Book Reviews

Given below are my personal reviews on books I have read, enjoyed, and learned a great deal from. They consist of different genres (both fiction and nonfiction) that have extended my understanding and knowledge on a wide array of topics.

 

*The list decreases in chronological order, i.e. the latest book I’ve read is at the top of the list…


The Phoenix Project, written by Gene Kim, Kevin Behr, and George Spafford, is a fantastic modern day take on the problems and struggles faced by IT departments, specifically focusing on the many issues between Dev and Ops, as well as the impact IT has on other departments in a business. It’s amazing that this book is a work of fiction in the form of a novel with fictional characters, but reminds the reader of so many real world parallels when reading the story. Its main premise is on how the IT department of a major corporation revamps a sinking ship of broken IT processes and strategies, absence of any form of DevOps, and ignorance of the impact and role IT plays in other departments. The key takeaway are the ‘three ways’, from which all of DevOps patterns can be derived. The authors were originally inspired by a book written by Dr. Eliyahu M. Goldratt named ‘The Goal’, which was their primary motivator for writing the Phoenix Project (more details on the concepts in the Phoenix Project can be found at this link). This book would be most beneficial to managers and senior management in IT, but I would wholeheartedly recommend this book to developers, system engineers, QA engineers, security engineers, project managers and business analysts. After reading this book, I’m certain that you would come away with a greater appreciation for the business as a whole, how IT should make all the components and parts of a business work together, and how your work and role contributes to the goals of the business.


Future Science: Essays from the cutting edge is a fantastic array of write-ups collected and compiled together by Max Brockman in this book. It contains essays from scientists who are conducting cutting edge research and investigating ideas at the very edge of our understanding. The essays span across ideas such as how learning about our oceans here on earth can help astrobiological explorations in the oceans of Jupiter’s moon Europa, how analytics on massive data sets teach us about ourselves, a refreshingly new perspective on the concept of infinity, primates being taught how to use money and barter in order to investigate how strategy and reward systems evolved in human ancestors, and much more. A great book to read if you are curious about current research topics and ideas that are at the forefront of our understanding and investigative capabilities.


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Ray Kurzweil is an author, computer scientist, inventor, and futurist. Apart from receiving twenty one honorary doctorates, as well as honors from three US presidents, he is coined as the ‘restless genius’ by the Wall Street Journal and as the ‘ultimate thinking machine’ by Forbes. He is also a proponent of the transhumanist and futurist movements, which is reflected in How to Create a Mind, his latest book at the time of this writing. The book has some very interesting premises, touching on a wide array of topics. Mainly, the author presents his pattern recognition theory of mind, as a model of the human neocortex, and goes on to describe the journey of how the blueprint of the mind can be mapped, understood, and replicated one day. Many topics are discussed, ranging from applications of vector quantization, hidden markov models, and the biology of the brain, to turing machines, consciousness, free will, the rise of intelligent machines, and human transcendence via technology. One of my favourite quotes from the book goes as follows: “The last invention that biological evolution needed to make-the neocortex-is inevitably leading to the last invention that humanity needs to make-truly intelligent machines-and the design of one is inspiring the other”. If a truly intelligent machine can invent anything humans can invent (including other intelligent machines), a thousand times better, then they are truly the last invention we will ever need to make.


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‘The Dark Net: Inside the digital underworld’ is an amazing journey through the underbelly of the internet that we never see in everyday life. Unless you have been navigating the dark web using a TOR browser, it’s more akin to a fairy tale where we go on in life believing it never exists. This book shows the darkest recesses of the dark web/net, the strangest things that can happen there, how it impacts personal lives and society, and more importantly, how it could actually be driving political change in the real world (Book image credits: image credits link)



Seveneves is a work of science fiction by one of the best authors in the techno-punk/Scifi genres, Neal Stephenson. It is an epic tale spanning a large time scale within the story, and I have written more about it in a blog post here (Book image credits: image credits link)


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