• "Do not raise your hand against the boy" by Rabbi Israel Meir Lau - Mr. Lau was the chief Rabbi in Israel in 1993-2003, and this book is his autobiography, divided into two parts. The first part describes his early childhood which was mostly spent in the Treblinka extermination camp. The second part is about him reaching Israel, studying in several Yeshivas and moving higher and higher in the rung of religious leadership. Most of the last chapters of the book are spent on various events he recalls from his life, meeting political and religious leaders around the world. Although I can certainly admire Mr. Lau's achievements and obvious intelligence, I couldn't shake the feeling while reading the book that we just live in different ideological worlds. I suppose he would think the same, since he explicitly lists atheism as one of the humanity's biggest enemies, together with AIDS, cancer, nuclear weapons and crime. The book itself is reasonably readable, although it's tiring to read too much of it in a single sitting, so I smeared its reading over a couple of months.
  • "Being Geek" by Michael Lopp - based on the blog "Rands in repose", this book claims to be "the software developer's career handbook". In my opinion this mostly applies to developers who plan to become managers, and even more so to fresh development managers who just recently stopped being engineers. The book is essentially a loose collection of blog posts, and thus the chapters wildly vary in quality. Some chapters are insightful, and some are just a waste of time. In addition, the book is written in a very specific style that may be entertaining and fun for some people, while being unbearable for others. I'm closer to the latter in this spectrum :) To conclude, depending on your style preferences and career goals you may either like or hate this book. Personally, I don't feel I gained very much by reading it.
  • "Crucial Conversations" by K. Patterson, J. Grenny, R. McMillan and A. Switzler - self improvement books usually have a very clear pattern. There's an idea or two, that would perhaps take a 10-15 page article to describe. Then, for the sake of book-format-publish-ability, that idea is smeared over 200 pages in generous font with generous margins and a few meaningless diagrams. The absolute key factor, however, is whether the original idea is really worth knowing about. If it is, then wasting an extra few hours on such a book usually still pays off. If it isn't, well then you get pissed. Anyway, "Crucial Conversations" is basically a caricature of the smeared-to-a-book idea I was talking about. On the other hand, the basic ideas it tries to get across are pretty good. So, I do recommend to read it, especially to those who don't find conversations (with other human beings) easy.
  • "The Last Song" by Nicholas Sparks (read in Spanish) - a typical Sparks novel. Not bad as far as these books go, although the third quarter is a drag. The end was worth it, however. I read it for the Spanish, of course ;-)
  • "Genes, Peoples and Languages" by Luigi Luca Cavalli-Sforza - I picked this one up because several books I enjoyed in the past referred to Cavalli-Sforza as a father of a lot of ground-breaking research on genetics, population migrations and linguistics in the second half of the 20th century. So this was an attempt to read some material "straight from the horse's mouth". I must admit I didn't enjoy it, though. Cavalli-Sforza writes with confidence and ambition, but not in a very readable way. This book tries to hit somewhere between popular science and a textbook, and misses both targets.


  • "Exodus" by Leon Uris