Wednesday, 28 April 2010

What's on my current reading list?

I take inspiration and ideas from a wide range of literature, other testers and sometimes triggered by something from leftfield.

I thought I'd jot down my current reading list (I last did this for my summer09 reading, here) for a couple of reasons:
  • It's good to walk-through what you're currently doing (reading) and why - sometimes you might be reading something obscure, but for a particular reason.
  • If you're like me, I get ideas from what other people are reading - so this is part "here's some tips" for other people, but also a hope that readers will send in tips to complement my reading - so that's your challenge at the end!

The Scientific Corner
After attending the RST course in March I had the urge to rediscover the scientific method. So as a step in that direction I started reading the following.
  • Philosophy of Science: A Very Short Introduction. Well, I'm into science and philosophy, so why not start with "What is Science?" Great stuff! 
  • The Oxford Book of Modern Science Writing. This is a collection of excerpts from some outstanding scientific papers and books of the 20th century. I've devoured a few already - a combination of good writing and interesting science.
  • Can a Robot be Human? As a tester and wanabee-layman-philosopher this is right up my street. There are interesting slants and many questions - the sort that make you think! Great for a critical thinker, lateral thinker, divergent thinker and a tester!

The Systems Thinking Corner
Looking at complex problems and trying to understand their complexity is interesting to me - it also helps in my daily work.
  • What The Dog Saw. This collection of Gladwell articles (I think most can be found on the NewYorker site) is an eclectic mix with his distinctive take on them. Very interesting and insightful.
  • What Every Body is Saying. Observation is a necessity (as a tester) and so why not try it on people around me? I'm certainly no expert but it gives me a few insights and maybe it will help in the odd discussion in the future.
  • The Black Swan. Enjoying this slightly-scholarly book and I'm taking my time with it. Lots of good things for testers to think about. These types of events are all around us - just think volcanos!
  • The User Illusion. I can't seem to finish this book - I've been reading it for years - it has tricky parts - I read and re-read parts. It's an exploration of conciousness and how the unconcious mind processes so much information. It introduced me to entropy, information theory and to G√∂del - satisfying the mathematician in me and giving me another insight on testing problems.

The Testing Corner
I have plenty of software testing books - some of which are constant reference material and I've written about before. However, I don't think I've mentioned these two before:
  • Beautiful Testing. I started dipping into this last autumn and it then fell by the wayside - will re-visit before long. Some interesting chapters - I'll wait until I've finished it before giving a verdict.
  • The Art of Software Testing. This is a pure reference material for me. I picked up a second hand first edition last autumn - did the triangle self-test and enjoyed some of the "phycological" aspects of software testing.

The Recently Finished Corner
I think I have more than one, but this is the one that stands out.
  • Blink. Well, I'm into how the mind processes information, why that sometimes works and sometimes doesn't. As a tester I can relate to why people can be hampered by too much information - so I liked the war-games description!

The Not Started-Yet Corner
Next up...

The Weinberg Corner
I'm a latecomer to Jerry's work. After finding his Perfect Software book last summer I'm gradually going through a swathe of his work. The current ones are:
  • Quality Software Management vol II. Great insights into observations and interpretations and the pitfalls that go with them. I'm enjoying working through this book.
  • The Gift of Time. Whilst this is not a Weinberg tome it's related to his body of work with reflections from people that have worked with him or been inspired by his work. Easy to dip into essays. I've nearly read through all and I like the description of the fieldstone method - with possible applications in my day job!
  • Exploring Requirements: Quality Before Design. The test for attentiveness was illuminating. Ongoing! 

My reading is typically driven by my emergent learning and divergent thinking style. I've written about this before, here. Some of these I bought second hand from Alibris - a handy site for getting "hard-to-get" books.

And now - if you're still with me - a couple of challenges for you dear reader, yes you!

Quick Test!
Without looking - How many corners did I mention? Were you paying attention?

Have you got any great recommendations? Let me know!


  1. Great list Simon!
    I've read a few, some are already on my reading list (Black Swan is actually in the post office waiting for me), and I suspect many of the rest will be added as soon as I check them out.

    Have you looked at 'Pragmatic Thinking and Learning' by Andy Hunt, and 'The professional Programmer' by Chad Fowler? They are to a small degree directed at programmers but easily accessable/applicable for testers and others too.
    I also enjoyed Bruce Schneiers 'Secrets & Lies'. Some of the examples and scenarios might be a bit dated but its a lot about seeing the whole picture (in security).

  2. Hi Geir,

    Thanks for the comments and thanks for the suggestions, I appreciate them!

    I'll look into those suggestions, exactly what I want.