The last time I froze and posted my short-term reading list on August 12, people seemed to appreciate it. Going by my Amazon Affiliate data and random conversations with some of you on Google+ and Facebook, it looks like at least a few dozen people bought one or more of the books and read along, in a sort of invisible de facto book club. So I figured I’d make it a routine feature.
I personally finished 6.75 of the 8 books I posted (one book got swapped out for an alternate) by December 31. That’s a reading rate of just under a book every 3 weeks. Which means I should be able to get through about 8.7 books by the end of June.
Here’s my book list that I plan to get through by June 30, beyond the backlog of 1.25, which leaves me with an allowance of 7.45. I’ll round that up to 8. Here’s the list.
- Notes on the Synthesis of Form: A seminal book on design, recommended by Dorian Taylor and Xianhang Zhang.
- Cognition in the Wild: Another seminal book on decision-making in real-world settings, also recommended by Dorian Taylor
- Shop Class as Soul Craft: A book on the philosophy of making stuff, and the value of working with your hands. Recommended by Art Felgate, Daniel Lemire and a couple of other people.
- Invisible Giant: Cargill and its Transnational Strategies OR Merchants of Grain: The Power and Profits of the Five Giant Companies at the Center of the World’s Food Supply (haven’t picked yet): Books on the global food industry, recommended by Megan Lubaszska.
- The Battery: How Portable Power Sparked a Technological Revolution: From my own list.
- Why Beauty is Truth: the history of symmetry: From my unread pile.
- Design in Nature: how the constructal law governs evolution in biology, physics, technology and social organization: bit of a wildcard, due to be released January 24th. Recommended by John Hagel.
- Infrastructure: a field guide to the industrial landscape: a recommendation off Quora. Seems like fun mind-candy, targeted more at the “How Things Work” kids’ market than adults, but still…
Infrastructure and Making
Two themes seem to pop out here: infrastructure and making.
My exploration of the world of infrastructure, which has been going on casually for a couple of years (I’ve written quite a bit about things like shipping and garbage) is heading into a mature drill-down-and-integrate phase. It seems increasingly likely that my next book will be related to this stuff in some way.
If that theme is maturing and getting serious, a new theme is taking root: design, building stuff, making things. What people are calling the Maker Revolution. I see some red flags of save-the-world cultishness here, but it seems like a good time to think about the subject. Two readers, Nick Pinkston and Justin Mares, who are just coming off their Cloudfab project, have been energetically trying to persuade me (and apparently everybody else they talk to) to take this theme seriously.
If nothing else, I’ll learn enough to poke fun at the solemn save-the-world makers.
Do You Want a Forum?
On and off over the years, people have asked for a ribbonfarm discussion forum. I’ve been reluctant to set one up, since it would be more maintenance work, but now that WordPress has some strong support for the feature, it’s gotten easier.
The face-to-face field trip events last year, Google+ and Facebook have been good for small and informal sidebar conversations with some of you, but there’s something to be said for a less cluttered space for conversations that are not explicitly linked to a blog post, and accessible to all.
If I do this, it will be free, but I may do some light-touch gatekeeping so administration doesn’t take over my life.
If you are interested, let me know by email or post a comment, along with any suggestions. If there’s enough interest (at least a couple of dozen people), I’ll set one up.
Turning this de facto invisible book club into a de jure visible one seems to be a good first use case for a forum.