Bscotch Book Club

The following books highlight aspects of our studio culture, design philosophies, and approaches to the art, science, and business of making games.

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Core Reading List (No matter your discipline)

The War of Art 

  • A concise dive into what it means to be a professional creative, The War of Art will light a fire in your belly and give you insight into what it takes to reach your creative potential.

Getting Things Done

  • Have you ever felt overwhelmed? Well, NOT ANYMORE! Getting Things Done is the quintessential book on taking control of your productivity and learning how to get a lot more done while being a lot less stressed. No matter what your goals are in life or what your discipline is, Getting Things Done has something to offer.

The Power of Habit

  • People are not defined by their choices — they are defined by their habits. The Power of Habit provides an incredible look into this aspect of human nature that will redefine the way you think about nearly every aspect of your life.

The Artist’s Way

  • If you’ve ever felt like you are in a rut, or that there has always been something you wanted to do with your life but never got around to it, The Artist’s Way is for you. It’s a book about “creative healing,” rethinking your approaches, deep introspection, and understanding (and reclaiming) your passion for creation.

Influence

  • Learn how to navigate social scenes in a way that lets you get more accomplished and not be bamboozled by others.

Thanks for the Feedback

  • This book deconstructs why Feedback is so hard to receive and shifts the responsibility for taking feedback from the giver to you, the receiver. If you have a hard time when someone critiques your work, or find yourself getting defensive in personal relationships, this is one seriously useful book.

On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft

  • Stephen King, the world-renowned fiction writer, unmasks his process for pumping out an incredible volume of high-quality work. Similar to the War of Art, in that it provides examples on how to be a creative professional.

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up

  • Although this book is extremely eccentric, its core message rings true: If you change your environment, you will change yourself. This is a step-by-step guide on how to reimagine and then rebuild your surroundings so that you can do the things you want to do with your life.

The World Beyond Your Head

  • Attention is the core focus of this deep, occasionally mind-blowing book. You’ll come to understand why attention, above all else (including time and money), is the scarce resource you should be protecting, and how you can get more out of it. 

Amusing Ourselves to Death

  • Amusing Ourselves to Death seeks to examine a claim made in the 1960’s by Marshall McLuhan: “The media is the message.” This book examines the idea that it’s not the content we consume that changes us, but rather, how that content is delivered. What happens to a person who watches 2 minutes of content at a time, constantly interrupted by rapid-fire commercials, for thousands of hours? And importantly, what happens to our culture? Written in the 1980’s, Amusing Ourselves to Death focuses primarily on television, but the message is still relevant today in the age of the internet.

The Shallows: What The Internet is Doing to Our Brains

  • A modern extension of “Amusing Ourselves to Death,” The Shallows continues the discussion by analyzing what happens to the brain of a person who spends thousands of hours per year in a medium whose primary purpose is to constantly provide a churn of content at a breakneck pace with no end in sight.

The Attention Merchants

  • A long, deep look into the abyss of advertising, and how our lives have been absolutely defined and dominated by an industry that constantly seeks to harvest and resell our most precious resource: our attention. A must-read that will shift your perspective on the world around you in a dramatic way.

The Drunkard’s Walk: How Randomness Rules Our Lives

  • Even if you think the world is pretty messy, it’s a lot messier than you think! We talk a lot in our podcast about how it’s truly impossible to know anything for sure, and this book does a great job of explaining why. It’s a highly informative (and fun) read.

Mistakes Were Made (but Not by Me)

  • Learn about how we’re all wrong, nearly all the time, yet always think we’re right. This will help you understand yourself and the world around you, though it can mess with your head a bit! This book shifted Adam’s worldview significantly.

Game Design

The Art of Game Design

  • This book offers up a great set of perspectives on different ways to think about how games are pieced together. One of the first books we encountered on game design, and still the best.

Programming

Code Complete 2: A Practical Handbook of Software Construction

  • A well-respected opus on best practices for coding. Probably not for complete novices, though you may still get a few drops of wisdom from the firehose of knowledge that is this book. It is quite long and dense, and is useful as a reference as well as something to try to work your way through. For intermediate and above programmers, this book provides a ton of hugely valuable advice and practices.

Writing Idiomatic Python 3.3

  • A super-short read for those getting started with Python. All languages have their own quirks, tricks, and beauty, and Python is no different. This book dives into the details of what makes Python unique so that you can use it as effectively as possible.

