Favourite books

The books that have had the most impact on me or I have enjoyed the most.

Published on 
9 min, 1601 words

Categories: book

The top shelf of books in my study has the books that have had the most impact on me or that I have enjoyed reading the most.

Some of the books on my "top shelf" currently:


CLR via C# by Jeffrey Richter - When I was a C# developer I read the whole of this book before I started any interview round. It definitely helped me get a number of jobs.

Designing Data Intensive Applications by Martin Kleppmann - A very well written book that explains most of the key concepts and approaches for designing distributed systems. We recommend all our engineers read this at some point.

The Cuckoo's Egg by Clifford Stoll - I read this when I was studying computer science at university. It tells the story of how the author tracked down some hackers in the early days of the internet and eventually located them in Germany. It reads a bit like a thriller. Read it numerous times.


The Miracle of a Daddy's Hug by John Burns - John Burns came and spoke at our church many years ago and I bought the book shortly after. I read it before my daughter was born and it completely changed the way I interact with her. She knows she can get a "Daddy's Hug" when she needs one.

Increasing Your Personal Capacity by Eddie Windsor - Another author who spoke at our church. This had a huge impact on my life. It's basic premise is that you need to increase your personal capacity (whatever that may mean to you in a given context) to enable you to handle more.

Love Does by Bob Goff - Bob Goff is an amazing human being with so many stories. He spoke at a men's event at our church and spent the lunchtime cleaning police vans outside as they would remember it, rather than having lunch.

The Case for Christ by Lee Strobel - I read this book around the time I became a Christian. I had a lot of questions and the author addressed some of them as he also went from being a sceptic to being a Christian. The other books in the series are also good.

The Bible - I have to include this. I have read it numerous times including the whole of New Testament (Message translation) before I became a Christian.


Maverick and The Seven-Day Workweek by Ricardo Semler - When I was involved in starting a consultancy these two books had an influence on the culture we tried to create. We didn't go as far as the author but it certainly changed the way we did things in some areas.

Start With Why by Simon Sinek - A lot of people have seen the Simon Sinek TED talk. The book takes that and expands on it - saying that companies that succeed focus on the "why" before anything else.

The Innovator's Solution by Clayton Christensen - It maybe a little dated now as it doesn't seem to take into account other drivers especially for consumer goods however it is still a ground breaking work.

Unreasonable Hospitality by Will Guidara - I had seen a video about this and read the book. One of the best books I have read recently and completely changed my view of what customer service/hospitality is and going above and beyond. So many great stories and I definitely recommend this book.

The Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande - A book with a simple premise that made me rethink how the simple checklist can be used and why it should be used.

The Goal by Eli Goldratt - A classic business book that brilliantly illustrates how to address bottlenecks in processes. A very good read of a subject that could have been very dull. Given this book away before.


Orbiting The Giant Hairball by Gordon MacKenzie - A fun book to read as the approach to presentation is so different. Lots of random things to think about.

The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch - I re-read this book every now and again to remind me what life is about. A lecturer knew he was dying of terminal cancer and gave a lecture to remember.

The Art of Possibility by Benjamin Zander - The author is a really fun speaker to watch who has a very positive outlook on life. This book encourages the reader to look for the possibilities, rather than the problems, in life. I have given away copies of this book.

Take the Day Off by Robert Morris - It is very easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of the world. This book, based on the Bible, encourages the reader to take a whole day off each week - or at a minimum ensure you rest well. Another book I have gifted.

Quiet by Susan Cain - I am an introvert and this was one of those books where you read it and go "that's me" and "that makes sense" and "now I know why I do that". So many insights that align with me as a person.


Wargames by David Bischoff -
The film of this name was a formative film when I was growing up and the book is not bad either (as usual there are some differences between the book and the film).

Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson - I used to read a lot more Sci-fi than I do now and this was one of my favourites, with so many different ideas to think about.

Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin - A very well written story with excellent characters - really enjoyed getting lost in it.

The Rabbit Factor by Antti Tuomainen - I wondered whether to put this one in or not. It is a really fun read, a sort of thriller with humour, with lots of very unexpected twists and turns.

The Martian by Andy Weir - Probably my favourite science fiction book of recent times. So well written and researched and the film does an excellent job of dramatising it.

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline - A great science fiction book with lots of easter eggs and references to the 1980s for those who lived through that era. Unfortunately the follow up was so bad I only managed about 1/3 of it.

Free Country by George Mahood - This is one of the funniest travel books I have read. The first part where they start at Lands End with nothing is hilarious.

The Book of Beginnings by Sally Page - I keep thinking about this book. The characters are amazing and the writing is brilliant - you can picture it as unfolds and you feel their emotions.


Botham by Ian Botham - I grew up in the 1980s supporting Somerset and England. My hero was Ian Botham. I have a handmade wooden carving by my grandfather of the cricketer. I got him to autograph this book.

Shep by David Shepherd - My grandfather was a teacher with the cricket umpire David Shepherd for a while at Ilfracombe school. He also watched me play once at Instow where he lived.

My Life by Earvin Magic Johnson - Another one of my sporting heroes. I supported the Lakers since 1984 - the Showtime era. I also got to see him play in an "friendly" basketball match in London after he retired.

Schindler's Ark by Thomas Keneally - I had to study this book for A Level English, before the film came out. It was the only book on that course that I actually enjoyed reading - and one of the few where the book and the film are both exceptional.

Adventureman and Running America by Jamie McDonald - Jamie McDonald is a legend who comes from Gloucester. He puts himself through incredible tests to raise money for children's charities - running across Canada and later America are two examples. A real life hero.


The Language of Mathematics by Frank Land - This book belonged to my grandfather and he gave it to me.

How Buildings Learn by Stewart Brand - I really liked how relevant this is to software development as well in the way that something that has been built changes over time and also needs maintenance.

What Do You Care What Other People Think? and Surely You're Joking Mr Feynman by Richard Feynman - Both of these books are collections of different stories about the Nobel prize winning physicist. A few are serious however most are incredible and fun stories about his life.

The Deeper Meaning of Liff by Douglas Adams and John Lloyd - Think of an odd place name and now create a definition of what it might mean. This book consists of hundreds of place names and their made up definitions. I once even visited a village called Wetwang because of this book.