Here’s a list of books that I’ve been reading. I’ll try to keep this updated as I go, send me an email if you think of one I might enjoy based on what you see below!
Queued: on my Amazon wishlist.
- Notes from a Small Island NOTES: …
- Games without Rules: The Often-Interrupted History of Afghanistan NOTES: easy read, great introduction to the last couple hundred years of Afghanistan. A couple of interesting quotes / tidbits:
- On Osama, al Qaeda and Osama’s fatwa: “… would have been a good moment for US policy makers to step back and develop a broader view of the problem. They might have studied what Jihadism was, where it came from, to whom it appealed, why it appealed to them, and how it had gotten into the culture of Afghanistan and Pakistan. They might have to tried to identify religious intellectuals with credibility among Muslims who were offering alternative interpretations worth supporting. They might have explored how Jihadism and its rivals were intertwined with social and political undercurrents in Muslim societies to craft policies that would undercut the seductions of Jihadism far upstream from actual crises. Finally, they might have worked out how to distinguish long-standing local contentions from global arguments and dealt with them separately.”
- On rebuilding a society / establishing a new order: “… the architects of the new order faced a harder task than the militant radicals interested in keeping society fragmented, because no single positive accomplishment ignites a prairie fire of belief. It takes an accumulation of good moments. The inauguration of one hospital, the completion of one bridge, the opening of one school, the graduation ceremonies of one class — each adds a drop to the pool of public confidence, but it takes a lot of drops to fill the pool. By contrast, the bombing of one hospital, the burning down of one school, the destruction of one bridge, the disruption of one graduation ceremony with a suicide bombing triggers a shock that feeds on itself like a scream in an echo chamber.
- Ender’s Game NOTES: first fiction book I’ve read in a long while… very much enjoyed it!
- Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen NOTES: …really enjoyed this book, I’m big boned and have never thought I could run long distances but just a couple weeks ago finished a short 5k with my wife and son and it was easy after doing the couch to 5k training program. This book made me believe that I can do more. One interesting quote about problem solving: “… when you can’t answer a question, flip it over. Forget what makes something go fast — what makes it slow down? After all, it didn’t matter how fast a rabbit could go, but how fast it could keep going until it found a hole to dive down.”
- How Will You Measure Your Life? NOTES: Fun book, lots of stuff to think about. A couple of quotes / notes:
- Quote: The theory of motivation suggests you need to ask yourself a different set of questions than most of us are used to asking. Is this work meaningful to me? Is this job going to give me a chance to develop? Am I going to learn new things? Will I have an opportunity for recognition and achievement? Am I going to be given responsibility? These are things that will truly motivate you. Once you get this right, the more measurable aspects of your job (ie: salary, title, office, etc..) will fade in importance.
- When planning / proposing a new project / initiative, a good question to ask: “What are the most important assumptions that have to prove right for these projections to work — and how will we track them?” and then order said list by important and uncertainty. “… at the top should be the assumptions that are most important and least certain, while the bottom of the list should be those that are least important and most certain.”
- Quote: “A strategy — whether in companies or in life — is created through hundreds of everyday decisions about how you spend your time, energy and money. With every month of your time, every decision about how you spend your energy and your money, you are making a statement about what really matters to you.
- Quote: “When the winning strategy is not yet clear in the initial stages of a new business, good money from investors needs to be patient for growth but impatient for profit… once a viable strategy has been found, investors need to change what they seek — they should become impatient for growth and patient for profit.” Big point here being that 93% of companies that ended up being successful had to change their initial strategy… and so if you focus first on growth before firing out how to make money, you’ll 99% of the time end up driving off a cliff… albeit at a very high rate of speed. Big companies do the latter more often than the former, they pour huge amounts of money into initiatives before figuring out if said initiative will be successfully, mostly because they HAVE to continue growing. And the big quote / meaningful part: “While most of us have a deliberate strategy of creating deep, love-filled relationships with members of our family and our friends, in reality we invest in a strategy for our lives that we would never have aspired to: having shallow friendships with many but deep friendships with none; becoming divorced, somtimes repeatedly; and having children who feel alienated from us in our own homes, or who are raised by a stepparent…”
- Interesting points on product development, people buy a product not because of some set of features, but because they have some ‘job’ in mind to do. Ticklers: IKEA, milkshakes, fruit smoothies, etc.. Similarly, “… thinking about your relationships from the perspective of the job to be done is the best way to understand what’s important to the people who mean the most to you… Asking yourself ‘What job does my spouse need me to do?’ gives you the ability to think about it in the right unit of analysis.”
