World Book Night, Friday 23rd April, is the annual celebration of books and reading that brings people from all backgrounds together for one reason – to inspire others to read more. The Kyan bookshelf is positively overflowing, and we even have an internal book club where we vote for titles.
Our collective book list is wonderfully diverse, and certainly isn't limited to non-fiction titles about design or development. Reading helps us to expand our skills, to find new ways of seeing the world, and to try different approaches to our work and our lives.
We decided to ask some of the team what they've been reading lately, and what a great response we received. Read on to see what's currently making us smile and helping us get through what's obviously been a fairly unusual time for many.
'The User Experience Team of One' by Leah Buley
“As much as it is a book that you can’t help read from start to finish, it also acts as an invaluable go-to guide for those times where you’re focusing on a specific part of UX and need to understand how best to navigate the task. It is particularly useful to help sell in bitesize bits of UX when working for a organisation whose UX maturity is low. It’s also a great book for anyone who is starting their career in UX!”
'Seven Brief Lessons on Physics' by Carlo Rovelli
“In an attempt to make myself look smarter than I am, I really enjoyed reading this small book recently. It manages to dilute ludicrously complicated subjects into manageable pieces and tease you into wanting to learn more. The author, Carlo Rovelli, is a theoretical theorist from Italy, living in France. Many of the book’s reviews praise not only its simplicity but also how vividly and keenly the author talks about science.”
'Supercoach' by Michael Neill
"As a Scrum Master facilitating multiple teams through product delivery using the Scrum framework, coaching skills are crucial in bringing out the best in people as individuals and teams, whilst helping the team understand why they might be thinking and acting the way they do. The book is broken down into ten lessons covering topics including new ways to think about goals, the simple ways to make decisions and how to ask anything from anyone. The book is full of stories and real life examples which seamlessly give context to the concepts throughout. It is easy to pick up, complete a chapter and return to another day. Perfect to read alongside the day job."
'The Unicorn Project' by Gene Kim
“This is a book about a disastrous IT project at a fictional company. The book’s protagonist, Maxine, takes on the heroic effort of working out why the project was such a catastrophic failure, and the strategies that her and the rest of the team use to turn it around. This book could easily have been a series of useful tips for devops and programming, and how to get the best out of people. But instead, all the advice is framed in an easy to read journey about how unrealistic deadlines and the best intentions often collide with the hard reality of complex project delivery. Anyone who has worked on a difficult project will be able to relate to this book – many of the funny anecdotes struck a chord with my own experiences!”
'The Freelance Introvert' by Tom Albrighton
“People have called me an extrovert, but I’d probably describe myself as introverted. I’m not quite sure how this has happened, but when I saw the title of Tom Albrighton’s book, it instantly stood out to me. Perhaps I have an extrovert personality but like to work in an introverted way. It’s no secret that many freelancers, self-employed folk and entrepreneurs are introverts too. This book is all about saying “It’s okay to be that way”, and how to make it work with your business. Tom’s writing is great – very straightforward. I found myself nodding along to much of his advice and anecdotes. A must-read for anyone who enjoys their own company and carving their own path – and you don’t necessarily have to be a straight-up introvert to relate.”
'Masters of Doom: How Two Guys Created an Empire and Transformed Pop Culture' by David Kushner
“Masters of Doom is one of those books I always return to, like a comfort blanket. It’s the story of id Software and how – armed only with pizza, Diet Coke and youthful bravado – a tiny team created Doom and changed gaming forever. On a technical level I get a kick from details of John Carmack’s pioneering innovations such as adaptive tile refresh and diminished lighting, and on an emotional level it’s impossible not to be inspired by accounts of John Romero’s boundless enthusiasm in those early years of id. It’s a candid insight into the industry, warts and all, and an irresistible page-turner.”
'Humor, Seriously: How Humor is a Secret Weapon in Business and Life' by Jennifer Aaker and Naomi Bagdonas
"Fresh off the printing press, two women debunk the myth that you have to be serious in business to be taken seriously. In hours and hours of research they study humour in work and how humour is a powerful tool for accomplishing serious stuff. Studies show that humour makes us appear more competent, and confident, strengthens relationships, unlocks creativity and boosts resilience. Who doesn't want that!? In addition, it builds a great culture – and that’s what we’re all about at Kyan."
'Hippo: The Human Focused Digital Book' by Pete Trainor
"Some of you might recognise Pete Trainor from the excellent talk he gave at one of our WXG conferences a few years back. In 'Hippo: The Human Focused Digital Book', Pete expands on the themes from that talk, delivering a book about "human progress" through our approach to digital design. Here we are entreated, as digital creatives, to—through processes rooted in science, sociology, psychology and philosophy—take a more holistic, mindful approach to designing tech products. The book explores in detail the ways in which the things we create impact us as human beings, not just as ‘users’, and what we can do as designers of these products to improve that experience. At its heart, 'Hippo' presents an optimistic, exciting vision for the future – a near future in which the technology we create works for us, to improve and empower us as human beings, and in which "the emergence of healthy tech [grows] in parallel with the emergence of healthy people"."
We hope these titles gave you some inspiration. If you're a big reader, why not add some of these to your list? If you're not, there's never been a better time to start.
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