My Bookshelf

  • Number of books listed: 79
  • Number of different authors: 64
  • Average book rating: 7.7

Currently on my nightstand:

Defending the Undefendable by Walter Block

The book's subtitle: The Pimp, Prostitute, Scab, Slumlord, Libeler, Moneylender and Other Scapegoats in the Rogue's Gallery of Amercian Society.

Block, using free-market principles, defends the actions of some of society's seedier or less respectable professions.

Not yet rated

Retired to my bookshelf:

Churchill: The Unexpected Hero by Paul Addison
Read in 2013

Considering the subject matter, this book was published recently (2005). I'm no history buff nor any kind of rampant anglophile, but there's still something about Churchill, isn't there? I'm not even sure how this book got into my Kindle.

Rating 7 out of 10
Crisis and Leviathan: Critical Episodes in the Growth of American Government by Robert Higgs
Read in 2013

The author chooses specific episodes in U.S. history, beginning in the later 1800's through WWI, the Great Depression, WWII and beyond to demonstrate how the standard government response to civil unrest and war is to increase its power over the economy and society. Each crisis leads to greater government oversight. Once in place, measures (laws, federal agencies etc.) created to deal with these emergencies are rarely unwound. The result is government with power over people, trade and commerce that would have been hard to imagine, say, one hundred years ago.

Rating 8 out of 10
Road to Valour: A True Story of World War II Italy, the Nazis, and the Cyclist Who Inspired a Nation by Aili and Andres McConnon
Read in 2013

The story of Gino Bartali, a name perhaps well-known in the world of cycling historians, but deserving of much wider recognition. He used his cycling fame as cover and delivered fake documents to Italian Jews so that they could escape persecution during the era of German and Italian fascism.

This (true) story could easily be made into a Hollywood movie; surely something that has crossed the authors' minds?

Rating 9 out of 10
Deception: Spies, Lies and how Russia Dupes the West by Edward Lucas
Read in 2012

Lucas has a soft spot for Estonia (thus my immediate respect;) and his analysis of what goes on in Eastern Europe and Russia is second to none. If you think Russia behaves just like any other country, this book will give you lots of food for thought.

Rating 10 out of 10
Drush User's Guide by Juan Pablo Novillo Requena
Read in 2012

Many Drupal users know about and use drush, but they're probably only scratching the surface of what it can do. (clearing cache, downloading and enabling modules)

Beyond all that stuff, this guide shows how you can use drush to create users, interact directly with the db, create make files and write your own custom drush commands. (yes, and more) A well-organised dev who looks deeper into using drush can use it to handle a lot of Drupal's day-to-day drudgery.

Rating 9 out of 10
Insanely Great: The Life and Times of Macintosh, the Computer that Changed Everything by Steven Levy
Read in 2012

Published in 2000, this follows the action at Apple from its early days building the Macintosh II, Lisa and beyond.

Rating 7 out of 10
Mortality by Christopher Hitchens
Read in 2012

Hitchens chronicles his experience with cancer, right through to his final days.

Rating 9 out of 10
The Beginning of Infinity: Explanations that Transform the World by David Deutsch
Read in 2012

It took a while to get into it and much of the subject matter is a bit "out there", but thought-provoking and imminently hopeful. The only thing that stands in the way of what is possible is our ability to make discoveries.

Rating 7 out of 10
The Most Important Thing: Uncommon Sense for the Thoughtful Investor by Howard Marks
Read in 2012

Came recommended by a newsletter writer and I'm glad I read it. It seems with investing books, there are some that one should re-read on a regular basis to keep focused on what's important. This is one of them.

Rating 9 out of 10
What the Dog Saw by Malcolm Gladwell
Read in 2012

A selection of Gladwell's pieces from The New Yorker. It's hard not to enjoy his writing and I often find myself thinking, "I hadn't though of it that way." His one piece on Ron Popeil was enough to give me the confidence to purchase the Ronco knife set when I saw it advertised on tv a few days later! So far, so good...