- The “Just this once..” chapter that talks about marginal costs / marginal revenues, ie: the Blockbuster example where they could have built a business just like Netflix did but instead chose the marginal cost option of just dipping their toes into the market and then ultimately got killed by Netflix long term. Quote: “… the trap of marginal thinking. You can see the immediate costs of investing, but it’s hard to accurately see the costs of not investing. When you decide that the upside of investing in the new product isn’t substantial enough while you still have a perfectly acceptable existing product, you aren’t taking into account a future in which somebody else brings the new product to market.
- The Signal and the Noise: Why So Many Predictions Fail — but Some Don’t NOTES: REALLY enjoyed this book, Nate is a great story teller. A couple of important points / things I want to remember:
- Overfitting: name given to the act of mistaking noise for a signal
- Bayes’s theorem: truly fascinating stuff, lots of stuff on the internet about this, wikipedia does an OK job at explaining it but Nate’s chapter on it was great.
- Quote of a quote: “There is a tendency in our planning to confuse the unfamiliar with the improbable. The contingency we have not considered seriously looks strange; what looks strange is thought improbable; what is improbable need not be considered seriously.”, brought up in the chapter that talks about known knowns, known unknowns and there are unknown unknowns.
- Logarithmic scales: “… a fundamental characteristic of power law relationships: when you plot them on a double logarithmic scale, the pattern that emerges is as straight as an arrow.”
- Short discussion on broken windows theory, had not heard that the evidence for the merit of this theory is mixed.
- Quote: “… the most important source of failure in advance of the attacks was our lack of imagination. When we are making predictions, we need a balance between curiosity and skepticism. They can be compatible. The more eagerly we commit to scrutinizing and testing our theories, the more readily we accept that our knowledge of the world is uncertain, the more willingly we acknowledge that perfect prediction is impossible, the less we will live in fear of our failures… By knowing more about what we don’t know, we may get a few more predictions right.
- Every Love Story Is a Ghost Story: A Life of David Foster Wallace NOTES: interesting book if you’re into DFW, really reinforced how much he was into deep / meaningful work that took a long time to create, which also takes an incredible amount of concentration, which might have also been the thing that eventually killed him.
- The Places In Between NOTES: thought provoking book that makes you yearn for silence and simplicity while also reminding you that the country you were born contributes more to your overall life outcome than any amount of natural skill or smarts that you have. Also, nation re-building, good luck.
- Calico Joe NOTES: my mom gives me the latest Grisham book for Christmas every year. This was a super fast book to read, fun, nothing substantial.
- D-Day: The Battle for Normandy NOTES: nothing necessarily quotable, I enjoyed reading it since I’ve recently started reading more history. The cities and the battles start running together at some point which is sad since most of them resulted in ten to one hundred humans losing their lives. World War II was / is insane, especially relative to the “wars” we’re in now.
- In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler’s Berlin NOTES: picked this one up at Powell’s the day before I flew to Berlin and then Dresden Germany. Enjoyed it, was especially fun since I was flying into some of the same areas.
