My favorite things I read in 2023

As 2023 is coming to a close I want to gather and share the things I read in 2023 and enjoyed most. I am including fiction and non-fiction books as well as articles that stood out to me. Most of the things are related to my work in product development. As you will see I have also included books and articles that are not. Let’s get to it.

(As a general rule, I do not use affiliate links. I no way do I benefit from sharing these books and articles.)

My favorite non-fiction books of 2023

Continuous Discovery Habits by Teresa Torres and Inspired by Marty Cagan
These two books had an immediate impact on my daily work. Both are packed with actionable advice. I recommend them to anyone working in product development. Inspired does an exceptional job explaining what successful product development is all about. Continuous Discovery Habits provides a powerful toolbox for discovering the users’ needs. I have written about both in detail, so I won’t go deeper here.

Antifragile by Nasim Taleb
This book’s main idea is the concept of antifragile systems. These are the ones that profit from instability. It is a book packed with insight that causes you to look differently at things that appear obvious. It led me to focus more on the impact choices I make have on optionality in my life and to be very aware of unintended consequences caused by interventions in complex systems. The writing style is very non-traditional and the tone slightly condescending. Reading is at times a bit challenging. Nevertheless, the concepts and ideas are so insightful.

An Immense World by Ed Yong
This book covers the different senses that explain how animals experience the world. Humans are very vision focused and this books does an exceptional job explaining how animals that have a different primary sense navigate their environment. It’s very well written and entertaining. Some things I learned: Dogs continue to smell while breathing out. Many animals can see UV light and some birds can see colors made of four basic ones (red, green, blue, UV). Humans can likely see only 1% of the colors that those birds can see. Other seabirds use their sense of smell to distinguish “landmarks” in the ocean water and use that to navigate 500 miles to their nests.

My favorite fiction books of 2023

The Phoenix Project by Gene Kim, Kevin Behr, George Spafford
This book was recommended to me in one of the interviews I did with a reader. It is a business novel that explains best practices in IT operations. It did a great job showing how the lean production principles from manufacturing apply to IT operations. Modeled after The Goal by Eliyahu M. Goldratt, this book uses a narrative to explain DevOps principles.

Shogun by James Clavell
I found this one because it was on sale for 0,99€ at Amazon 😁 It is a story about the first Englishman coming to feudal Japan in the 1600s. Despite its length, it flies by. Clavell vividly explains the clash in cultures and the difficulties in communication. Although it is loosely based on real people, apparently not everything about the Japanese culture in it is historically accurate. As a story, though, the vast scope, political maneuvering, and relationships are captivating.

The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman
An enjoyable, funny book about four retirees solving a murder. The book with its quirky characters strikes a great balance between humor and suspense. All of the books in this series I have read so far were great.

My favorite articles 2023

Using OKRs to manage your business by Joshua Burgin
An extensive guide on using OKRs to manage an entire organization. It offers a great template that you can use to adapt to your circumstances.

Customer Interviews: How to Recruit, What to Ask, and How to Synthesize What You Learn by Teresa Torres
A comprehensive and practical guide on interviewing users or customers. This article really includes everything you need to know about interviews.

Why Write? by Shane Parrish
This article very much resonated with me. It explains that writing is about the process of organizing your thoughts and not so much about the outcome. Writing is as much a help to the writer as it is to the reader. This is something I learned in the last years. It is of particular importance in times of generative AI when anyone can use ChatGPT to create a blog post in minutes.

Coverphoto by Gülfer ERGİN on Unsplash