Rating 9 out of 10
Where Keynes Went Wrong by Hunter Lewis
Read in 2012

A nice way for the layman (ie. myself) to gain decent exposure to Keynes's General Theory and other works. The pointing out of contradictions in his writings and reliance on hunches rather than evidence is enlightening. Unfortunately, the book itself is not a treat to read and, at least on my Kindle, it was often hard to distinguish the parts that were Keynes's own words vs the author's. The author explains at the beginning that he will jump from quoting Keynes to commenting on those quotes, but there were still many moments asking, "So wait, did Keynes say that or is the author saying that?" If the writing were clearer the book would merit a higher rating.

Rating 7 out of 10
A Devil's Chaplain by Richard Dawkins
Read in 2011

A collection of Dawkins' essays and letters.

Rating 8 out of 10
After America by Mark Steyn
Read in 2011

It seems one is considered a racist or fascist (or both) for even touching this book, but reading it was great fun. Steyn's point about the dropping quality of education (at ever-increasing cost) is hard to ignore.

Rating 8 out of 10
Against the Gods: The Remarkable Story of Risk by Peter L. Bernstein
Read in 2011

The world really started to advance after the discovery and application of probability theory allowed people to quantify risk, whether it be in business, exploring or warfare, and plan their activities accordingly. This guy likes Keynes way too much.

Rating 7 out of 10
Boomerang: Travels in the New Third World by Michael Lewis
Read in 2011

Lewis focuses on five (Iceland, Greece, Ireland, Germany, U.S. municipal bonds) centres of the financial crisis and entertainingly describes how things got or are getting so out of hand.

Rating 8 out of 10
Griftopia: Bubble Machines, Vampire Squids, and the Long Con That Is Breaking America by Matt Taibi
Read in 2011

Exposing how the political class and high financiers are in bed together, gaming the system so that they can't lose.

Rating 9 out of 10
Guns, Germs and Steel - The Fates of Human Societies by Jared Diamond
Read in 2011

A thought-provoking read explaining why some cultures advanced quicker and thus defeated and dominated others. (Think Spain controlling large parts of South America.) The critical importance of farming and having animals to domesticate was something I had never really thought about. Once a culture can easily feed itself, more of its people can focus on advancing its technology. (and build armies)

Rating 8 out of 10
How to Run the World by Parag Khanna
Read in 2011

I saw Khanna on a series of The Agenda episodes in the summer and decided to buy his book. He sees NGOs as an important force for good in the world. Usually more effective than governments themselves, NGOs can initiate and run beneficial programs rather than dither about weighing political implications.

Rating 6 out of 10
Letter to a Young Contrarian by Christopher Hitchens
Read in 2011

Working on the TVO archive website, I was seeing lots of old videos including one of Hitchens discussing the so-called axis of evil: Iraq, North Korea and Iran. He spoke so well and I had read god is Not Great so I decided it was time to read some more. I found this Kindle version for $10 and downloaded it. It's set-up as a correspondence between the author and a student. The main theme is to speak out for your principles, for which you can expect to be shunned, criticised and ostracised, and to call others out when they betray their own principles.

Rating 6 out of 10
The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution by Richard Dawkins
Read in 2011

I got onto a Richard Dawkins kick and grabbed this for my Kindle. It is his summary for the evidence of evolution thereby making it a fact, not a theory. As you come to expect from Dawkins, it's very well-written and very convincing. I'm not sure how you can argue against evolution unless you blatantly ignore scientific evidence.

Rating 9 out of 10
The Little Book that Still Beats the Market by Joel Greenblatt
Read in 2011

Clearly written and simple to understand investment advice based on Greenblatt's "magic formula" to investing.

Rating 7 out of 10
The Master Switch: The Rise and Fall of Information Empires by Tim Wu
Read in 2011

Wu traces the cycle of ground-breaking technologies creating information empire monopolies (think Bell's invention becoming the behemoth AT&T, original film studios controlling production, distribution and screening of movies) and their eventual destruction. It remains to be see if the internet is different; will it become monopolised?

Rating 8 out of 10
The New Cold War by Edward Lucas
Read in 2011

Lucas writes for The Economist and is an expert on Eastern Europe and Russia. He analyses Russia's use of energy, corruption and political "sovereign democracy" as weapons to win/manipulate friends and silence critics.

Rating 9 out of 10
The Selfish Gene: 30th Anniversary Edition by Richard Dawkins
Read in 2011

Examining gene propagation from the gene's point of view. More technical than The Greatest Show on Earth so parts tend to (necessarily) drag on a bit.