- The Power of Full Engagement: Managing Energy, Not Time, Is the Key to High Performance and Personal Renewal NOTES: enjoyed this book, you’ll enjoy it if you feel strapped for time / energy and are looking for ways of strategically deploying your ‘best’. Some interesting quotes / excerpts:
- “The primary markers of physical capacity are strength, endurance, flexibility and resilience. These are precisely the same markers of capacity emotionally, mentally and spiritually. Flexibility, at the physical level, for example, means that muscle has a broad range of motion. Stretching increases flexibility…. The same is true emotionally. Emotional flexibility reflects the ability to move freely and appropriately along a wide spectrum of emotions rather than responding rigidly or defensively. Emotional resilience is the ability to bounce back from experiences of disappointment, frustration and even loss.”
- On stress: “… over time [stress] may prompt symptoms such as hyperactivity, aggressiveness, impatience, irritability, anger, self-absorption and insensitivity to others.”
- One of the stories was about a guy that was having problems developing ‘real’ relationships with his direct reports and his family. He instituted three different ‘habits’ (a big theme in the book): a) he did a weekly Monday night dinner with his daughter so that his wife was freed up to take a college class, b) he started doing lunch every Friday with one of his direct reports, no agenda and c) he started doing an activity with his team on a Friday every other month.
- On values and virtues: values are a source of inspiration in our lives, virtues are those values put to action. Some good questions to ask yourself: a) jump ahead to the end of your life: what are the three most important lessons you have learned and why are they so critical? b) think of someone that you deeply respect. Describe three qualities in this person that you most admire. c) who are you at your best? d) what one sentence inscription would you like to see on your tombstone that would capture who you really were in your life?
- More questions: a) on a scale of 1 to 10, how engaged are you in your work? what is standing in your way? b) how closely does your everyday behavior match your values and serve your mission? where are the disconnects? c) how fully are you embodying your values and vision for yourself at work? at home? in your community? where are you falling short? d) how effectively are the choices that you are making physically — your habits of nutrition, exercise, sleep, and the balance of stress and recovery — serving your key values? e) how consistent with your values is your emotional response in any given situation? is it different at work than it is at home and if so, how? f) to what degree do you establish clear priorities and sustain attention to tasks? how consistent are those priorities with what you say is most important to you?
- Page 161: really great couple paragraphs about leadership, the willingness to admit that you’re wrong and the correlation between leaders who do so and companies that show great results long term.
- Page 166: more reinforcing stuff about how important rituals are in our lives and how setting up good rituals / habits makes us have to think a lot less about the non-essential stuff and frees us up to think about really really important / high value stuff.
- Chapter on basic training for setting up good habits: a) chart the course in the morning, set aside 5 minutes to figure out what you want to accomplish that day … and then b) chart your progress, at the end of the day record whether or not you accomplished the goal you set out to do.
- A follow up story on a guy that they highlighted throughout the book… one of the stories that they told is a habit that he put in place for emergencies… where previously he would immediately reply / be under stress, he put a habit in place where he would reply “I understand and I’d like to take a little time to digest this before I respond.” so that he wasn’t reactive / impatient. *Totally* need to put this in place in my own life.
- The Last Lion: Winston Spencer Churchill: Alone, 1932-1940 NOTES: Really enjoyed this (long) book, haven’t read much about World War II, this book gives you a pretty deep understanding of what led to that war, at least from the standpoint of Churchill and the English. Lots of important lessons here for our generation in the 2000′s as we (most likely) face similar challenges with the environment, climate change, health and economy but for whatever reason we as a society have chosen to ignore the elephant in the room. Wish that someone of Churchill’s stature would rise up for our time. Also, focus, focus, focus. Some quotes / excerpts:
- “.. William James once wrote that menu of genius differ from ordinary men not in any innate quality of the brain, but in the aims an purpose on which they concentrate and in the degree of concentration which they manage to achieve. Napoleon, himself great, called it the mental power ‘de fixer les objets longtemps sans être fatigué’ — to concentrate on objectives for long periods without tiring.”
- “The unforgivable sin of a commander, said Napoleon, is to ‘form a picture’ — to assume that the enemy will act a certain way in a given situation, when in fact his response may be altogether different.”
