Mon 31 December 2018

My 2018 Reading List

It's the last day of 2018, and a few hours before midnight strikes. Looking back, I didn't get to do as much writing on here for the year as I wanted to (something I'm trying to change in 2019 and beyond). I did, however, manage to find time to do a lot of reading this year; mostly due to long flights, but also from a real effort on my part to get back into the habit.

It seemed like a fitting way to close the year out, then, by listing the books I found insightful and worth grabbing a copy of. I'm opting not to link to Amazon for these, but if you prefer to buy books through there, you should be able to find any of them with a quick search. These are also lightly divided by topics, primarily for some structure.


I've generally been a private person, but 2018 in general led to me looking for a better understanding of what privacy really means, both on a consumer and product development level. It's not a topic that can be approached with technology alone; the books below helped me to have an even better understanding of the history of privacy (insofar as US law goes, although much of it is applicable in general).

Habeas Data, by Cyrus Farivar

I found this book while stumbling through the Elliot Bay Book Company in Seattle, and bought it after skimming a few pages. Cyrus does an amazing job outlining the most significant court cases that have shaped the current legal view on privacy, while simultaneously showcasing how the government and general public have failed to keep up with the ethical questions and concerns that have come up in the past few decades as technology has exploded. In general, this was a tough book to put down: it easily messed up my sleep schedule, due to a night or two of reading into the morning hours, and I walked away feeling like I had a better understanding of the privacy landscape.

Rating: 10/10

Future Crimes, by Marc Goodman

This book was frustrating, is the best way I can put it. I picked it up on sale after noticing that it was listed as a best seller... and then I regretted it for the following few weeks as I labored through it. The author has a writing style that can be explained best as "stating the obvious for 500 pages". If you have a background in technology, I would skip this; if you're wondering just what's possible with technology, it's probably an okay read, if not a bit hyperbolic.

Rating: 4/10

Privacy's Blueprint, by Woodrow Hartzog

Much of the internet is opt-in, in a sense - there's generally a privacy policy and terms of service, but it's up to you to read the fine print and decide whether it's good or bad. This book that examines how privacy can be regulated and enforced from the legal side, by requiring product makers to respect privacy in how they build. If you work in tech, touch user data, or have a passing interest in privacy, then this is worth a read.

Rating: 7.5/10


Cooking is a hobby of mine. I wouldn't consider myself professional, but it's amazing for stress relief. It's also a creative outlet for when I can't stand looking at a computer anymore.

How to Taste, by Becky Selengut

This book changed my life: it gave me the final secret to scrambled eggs that I didn't know I needed. While it's worth picking up for this fact alone, the author does a great job illustrating the link between salt, taste, and why so much of what you taste out there tastes bad. I started this on an 8 hour flight and was finished before the end, could not put it down.

Rating: 9/10

Acid Trip: Travels in the World of Vinegar, by Michael Harlan Turkell

A strange book on this list, in that it's easy to look at it more as a cookbook than anything else. I received my copy from a dinner party I attended where the author was giving a presentation, and I guarantee you there's more to it: Turkell does a great job going into the history of vinegar, the different forms out there, and the insane amount of uses it serves. Features a ton of recipes (~100), some of which I still haven't gotten to trying. Highly recommended.

Also, Michael, if you're reading this, my dog literally ate your business card. Hope you found everything you were looking for in Tokyo.

Rating: 7/10


These are books I picked up on a whim, with some level of self improvement in mind.

Harvard Business Review's 10 "Must Reads" on Emotional Intelligence

A collection of articles and essays that help define and increase understanding of emotional intelligence. I originally picked this up to broaden my skills regarding interacting with and leading other people, and I think it helped foster a better way of looking at situations that involve other people. A little bit less about the data and numbers, and more about understanding what it takes to effectively manage and work with people. Recommended.

Rating: 7/10

Mastermind: How to Think like Sherlock Holmes, by Maria Konnikova

This is another book where the writing style drove me slightly insane; it definitely felt like the same points being repeated for multiple paragraphs straight. With that said, the content was worth slogging through, and if you can put up with the writing, this is a fun read that'll leave you with some exercises for your brain.

Rating: 6.5/10


Most of these titles were, sadly, only read in the last six months. I'm hoping to make a bigger push in 2019, with a wider range of topics to boot. If you have any recommendations for titles similar to the above, feel free to let me know!

Ryan around the Web