Based on some recent posts, you may have been able to guess what a few of my books could be. However, despite 2023 being my abbreviated reading year, I still read a lot.
For some back story, my car was parked when someone backed into it on Mother's Day. It pinched the driver's side door, which prevented me from operating the vehicle. I couldn't drive to and from the park or gym where I usually listen to my books. Due to parts constraints, I got my car back roughly three months later, at the start of August. That's a lot of reading I missed out on!
January to May and August to November are still about 2/3 the year. So, I still got some reading in, and the following represents my top five reads this year.
The Top Five
5 - Articulating Design Decisions
There are a ton of books focused on communication and related strategies. There are books, blogs, and products galore!
Where "Articulating Design Decisions" shines is its rather specific methodological approach to communication decisions related to a focused area of expertise. In the case of this book, the author focuses on visual and graphic design along with User Experience (UX).
The focus on how to communicate the value of your expertise in a creative or technical setting is one I identified with. I had been hoping the title meant "design" as in technical architecture, but I believe the methodologies apply beyond the areas of artistic and UX.
Audible - Tom Greever
4 - Video Game Storytelling
I enjoyed this book's in-depth procedural breakdown of storytelling in video games. The title focuses on becoming an influential contributor and how different areas must collaborate for a solid narrative impact on a game's story.
Skolnick doesn't hold back his thoughts and nicely interleaves the need for and value of narrative writers throughout the book. Even games with a sort of plastic facade of a story still have dialogue or an implied experiential story, and an experienced narrative storyteller helps ensure the best experience with any game release in today's market.
Audible - Evan Skolnick
3 - Sex, Race, and Robots
I was interested in AI bias and its ability to drive an outsized impact on users and audiences to start the year. That interest hasn't dissipated in the least.
Dr. Howard tells several stories nicely depicting how AI model development today includes unintentional biases based on the lack of different perspectives in the groups and teams responsible for developing those systems.
This was an easy listen, and it's well worth the roughly 6 hours of investment, whether or not you happen to be technical.
Audible - Dr. Ayanna Howard
2 - Segregation by Design
This book was a surprise hit for me. I picked this book out of curiosity about the implications of segregation and how policies abandoned decades ago might have purposeful repercussions even today.
Trounstine elucidates how the breakdown of segregationist policies in the United States led to a rise in municipal zoning and code management, which had been almost non-existent before the start of the 20th century. This became further exacerbated with the formation of homeowners associations, which reinforced a neighborhood's existing makeup - predominantly driven by white's fears of neighborhood integration.
Through the mismanagement of municipal services or the deliberately disproportionate implementation of those services based on racial or income divides, we continue to ensure areas where we live, have unequal access to education or safety services.
I highly recommend this read, which dovetails nicely into my #1 for the year.
Audible - Jessica Trounstine
1 - Happy City
I recently wrote a more in-depth review of this book, but it's my top read of 2023. I haven't found a more well-formed treatise on the benefits of human-centered design with urban planning.
If you're anything like me, you feel the world should be greener and more diverse in how we plan and build. Where "Segregation by Design" covered the disharmony in urban planning and growth through racial and income segregation, "Happy City" focuses on how to break down barriers by leveraging urban planning methods.
Audible - Charles Montgomery | My Review
What were your favorite books this year? How often do you read to learn or for pleasure? Let me know in the comments.
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