What I Read in 2020

5,850 pages across 19 books

What a year it’s been. 2019 was not without its difficulties for me and many of the people in my life. But 2020, sheesh, what a rollercoaster.

The Elements of User Onboarding

Samuel Hulick, 2014

The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet

Becky Chambers, 2014

Intercom on Onboarding, 2nd edition

Davin O’Dwyer (editor), 2019

Algorithms to Live By: The Computer Science of Human Decisions

Brian Christian and Tom Griffiths, 2016

“To try and fail is at least to learn; to fail to try is to suffer the inestimable loss of what might have been.”

— Brian Christian and Tom Griffiths, Algorithms to Live By


Clive Barker, 1987

“Dawn was close. The weaker stars had already disappeared, and even the brightest were uncertain of themselves.”

— Clive Barker, Weaveworld

The world of Weaveworld is fascinating. To protect themselves, a people known as the Seerkind hid themselves from the rest of the world in what they called the Fugue, weaving their land into a rug where they would hibernate until the time was right for them to unravel it again. Few on the outside know their world exists within the weave. Some are sworn to protect it, and some seek to find and unravel it out of vengeance.

“That which is imagined can never be lost.”

— Clive Barker, Weaveworld

The Order of Time

Carlo Rovelli, 2017

“For a moving object, time contracts. Not only is there no single time for different places—there is not even a single time for any particular place…. “Proper time” depends not only on where you are and your degree of proximity to masses; it depends also on the speed at which you move.”

— Carlo Rovelli, The Order of Time

101 Things I Learned in Architecture School

Matthew Frederick, 2007

  • I wanted to explore in greater detail the crossover between physical architecture and that of digital systems
  • I wanted to learn some things about architectural techniques and process for concept work for my novels, which I’m slowly working on in my spare time. Visualizing the physical manifestation of the places I’m writing about helps ground my imagination.

Reality is Not What It Seems

Carlo Rovelli, 2014

“I believe that this example demonstrates how great science and great poetry are both visionary, and may even arrive at the same intuitions. Our culture is foolish to keep science and poetry separated: they are two tools to open our eyes to the complexity and beauty of the world.”

— Carlo Rovelli, Reality is Not What It Seems

Strategic Writing for UX: Drive Engagement, Conversion, and Retention with Every Word

Torrey Podmajersky, 2019

The Blade Itself (The First Law #1)

Joe Abercrombie, 2006

“But that was civilization, so far as Logen could tell. People with nothing better to do, dreaming up ways to make easy things difficult.”

— Joe Abercrombie, The Blade Itself

Seven Brief Lessons on Physics

Carlo Rovelli, 2014

  1. Quanta
  2. The Architecture of the Cosmos
  3. Particles
  4. Grains of Space
  5. Probability, Time, and the Heat of Black Holes
  6. Ourselves

“We are made of the same stardust of which all things are made, and when we are immersed in suffering or when we are experiencing intense joy we are being nothing other than what we can’t help but be: a part of our world.”

— Carlo Rovelli, Seven Brief Lessons on Physics


Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, 1818

“Life, although it may only be an accumulation of anguish, is dear to me …”

— Mary Shelley, Frankenstein

The Art of War

Sun Tzu, 5th century BC

“Anger may in time change to gladness; vexation may be succeeded by content.”

— Sun Tzu, The Art of War

The View from the Cheap Seats: Selected Nonfiction

Neil Gaiman, 2016

“Fiction is the lie that tells the truth, after all.”
— Neil Gaiman, The View From the Cheap Seats

Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration

Ed Catmull, 2009

“I’ve made a policy of trying to hire people who are smarter than I am. … Always take a chance on better, even if it seems threatening.”

— Ed Catmull, Creativity, Inc.

The Silent Patient

Alex Michaelides, 2019

“You become increasingly comfortable with madness — and not just the madness of others, but your own. We’re all crazy, I believe, just in different ways.”

—Alex Michaelides, The Silent Patient

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes

Suzanne Collins, 2020

Before They Are Hanged (The First Law, #2)

Joe Abercrombie, 2015

“Anyone can face ease and success with confidence. It is the way we face trouble and misfortune that defines us.”

—Joe Abercrombie, Before They Are Hanged

Common Sense

Thomas Paine, 1776

“Society in every state is a blessing, but government even in its best state is but a necessary evil; in its worst state an intolerable one; for when we suffer, or are exposed to the same miseries by a government, which we might expect in a country without government, our calamity is heightened by reflecting that we furnish the means by which we suffer…”

—Thomas Paine, Common Sense

Designer, writer, and photographer dwelling in Los Angeles.