Reviews of the Books I Read in January

Reviews of the Books I Read in January

3 minutes

In this post I recently wrote about the importance of reading widely. (Also see my notes at the bottom of that post for alternatives to traditional ‘reading’). I believe this applies to everybody, but this blog is for relatively new Scrum Masters, with 1 or 2 year’s experience.  Each month I’ll post a brief run down of what books I read during the month, and give my opinions on each one

In January I read  2 and a half books – you’ll see why I didn’t count Essentialism as a whole book!

Essentialism: The Disciplined Persuit of Less, Greg McKeown

This was not the whole book Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less, I confess, but the ‘Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown | Key Takeaways, Analysis & Review‘ 40 minute review kind of thing.  Occasionally I will use these sort of books to help me decide if the whole book is going to be interesting for me.  (If you too like this sort of thing, then Blinkist might be a good app for you to try.  For me, I don’t usually get  immersed enough in condensed books to make it a useful source of learning).
That said, Essentialism seemed to boil down the ideals of lean thinking from a business point of view.  For reasons I have just explained though; I didn’t get enough out of this short version.  It also didn’t interest me enough to buy the longer version.

Rework – Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson

Another relatively short book, but this time that’s just the size it was when written.  Despite having read this book some years ago now, I had absolutely no recollection of having done so!  This gave it a freshness I wasn’t expecting.  I often re-read books I have read before like Dan Ariely’s ‘Predictibly Irrational’ & ‘The upside of irrationality’ or Joe Navarro’s ‘What everybody is saying’ & ‘louder than words’.  These are all some of my favourites.  I could read these over and over again, and still find new things each time.
Back to Rework though; It seemed to be largely describing working with a certain state of mind. It was a good book for re-enforcing the mental approach required for agile working in a business environment.  To be fair though not everything covered is relevant to everyone.  Some of their statements were a little too absolute, and really only applied within their own very narrow frame of reference .  It is full of examples of what they are trying to describe, which really helps.  Not very useful for agile practitioners, but very good if you are an entrepreneur wanting to shortcut some mistakes!

Daily Rituals, Mason Currey


I really enjoyed this book.  It is nothing more than a collection of curated reports from contemporaries of famous creative people (artists, writers, dancers etc), and yet…

You won’t come away from this book with concrete knowledge of how to ritualise your habits to make yourself more creative.  Nor will you throw your hands up in horror that everyone seems to be different.  Some how, seeing how many many artists struggle with finding the time, will and energy to indulge their passion is reassuring.

If you are an aspiring creative of any sort, this will ease your guilt and help you see that you don’t struggle alone.

There are some similar threads you can pull together from the tales, although Mason Currey has carefully included examples of contrary behaviour being successful too..

A pleasure to listen to, and neatly broken down in to bite size chunks!

 

Scrum Mastery, Geoff Watts


Additionally, the NewVoiceMedia Scrum Masters’ Book Club is currently reading Scrum Mastery, By Geoff Watts.  I am joining them but we are reading it a chapter at a time and discussing it every week.  I personally found this book brilliant and pitched just right for a scrum master who knows the basics but is coming to terms with the wider and more complicated world of scrum mastery.

I particularly like Geoff’s way of highlighting the subtle differences that experience brings to make a good scrum master great by having specific sections opened with: a good scrum master would do this, where as a great scrum master will do that.  He then goes on to describe in more detail.

I think this book is so important, it is already on the required reading for NewVoiceMedia Scrum Masters, and it really should be on yours too.

 

I’m part way through these, so in February I’ll be reviewing them both, amongst others:

Presence: Bringing Your Boldest Self to Your Biggest Challenges” by Amy Cuddy
&

The Secret Thoughts of Successful Women: Why Capable People Suffer from the Impostor Syndrome and How to Thrive in Spite of It” by Valerie Young.

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