- In The Company Of Heroes NOTES: Quick fun read.
- The Happiness Hypothesis: Finding Modern Truth in Ancient Wisdom NOTES: Lots of really really interesting stuff about our brains (rider, logical) and how it interacts with our emotions (elephant, emotional / automatic). Some of the interesting ideas / thoughts: a) conspicuous vs. inconspicuous consumption, where we spend money on stuff that makes us look good in front of others but that doesn’t make us happy because it’s a zero sum game…we’d all be better off if we worked less, took more vacation and hung out with our families and friends more, b) the research done on children wrt attachment… “if you want your children to grow up healthy and independent, you should hold them, hug them, cuddle them and love them.”, c) great time course graph on companionate vs. passionate love over time, d) the research into suffering (does it actually make us strong?) and how it’s good for certain ages / times in lives as long as it’s not to severe and we’re surrounded by people afterwards that we can talk about the experience with, but then otherwise is actually negative, e) writing about your issues and talking about them with others has a demonstrated effect on your health, f) the turn from character ethics (where we talk about what we should be striving towards) to quandary ethics (where we talk about what we shouldn’t be doing), g) the list of (in theory) universal character strengths (list) where instead of having a New Year’s Resolution where you’re fixing a flaw, instead focus on reinforcing each of the strengths listed above. Highly recommend, very much enjoyed this book.
- The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right NOTES: one sentence summary: checklists, you should use them. Longer summary: great stories about why you should use them and how they’re being used in a bunch of different fields. Bullet points: a) complexity science broadly breaks up problems into three types of problems: the simple (baking a cake from a mix: a few basic techniques, once learned then solution = easy), the complicated (sending a rocket to the moon, usually can be broken down into a series of simple problems, but never a straightforward recipe, success usually requires multiple people / teams and specialized expertise) and the complex (raising a child: it’s never the same from kid to kid, raising one successfully doesn’t guarantee success with the second, etc..). Checklists are useful for simple problems but you shouldn’t attempt to solve one massive complicated problem with a checklist, better would be to break it down into the small parts and then potentially apply checklists where necessary… and definitely apply checklists to the interplay of the smaller parts (ie: story of the construction / skyscraper building process). b) when starting up ad hoc teams, make sure that everyone knows everyone else’s name and role… having to say your name = “activation phenomenon“. c) pilot checklists:DO-CONFIRM or READ-DO. d) checklists should NOT be comprehensive, they should aim to be quick / simple guardrails. d) Sample checklists at the back of the book, one good one: surgical safety checklist and finally e) the checklist for checklists. Book website = http://www.projectcheck.org/.
- No Easy Day: The Firsthand Account of the Mission That Killed Osama Bin Laden NOTES: Pretty sure I went to school with this guy at Biola, didn’t know him personally. Pretty well told story of the mission along with the history of the author’s time in the military.
- Real Boys : Rescuing Our Sons from the Myths of Boyhood NOTES: …
- How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk NOTES: Great book, really enjoyed the stories / examples. Good summary here to review every couple months.
- Inside Delta Force: The Story of America’s Elite Counterterrorist Unit NOTES: great story telling, amazing hard job that sometimes sounds like a ton of fun (ie: here’s a $1000, evade the FBI for the next 48 hours and accomplish this mission over N cities)
- Spec Ops: Case Studies in Special Operations Warfare: Theory and Practice NOTES: fun book, very different from the other war / special ops books I’ve read in that it was more of an academic look at what it takes to have a successful operation. Six principles (author’s theory) of special operations: simplicity (can’t have too many people / departments involved), security (has to be quiet), repetition (doing something over and over again makes it automatic), surprise (lots of interesting anecdotes that show how important it is to surprise the enemy.. they’re unprepared and confused… and usually very quickly dead), speed (the faster you go, the less time they have to organize / mount any kind of defense) and purpose (having the entire team bought into the mission AND clear about exactly what the mission is).