JavaScript: The Good Parts

  • JavaScript is a super weird language, but once you embrace it in all its glory, you’ll find it to be quite beautiful and expressive. This book’s goal is to get you to that point, and it’s super useful read. It’s more useful for programmers coming from other languages and picking up javascript, though novices starting with javascript will find some wisdom here, too.

What Every Web Developer Should Know About HTTP

  • Whether you’re a web developer or not, it’s probably true that you have to use the Internet sometimes. You’ll probably even need to write code that fetches things from the web (hey, now you’re a web developer!). This super-short book does a great job of explaining how content is sent over the web (focusing on the HTTP protocol) and, despite its name, is useful reading for anyone.

MongoDB: The Definitive Guide

  • If you’re curious about using a NoSQL database, MongoDB is probably the one you’ll end up with. This book is already a bit out of date (dang web technologies!) but is still a super useful overview of MongoDB, how it works, and how to use it. Adam recommends renting it and then blazing through it over a weekend to get a rough understanding of the tech, and then experimenting with Mongo (perhaps on Docker!) and using the official documentation for up-to-date information.

The Docker Book: Containerization is the new virtualization

  • Despite the unwieldy title, this is a well-organized and super useful book for anyone thinking about getting into Docker. If you are doing web development, it’s Adam’s opinion that you should absolutely be using Docker. This book is cheap and kept impressively up to date.

Philosophy, Life

Unbroken

  • The incredible true story of a prisoner of war who goes through such a ludicrous series of tortures that you’ll gain some life perspective.

Team of Rivals

  • A deep dive into Abraham Lincoln, his cabinet, and how he and his crew worked to keep the country together. If you want an appreciation of history, great storytelling, and some good examples of how teams function, this is it.

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

  • Similar to The World Outside Your Head, this book is likely to break your brain with the introduction of the concept of Quality (capital Q intended). If you can work through the occasionally arduous word slog it’s an absolute stunner.

Self-Improvement

Mastery

  • What makes someone a master of their craft? What’s required to get them there? This book deconstructs the concept of mastery and puts into plain terms what’s required. Similar to Peak.

Peak

  • Learn how to learn. That’s essentially the core of Peak, which dives into the formation of expertise and the science on it to give you plenty of useful takeaways for making yourself more awesome, more quickly.

Marketing

Positioning

  • Take an afternoon to breeze through this easy to read book and learn how to think about anything you’re making (be it games, books, a bakeshop, etc) and position it for success in the market.

Psychology

Algorithms to Live By

  • You don’t need to be a computer scientist to get something out of this. Computer science is the study of how to define and solve problems as efficiently as possible, and it turns out that we need to do that in our everyday life as well. This book extends well-studied computer science problems (and their solutions) into life, and in the process makes some fascinating discoveries. While many of the results end up seem obvious in retrospect, you may still find a few life-changing ideas.

Thinking, Fast and Slow

  • The psychology book to read, if ever there was one. The author is one of the great contributors to the overall field, and the book is well written and weaves story, experiment, and takeaways wonderfully. You’ll learn about how your brain works, which in turn will help you do better!

Writing

On Writing Well

  • A classic. This should definitely be at the top of your reading list if writing well is at all important to you.

Economical Writing

  • Good writing is all about getting your point across as efficiently as possible. This pocket-sized book teaches you how to do that!

Business

Examples & Explanations: Intellectual Property, Fourth Edition

  • If you’re going to be making software, games, or anything else that is described under “Intellectual property” (so, pretty much everything), it’s a good idea to be familiar with intellectual property law. This is a great, high-level intro to the topic with plenty of examples to help you understand the confusing details.

Law 101

  • If you’re running a business, you better not be completely ignorant of the law (even if you have a lawyer on retainer). This is an easy intro that will provide a nice overview of the terms and thinking that sit behind the American legal system. (Note that there are a few versions of this book — it’s unclear if they’re all the same or not!)

Console Wars & The Ultimate History of Video Games

  • For those interested in the business of making and selling games, it’s a good idea to be familiar with the history of the industry. These two books are fantastic for that, and are also simply great stories no matter in what part of the industry your interest lies.

The Phoenix Project

  • If you’re self-taught like us, you’ve probably heard of things like DevOps and Continuous Delivery (among other buzzwords) but have no idea what that means. Now, imagine a fiction novel about a guy learning those very things on the job, used as a vehicle to explain those concepts and their value. That’s what this book is. Adam was surprised to truly enjoy reading a book about IT and DevOps, and you probably will be too.