11 January, 2017

Bibliography – Books I read in 2016

This article was originally published on Linked In.
My first encounter with a book apart from school books was in my 9th grade. I think, it was a short story written by Munshi Premchand, well-known for his modern Hindi-Urdu literature. I neither remember the story nor the name of the book, but I remember going to the school library for the first time in my life and picking this book. Years later, I was introduced to Swami Vivekananda’s writings by a friend Preethi in college. Since then, my reading journey has undergone a sea of change.

Books I read in 2016

These books are in roughly the same order in which I read through the year.

User Experience

Change by Design by Tim Brown
Written by the CEO of Ideo, one of the top design companies of the world, this is a moving book on creating a human-centered design framework to build products. This book also includes two interesting case studies from India. My favorite quote from the book is:
“UX Design is not a link in the chain, it’s the hub of a wheel”
Designing for Interaction: Creating Innovative Applications and Devices (Voices That Matter) by Dan Saffer
This book is a good introduction to Interaction Design and the little things that matter. This is also the first book that set me in the direction of specializing in Interaction Design last year. The quote below is a reflection of how important it is to focus on ‘Now’ in Interaction Design phase.
“What you think of as the past is a memory trace, stored in the mind, of a former Now. When you remember the past, you reactivate a memory trace — and you do so now. The future is an imagined Now, a projection of the mind. When the future comes, it comes as the Now. When you think about the future, you do it Now. Past and future have no reality of their own. Just as the moon has no light of its own, but can only reflect the light of the sun, so are past and future only pale reflections of the light, power, and reality of the eternal present. Their reality is “borrowed” from the Now”
Laws of Simplicity (Simplicity: Design, Technology, Business, Life) by John Maeda
A simple book that promotes simplicity at its best.
“The world’s always been falling apart. So relax.” ~ Anonymous”
Mobile First by Luke Wroblewski
Luke Wroblewski is my mobile hero. I am very grateful to have discovered his deep work in mobile space. Every word he speaks or writes has such depth and brilliance, that it is hard to believe that he is a human. He is a true icon of our times!
“As a general rule, content takes precedence over navigation on mobile. Whether people are checking on frequently updated data like stocks, news, or scores; looking up local information; or finding their way to articles through search or communication tools — they want immediate answers to their needs and not your site map.”
Content Strategy for Mobile by Karen McGrane
Our lives are overloaded with hard to manage content everywhere and all the time. Karen takes us through a sensitive journey on suiting content in mobile application contexts.
“Whether we want to deliver exactly the same content to everyone, or prioritize and feature content differently on different platforms, we have a process that helps us do that without wasted effort. That future is adaptive content. Adaptive content is content that is flexible, so it can adapt to different screen sizes, and can be presented in different formats as appropriate for the device. What’s the secret to this flexibility? Why, it’s having more structure! Adaptive content has structure and metadata attached to it, which helps it figure out what to do when it winds up on all those different platforms and devices.”

Machine Learning

Best Interface is No Interface: The simple path to brilliant technology (Voices That Matter) by Golden Krishna
As a child, Golden Krishna was apparently named ‘Golden’ because astrology suggested that his first name should start with G and have 6 letters in all. His work in User Experience Design is pure gold. He is one of the most accomplished and sound User Experience Designers of our times. I am so proud to walk this earth around the same time as him.
“Let’s change our conversation with computers. Let’s empower computers to observe the world beyond form fields. Let’s give them the ability to sense our needs with sensors and other signals. Let’s replace tedious user input with instantaneous and painless machine input — where the computer system finds the information it needs on its own — whenever and wherever possible”

Deep Work and Passion

Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap……And Others Don’t by Jim Collins
There is an old saying, “What got you here, won’t get you there”. This book tells you how to move from being good to great and how much of hard work it can be.
“People are not your most important asset. The Right People are!”
Deep Work — Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World by Cal Newport
In a world of constant distractions and interruptions, it is hard to focus. This book tells you how you can focus, do deep work and deliver great resulst, the kind that we think only ‘research scholars’ are capable of.
“If you are comfortably going deep, you’ll be comfortable mastering the increasingly complex systems and skills needed to thrive in our economy. If you instead remain one of the many for whom depth is uncomfortable and distraction ubiquitous, you shouldn’t expect these systems and skills to come easily to you”
Together is Better by Simon Sinek
I sense warmth when I listen to Simon Sinek. A great influencer of our times, he comes out with another fabulous book on the power of team work and being together. If you are pressed for time, you should watch this video.
“Leadership is hard work. Not the hard work of doing the job — it’s the hard work of learning to let go. It’s the hard work of training people, coaching people, believing in people and trusting people. Leadership is a human activity. And, unlike the job, leadership lasts beyond whatever happens during the workday”
Presentation Zen: Simple Ideas on Presentation Design and Delivery (Voices That Matter) by Garr Reynolds
One of the three best books on Presentation Skills ever. Period!
“There are four characteristics of a good presenter:
1. He knew his material inside and out, and he knew what he wanted to say
2. He stood front and center and spoke in a real, down-to-earth language that was conversational yet passionate
3. He did not let technical glitches get in his way. When they occurred, he moved forward without missing a beat, never losing his engagement with the audience
4. And he used real, sometimes humorous, anecdotes to illustrate his points, and all his stories were supremely poignant and relevant, supporting his core message”

