Thoughts on branding, design, writing and life by Kevin Potts. Established 2003.

2009 Reading List Recap

A brief dive into the fiction and nonfiction that passed across my nightstand this year. A lot of good stuff in the fiction arena. In terms of web design books, start-to-finish quality is getting harder and harder to find.

OK, so I failed to do this last year, but in a cheap play off my 2007 idea, I thought I would recount some of the books that made their way across my nightstand in 2009. Nothing especially groundbreaking, and certainly not as many as I would like, but here you go.


  1. Running With Scissors
    A sad and funny (but not sweet) memoir from a clearly dysfunctional author. It’s hard to believe his story is real. Never saw the movie, so I have no idea if is better or not.
  2. The Snowball: Warren Buffett and the Business of Life
    A really long and fascinating biography. The guy was like a machine growing up: numbers, stocks, money, analysis. What is more interesting is his odd social life — at times incredibly lively and personable, at others completely reclusive. This one, at over 800 pages, took awhile.

Web Design / Development

  1. The Principles of Beautiful Web Design
    Meh. They should re-title this “Basics of General Design With Some Basic CSS Thrown In for Basic Good Measure.” While articulate and mildly entertaining, the final product is surprisingly underwhelming. Its kind of like a Cederholm book: it attempts to identify a niche in web design, rides the groove hard, and then ends after barely 200 pages. Perhaps it has value to people without a design background.
  2. Website Optimization
    This book seesaws back and forth between really great tips and tricks to almost 101 information. However, there is solid info sprinkled throughout — especially regarding site speed — that I’ve never seen anywhere else, and for that reason, it’s worth a buy.


  1. Chronicles of the Black Company and The Return of the Black Company
    Glen Cook’s writing is razor sharp and merciless. He thrives in battle tactics and the more human side of what is often a shallow genre, and the scenes, language and characters are effortlessly real. If you’re tired of insipid, predictable D&D-style fantasy, these will rock your world.
  2. On the Road
    I tried very hard to get into Kerouac’s “classic” novel, but I just couldn’t do it. I ended up stopping about midway through; every single character, and almost all of their actions, are completely self-centered and distasteful. There is no hero; there is only the road, and that is not enough for me.
  3. Storm Front
    A recommendation from a friend. It’s an alternate universe where magic is real on Earth, which sounds silly, until you get hooked like a fat carp on Jim Butcher’s aggressive, gritty style that has all the speed of Dan Brown without the latter’s inanity. It ended up being a guilty pleasure I devoured in only three days.
  4. The Ultimate Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
    I re-read all five books in one marathon. For the fourth time. They’re just so, so, so good.
  5. Up in the Air
    Completely different from the movie. I mean, it’s an entirely different story, which was fine with me, because it’s like telling two stories with the same character. I liked the book better, although the end left me grasping. Which maybe was the point.

OK, so the above is not particularly impressive, I know. However, I’ve decided to read at least five classic novels in 2010, just to experience them and raise my snootiness bar a few notches. Stay tuned for next year.

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commentary + criticism

Nicolas Chevallier

wrote the following on Wednesday February 3, 2010

For speed improvment I recommend “High Performance Web Sites” from Steve Souders (from Google Speed Team) and the next one “Even Faster Web Sites”. They help me to save bandwidth and resources.

I also read “Website Optimization “ but this book is less instructive with less tricks.