What I’ve been reading

  • Charles Mann, The Wizard and the Prophet: Two Remarkable Scientists and Their Dueling Visions to Shape Tomorrow’s World. Mann is the author of two other great history books, 1491 and 1493. One of the things that struck me was the sheer amount of grueling, monotonous, detail-intensive hard work that Norman Borlaug did to cultivate his new dwarf wheat variety that has kept literally hundreds of millions of people from starving. He should have failed, and if he knew more about the field he might never had tried, and in fact he had to hide much of his work from his supervisors. So much of what we take for granted in the modern world is hard earned.
  • Ryan Singer, Shape up: Stop Running in Circles and Ship Work that Matters. I found this book fascinating as kind of an alternate-universe Agile. So much of Agile adoption in the wild is cargo culting, so seeing many of the same problems solved with a different twist with different language is valuable to contemplate, even if you do not explicitly adopt anything in the book.
  • Chris Voss and Tahl Raz, Never Split the Difference. Applicable to more than just negotiation.