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Darek Kay
Solving web mysteries

Book reviews

Here I keep track of some non-fiction books that I've read. I try to summarize the core idea and add a short review.

Anything you want

  • Author: Derek Sivers
  • Rating: ★★★★☆

A short summary and lessons learned from the founder of the CD Baby company. It is an interesting read that is kept to the point. Some methods are generally applicable, while others are rather anecdotal and situational. It's also available for free.

Atomic Habits

  • Author: James Clear
  • Rating: ★★★★★

Habits follow a feedback loop: a cue causes a craving, which makes us respond to get a reward. The author demonstrates practical ways to utilize this process in order to enforce good habits and break bad habits.

Inclusive Design Patterns

  • Author: Heydon Pickering
  • Rating: ★★★★☆

Heydon Pickering not only explains the base rules of web accessibility, he also provides specific implementation details for common patterns. I consider myself an experienced web accessibility developer, yet I have learned some new things from this book.

Landing page hot tips

  • Author: Rob Hope
  • Rating: ★★★★☆

This book provides 100 quick tips for creating great landing pages, including design, marketing and copytext tips. Some ideas are rather generic (albeit important), e.g. "make it fast". It is all the more surprising not to include an accessibility chapter.

Refactoring UI

  • Authors: Adam Wathan, Steve Schoger
  • Rating: ★★★★★

An excellent design book, targeted specifically at web developers. It is practical, to the point and includes many real-world examples.

So Good They Can't Ignore You

  • Author: Cal Newport
  • Rating: ★★☆☆☆

Instead of "following your passion" to build a career, the passion will come naturally by building up valuable skills ("career capital") and getting good at your job. I agree with the main premise: usually there are no pre-existing passions waiting to be discovered and there is no magic dream job waiting for you. However, this doesn't mean I cannot follow my passion and become good at it. I can also get really good at my job without a great passion emerging. The book offers a few good ideas, but you can get most of them from the author's blog.

Why We Sleep

  • Author: Matthew Walker
  • Rating: ★★★★★

The author explains countless studies to emphasize how essential sleep is for almost any aspect of our life and how underrated this topic really is in our society. The underlying foundations and state of the art are worthwhile and easy to understand. However, this knowledge is not mandatory to get a better sleep. Instead, follow the recommendations from the National Institutes of Health (which were also included in the book).

Book reviews