Non-Fiction Inspiration

The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch
It is an age-old belief that a dying man can only tell the truth. A moving account of Randy Pausch, a computer science professor at Carnegie Mellon, after being diagnosed with terminal cancer at the age of 46 is an inspiring tale on how to LIVE LIFE WELL.
“It’s not about how you achieve your dreams. It’s about how to lead your life. If you lead your life the right way, the karma will take care of itself. The dreams will come to you.”
David and Goliath — Underdogs, Misfits and the Art of Battling Giants by Malcolm Gladwell
I am a great follower of Malcolm Gladwell ever since I read his book, ‘Outliers’. I am also a big believer of his 10000-hour rule. This book takes the ancient story of an old shepherd David, fighting a giant Goliath and brings a whole new perspective of why underdogs will always win.
“Courage is not something that you already have that makes you brave when the tough times start. Courage is what you earn when you’ve been through the tough times and you discover they aren’t so tough after all”
The Resiliency Advantage: Master Change, Thrive Under Pressure and Bounce Back from Setbacks by Dr. Al Siebert
It is hard to be resilient in today’s competitive world. With life’s suffering, being resilient can often be considered as an act of inability and lack of skill. This book tells you why resilience is powerful and how it can lead you to a state of inner peace with yourself and the world.
“Resilient people don’t wait for others to rescue them; they work through their feelings, set goals, work to reach their goals, and often emerge from the resiliency process with a better life than before. Later, they say they are glad that their difficult situation happened”
The Paradox of Choice: Why More is Less by Barry Schwartz
We are inundated with too many choices today. Want to buy a pair of clothes? You have at least a thousand websites. Want to buy a smartphone? There are at least 500+ smart phones to choose from. If this leaves you mentally exhausted, this book could be for you.
”Regret less and practice an attitude of Gratitude”
A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future by Daniel H. Pink
In this book, Daniel Pink outlines the six fundamentally human abilities that are essential for professional success. Pink introduces readers to a new way of thinking about the future.
“Here and now is all we got”
An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth by Chris Hadfield
A 9 year old who feared darkness, visualized a dream of becoming an astronaut after watching Neil Armstrong landing on the moon in 1969. 21 years later, this little boy was selected to go to space for the first time. A fabulous story of how dreams come true through sheer hard work and will power. A must read book if you have children of any age.
“If you’ve got the time, use it to get ready. What else could you possibly have to do that’s more important? Yes, maybe you’ll learn how to do a few things you’ll never wind up actually needing to do, but that’s a much better problem to have than needing to do something and having no clue where to start. I don’t regret being ready”
“One of the most important lessons I have learned as an astronaut: to value the wisdom of humility, as well as the sense of perspective it gives you. That’s what will help me climb down the ladder. And it won’t hurt if I decide to climb up a new one, either”
“Good people often select themselves”
Many Lives, Many Masters: The True Story of a Prominent Psychiatrist, His Young Patient and the Past-life Therapy That Changed Both Their Lives by Brian Weiss
If you believe in Extra Sensory Perceptions, this book is for you. In October 2016, I met a lovely women Uma, at a train station near Nice(France) who shared the same ideas and thoughts as I did about our universe. While chatting with her, I jumped up and down all over the place, telling her that she was my long lost sister who came to guide me in this life. To her, I am forever grateful for introducing me to Dr. Brian Weiss’s work. Without her, my life would be incomplete. As you might understand by now, this book is not for the faint-hearted.
“Patience and timing….. Everything comes when it must come. A life cannot be rushed, cannot be worked on a schedule as so many people want it to be. We must accept what comes to us at a given time, and not ask for more. But life is endless, so we never die; we were never really born. We just pass through different phases. There is no end. Humans have many dimensions. But time is not as we see time, but rather in lessons that are learned. Everything will be clear to you in time. But you must have a chance to digest the knowledge that we have given to you already”
As a Man Thinketh by James Allen
We are capable of forming great character and creating happiness for ourselves. James takes us through a simple, yet powerful journey of bringing joy into our lives.
“Spiritual achievements are the consummation of holy aspirations. He who lives constantly in the conception of noble and lofty thoughts, who dwells upon all that is pure and unselfish, will, as surely as the sun reaches its zenith and the moon its full, become wise and noble in character, and rise into a position of influence and blessedness.”
No Limits: The Will to Succeed by Michael Phelps
Michael Phelps, world class swimmer ever known talks about his journey from a 9 year old ADHD diagnosed child to becoming the most decorated Olympian of all times. A mind-blowing account of a great soul and his will to succeed.
“Nothing is impossible. Because nothing is impossible, you have to dream big dreams; the bigger, the better”
Which books would you recommend this year?