You don’t need me to tell you that 2020 was a weird year, and that definitely showed up in my reading list. For a long time mid-year, I really shied away from anything that was dark or challenging. Still, I somehow managed to read books this year, and I managed to put together a list. Eventually, I mean it is April 2021, which is a little late for a Best Of 2020 list.
Books That Made Me Happy 2019 Here’s big old book list for 2019. I did something very weird and nerdy this year. Rather than group the books by type, I just rank them. (I actually kind of rank them every year, but I don’t normally use the ranking in this post because I don’t want it to seem like a competition). To be extra nerdy, what I did this year was write a short program that randomly picked two books and asked me to compare them, and repeated that over and over, then did various math things to convert all those comparisons into a score and then a ranking.
Books that made me happy 2018 Well, I failed in my plan to get this out by the end of January, but here are the books I liked in 2018. Unlike past years, here they all are in one post, I think it’s about 25. I tried, with mixed success to not write six gazillion words about each book. Enjoy! My favorite book of the year The Calculating Stars / The Fated Sky by Mary Robinette Kowal— if you have ever liked anything I’ve recommended ever, there’s a good chance you’ll like this.
2017 Books A Plenty At long last, the 2017 books that made me happy/recommendations post. Did you miss me? Past years: 2016 Part 1 Part Two 2015 Part 1 Part Two 2014 SF Fantasy This year, I’m doing it all in one post, because if you are going to write 4000 words it’s best to get it all in at once, that’s just science. The rules are: These are all books I read in 2017 That I liked The books are organized into arbitrary groups, because there were weird coincidences, in that I read a number of say, unusual time-travel books this year.
Here’s part two of my 2016 “Books I Liked List”. This is the list of books I really, really liked, for the list of books I just liked one “really” worth, head here. All the book titles like to the Kindle edition of the book, so enjoy. All The Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders I really did like this book quite a bit, though not as much as other people: you’ll find several online lists that have it as the best or one of the two or three best books of the year.
Books 2016: Part One This is part one of my “books that made me happy in 2016”. As usual, we’re doing this in two parts. This one is the books I liked, the next post is the books I really liked. I had a hard time separating the list this year, there were a lot of likable books, so there are kind of a lot here. In alphabetical order by title.
I really did want to get this done sooner, but I didn’t. See part one for the other books I liked in 2015. Consider this the books I really liked. You could call it a top ten, but there’s more than 10. But still, my absolute favorite books of 2015, alphabetically by title. Ancillary Mercy, by Ann Leckie In trilogies, first books get to have all the fun. The first book is where you get the full thrill of discovery, of learning about a new thing.
Thanks to the literally one person who encouraged this list last year, I’m presenting the 2015 list of books I liked. Last year, I split between Fantasy Books I Liked and SF Books I Liked. This year, the split didn’t work out evenly, so I have “Books I Liked”, and “Books I Liked Even More”. Here’s the first batch: “Books I Liked in 2015”. First, the Books I Liked. Well, not all of them, but especially the ones I thought I could write an interesting paragraph about.
After last week’s Fantasy novels that made me happy, here’s part two. These are the Science Fiction books that I read in 2014 that made me happy. Again, alphabetical order by title. Also, I’m noticing that my writing-about-books skills are rusty, though I always found it hard to write anything decent about a novel without spoilers. Ancillary Sword, Ann Leckie This is the sequel to Ancillary Justice, which one all the awards last year.
Every year, I’m determined to write a post about my favorite books of the previous year. Every year, I fail at it, in part, because of my tendency to want to write a 2000 word essay on each one. This year, I’m doing it as part of my new “things that make me happy” blog posts. And I’m splitting it into two parts: fantasy novels this week, and SF novels next week.
I was a nerdy kid. I suppose that isn’t much of a surprise, given how I turned out. But in those pre-computer days, I was nerdy about math and baseball. I was the kind of kid that kept a daily log of my batting statistics in the recess kickball games. So you can imagine my surprise and happiness when this image appeared in Sports Illustrated, in May 1981. I was ten:
I’m granting myself amnesty for about six months of unreviewed books to mention a couple of recently read books. Pirate Sun, Karl Schroeder I think that of all the authors I enjoy, Schroeder is the most criminally under-read. If you like SF, I tell you that Virga – the background of Pirate Sun and its two predecessors – is the coolest SF construct since Ringworld. Schroeder could write novels in it for the next forty years and only scratch the surface of what’s possible.
I’ve been meaning to do this sooner, but, wow time flies… Here are some brief comments about books I’ve read so far this year and would recommend. I think I’ll pass on doing negative reviews here at the moment, unless I can make a larger point somehow. Captain’s Fury, by Jim Butcher Book four in the Codex Alera series continues pretty much everything that’s enjoyable about the series. I particularly like the way Butcher continues to move the story along, as well as how he’s resisted the easy way to manage the hero and his lack of fury powers.
One weird aspect of being a published writer is that you get very little information about sales. You see your own numbers (several months after the fact), but there’s no larger context, and no sense of what a reasonable expectation of sales might be. Which is why I love it when O’Reilly Radar puts up one of their periodic looks at the computer book market. I haven’t pored over stat line like this since I collected baseball cards when I was ten.
