Reading list

A running (and mostly true) joke in my house is that I don’t read anything during the term that’s longer than a magazine article. I’m too busy, too brain-fried, too whatever, to devote the time and mental energy to reading. Which is a shame, because I love to read.

One of the perks of being on leave was that I was able to start reading for fun again. And I realized how important it was for my mental health to find a way to incorporate reading back into my life again, especially during the term. Plus, the backlog of books on my nightstand, desk, and bookshelves is really getting embarrassing. (Add to this the fact that my library now has a better structure in place for ebooks, and I’m really in trouble!)

So as we head into spring term (Monday!), here’s what’s on my reading list currently:

User interface/web design

I am leading an independent study this term in user interface design for the web, so a good part of my reading is preparation for that.

  • The Elements of User Experience, by Jesse James Garrett. I have about 10 pages left to go in this one—it’s an easy read, and short. It’s interesting comparing and contrasting this one with Steve Krug’s Don’t Make Me Think, one of my favorite books on the subject. I’m still trying to figure out if my student should read this or Krug first.
  • Designing Web Usability: The Practice of Simplicity, by Jakob Nielsen. A classic, but one I’ve (embarrassingly) never read.
  • The Design of Everyday Things, by Donald Norman. This one’s actually a re-read—I’ve read it many times before, but re-reading it always brings fresh insights.

Gender and computing

The Computer Boys Take Over: Computers, Programmers, and the Politics of Technical Expertise, by Nathan Ensmenger. This one hit my radar from a tweet (which of course now I can’t find), and looks like an interesting treatment of how the computing culture evolved as it did. (Which may, hopefully, give some insight into how it can be made more welcoming.)

Just for fun

Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen, by Christopher McDougall. While I’m pretty sure I’d never want to do ultramarathons, I’m fascinated by those who do. The author tracks down the Tarahumara, a reclusive tribe in Mexico for whom running extreme distances is a way of life. I found this while browsing the ebooks at my local library and am reading this using the Kindle app on my iPhone, which in itself is an interesting and informative exercise in interface and interaction design. (Maybe I should refile this as “work” reading, then?)

What’s on your reading list currently?

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