Saturday, 19 December 2009

Book reviews

I 'ate' a lot of Jerry-books lately. I decided to write something about them.

They are all recommendable and in the following I will tell you why. Overall I enjoyed reading them very much.

Becoming a Technical Leader, by Gerald Weinberg

This is a great book because it tells the reader a lot about what leadership is, how to work towards it and what to be observant about on that road. It's clearly closely connected to the PSL workshop, though being on PSL greatly enhances the experience of reading this book.
As in most of Jerry's books there's some questions for the reader along the way, some of them quite hard. One of the toughest is to start a personal log, a diary. I'm personally succeeding (this far) in my third attempt. It's a book which will dig into the reader and reveal things you either weren't aware of, or don't want to know about. It easily becomes very personal, but I like that. As a professional guide to elaborating on your own self, I think it's a must. As a nice, interesting read, I would say: yes. As something to read and toss away and forget all about, I'd say: I wonder if you can do that. Somethings are bound to touch you.

Introduction to General Systems Thinking, by Gerald Weinberg

This is, I think, the most referred-to book of Jerry's. A lot of people praise it. I found it perhaps the most difficult of his books to read this far. I crashed after the first few chapters in my first attempt, and left it on the shelf for months. Not that I didn't like what I read, but somehow I found it hard to concentrate and perhaps find all the time needed to really work with the text. The second attempt was better, knowing that I should put some effort into it and taking the time to do it.
One of the things I particular like is how it asks questions like 'it's an XXX - how do you know ? what do you understand by "XXX" '. So it sort of starts off from the basics and put things into perspective.

Often it works on the english semantics and words and I at least really feels that english is not my first language. I think I do well on average, but some of the stuff in this book is over my abilities.

Upon finishing the book I have to admit to myself: maybe I didn't quite grasp it all. I intend to give it a second (third) try next year.

Are your lights on ?, by Don Gause and Gerald Weinberg

This is quite a different book. It's smaller and has fewer words per page than the other books. But the content is in top. Everybody can readily identify themselves with the 'hero' in each situation and probably also the villain(s). It takes you through some very ordinary situations and asks simple questions like: whose problem is it ? Questions, which are simple to ask, but very difficult sometimes to answer. And isn't that so in most situations we get ourselves into.

I enjoyed this book a lot, perhaps mostly because it made me think a lot.

Exploring Requirements, by Don Gause and Gerald Weinberg

I actually avoided this book for some time, thinking that 'requirements' - I know that and anyway, isn't it a bit boring ? Well, - no. This is a wonderful read, which gives you a lot of tools, hints and tricks when you try to describe to yourself or others what you want done. It's obviously really applicable if you're writing requirements, but also if you just want to be very clear about what you tell people.
I found lots of gems in this book (and thank you for the recommendation, Leo).

Secrets of Consulting, by Jerry Weinberg

This is a book full of Jerry-stories. If you have ever met Jerry, you'll know that he thinks it's always time for a story. And he's got so many of them. Some got written down in this perl of a book, which tells you important stuff in a nice, informal way. Things to do, consider and remember if you're 'consulting' - which we all are from time to time.
I'm looking forward to start on 'More secrets of consulting', which is one of the new ones in my collection (although none of these books were very recently published...)

Mistress of Molecules, by Gerald Weinberg

This is a fiction book. However, I was fortunate (and fast) enough to buy it as a real book at AYE, which Jerry himself had ordered printed, because, as I heard Jerry mumble: people want real books. I agree.
It's available for a few bucks as a pdf on Jerry's online shop (try google a bit and you'll find it within minutes).
It's a fascinating story, set on distant planets in a future which seems not only foreign and strange, but also strangely familiar. Admitted, it's not completely realistic on some points, but hey, it's fiction and the story works!

I enjoyed reading it for the story, the characters, the science and the many surprises I got along the way.

All good books - get them for x-mas, birthdays or just to fill up on your shelf - but make sure you get to read them too ;-)


  1. Thank You very much. I have been contemplating reading Jerry's book for a while now. This post definitely gives me that extra push to buy and read his books right away!

    Parimala Shankaraiah

  2. You're welcome - and thanks for commenting ;-)
    I appreciate it.

    Another one, which could be worth digging into is 'Perfect Software and other Myths', which I think is the most recent book - but not included in my 'most recently read'-list. :-)

    Happy reading!