- Monoculture: How One Story is Changing Everything NOTES: shorter book (134 pages), summed up (maybe) by saying that everything we do in this world today is driven by economics. Business (obviously), education, arts, healthcare, relationships and even religion. Author gave a couple of ideas on how our culture can counter this thinking (Slow Food movement, Christopher Alexander’s pattern language [that book has been on my wishlist forever, buying it now], and Marshall Rosenberg’s Nonviolent Communication) but IMHO should have spent the entire second half of the book talking about how we can / should be attempting to drive change away from this culture. Interesting book nonetheless that’s helpful when you’re remembering “This is water. This is water.”
- The Lean Startup: How Today’s Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses NOTES: good book if I ever decide to start a business or a run a product team.
- The Pale King NOTES: struggled over a month or two to get this book done. Read his commencement speech at Kenyon if you don’t want to spend the time reading the whole book.
- The Design of Business: Why Design Thinking is the Next Competitive Advantage
- Chasing Daylight: How My Forthcoming Death Transformed My Life
- The Last Train from Hiroshima: The Survivors Look Back
- 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess
- Love Does: Discover a Secretly Incredible Life in an Ordinary World NOTES: I love stories and this book is chock full of fun stories. The author is a dynamic guy, one of those people that seem like he’ll die having lived it a very full life. Loved the story of the “10 year adventure” with his kids and the Transpac race that he did with his buddies.
- The Heart and the Fist: The education of a humanitarian, the making of a Navy SEAL
- The Good Soldiers
- Games People Play: The Basic Handbook of Transactional Analysis Notes: in progress…
- Lions of Kandahar: The Story of a Fight Against All Odds Notes: quick read, great story.
- Matterhorn: A Novel of the Vietnam War Notes: my pops gave me this book over the holidays, ~600 pages, fiction (which isn’t normally my thing). Some good stuff in between the lines about leadership, politics within an organization, racism, sacrifice and life. Also: MAN my job is easy.
- The Information Diet: A Case for Conscious Consumption Notes: A quote: “… if it has a number by it, eliminate it.”, was in reference to software and all the “you’ve got 9 new messages” that you see everywhere.. sensitive to this since I’m in the industry that’s creating counters. Pretty short book, only took a couple hours to read, not sure that I’d recommend buying it, just read it at the airport on a layover or something. Definitely has prompted me to think more about what and WHY I consume certain things. The references to dopamine and inbox counters was revealing… I find that I use ALT-TAB WAY too often to find out what’s new between my Gmail inbox, my Jive inbox, my corporate email inbox, Twitter, Adium, Google Reader, iCal and everything else that shows a “you’ve got mail icon!”. Definitely need to start turning off email, IM and other stuff for extended periods of time.
- Necessary Endings: The Employees, Businesses, and Relationships That All of Us Have to Give Up in Order to Move Forward Notes: My pops sent me this book on a whim (thanks!), super quick to breeze through, aimed more at executives / leaders than at your personal life, has a bunch of good prompts. Get it at the library or bum it off a friend.
- The Only Investment Guide You’ll Ever Need Notes: A bunch of good simple advice that bookends big chapters about the stock market.
- The Ultimate Cheapskate’s Road Map To True Riches Notes: Vaguely remember reading this book years ago, summary: live within your means, DIY.
- Legacy of Ashes: The History of the CIA Notes: Epic book. Thought much higher of the CIA before I read this.
- The Night Stalkers Notes: good follow on book after Black Hawk Down written by one of the pilots shot down in Somalia.
- Black Hawk Down: A Story of Modern War Notes: Pretty sure I read this book years ago and didn’t write it down here. I’ve since watched the movie more than a couple times, the book, as always, was better than the movie. Read the book or watch the movie the next time you think you can’t make it through a day.
- The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable Notes: referral from Kevin Williams at Jive, some good notes here and here. Good book, recommended if you do any kind of management / team activities.
