Books to read at least twice

Are you a software engineer, ux designer, or program manager? Are you interested in psychology and how people tick and think? During a sunny Seattle rooftop session, me and some Microsoft colleagues exchanged book tips. Here is my list. These books have impacted the way I think about life & work in many ways.

NOTE: Some these book I read in german or dutch and I’m not sure they have an english translation.

Don’t make me think

Don't make me think

I’ve read the first and second edition and though many examples stem from the early website days, the concepts are still rock solid. Stop reading blogposts with titles like “5 ways to make your UX better”, “8 ways to make your buttons clickier” and “What users really want”. Read this book and find out about tried and tested concepts that go back way beyond digital media.

Don’t Make Me Think: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability, 2nd Edition

Stop stealing sheep

Stop stealing sheep

Are you interested in typography? This book teaches you the basics and explains how to create an enjoyable reading experience in print and digital media.

Stop stealing sheep

How to Win Friends and Influence People

When I tell people about this book, some people respond that it sounds like manipulation. But I think that if you apply the lessons learned in this book with a genuine interest in other people, everybody wins. The book talks about being interested in other people, how to make a cincere compliments and how to make others feel better about themselves. In my view it helps to establish a good connection that leads to better relationships. It was published in 1936 and is still very valid in 2017.

How to Win Friends and Influence People

How to Win Friends and Influence People

What Got You Here Won’t Get You There

This book is all about habits that prevent us from making the next step in our careers.

What Got You Here Won't Get You There

What Got You Here Won’t Get You There

Predictably Irrational

I enjoyed all books by Dan Ariely but this one is my favourite. Dan Ariely writes and speaks about human nature and how the decisions we make might not always be rational.

Predictably Irrational

Predictably Irrational

Die Kunst des klaren Denkens

I found this book while traveling in the south of Germany and it was quiet unputdownable. It has 52 short stories about errors in our thinking.

Die Kunst des klaren Denkens

Die Kunst des klaren Denkens

Verbaal meesterschap

My all-time favourite book. I’m pretty sure it’s only available in Dutch and I wish it was translated into english. Forget everything you know about presenting. In fact, forget about Powerpoint. Powerpoint should be cremated according to Remco Claassen, the author of Verbaal Meesterschap. This book has so many tips and tricks to speak in public. Any speakers who reads it, automatically adds deeper impact, better empowerment and more entertainment to their talks! They might actually be able to influence people instead of talking them into a coma.

Verbaal meesterschap

Verbaal meesterschap

Ja-maar wat als alles lukt?

An enjoyable book by Berthold Gunster. It’s all about omdenken which is dutch for ‘Reverse your thinking’. Something does not go the way you want? Turn it into something pleasant. It seems hard but Berthold shows many examples how to do this. And even if something bad happened to you this books makes you aware that at least you learned something.

Ja-maar wat als alles lukt?

Ja-maar wat als alles lukt?

Grid Systems in Graphic Design

This book is going in and out of print. Buy it when you can! To be honest, it is not the nicest read. In fact, I don’t think I read a lot from it. But as the title says, it is all about grid systems. This book will teach you why you should never put more than X words on a page when the leading is Y and the font is Z. Learn from this book how to create readable text in design.

Grid Systems in Graphic Design

Grid Systems in Graphic Design

Code

Recommended by my good friend Andrew, this book was such a treat! Amazingly well-written and awesome subjects. I studied electrical engineering a long time ago and this book got me reacquainted with current, voltage, power, relais and how these electrical things leads to building a computer. If you work with computers every day and like electronics, read this book. Charles Petzhold will take you from Telegraph Relays to building your own adding machine!

Code

Code

Funky Business Forever

“Karl Marx was right”. This is the powerful openaning statement of the book and I’ve read it at least three times. It’s just so much fun to read. The book is all about change. How important difference is and how we cannot do “business as usual”. We need Funky Business.

Funky Business Forever

Funky Business Forever

We learn nothing

I saw a link to this book on Austin Kleons blog. It is all about being a human being. With all our funny behaviors, good and bad sides. Tim Kreider has a great way to describe awkward situations between friend, family and partners.

We learn nothing

We learn nothing

Quiet

Susan cain has a great Ted Talk about introverts. If you like it, you will like the book. The book explains the workfloor dynamics between introverts and extroverts. If you are one of either (which you are) you will benefit from reading this book to get a better understanding what it is to be introverted.

Quiet

Quiet

Death by black hole

Neil deGrasse Tyson is such a great storyteller. This book takes you on a journey along our solar system, our place in the universe and the rest of the cosmos. If you have any interest in cosmology, this book is for you!

Death by black hole

Death by black hole

Dilbert and the way of the weasel

Are you an employee or a manager? You have probably went through training, read books and saw ted talks on workfloor dynamics. There are many ways to find out personality types but there is always one missing: The Weasel (Or rat as we call them in The Netherlands). This book is all about weasels at the workfloor. Recognition and laughing-out-loud guaranteed! From the writer of Dilbert.

Dilbert and the Way of the Weasel

Dilbert and the Way of the Weasel

The Mythical Man-Month

Just like good design from the sixties/seventies is still good design in 2017, so are the lessons learned in this book. The book describes the complexity of writing software. How a garage-duo product cannot be compared to software that has to be maintained by big teams, has documentation and has to run over networks. It also describes the role of the lead-programmer and how we could create better teams by making managers into administrators instead of decision-makers. The author argues that a software team should work like a hospital operating room. Where the lead-engineer (or architect) takes all the decisions, just like a sergeon.

The Mythical Man-Month

The Mythical Man-Month

Grokking Algorithms

Have you been writing software for a while and want to brush up your algorithm knowledge? This book explains the difference between arrays and linked-lists. Why things get slower exponentially when doing them a certain way. It describes sorting methods, trees and graphs. The book uses python as programming language which was a nice bonus to me since I never used the language before. After reading this book, the next time you find yourself in the middle of another (almost religious) memory and performance discussion, you can use what you learned here.

Grokking Algorithms

Grokking Algorithms

More authors

I’ve only added books to the list I read at least twice. But there are many more books and authors I’d like to recommend. Authors like Carl Jung (psychology), Carl Rogers (psychology), Steven Covey (self-help), Tony Buzan (brain and memory), Joshua Foer (brain and memory), Dick Swaab (brain), Jos Burgers (business), Spencer Johnson (business), William Shirer (history), Nassim Taleb (business) and Dostojevski (Novel) are among them.

If you ever read one of the books in the list, let me know what you think of it. I would love to hear your thoughts!