My Reading List

I have never really thought of myself as much of a reader. But after leaving university and spending 2 hours a day commuting to and from work, I decided it was time to spend that 1/12th of each day improving myself.


Design

The Design of Everyday Things Donald A. Norman

Norman’s approach throughout the book is of understanding an experience from the user’s perspective. Reading it so early on in my career shaped me. It made me focus on the user experience first when designing products - avoiding visual superfluity and only giving the user what they really need to get things done. It should be on the reading list of every designer.


Design Sprint Methods Google Design / Jake Knapp / Google Ventures

Most of my reading happens online. Short articles or blog posts tend to be a source of the most up to date and digestible information. A while back Jake Knapp of Google Ventures posted an incredible set of 7 articles outlining how Google Ventures and their companies take ‘a product or feature from design through prototyping and testing’ in a week.

Google Design then published Design Sprint Methods, a PDF guide merging all 7 posts practically and coherently.

This guide has proved to be incredibly useful to me when designing and building solutions. Especially in very fast paced environments such as TransferWise. It’s also perfect for getting all members of the team involved, which helps to gain insight and investment from various roles across the business.


Software Engineering

Programming in Objective-C Stephen G. Kochan

My knowledge of iOS development and my ability to be able to pick up new programming languages started with this book. A friend gave me it as a nudge to learn software development outside of writing HTML and CSS. It was quite daunting at first, however persistence (and some light Googling) paid off.

It’s well written and moderately easy to understand for someone being introduced to programming for the first time and there are simple yet sophisticated exercises throughout. It was a rough couple of months of reading during my daily commute… as it’s not the lightest of books!


NSHipster: Obscure Topics in Cocoa & Objective C Mattt Thompson

After a year of building Dubbledecker for iOS, I decided to up my game and dig deeper into the more obscure topics in Objective-C. NSHipster proved to be quite advanced, yet well written and made me care more about writing well crafted code as well as giving me a deeper understanding of the nuances of Cocoa and the Objective-C runtime.


Processing: A Programming Handbook for Visual Designers and Artists Casey Reas & Ben Fry

I’m so annoyed that this wasn’t the first programming book I read. Reas and Fry have structured the chapters perfectly for beginners. The exercises have a strong focus on visuals, allowing the student to immediately see results whilst subtly giving lessons in object-oriented programming principles. Processing is a Java based language and its syntax is fairly similar to languages such as JavaScript which helps when applying the skills learned. The book is quite expensive, but well worth it and Processing itself is open-source - so there is nothing else to purchase.


Business & Management

Zero to One Peter Thiel w/ Blake Masters

Zero to One is a fantastic book. Thiel’s past experiences are both interesting and educational and reading this prior to joining a startup massively prepared me for life in one. It also puts a lot into perspective when it comes to choosing a company to build or join, it made me desire companies that attempt to solve the bigger subjects. A must read and one I think I’ll be reading again.


How Google Works Eric Schmidt & Jonathan Rosenberg

This was the book made me realise the importance of company culture. Schmidt and Rosenberg describe how hiring and ways of working can make even a giant organisation like Google as versatile as an early stage start up. They also detail how focussing on the customer and their experience always pays off.