- Beyond the Mountain Notes: referral from Chris Rivard, great story telling, a good book for a winter afternoon when you want to be challenged / think about perseverance.
- Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In Notes: LOVED this book, short enough (154 pages) that I won’t attempt to summarize here but if you do any kind of that involves humans, you should read this book. Should be required reading for anyone in a management position. See also: Harvard Negotiation Project.
- How Children Fail Notes: …
- The Baseball Codes: Beanballs, Sign Stealing, and Bench-Clearing Brawls: The Unwritten Rules of America’s Pastime Notes: quick summer read.
- Shop Class as Soulcraft: An Inquiry Into the Value of Work Notes: Enjoyed this book while at the same time having just completed building a big chicken coop. Some relevant quotes:
- “… A thing requires practice while a device invites consumption. Things constitute commanding reality, devices procure disposable reality.”
- On his first time riding in a 911 with his boss: “…We’re getting really close, and we’re still going really fast. I realize Lance simply isn’t going to stop. Incredulous, my right foot starts stabbing at the air involuntarily, searching for a brake pedal. About fifteen yards before the crosswalk, Lance hits the brakes. The car just squats down on all fours and stops, as though a giant hand had reached out and pressed us into the pavement right … here.” Loved that imagery.
- On attentiveness, reminded me of DFW’s commencement speech wrt being present / not in your default setting: “… Here is a paradoc. On one hand, to be a good mechanic seems to require personal commitment: I am a mechanic. On the other hand, what it means to be a good mechanic is that you have a keen sense that you answer to something that is the opposite of personal or idiosyncratic; something universal. In Pirsig’s story, there is an underlying fact: a sheared-off pin has blocked an oil gallery, resulting in oil starvation to the head and excessive heat, causing the seizures. This is the Truth, and it is the same for everyone. But finding this truth requires a certain disposition in the individual, attentiveness, enlivened by a sense of responsibility to the motorcycle. He has to internalize the well working of the motorcycle as an object of passionate concern. The truth does not reveal itself to idle spectators.”
- On information workers and management: “… Jackall finds that though the modern workplace is in many respects a bureaucracy, managers do not experience authority in an impersonal way. Rather, authority is embodied in the persons with whom one has working relationships up and down the hierarchy. One’s career depends entirely on these personal relationships, in part because the criteria of evaluation are ambiguous. As a result, managers have to spend a good part of the day ‘managing what other people think of them.’ With a sense of being on probation that never really ends, managers feel ‘constantly vulnerable and anxious, acutely aware of the likelihood at any time of an organizational upheaval which could overturn their plans and possibly damage their careers fatally…”
- Again, on management / working in an office: “There is pride of accomplishment in the performance of whole tasks that can be held in the mind all at once, and contemplated as whole once finished. In most work that transpires in large organizations, one’s work is meaningless taken by itself. The individual feels that, alone, he is without any effect. His education prepares him for this; it is an education for working in a large organization, and he has difficulty imagining how he might earn a living otherwise.”
- The educational goal of self-esteem seems to habituate young people to work that lacks objective standards and revolves instead around group dynamics. When self-esteem is artificially generated, it becomes more easily manipulable, a product of social technique rather than a secure possession of one’es own based on accomplishments. Psychologists find a positive correlation between repeated praise and “shorter task persistence, more eye-checking with the teacher, and inflected speech such that answers have the intonation of questions.” The more children are praised, the more they have a stake in maintaining the resulting image they have of themselves; children who are praised for being smart choose easier alternatives when given a new task. They become risk averse and dependent on others.”
- Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion Notes: Fascinating book, highly recommended both if you have to work with people and as a way of better understanding yourself and the interactions you have in life. Was especially interested in learning about
- the rule of reciprocation (where if I do something for you, even something simple, you become strongly obligated to do something for me),
- the magic of ‘written declarations’ or ‘public commitment‘, where writing something down or saying something publicly becomes a strong psychological force that guides your future behavior and makes you less apt to consider alternative possibilities,
- on hazing and group initiation, where surviving either of the above actually reinforces your belief that what you went through was valuable
- on social proof, where, if you find yourself in an unfamiliar or unsure situation, will most likely look outside yourself for evidence of how best to behave.
