My Book Slide

I'm a book lover.

I like reseaching books.

I like buying books.

I like reading books.

I like looking at my books.

I like talking about books.

And when I talk with people about books, I usually have eight questions on my mind:

  1. How many books do you read (on average)?
  2. Which books did you read lately?
  3. Why did you choose to read those books?
  4. What is your (brief) opinion of those books?
  5. What book are you reading now?
  6. What is your opinion of that book so far?
  7. Which books are you planning to read?
  8. Why do you intend to read those books?

I noticed that some readers of this blog (and some followers on Twitter) had the same questions for me. So I devised a simple format that answers all questions in one stroke. I'm calling this format my "book slide". It's a book slide because: A) sliding from top to bottom you rapidly get a full picture of the kind of reading that I do; and B) the information would (possibly) fit on just one PowerPoint slide.

Here's my current book slide. I intend to update it regularly…

Sep 2008 Measuring and Managing Performance in Organizations – Robert D. Austin *****
  It is the best book on this topic, and it didn't disappoint. The style of writing is a bit dry, but it makes a convincing case against most measurement systems. Worth every minute I spent on it.  
Sep 2008 More Joel on Software – Joel Spolsky ***
  I like most of Joel's blog writings, so I wanted to read this "best-of" collection. The only problem is that there's no real structure to the book. You could read it back to front, and it wouldn't make a difference.  
Oct 2008 Good to Great – Jim Collins ***
  I read it because it's considered a classic. I liked its message, though it was a bit long-winded. The author could have told the same in 50 pages. The research they did is impressive though.  
Oct 2008 User Stories Applied – Mike Cohn *****
  We started using user stories in our organization, and I wanted to know all about it. There's no better source than this one. Buy it now!  
Nov 2008 Breakthrough Rapid Reading – Peter Kump ***
  It is the best book on this topic, but it made me realize that rapid reading is just not my cup of tea. It's like watching a movie at three times the normal speed. I can still understand it, but I don't enjoy it anymore.  
Nov 2008 How to Read a Book – Mortimer J. Adler & Charles van Doren ***
  The best book about… reading books. It taught me some tricks to better remember what a book is about, though this was also a bit long-winded. Could have been shorter.  
Dec 2008 Weaving Complexity & Business – Roger Lewin & Birute Regine *
  This was a complete disappointment. There was nothing about complexity theory in this book. Just some nonsensical stuff about "engaging the soul at work", whatever that is. A waste of my time.  
Dec 2008 The Living Company – Arie de Geus **
  The most interesting concept for me was treating the organization as an organism (but I already knew about that). But I stopped reading halfway through, when I couldn't find any other interesting stuff.  
Jan 2009 Behind Closed Doors – Johanna Rothman & Esther Derby ****
  I wanted practical tips for things to do in my job as a manager. And I got it. It's a very useful book, and you should buy it. Though I deduct one point, because I didn't like the stories with fictional characters.  
Jan 2009 Blog Blazers – Stephane Grenier **
  As a blogger I was looking for some good tips. I got a few, but I thought the interview questions were not challenging, and very repetitive. Still, a quick read and worth the little time it cost me.  
reading… Complexity and Management – Ralph Stacey ?
  I'm reading this one now, and it seems to be the first good book about complexity science and management. I already learned a lot from it, and I will certainly buy Stacey's other books too.  
to read… Implementing Lean Software Development – Mary and Tom Poppendieck  
  I want to know more about Lean, and I want to compare it to Agile. This seems like a good place to start.  
to read… Agile Software Development: Second Edition – Alistair Cockburn  
  After reading about Lean, I want to read one more time about the values and principles of Agile, and then compare it to Lean. This book seems like a good choice.  
to read… Organizational Survival in the New World – Alex and David Bennet  
  This is also said to be a great book about complexity and management. I hope it's not a disappointment, like some other ones I read before.  
to read… Getting Things Done – David Allen  
  Yes, I also want to get more done in less time. This is supposed to tell me how.  
to read… Made to Stick – Chip Heath and Dan Heath  
  I want to read about marketing from a complexity point of view.  
to read… Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us – Seth Godin  
  I never read a book from Seth Godin, which doesn't look good on my CV. I believe this is a good place to start.  
to read… The Elements of Style – William Strunk Jr. and E.B. White  
  Like everyone else, I want to be a better writer…  


I am very eager to see your book slide as well! It doesn't matter how many books you list, just some stuff you read recently, what you're reading now, and what you're planning to read.

I'm looking forward to it!

(pictures by moriza and karpov85)

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  • Olav Maassen

    I’m a book lover too.
    My favorite question is:
    Which 2 books had the biggest influence on you?
    The benefit is that it’s a short question, gives a nice few into somebody’s world and is a great conversation starter. It’s one of the best ways to get good book recommendations.

  • Jurgen Appelo

    Good question!
    In my case that might be The Selfish Gene (Richard Dawkins) and At Home in the Universe (Stuart Kauffman). Because they both changed my way of thinking about the world.

  • Luc Jeanniard

    Hi Jurgen,
    I spent a bit of my hollidays finishing yesterday reading
    “Implementing Lean Software Development”; I was pleased reading it and it gives a good overall view of lean software development with many comparaison to Toyota. A good book easy to read.
    In december 2008 I read “Getting Things Done” and apply the method for more than a month now. It is usefull and gives a quick return on investment! I’ve more time to read other books!!!
    My future book may be something about executable specification. Have read something about it?

  • Jurgen Appelo

    Hi Luc,
    Thanks for the feedback!
    I’m afraid don’t know about executable specification. Sorry, cannot advise you in that.

  • Jilles Oldenbeuving

    Don’t see the pingback coming through, so a manual post:
    Here’s my “book slide”:

  • Jeff Anderson

    I am inspired…
    I’ll put a comprehensive one together.
    But in the meantime, I recommend:
    Domain Driven Design by Eric Evans >if I had to choose anyone design book this would be it,
    Patterns for Effective Use Cases >use cases done in an agile way with the pattern oriented approach, need I say more…
    Agile Estimating and Planning >and incredibly useful approach to planning out the product, release and integration level showing that agile developers really do plan and plan better than the traditionalists.
    Jeff Anderson

  • Srikanth

    I added “The Elements of Style” and “How to Read a Book” to my wishlist. Thanks for the recommendation My favorite programming related books are “The Pragmatic Programmer” and “The C Programming Language.” I haven’t read a very interesting book outside of programming yet. The closest one that comes are “The Da Vinci Code” and “Sherlock Holmes.” I read Sherlock Holmes when I was a kid, not sure how I’ll like it now. I hate Harry Potter series, and no I haven’t read any of them but Harry Potter makes me sick!
    Oh, here’s my catalog:
    I’m glad I maintain it online, it’s so easy to share.

  • Angelo

    Published my book slide
    Too long to write it off here.

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