2021 Book Goals from Nick and John

Welcome to episode 108 of the Nerd Journey Podcast [@NerdJourney]! We’re John White (@vJourneyman) and Nick Korte (@NetworkNerd_), two Pre-Sales Technical Engineers who are hoping to bring you the IT career advice that we wish we’d been given earlier in our careers. In today’s episode we discuss book goals for 2021.

Original Recording Date: 01-22-2021

Topics – Book Goals for 2021

Most book links are Amazon affiliate links. If you’re going to purchase one of these to read along with us, please consider purchasing through the link to support the podcast!

0:56 – Dreaming Big about Reading Books for Growth

  • John sets the stage for this episode. We’re going to share our reading goals for the year, how we think about them, and how they can help us grow in some way.

1:55 – John’s Goals Based on Category

  • General Learning and Career Growth

  • Python

    • John has a technical goal for the year to formally adopt a programming language. He chose Python because it seemed to fit the skills he wants to adopt in data engineering, analytics, big data, and machine learning.
    • Learn Python 3 the Hard Way by Zed A. Shaw
      • The author has covered a number of different languages.
      • The "hard way" is typing in the code rather than just doing a copy paste. It allows you to experience the debugging process and better learn syntax as well as understand what commands do.
      • As we record this, John is a couple weeks into it.
    • Clean Code in Python by Mariano Anaya
      • The idea of clean code is writing it in a way that is understandable.
      • John wants to be knowledgeable to be empathetic to customers doing development work.
      • One philosophy is document what you are doing extremely well with good comments. An alternative philosophy is to write the code so it is very clear what you are trying to do and only write comments when something complex needs to be referenced outside the code.
      • The stretch for John is learn Python and conceptually understand clean code.
  • Computational Thinking

    • Computational Thinking – A beginner’s guide to problem-solving and programming by Karl Beecher
      • Programming can be broken down into language syntax, what commands do, data structures, logic, etc. Then there is the problem solving part. Computational thinking is more focused on problem solving abstracted away from the languages (i.e. algorithmic way of solving problems).
        • John has not had any formal training in this area. His goal is not to become a programmer but to gain a general skill to be empathetic to those who write code in their day jobs.
        • It would also be nice to solve problems he comes across on a daily basis with this type of thinking. *Applied Computational Thinking with Python by Sphia De Jesus and Dayrene Martinez
      • John does not know anything about the book but would love to hear from anyone who has walked this path.
      • This choice and the previous seemed logical based on what John wanted to learn.
  • Data Science

    • Data Science on the Google Cloud Platform by Valliappa Lakshmana
      • John is making a technology bet based on what he is hearing from his customers.
      • He would love to hear about any recommendations that might be abstracted from a specific platform, especially if it is better than what he has chosen above.
  • Consumption Format – How will John Consume These?

    • John thinks the only book he can do in audio form is the Lencioni book (could be both audio and PDF format and use WhisperSync). Maybe the Scott Adams book falls into this same category.
    • Most of the technical reads will probably be consumed in digital format. John keeps a few physical books but not many these days.
    • He thinks 90% digital with 10% possibly audio.
  • Lots of these reads sound really interesting to Nick. Maybe they can compare notes on progress in each list separate and apart from the show.

  • Maybe John could start blogging about those technical reads? Nick would love to read some articles written by John on computational thinking.

27:14 – Nick’s Goals Based on Category

49:17 – Ideas on Places to Find Book Recommendations

  • Friends, family, colleagues
    • Nick is interested in why people read specific books and why it was interesting to them.
    • Understanding people’s influences can help you understand them better.
  • Follow LinkedIn Book Club, and tag your posts with #linkedinbookclub
    • John pulls up the link live and finds a potential good read immediately.
  • Reddit
  • Twitter is an option also
  • John likes to read books that are cited as a source In a book he’s reading.
  • Friends / family members have also made some very good book recommendations to John based on his interests.

55:33 – The Importance of Books

  • If you are not reading books you may be missing out on some good content. Nick did not do this when he was in IT Operations due to a feeling of no spare time.
    • He never really read books separate and apart from articles, training, blog posts, etc.
  • John likes things that challenge his mental models of the world / how things work or present a model he has not previously considered.
    • One of the things that is most enjoyable is having an assumption he has taken apart and analyzed.
    • His nonfiction reading has been science focused in the past as a result. The learning genre we’ve discussed is in this area.
  • John has been a lifelong book worm and recently switched over to audio books (easier to consume while driving, etc.). He still loves reading both fiction and nonfiction.
    • Go back and listen to the episodes covering books that have shaped our thinking:
    • John is a little judgy about not reading.
  • Nick was a decent reader as a kid but really never found something interesting until someone gave him the first Harry Potter book, which led him to really enjoy fantasy fiction.
  • As we learn more, we will make connections across fiction and nonfiction works that can help us in other areas.
  • John has a back burner project to create a list of books he read at each age which led him to be who he is today.
  • Nick and John give some book recommendations for people who enjoyed Harry Potter.

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