Rating 8 out of 10
The Snowball: Warren Buffett and the Business of Life by Alice Schroeder
Read in 2011

If you're reading about Buffett, you're probably interested in his path to success, the specifics of business deals etc. After reading this I'm not quite sure what to think of Buffett. He's very good at what he's good at (business, playing bridge), but somehow comes across as inept at anything outside of his comfort zone.

Rating 7 out of 10
When Money Dies: The nightmare of deficit spending, devaluation and hyperinflation in Weimar Germany by Adam Fergusson
Read in 2011

Describing Germany's post World War I spiral into hyperinflation and the destruction of its middle and lower classes. Amazingly, the German central bankers and politicians didn't seem to think printing money on a colossal scale had anything much to do with the collapse of its value.

Rating 7 out of 10
Bloodlands by Timothy Snyder
Read in 2010

Historian lays out the facts and circumstances of what happened in Eastern Europe as it was caught between Hitler and Stalin in the build up to and during WWII. Millions of innocents killed and deported and not many people are aware of it.

Rating 8 out of 10
Fooling Some of the People All of the Time by David Einhorn
Read in 2010

Best-selling financial book that was mostly a factual accounting of events that the author experienced after shorting Allied Capital. A worthwhile read for sure, but very dry when compared to something like Michael Lewis's The Big Short.

Rating 7 out of 10
Freakonomics by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner
Read in 2010

Written quite a while ago, but I saw it on my dad's bookshelf and read it through. Always enjoyable to read stuff that bucks conventional wisdom so that you can say, "That's what I always thought - I was right all along!"

Rating 8 out of 10
Long Walk to Freedom by Nelson Mandela
Read in 2010

Mandela's autobiography. At times fascinating, at times a bit boring.

Rating 8 out of 10
Meltdown by Thomas E. Woods Jr.
Read in 2010

An Austrian school economist's take on why things tanked and why everything governments are doing to fix the problem are wrong and will only make things worse.

Rating 10 out of 10
Reminiscences of a Stock Operator by Edwin Lefèvre
Read in 2010

First-person told tale of a man who figures out his own technical analysis system at a young age and winds up trading stocks for a living. Takes place in the early 1900's but it pretty much reads like any modern tale about the stock market. I guess things don't really change.

Rating 7 out of 10
Sinine on sinu taevas by Mihkel Raud
Read in 2010

An Estonian book about terrorists going on a killing spree in Estonia. It's the authors way of bringing up many of his thoughts on the Estonian political and social landscape.

Rating 7 out of 10
The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine by Michael Lewis
Read in 2010

Very entertaining read about the subprime meltdown. If you liked Liar's Poker, you'll like this.

Rating 9 out of 10
A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway
Read in 2009

Needed a book to read while in Washington D.C. and Borders had this one for cheap.

Rating 8 out of 10
Bad Thoughts a guide to clear thinking by Jamie Whyte
Read in 2009

Enjoyable read. Whyte is a former philosophy lecturer and the book demonstrates how to identify bogus logic. Often people will move an argument off topic rather than prove their opponent's reasoning to be wrong.

Rating 7 out of 10
Hot, Flat and Crowded by Thomas L. Friedman
Read in 2009

Friedman's take on what is required to save the world.

Rating 7 out of 10
I.O.U.S.A. by Various authors
Read in 2009

Accompanying book to the I.O.U.S.A. documentary film. America is bankrupt and in denial.

Rating 6 out of 10
The Ascent of Money by Niall Ferguson
Read in 2009

History of money and financial innovation. Recommended and loaned to me by Erik S.

Rating 7 out of 10
The Intelligent Investor by Benjamin Graham
Read in 2009

Classic book about value investing.

Rating 8 out of 10
The Lexus and the Olive Tree by Thomas L. Friedman
Read in 2009

Friedman's explanation of Globalisation and the Electronic Herd of investors affecting the world. Almost 10 years old but a fun read.

Rating 8 out of 10
Whatever Happened to Penny Candy by Richard J. Maybury
Read in 2009

A short book set-up as a series of letters from "Uncle Eric" to his nephew Chris. Each letter covers some economic topic (ex. inflation) and explains it in an easy to understand way.