- the jigsaw classroom and teams
- Eiger Dreams: Ventures Among Men and Mountains Notes: a bunch of essays that Jon Krakauer has written over the years about the outdoors and climbing (mostly), would rather be climbing mountains than reading the book.
- Being Geek: The Software Developer’s Career Handbook Notes: some good stuff, lots of overlap with his online blog posts and previous books.
- The Finishing School: Earning the Navy SEAL Trident Notes: fun look at the training that potential and current Navy SEALs go through. Kind of repetitive.
- The Pixar Touch Notes: really fun read if you’re into the founding of companies or Pixar in general. Random notes: a) Pixar was originally founded as a hardware company and then they were a software company and then finally… after years of trying to make something that made money, did they finally make money making movies, b) Steve Jobs came close to selling Pixar to Microsoft, c) it took them a good fifteen (maybe more) years to get to the point where they made Toy Story, d) Steve Jobs was a hippie.
- The Assist: Hoops, Hope, and the Game of Their Lives Notes: Very well written story, inspiring group of people, will make you think differently about college basketball. Wish there was a follow up wikipedia.org article about all the players and coaches.
- Blind Spot: The Secret History of American Counterterrorism Notes: longer (330 pages) and dense but a great read. Amazing to realize how much non-black ops work (ie: writing a report, presenting a report, doing all the background work before the presentation to make sure that your bosses’ boss gets what you’re trying to say and more importantly is persuaded by it) goes on in intelligence work. I shudder to imagine how many PowerPoint presentations are being created in the DIA these days.
- Where Good Ideas Come From: The Natural History of Innovation Notes: quote from the last paragraph in the book that’s a good quick summary: “… Go for a walk, cultivate hunches, write everything down but keep your folders messy, embrace serendipity, make generative mistakes, take on multiple hobbies, frequent coffeehouses and other liquid networks, follow the links, let others build on your ideas, borrow, recycle, re-invent. Build a tangled bank.
- Predictably Irrational, Revised and Expanded Edition: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions Notes: Bunch of interesting anecdotes that would be good to know if you were in product marketing / sales: pricing relativity (where we’ll drive to another gas station to save a nickel per gallon but will spend an extra $50 on a suit that might be cheaper across town because the suit is $500), the story of how black pearls came into existence, arbitrary coherence (where the initial price of an object becomes the yardstick against which everything else in the same category is measured), how much more value “free” and “zero” and a bunch of other things, all well summarized in this wikipedia article.
- The Climb: Tragic Ambitions on Everest Notes: Sister book by Anatoli Boukreev to the book that Jon Krakauer wrote called Into Thin Air about the tragic 1996 expedition up to Everest.
- Super Crunchers: Why Thinking-by-Numbers Is the New Way to Be Smart Notes: learned some good stuff about regression, randomization and standard deviation. Written in 2007, it’s interesting to see how true the book really is: in the past couple years we’ve seen Doug Bowman leave Google because it was too data driven, Facebook using data to improve it’s products across the board, an entire Oreilly conference devoted to big data and a bunch of other interesting things happening in the world of big data. Written by Ian Ayres.
- Better: A Surgeon’s Notes on Performance Notes: positive deviant: the example of finding the success amongst failure and then replicating that rather asking everyone to change how they do things (the well nourished children in the Vietnamese village). Solving problems: seemingly simple things like the Forward Surgical Teams (ie: noticing that the first hour after a soldier is injured is the most critical time and that by providing simple care in the first hour is 90% better than care an hour later. How to become a positive deviant: 1) ask an unscripted question, 2), don’t complain, 3) count something, 4) write something, 5) change.
