, “What if you wanted to sell your company?”. It’s written as a narrative of a boss looking to retire by selling his company and then it’s a dialogue between him and a mentor. I liked that format, even if it’s a bit campy. It’s useful to see how consulting businesses require that the principal be part of the “sale” and how they often get locked into more work. Therefore, a business needs to sell a product. What this really taught me is that I’m not keen on starting a larger consultancy anytime soon. Nor am I looking to get into a product business based on selling productized services. It’s about replicating success over and over, which make sense from a money perspective but seems quite boring, tbh.
      • Babylon’s Ashes - The Expanse series, book 6 (Audible) - James S.A. Corey.

        • Another junk food book that I burned through. I loved it. This one had even more perspectives of the characters. I’m starting to feel anxious about running out of these books, but I am still trying to keep at least one other audiobook in between the junk food (delicious).
      • Grown Up’s Guide to Dinosaurs (Audible)

        • This was one of their “Originals” that you get with the monthly subscription. Pretty good content, like a really long form podcast.

Wow, looking closer at my purchase of Cryptonomicon…I wasn’t kidding…

“Test Driven Development for Embedded C” by James W. Genning - after reading about it in this forum. Just in the first couple of chapters but it is already giving me plenty to think about.


I’m a huge Stephenson fan, and yes, there is some continuity between Cryptonomicon, REAMDE, The Baroque Cycle, and Fall, or Dodge in Hell. The Baroque Cycle is in my all-time top five or ten fave books - rip-roaring, sweeping-epic historical fiction set in one of the most exciting periods of human history, when folks like Huygens, Newton, Christopher Wren, and Leibniz were all active. It might be difficult to find nowadays - make sure you don’t get some abridged version intended for the attention-span-challenged.

REAMDE and Fall are closely linked character-wise, but for me ultimately unfulfilling. Of course, the writing is superb and often hilarious, but REAMDE seems to end in a paean to the right to bear arms, and Fall devolves into utter ridiculousness after a promising start that offers a fascinating vision of the technology of the near future. I recently read The Rise and Fall of DODO, and enjoyed it immensely - that rarest of things, a time-travel story with some plausibility.

For fun: Also reading Babylon’s Ashes… about 1/3 way thru…

Technical: Test-driven development by Grenning… also going to be taking his 3 day seminar. For a small group when you don’t have a lot of technical resources to look over your shoulder or bounce things off of (or much of a QA group), I think this is the way to prevent things from going all pear-shaped…

(see what I did there Chris? :stuck_out_tongue:)