Rating 7 out of 10
Everything You Know About CSS is Wrong! by Rachel Andrew and Kevin Yank
Read in 2008

SitePoint claims it's time to use CSS tables, even though IE only supports them beginning with IE8. I plan to dive in with my new foreign ministry site, which should be ready Winter 2008.

Rating 8 out of 10
Travels with Herodotus by Ryszard Kapuscinski
Read in 2008

Left to me by Toomas O. after his August 2008 visit to Estonia. Thoroughly enjoy it, when I finally take the time to read a few pages here and there. On a side note, it's amazing how much less I read now that I walk to work instead of reading through the 20 minute TTC commute I had in Toronto.

Rating 8 out of 10
Build your own Ruby on Rails Web Applications by Patrick Lenz
Read in 2007

An introduction to Ruby on Rails programming for the web. Shows how to use it to build a site with functionality similar to digg.com. I got most of the way through it but realised I wasn't about to switch to Ruby on Rails just yet so I have shelved it.

Rating 6 out of 10
god is not Great by Christopher Hitchens
Read in 2007

Ex-Marxist Hitchens is an atheist and this is his attempt to disprove religion and convince readers to give up their faith.

Rating 8 out of 10
In Business As in Life, You Don't Get What You Deserve, You Get What You Negotiate by Chester L. Karrass
Read in 2007

Follow-up to Karrass's "The Negotiating Game"

Rating 7.5 out of 10
The Art & Science of CSS by Multiple Contributors
Read in 2007

Not a CSS textbook as much as a "check out what you can do" collection featuring CSS techniques to make attractive, standards-based sites.

Rating 6 out of 10
The Black Swan by Nassim Nicholas Taleb
Read in 2007

Taleb explains black swan events and how not being prepared for them (or not to expect them) is a big mistake.

Rating 11 out of 10
The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins
Read in 2007

A professor of evolutionary biology, Dawkins is a proud atheist who attempts to prove that God does not exist and that religion is a waste of time.

Rating 11 out of 10
The Negotiating Game by Chester L. Karrass
Read in 2007

At the time of reading I had just taken a negotiating course based on the principles discussed in this book. A useful read.

Rating 8 out of 10
Vanamees ja Meri (Old Man and the Sea) by Ernest Hemingway
Read in 2007

An Estonian translation of Hemingway's classic tale. I hadn't read the original English so now I suppose I'll have to for comparison's sake.

Rating 7 out of 10
A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson
Read in 2006

Being amazed with how scientists have discovered how the world works, Bryson attempts to explain how in a way that can be understood by they layman.

Rating 9 out of 10
Build your own AJAX web applications by Matthew Eernisse
Read in 2006

Uses sample applications to demonstrate the power of AJAX coding techniques.

Rating 8 out of 10
Building Accessible Websites by Joe Clark
Read in 2006

A book about the importance of making websites accessible and how to go about doing it.

Rating 7 out of 10
Designing with Web Standards by Jeffrey Zeldman
Read in 2006

Mr Zeldman outlines the importance of designing websites using standards and uses an example site to show the steps to make your site standards compatible.

Rating 9 out of 10
DHTML Utopia: Modern Web Design using javascript & DOM by Stuart Langridge
Read in 2006

Lots of examples of small apps using unobtrusive coding techniques. I found the chapter about form validation particularly helpful.

Rating 8 out of 10
Empire of Debt by Bill Bonner
Read in 2006

Compares America to past empires hinting that the reason we no longer bow to Rome is the same reason we will soon stop bowing to America. Excess credit and inflation will be America's downfall.

Rating 6.5 out of 10
Fooled by Randomness by Nassim Nicholas Taleb
Read in 2006

Explains how ego and arrogance often lead to humans believing they are exceptionally intelligent when in actual fact, their success is better explained by random chance.

Rating 11 out of 10
How Soccer Explains the World by Franklin Foer
Read in 2006

The author uses his obsession with soccer as a mirror onto the world.

Rating 7 out of 10
Just One Thing by John Mauldin
Read in 2006

Twelve of the world's "greatest" investors reveal the one strategy most important to investing success.

Rating 6 out of 10
Managing my Life by Sir Alex Ferguson
Read in 2006

A birthday gift from a fellow Manchester United fan. Fergie walks us through his life from modest beginnings in Glasgow to his team's 1999 treble triumph.

