2021 Books

For 2021 I’ve adjusted my target back down to 24 books - better to aim low and shoot high like two years ago! Aiming high and failing to hit the target just feels bad…

I really dropped the ball on the monthly updates updates last year! I guess I started playing Escape from Tarkov roundabout in March, so since then I’ve generally neglected my blog I’m afraid… So, since to this is now being written a year after reading most of these, it will be very brief descriptions of the books - from memory.

In 2021 I only managed to read 17 of a planned 24 books. To be fair, Lawrence of Arabia’s biography was worth about 5 - so I think I actually got close…

  • The cover is a crop of this interesting photograph by Laura Kapfer.
December 2021
Discworld: Guards! Guards! by Terry Pratchett

The second book in the series was even better!

November 2021
Discworld: Guards! Guards! by Terry Pratchett

Sas recommended this - it was a fun re-read as a start to reading just the Guardsmen portion of the Discworld books.

A Philosophy of Software Design by John Ousterhout

The author had some interesting ideas on reducing complexity in software, but lost all credibility in the chapters about comments and documentation… This was touted somewhere on the internet as a potential replacement for Uncle Bob’s Clean Code (on account of him getting cancelled), but to be honest, I don’t think so…

Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe

I decided to read this after we played a board-game inspired by the story. The main character is not a very good person by modern standards, so be prepared adjust your thinking to 400 years ago… Filled with Christian religious indoctrination, which makes it an even tougher read. At its heart, I think the story about surviving and building a life for himself on a deserted island is the has been a source of great inspiration for many games, books, movies and television shows - so worth reading in-spite of its flaws.

October 2021
Asterix als Gladiator by René Goscinny, Albert Uderz

Got some light German reading in again.

September 2021
Game Programming Patterns by Robert Nystrom

Without a doubt the best book on programming design patterns I’ve ever read! I wrote a detailed review and did a talk at work about it.

August 2021
Wheel of Time: The Great Hunt by Robert Jordan

Some nostalgic rereading before the series launched.

Wheel of Time: The Eye of the World by Robert Jordan

Some nostalgic rereading before the series launched.

July 2021
Dune by Frank Herbert

A quick re-read before watching the new movie. Still a classic bit of science fiction!

June 2021
13 Things That Don’t Make Sense: The Most Baffling Scientific Mysteries Of Our Time by Michael Brooks

If I recall correctly this was a fairly light read - seemed a little bit dated…

May 2021
Seven Pillars of Wisdom: A Triumph by T.E. Lawrence

The memoirs of Lawrence of Arabia were a tough, but also absolutely fascinating read for me! It details what was probably the first guerilla campaign in modern history, fought in the middle east, during World War I. If you are even remotely interested in military history or tactics and strategy, then this is a must read!

April 2021


March 2021


February 2021
Dragons of Winter Night by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman

The second book in the series is definitely an improvement over the first. Most of the characters remain paper thin, but the book does get a bit darker than the first in the series, helping to keep your attention to the sad end.

Asterix und Kleopatra by René Goscinny, Albert Uderzo

I read this in German and then in English to see how well I understood… I think I definitely missed much of the subtler humor in German. It also took me 2-3 hours in German (looking up words all the while), versus 30-60 minutes in English. Interestingly this is the 2nd book in the German series, but is actually the 6th book in the English series - there’s some plot continuity issue with that - the pirates know about Asterix & Obelix though the German reader has never seen them before?!

Still a fun read! I need to go find a place to order more Asterix and Obelix in German now…

January 2021
Asterix der Gallier by René Goscinny, Albert Uderzo

Reading a 50 page comic in German is quite challenging in spite of just having written the A2-level German! I used to only include serious books with a minimum of 200-300 pages on this list, but to hell with that! I’m counting these this year - if it’s on Goodreads, it’s a book - who am I to argue?!

Grokking Artificial Intelligence Algorithms by Rishal Hurbans

This was a great introduction to a wide variety of algorithms - good job Rishal! I suffered from not doing practical code-along exercises, but it did open my eyes to a number of algorithms that can be useful for turn-based strategy games that I would love to try out… So slowly but surely I’m working up the courage to jump back into my game development hobby after my resounding failure to finish Mayhem last year (due to struggling with AI in PICO-8, no less).

The Twelve-Factor App by Adam Wiggins

At 40 pages this barely counts as a book, but it has some useful tips for how to build modern cloud-friendly applications, so worth a read if you’re in that field - it won’t take you very long!

Dragons of Autumn Twilight by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman

I fondly remember this series from my teenage years, when I read the bits and pieces I could find in the public library. Turns out that unlike Deathgate Cycle which I assume was one of their later works, this is quite bad! Nonetheless I’ve pushed through, because I remember the characters fondly… That said though, this is basically as some reviewers on Goodreads put it: like someone wrote down their D&D adventures. I’m pushing onwards through book two to see if it gets better.

Finished reading


Matt Van Der Westhuizen

Back-end service developer at Ubisoft Blue Byte by day - wannabe game designer & developer by night.