Amazon Best of 2005 has posted their best of 2005 lists. I'm not surprised that I'm horribly behind on my science fiction reading, but amused that a lot of my picks for non-fiction made it to the Editor's Choice lists.

Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner comes in at the top of the editor's choice list. I enjoyed the book, although I found some of the links to be strained. I appreciated the humor, but I have most of my doubt reserved for the claim that easier abortions caused a decrease in crime in the past 25 years.

The World Is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-first Century by Thomas L. Friedman is another set of interesting cloth-bound claims. Much of what he says rings true, especially with respect to the spread of knowledge work around the globe. Where the book loses steam is when it moves from descriptive to prescriptive writing. Friedman has three Pulitzer Prizes for his work at the New York Times, but I won't hold that against him. (Despite his association with the NYT, I recently purchased Friedman's Longitudes & Attitudes: Exploring the World After September 11.)

Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking by Malcolm Gladwell is a great exploration of snap decisions, and how to train them, and when to trust them. I haven't actually purchased this book except in Audiobook form. The other two above I have in both hardback and Audiobook.

As for books I haven't bought, but I've read summaries and articles about, number one on my list and appearing on the Editor's Choice list, is Blue Ocean Strategy: How to Create Uncontested Market Space and Make Competition Irrelevant by W. Chan Kim and RenĂ©e Mauborgne. I've read my share of Harvard Business Review coverage of this book, and I need to add it to my shelf.

The book I think should be on the list and didn't appear? The Art of Project Management by Scott Berkun, hands down. If I ever need to teach Project Management, this book will be on my list. Far more down to earth than most books on the subject—and I've read more than my share—I heartily recommend it to anyone thinking they understand how to manage the business of making software, and a few others besides. Other picks from me would include Database in Depth by C. J. Date and Disinformation: 22 Media Myths That Undermine the War on Terror by Richard Miniter.

We'll see how the new year works out. I'm done getting piles of books for class, unless I start taking new classes in April—unlikely after the two year push to finish my MS. I suspect I'll finally have time for fiction again. I have a ton of Harry Turtledove to read (he is quite prolific, and two years of downtime has buried me in unread novels from his various series). I've always wanted to read the Results-Driven Manager series from Harvard Business School Press. And, based on a great start, O'Reilly's Theory In Practice series (of which Database in Depth and The Art of Project Management are the start) is probably a must read. I guess I'm going to be busy. links:

Josh Poulson

Posted Tuesday, Jan 3 2006 07:19 PM

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