Shostack + Friends Blog


Worthwhile Books Q3 2022

The books I read in the third quarter of 2022 that are worth your time. A big stack of books

The books I read in the third quarter of 2022 that are worth your time.



  • Good Strategy/Bad Strategy by Richard Rumelt. I don't like strategy books much, and this one explains why: they're not actually strategy, but rather just pablum like “we're going to work smarter.” Strategy starts from a clear-headed search for advantage, and then using it. What gives you that ability to work smarter?
  • A Woman of No Importance: The Untold Story of the American Spy Who Helped Win World War II by Sonia Purnell. A really amazing story of a woman who fought Nazis while overcoming sexism from both the British SOE and American OSS, and did it all after losing a leg to gangrene. Shockingly, not yet a major motion picture.
  • Meltdown: Why Our Systems Fail and What We Can Do About It, Chris Clearfield, András Tilcsik. Draws heavily on the work of Charles Perrow, with a lot of focus on tight coupling and complexity as causes. Sadly, written in 2018, uses Boeing's 737 as an example of safety done right. Still broad and thought provoking.
  • The Writing of the Gods: The Race to Decode the Rosetta Stone, Edward Dolnick. Fascinatingly explains why the Rosetta stone was one of several keys to regaining understanding of hierrogliphs. (Includes some slightly irksome misunderstandings of cryptography, such as calling Whit Diffie a cryptanalyst.)
  • The world in a Grain: The Story of Sand and How It Transformed Civilization, Vince Beiser. Enjoyable in the way of many books that take a single topic and expound on its crucial history to civilization. But you're reading this on a screen made from sand, with instructions sent to sand-derived chips, over sand-derived fiber optic cables. If you get this book in physical form, it will be printed in a building made from sand, warehoused in another, and driven over sand-derived roads. (One of many books with similar titles.)


  • The Fated Sky by Mary Robinette Kowal continues her Lady Astronaut series.
  • Rule of Capture by Christopher Brown. Depressing, and excellent. The story of a lawyer trying to defend their client when the system has become twisted.
  • Hench, Natalie Zina Walschots is a delightful little book about the world of supervillian henchmen, hired through temp agencies.
  • The Apollo Murders, by astronaut Chris Hadfield. Entertaining, and delves deep into...can’t tell you, spoilers, but many of the strange little parts of the world that I find fascinating.
  • Leviathan Falls, by James Corey. Getting book 9 of any series to be reasonable is a huge task, and they executed remarkably well.

And, uhhh....

There is another ... book that is. Another book I spent quite a bit of time reading and re-reading... Now publishing in February.