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My Reading Pipeline

26 Oct 2019 . category: reading . Comments

A list of books and papers in various stages of my reading pipeline.

Currently Reading

On the Radar

Recently Finished

  • It Doesn’t Have to Be Crazy at Work. 9/10. Another excellent entry from the Basecamp folks. No words wasted, and as refreshing as it is inspiring. What a fantastic company and book!
  • Database Reliability Engineering. 7/10. Lots of knowledge compressed into a relatively short read. As someone not directly in SRE/DBRE/DBA, however, I don’t think I got much direct utility from it. YMMV!
  • Magnolia Story. 8/10. An enjoyable, entertaining story. If you like the show, you’ll like their book.
  • Streaming Data. 8/10. I much preferred this content to Streaming Systems; in particular, I liked the methodical approach and survey of each core component of generalized streaming architecture. I recommend reading this before Streaming Systems.
  • Mastering PostgreSQL 11. 6/10. Pretty good reference book on PostgreSQL, but seemingly very few ideas and concepts specific to PostgreSQL 11. At times, it felt like an early release, referencing features still on PostgreSQL 11’s roadmap. Nonetheless, there are some really great nuggets of information here, particularly on performance tuning and configuration.
  • Streaming Systems. 7/10. Fantastic introduction (and history) to streaming systems. I particularly enjoyed the unifying framework that the author presents, as well as key ideas and mental models, like stream-table duality. I don’t know how well it will age, but I’ll be sure to pick up following editions as new stream processing paradigms are introduced.
  • Kafka: The Definitive Guide. 8/10. Solid guide into Kafka. I’ll keep this handy on my shelf and will be revisiting it when I need to tune Kafka.
  • Designing Distributed Systems. 6/10. Eh, it’s a quick read. Some interesting design patterns for micro-service architecture, but perhaps I didn’t appreciate it as much since I didn’t go through the Kubernetes examples.
  • Designing Data-Intensive Applications. 10/10. Best technical book I’ve read in quite some time. Absolutely fantastic.
  • Guerilla Capacity Planning. 4/10. The concept is 10/10, but the material was pretty hard to slog through. I recommend future readers just read perfdynamics.com articles to get the gist.
  • The Hard Thing About Hard Things. 9/10. Absolutely incredible read. A large chunk I couldn’t appreciate (advice on hiring and managing executives), but even if you read the first few chapters about Ben Horowitz’s journey, it’s worth a read.
  • Radical Candor. 8/10. The concept of radical candor was so enlightening to me that I made it a line item in my personal leadership philosophy. This book should be required reading for all teams, managers of teams, and managers of managers, alike. My only gripe with this is that I think it could have been shorter; but otherwise, it was a fantastic read.
  • React Quickly. 6/10. Fairly decent intro and walkthrough of front-end stack utilizing modern technology. It definitely focuses on breadth over depth (not a bad thing), but my hesitations are on the focus of the book on technology vs. design patterns. I could see this book being outdated in short order due to the pace of JavaScript evolution.
  • SQL Performance Explained. 9/10. Should be required reading for application back-end developers! This was a short, yet information-packed, guide to tuning databases and applications. I too often see developers treat databases as black box abstractions; it’s refreshing to see the author embrace full-stack ownership.
  • Two Scoops of Django 1.11. 8/10. There is a wealth of knowledge and experience tucked away in this book. I loved the opinionated take that the authors present, particularly on avoiding pitfalls that might take developers weeks or months to learn the hard way. I sincerely hope they release a new guide for Django >2.0!

Recently Abandoned

  • Think and Grow Rich. I know this is a classic, but I just couldn’t get into it. A lot isn’t quite relevant anymore, and the whole “follow these steps and you will receive riches” was so repetitive. I feel like I can sum up most of the book by saying, “have grit.”

Other People’s Reading Pipelines

  • Kevin Smiler (Melting Asphalt). He was the inspiration for this page!


I'm a software engineer, proud veteran, and even prouder husband and father. I live and work in Silicon Valley, and love to learn about learning, machine learning, and cybersecurity.