Some books of passing interest to the web generalist

Last year I bought and read more books about web, design, code and innovation than I have for a while. Here is a list of a few of the more useful, interesting, inspiring or just downright helpful of those. For no greater reason than the fact that it's useful to have a list to point people at. 

I hope the reading in 2012 is as rich.


Pragmatic Thinking and Learning

Thinking about thinking is one of the things I've been thinking about recently. This book takes thinking about thinking to new levels – and should be compulsory reading for anyone who thinks for a living. Which is most of us. I think. I wish I'd read it sooner.


I'm a developer turned solution architect who 'gets' design in an abstract kind of way but I'm trying to dig in deeper and build a stronger design foundation. 8faces has really helped me take design seriously by treating design thinking seriously. It's also a lovely thing to have kicking around the house.

Lean Startup

Measure. Measure. Measure. The big lessons from this has really shifted my opinions as to what constitutes a successful project. It's not about delivering on time, on budget, with a happy client (although that all counts). It's about tracking the right numbers, and making sure that the charts go up and to the right. And making sure that everyone knows which numbers we're tracking, why, and what they need to do to influence them. Easily forgotten.

Understanding Comics

The talk from Scott McCloud at Build 2011 was entertaining, interesting and thought provoking. I ordered the book during the talk (amazon one click is amazing isn't it). I swallowed it whole – a great visual communication baseline. 

Ogilvy on Advertising

I've worked in marketing companies for years and never read any Ogilvy. Amazing how many of the basic principles are 100% applicable to the new world of online advertising. Not bad for a book from '83.

A Book Apart

A publisher, not a book I know. They all got bought and read though, and there's not really a stinker among them. I bought the first few on paper, but have the digital copies for the rest because I found I either had the hard copy at my desk and needed it at home, or vice versa. Continuing the a list apart genius of publishing relatively timeless stuff relating to the fast moving world of the internet. Can't wait for the next one by Mike_FTW.

Stewart Lee – How I escaped my certain fate

Oddly enough, this fits the 'thinking about thinking' thing really well. I picked it up being a Stewart Lee fanboy – it's basically three standup shows annotated as though they were Shakespear. Which sounds awful. But gives some great insights into how he thinks about how he thinks about comedy. It's also funny.


37Signals bombastic absolutist superior lecturing slap around the head for the mediocre. I find it hard to disagree with any of it – but that doesn't mean that it's all easy to apply in real life… I'd love to give every client a copy of this.

Business Model Generation

A fun framework for thrashing out business models. At work we use a lot of processes – often boiling tonnes of work down to a simple diagram. This book uses a similar approach, hugely interesting to see the layers and layers of detail applied by such a diverse range of experts to one process.

If any locals want a borrow just shout and I'll take along to the next Refresh.


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