- The Confession: A Novel
- Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption
- Deep Church: A Third Way Beyond Emerging and Traditional
- The Unthinkable: Who Survives When Disaster Strikes – and Why
- Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard
- Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us
- Operation Dark Heart: Spycraft and Special Ops on the Frontlines of Afghanistan — and The Path to Victory
- The Power of Total Commitment
- When Germs Travel: Six major epidemics that have invaded America since 1900 and the fears they have unleashed
- Talking Back: What Students Know about Teaching
- Dreaming in Code: Two Dozen Programmers, Three Years, 4,732 Bugs, and One Quest for Transcendent Software
- Let My People Go Surfing: The Education of a Reluctant Businessman
- A Great and Glorious Game: Baseball Writings of A. Bartlett Giamatti
- Peopleware: Productive Projects and Teams
- The Blueprint: How the New England Patriots Beat the System to Create the Last Great NFL Superpower
- Programming Collective Intelligence: Building Smart Web 2.0 Applications
- Better Off: Flipping The Switch On Technology
- The Best of Technology Writing 2006
- The Design of Everyday Things
- Purple Cow: Transform Your Business by Being Remarkable
- Small Things Considered: Why There Is No Perfect Design
- The Soul Of A New Machine
- The Last Night of the Yankee Dynasty: The Game, the Team, and the Cost of Greatness
- Seven Seconds or Less: My Season on the Bench with the Runnin’ and Gunnin’ Phoenix Suns
- The Teammates: A Portrait of a Friendship
- Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers
- Mountains Beyond Mountains: Healing the World: The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer
- Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed
- Acts of Faith
- Traveling Mercies
- Founders at Work: Stories of Startups’ Early Days
- Micro-ISV: From Vision To Reality
- To End All Wars
- SR-71 Revealed: The Inside Story
- The Architecture of Happiness
- Don’t Think of an Elephant: Know Your Values and Frame the Debate
- The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind
- The Man Who Shocked the World: The Life and Legacy of Stanley Milgram
- Clemente: The Passion and Grace of Baseball’s Last Hero
- This Beautiful Mess
- How Soccer Explains the World: An Unlikely Theory of Globalization
- Consider the Lobster: And Other Essays
- Status Anxiety
- The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game
- Hardcore Java
- Hope Dies Last: Keeping the Faith in Difficult Times
- Sojourner : An Insider’s View of the Mars Pathfinder Mission
- The Selfish Gene
- Curious Minds: How a Child Becomes a Scientist
- Faithful: Two Diehard Boston Red Sox Fans Chronicle the Historic 2004 Season
- Through Painted Deserts : Light, God, and Beauty on the Open Road
- The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
- To Own A Dragon
- The Business of Software
- Me Talk Pretty One Day
- The Death and Life of Great American Cities
- Fermat’s Enigma
- On Writing Well
- Six Easy Pieces
- The Code Book
- The Computational Beauty of Nature
- Turtles, Termites & Traffic Jams
- Google Hacks
- Things a Computer Scientist Rarely Talks About
- The Complexity of Cooperation
- Hidden Order
- Emergence: From Chaos to Order
- Prisoner’s Dilemma: John Von Neumann, Game Theory and the Puzzle of the Bomb
- Gandhi’s Truth: On The Origins of Militant Nonviolence
- The Day I Turned Uncool
- The Goal: A Process of Ongoing Improvement
- Small Pieces Loosely Joined: A Unified Theory of the Web
- The Clustered World: How We Live, What We Buy, and What It All Means About Who We Are
- The Age of Spiritual Machines
- The Future of Ideas
- Fast Food Nation
- Bots: The Origin of New Species
- Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid
- War in the Age of Intelligent Machines
- Weaving The Web
- Emergence: The Connected Lives of Ants, Brains, Cities and Software
- The Only Guide To A Winning Investment Strategy You’ll Ever Need
- Butterfly Economics