I read around 65 non-fiction books in 2007. Here are the lists for the best and worst books I read. Some of them may have been published prior to 2007, but the best books seldom get outdated and the worst never get better over time.
Best books I read in 2007
- The No Asshole Rule, by Robert Sutton: The title that resonates with nearly everyone who has ever had a job. The most timely book of the year.
- The Halo Effect, by Phil Rosenzweig: The theory described in this book invalidates popular ideas about what makes a company great and profitable. My review here.
- What Got You Here Won’t Get You There, by Marshall Goldsmith: How your behavioral failings at the executive level can hurt you, and how to start fixing them.
- Peopleware, by Tom DeMarco & Timothy Lister: How to manage knowledge workers: A must for every software project manager.
- Coping with Difficult People, by Robert M. Bramson: This is a much older book from 1988, but is worth the read as it talks about the different difficult behaviors exhibited by people in the workplace and how to cope with them.
Honorable mention goes to Barack Obama’s non-political autobiography “Dreams from My Father” (2004). Poetic!
There are a few books I should have read years ago and finally managed to get around to them this year. They include “Code Complete 2” (Steve McConnell), “The Goal” (Eliyahu M. Goldratt and Jeff Cox), and “Freedom at Midnight” (Dominique Lapierre and Larry Collins). All great reads.
My favorite authors for 2007 are Steve McConnell (Code Complete and Software Estimation) and Robert Sutton (The No Asshole Rule and “Hard Facts, Dangerous Half-Truths & Total Nonsense”).
The worst books of 2007 are not the ones that are truly bad in the sense that they are devoid of content or the author writes poorly. The following books are selected because they promise much, and deliver little. A number of these authors are among my favorites, but they disappointed badly. They are:
- The 4-Hour Workweek, by Timothy Ferriss: I am surprised that more people, having read his book, have not found many aspects of his advice disturbing and impractical.
- The Cluetrain Manifesto, by Christopher Locke, Rick Levine, Doc Searls, and David Weinberger: Corporate bashing at its worst. I looked forward to reading this for a long time, but the rants overwhelmed the content.
- The Dip, by Seth Godin: Short is good and readable, but the topic deserved a lot more treatment. It failed to explore the nuances, exceptions and pitfalls effectively. A rare misstep by a great author.
- Wikinomics, by Don Tapscott and Anthony D. Williams: I have never read a more incomprehensible book. The authors use laborious examples and specialized jargon to obfuscate any ideas contained in the book.
- Go Put Your Strengths to Work, by Marcus Buckingham: What a way to fall! Buckingham’s “First, Break all the rules” remains one of my favorites, but this book is a true hack and condescending towards the reader.