Rating 7 out of 10
Prioritizing Web Usability by Jakob Nielsen & Hoa Loranger
Read in 2006

Usability mavens filter through their thousands of guidelines to give us those that are most important.

Rating 9 out of 10
Struck by Lightning by Jeffrey S. Rosenthal
Read in 2006

Professor in the Department of Statistics at U of T who got his PhD from Harvard at age 24. Explains how we are confronted every day with randomness and we can use probability to make better decisions. Written to be understood by non-academics.

Rating 9 out of 10
The Border by James Laxer
Read in 2006

York University professor discusses the border relationship between Canada and the United States by visiting just about every border crossing from the Atlantic to the Pacific.

Rating 5 out of 10
The Long Ships by Frans G. Bengtsson
Read in 2006

Originally written in Swedish, this story of the life of Orm provides what is supposed to be an accurate description of Viking life. The tale follows Orm's adventures as he passes from childhood to becoming a great Chieftain.

Rating 6.5 out of 10
The Lyre of Orpheus by Robertson Davies
Read in 2006

Novel whose plot surrounds the production of a new Opera. This was read sometime in 2005 when CBC was doing its "Greatest Ever Canadian" competition. Written on the inside cover are some unexpected and mostly joke top picks from a few friends including Gowan, Emmanuel Sandhu, Mitsou and Ed the Sock.

Rating 6.5 out of 10
The World is Flat by Thomas L. Friedman
Read in 2006

Friedman lays out the ten main forces that flattened the world; from the fall of the Berlin Wall which opened up closed societies to the ubiquity of digital communication giving us a global village. To succeed in the flat world is to accept flatteners like outsourcing and develop your education and skills to be valuable in a world where anything can be done from anywhere.

Rating 7 out of 10
Writing Mobile Code by Ivo Salmre
Read in 2006

The author is a friend so I want to read his book. All about the ins and outs of coding applications for mobile devices. I started strong but got sidetracked by other books so this will take some time to complete.

Rating 8 out of 10
Conned Again, Watson by Colin Bruce
Read in 2005

Bruce is a physicist who uses the fictional character Sherlock Holmes and the mysteries he faces to shed light on common probability, logic and decision theory problems.

Rating 7 out of 10
Does IT Matter? by Nicholas G. Carr
Read in 2005

Questions the wisdom of companies' huge Information Technology expenditures when the strategic importance of having the latest and greatest decreases as core IT functions become affordable and accessible to all. How much new equipment and man time is required if what you have now works fine?

Rating 6 out of 10
Mean Genes by T. Burnham & J. Phelan
Read in 2005

Two academics showing that often our own genes work against us in our efforts towards self-improvement. For instance, losing weight can be tough at the best of times but our genes do not like it and fight against our bodies losing valuable energy stores.

Rating 7 out of 10
The Global Soul by Pico Iyer
Read in 2005

After hearing Iyer interviewed on CBC radio, I picked up this book. Iyer's background is interesting in that he is East Indian by descent, grew up in England but now has a home in California. His varied background and experiences provide great insight to all the places he visits throughout the book.

Rating 6 out of 10
Decision in Normandy by Carlo D'Este
Read in 2004

Analysis of the tactical successes and blunders in the days following the D-Day landings. Remarkable to see how often and quickly high-ranking officers were replaced if they were not meeting their objectives.

Rating 6 out of 10
Murther & Walking Spirits by Robertson Davies
Read in 2004

Follows the ghost life of an accidentally murdered newspaper editor. As a ghost, he sees the history of his family from hundreds of years back to present day. As always with Davies, very well written.

Rating 7 out of 10
The Discoverers by Daniel J. Boorstin
Read in 2004

An educational romp from the discovery of keeping time to the development of the atomic bomb. Catalogues the accomplishments of famous and not so famous explorers, philosophers and scientists.

Rating 9 out of 10
For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway
Read in 2003

Hemingway's well-known story of an American fighting with anti-fascist forces in the mountains of Spain in the 1930's.

Rating 7 out of 10
The Cunning Man by Robertson Davies
Read in 2003

Novel following the experiences of a bachelor physician in Toronto.

Rating 8 out of 10
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