![223888 cover_df.pdf (3 pages).jpg](http://blogs.pathf.com/agileajax//223888 cover_df.pdf (3 pages).jpg)This week, my book Professional Ruby on Rails will be officially released. You can see sample chapters here, and you can buy the book at Amazon (affiliate link). This book is designed to meet the needs of an intermediate to advanced Ruby on Rails user. The first wave of Rails books could not assume that the user had any pre-existing knowledge of Rails. As a result, they spent a lot of time covering the basics.
For my first real non-techy post on this site (I’m a little nervous about that….), here’s one of my favorite things to write about – a list of favorite books that I read in 2007. All the books on this list were published recently enough to qualify as “new”. I also group books in the same series more or less on whim. My tastes… well, they tend toward Fantasy and SF, beyond that, you’ll just have to infer from the list.
Amazon is now saying that Professional Ruby On Rails is in stock! I haven’t seen my copies yet, and I suspect Amazon purchases will actually go out next week, but it’s a real page and everything. The link to purchase is right here. I’ve also added a [running list of errata and updates](https://docs.google.com/Doc?docid=ah2szrczrmxv_26z j8npddd&hl=en). Check back on that every now and then. Much more on the book over the next week.
As I’ve mentioned here a few times, I have a book coming out, “Professional Ruby on Rails”, available later this month. If you’d like a sneak peek, Wrox has put some samples online as PDF files. You can also just buy the book. Chapter 1 – This sets up the sample project used in the book, and talks about the new REST features in Rails. Table of Contents – Take a look at this to see if your favorite topic is covered.
First off, several pathfinder blog posts to catch up on… A two part series on a quick little testing tool that I wrote called testbed. Part 1. Part2. Predictions for 2008 How to test custom form builders in RSpec. I wrote this in the hope that somebody else won’t have to spend two hours Googling this. Coming soon, “Why I stopped using RSpec…” My contribution to a discussion on duck typing, Save the Duck!
Somebody anonymous asks: As most of the currently available books cover Rails 1.2, are you providing the code in the books also as Rails 1.2? The sample example in the book is Rails 2.0, which was Edge Rails when I started, and I just validated all the tests against 2.0.2 last week when I turned in the finished code samples. Where there’s a significant change between 1.2 and 2.
In response to the commenter who asked if there was going to be a beta book. UPDATE: Clearly I should ask about these things before I post. Jim Minatel from Wrox added the following in comments: There will be a PDF about six weeks after the print book, meaning end of March or thereabouts. There will also be an Amazon Kindle version, eventually. Also after 6 weeks, the book will be available via Wrox’s online subscription service: http://wrox.
Just got the next version of the book chapters for my examination. I’m not 100% sure exactly where these fit in the process. It looks like they’ve had a good look-see from a copyeditor, largely for style, clarity, and consistency. (Any lingering “we” sentences seem to have been pruned, for example). They produced a book-specific style guide, which is a listing of canonical forms for things like plugin names, capitalization of commands or tools and the like.
Wow, I haven’t been here for a while. Sorry about that. Here’s the deal… The Rails book initial draft went in about a week ago, more or less on time. (Well, on time for a slightly revised schedule). My understanding of the current schedule is that the author review phase will continue through November. After that, it goes to production, where I get another crack at revising thing that have changed.
A few things I forgot to put in the last book update: The Amazon listing has the book at 600 pages. That’s almost certainly optimistic. The contract calls for 400-500. As far as the schedule goes, I’m currently hoping to turn the complete draft in on October 26th, which is about ten days after the original date. The publisher says that pushes publication out to April, six to eight weeks after the original date.
Here’s a couple notes on the current status of the Rails book and life in general. The Rails book is presently just about 30% done – first payment triggered (yay!). I’m reasonably happy about it so far, though definitely too close to it at the moment to have a clear sense of its quality. I do like the way the test integration is working out – it seems to help my descriptions of functionality to have the tests there.
In the interests of being able to push out quick updates on the book’s progress, I’ve created a Twitter account for the book. You can follow that account on the sidebar of this here blog, or at http://twitter.com/noelrappinbook – there’s also an RSS feed. Please remember that any and all information about the book is subject to change at whim. Enjoy.
It’s been about a week or so of continued radio silence, so I thought I’d pop in with an update. I’m in the middle of chapter three of the Rails book. I think it’s going well, but nobody other then me has read the chapters yet, so that’s easy to say. My first milestone date is the end of the month, and four chapters done – that’s about one-quarter of the entire book.
It’s been about 25 years since I first typed 10 PRINT “HELLO”, and in that time I’ve read dozens of books aimed at making me better at creating software. There are several things I want to do with this site, but certainly one of them is to recognize those books that had a particularly strong impact on my professional career. The first one is Code Complete, by Steve McConnell. It stands out on the shelf because it’s not about learning a new language, tool, or discipline, and it’s not a big picture rethinking of software engineering itself.
I wouldn’t say it happens often, but I do sometimes get asked some questions about being a technical author. Seemed like a good place to start. For a long time, the most common question was Did you pick the animal on the cover of the Jython book? The answer is no. The cover animals are picked by the O’Reilly production team, and the mechanism they use for assigning animals to books is somewhat mystical.