Books

I was listening to The Tim Ferriss Show the other day and he had a great idea to document books read, giving a short summary and a ranking. This way it creates a reminder and reference for me to come back to. Below is my attempt to do so. This page will be ever evolving. There may be spoilers.

Note: All book links may direct to purchasing site (barnes and noble, amazon, etc) whom I am not sponsored by. All images are taken from the respective purchasing site link.

Title Author Genre Read
Social Engineering: The Science of Human Hacking Christopher Hadnagy Non-Fiction Q3 2020
Fooled By Randomness - The Hidden Role of Chance in Life and in the Markets Nassim Nicholas Taleb Non-Fiction Q3 2020
The Cuckoo's Egg: Tracking a Spy Through the Maze of Computer Espionage Cliff Stoll Non-Fiction Q3 2020
The Making of a Manager: What to do when Everyone Looks to You Julie Zhuo Non-Fiction Q2 2020
Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future Ashlee Vance Non-Fiction Q2 2020
The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable Patrick Lencioni Non-Fiction Q2 2020
Extreme Ownership - How U.S. Navy Seals Lead and Win Jocko Willink and Leif Babin Non-Fiction Q1 2020
The Phoenix Project - A Novel about IT, DevOps, and Helping Your Business Win Gene Kim Non-Fiction Q1 2020
Sandworm Andy Greenberg Non-Fiction Q4 2019
Countdown to Zero Day: Stuxnet and the Launch of the World's First Digital Weapon Kim Zetter Non-Fiction 2018
The Hobbit J.R.R. Tolkien Fiction Q2 2020
Terminus Peter Cline Fiction Q1 2020
11.22.63 Stephen King Fiction Q4 2019
The Institute Stephen King Fiction Q4 2019
Dead Moon Peter Clines Fiction Q4 2019
The Witcher: Blood of Elves (The Witcher Saga) Andrzej Sapkowski Fiction Q3 2019
The Witcher: Season of Storms (standalone novel) Andrzej Sapkowski Fiction Q3 2019
The Witcher: Sword of Destiny (Short story collection) Andrzej Sapkowski Fiction 2019
The Witcher: The Last Wish (Short story collection) Andrzej Sapkowski Fiction 2019
Cyberstorm Matthew Mather Fiction 2018
Trojan Horse: A Jeff Aiken Novel Mark Russinovich Fiction 2018
Zero Day: A Jeff Aiken Novel Mark Russinovich Fiction 2018
Ready Player One Ernest Cline Fiction 2018
The Woman in the Window A.J. Finn Fiction 2018
The Fold (Threshold, #2) Peter Clines Fiction 2018
14 Peter Clines Fiction 2018
We Are Legion (We Are Bob) (Bobiverse Book1) Dennis Taylor Fiction 2018
Percepliquis (Book 6 of Riyria Revalations - Prequel) Michael J. Sullivan Fiction 2018
Wintertide (Book 5 of Riyria Revalations - Prequel) Michael J. Sullivan Fiction 2018
The Emerald Storm (Book 4 of Riyria Revalations - Prequel) Michael J. Sullivan Fiction 2018
Heir of Novron (Book 5-6 of Ryria Revalations) Michael J. Sullivan Fiction 2018
Rise of Empire (Book 3-4 of Riyria Revalations) Michael J. Sullivan Fiction 2018
Theft of Swords (Book 1-2 of Riyria Revalations) Michael J. Sullivan Fiction 2018
Kill Decision Daniel Suarez Fiction 2018
Change Agent Daniel Suarez Fiction 2018
Freedom Daniel Suarez Fiction 2018
Daemon Daniel Suarez Fiction 2018

Queue

Books Currently in the queue:
  • Code Breakers
  • Michelle Obama: Becoming

Non-Fiction


Title: Social Engineering: The Science of Human Hacking
Author: Christopher Hadnagy
Read: Q3 2020
Summary: 
Takeaways:
Rating: 9 out of 10


Title: Fooled By Randomness - The Hidden Role of Chance in Life and in the Markets
Author: Nassim Nicholas Taleb
Read: Q3 2020
Summary: A colleague mentioned this book to me the other day and it sparked my interest. While it is mostly geared towards investments (as this is the background the Author has), it can really help in any walks of light. Essentially, this book points out things in life that we believe 'probable' or 'predictable' but in fact are actually random. There were many key takeaways and here are the few that stood out:
Takeaways:
  • Chance favors preparedness, but not caused by preparedness.
  • Mild success can be explainable by skills and labor. Wild success is attributable to variance
  • The quality of a choice cannot be judged just by the result. (I first learned this in baseball. Just because a pitch you call or play you call doesn't work out doesn't make it a poor choice. It could have been the right call, but bad luck. Or vice versa.)
  • There is nothing wrong with losing. The problem is losing more than you plan to lose.
  • Important point: you can never affirm a statement, merely confirm its rejection. There is a big difference between “this has never happened” and “this will ever happen.” You can say the first, but never truly confirm the second. It just takes one counter example to prove all previous observations wrong. We never know things for sure, only with varying degrees of certainty.
  • Do not blame others for your failures. Even if they are at fault
Rating: 9 out of 10


Title: The Cuckoo's Egg: Tracking a Spy Through the Maze of Computer Espionage
Author: Cliff Stoll
Read: Q3 2020
Summary: Oh man!! How have I never read this book before? Even though it was written in 1989, the events, context, explanation and everything in between is SO prevalent! Sure, some of the things in it is outdated, but let's be serious here, it was 30 years ago! This is a great book for ANY security or IT professional wanting to know about hacking. It's a MUST read for any Incident Responder too. The way Cliff (the main character) is able to track down a hacker all because of a 75 cent "glitch" is utterly amazing. The techniques and tactics used are brilliant. 
Key Takeaways:
  • I found it brilliant how Cliff was able to set up a pager, using Morse code to be alerted when the hacker had accessed his network
  • I loved how "methodical" the hacker was. He rarely typed the same thing twice (only when he first accessed the machine to see who was logged in), but rather, had printouts of output and would review/reference it later. This minimizes unnecessary keystrokes and chances of being caught
  • I found it fascinating the different 3 letter work entities were involved and how they were tracking things behind the scenes
  • I thought it was great how the hacker would cloak themselves with an account of someone already in the /etc/passwd file, or choosing a common name that wouldn't stand out.
Rating: 10 out of 10






Title: The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable
Author: Patrick Lencioni
Read: Q2 2020
Summary: This book was a great eye opener of how teams can be dysfunctional. This is told as if it were a story, but is able demonstrate real scenarios. The book follows a new CEO of a company that is struggling. She meets with all her direct reports (COO, CIO, CFO, etc) as a group to work out the problem. The CEO drills down to the 5 dysfunctions of a team: 
  • absence of trust
  • fear of conflict
  • lack of commitment
  • avoidance of accountability
  • inattention to results
Key takeaways:
  • When part of a team, get to know each other in a more personal level. During introductions, have everyone answer simple questions like: How many siblings do you have, what was your first job, where did you grow up? Please describe a unique or interesting challenge or experience from your childhood.
  • When attending meetings, put away all laptops (unless taking notes) and pay attention
  • Once everyone can trust each other, thats when real work can get done. All meetings should have some sort of edge and passion, but thats good because it means real outcomes can occur. If everyone is holding back, it will go nowhere
  • A manager does not equal a leader. While there are qualities in both, they are not the same
  • A manager doesn't mean promotion. Being an individual contributor is still sought after
Rating:  7 out of 10


Title: Extreme Ownership - How U.S. Navy Seals Lead and Win
Author: Jocko Willink and Leif Babin
Read: Q1 2020
Summary: This book blew my mind away. Jocko and Leif are retired SEAL's who take their knowledge, experience and discipline as retired SEALs to help business, world, local leaders become better leaders. Many of their stories relate to their time during the Iraq war, specifically around the Battle of Ramadi. They cover the principles of being a great leader, such as taking extreme ownership, knowing there are no bad teams (only bad leaders), managing your ego and more. This is a book for anyone needing motivation and understanding what it takes to become a leader.
Key Takeaways:
  • A leader must take extreme ownership. If something fails, it is ultimately on you. Maybe you didn't explain the problem well enough, you didn't give them proper training or guidance. But it is your responsibility as a leader to take ownership
  • Keep things simple and prioritize. If something is too complex, something is bound to go wrong. If things are simple, you can be more agile if something needs to change.
  • Believe in the mission and help others believe in it too. If everyone is on the same page, success is bound to happen
  • Keep teams of 4-5 and have a leader clearly defined
Rating: 10 out of 10


Title: The Phoenix Project - A Novel about IT, DevOps, and Helping Your Business Win
Author: Gene Kim
Read: Q2 2020
Summary: While this is technically not a non-fiction (It's a Novel, Fiction), I still believe this book was valuable. The book follows Bill who is the newly promoted director for the company. He is in search of making things better and is told about "the 3 ways". He works on ways to better functionalize the team and the business by focusing on what matters most. 

Key Takeaways:
  • There are "3 ways":
  • The first way: The first way focuses on maximizing flow of work from left-to-right starting from business to development to IT operations to the end user.
  • The second way: The second way focuses on increasing the feedback loop from right to left. The focus is not only on getting feedback but also on how fast we can get the feedback in order to make necessary corrections/improvement quickly.
  • The third way: The third way is all about developing and fostering a culture of continuous experimentation and learning.
There are also 4 categories of work:
  • Planned Work — these are typically business projects or new features
  • Internal Projects — server migrations, software updates and so on
  • Changes — usually driven by feedback on already completed work
  • Unplanned Work — support escalations and emergency outages
Rating: 7/10


Author: Andy Greenberg
Read: Q4 2019
Summary: This book follows the Russian hacking group "Sandworm" and a piece of malware that they send to Ukraines power grid, that ultimately spreads across the world. They pieced together different exploits such as BlackEnergy, NotPetya and Olympic Destroyer, to create a destructive digital weapon. 
Rating: 8/10





Fiction




Terminus















CyberStorm: A Novel by [Matthew Mather]




















Author: Daniel Suarez