My Best Books of 2010 Booklist

December 27th, 2010

I read a lot of books this year (one of the job perks :)). Here are the ones I like and recommend (rule: they were all published in 2010):

Business Books

The Big Short by Michael Lewis: if you want to read just one book about the financial crisis, read this one. Michael Lewis is sharp and funny; I listened to the audio version of this book and was laughing out loud while walking to the office in the morning.

Delivering Happiness by Tony Hsieh: from the founder of Zappos, this book is a great read for anyone interested in innovation, starting companies, and “company culture”. Especially if you don’t believe such a thing exists.

The Upside of Irrationality by Dan Ariely: if you liked Predictably Irrational, Ariely’s previous book, you’d like this one too.

Rework by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson: by the founders of 37 Signals (and creators of Ruby on Rails), this book is a collection of short, easy to digest (maybe not to implement…) chapters about starting a company that might be different than the usual run of the mill startup. Couple of representative chapter names – “ignore the real world”, “learning from mistakes is overrated”, “planning is guessing”, “why grow?”.

Denial: Why Business Leaders Fail to Look Facts in the Face—and What to Do About It, by Richard S. Tedlow: Tedlow is an HBS professor and if you’re missing HBS cases, this is the book for you. Interesting stories from the days of Ford Motors to the present about companies and business leaders being in denial.

Good Boss, Bad Boss by Robert I. Sutton: will make you think about the people you manage and your own boss. Some of the advice isn’t exactly ground-breaking (along the lines of “don’t be a jerk”. Really?) but some is more useful.

Being Geek: The Software Developer’s Career Handbook by Michael Lopp: I would argue this is useful reading for anyone working in a technology company, not just software engineers.

Wired Magazine: it’s not a book, but Wired was a lot of fun to read this year. I just renewed my subscription – figured that for less than $1 an issue, I can afford it.

Non-Business Books

Stieg Larsson’s Millennium Trilogy (Deluxe Boxed Set: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played with Fire, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest, Plus On Stieg Larsson): one of these rare cases where the hype is justified. This was my favorite book (or 3 books, to be precise) of the year by far. Original, breathtaking plot taking place in Sweden, with a cool female hacker as the protagonist. Who needs more?

I just got this specific edition two days ago and it’s beautiful – 3 cloth-bound hardcovers, plus an additional booklet with essays about Stieg Larsson.

After you’re done with the books, you can enjoy the movies – which surprisingly manage to stay true to the spirit of the books and are highly recommended too.

Worth Dying For by Lee Child: I didn’t think a book about a modern day cowboy in middle America with no cellphones or other technology would even keep me awake, but this page turner didn’t let me go to bed. I finished it in about two days and enjoyed every second.

Faithful Place by Tana French: a detective mystery taking place in Dublin, Ireland. Half the fun is the Irish jargon, the other half is the realistic characters and the surprising plot.

Freedom by Jonathan Franzen: not a bad read, and will definitely make you feel like you’re in the know, reading one of the most talked about books this year (and an Oprah pick!). Franzen’s book will make you annoyed, sad, entertained but you won’t stay indifferent. Very readable and funny.

The Dirty Life: On Farming, Food, and Love by Kristin Kimball: if you like Michael Pollan-like books, you’d like this one. Not much of a plot but the subject matter is different enough from normal life to make it interesting.

If you’re an MBA student or applicant, check out my older b-school book recommendations post.

oh, and hi everyone, long time no see! Happy Holidays & Happy New Year from Seattle!

And as always, curious to hear what other people think – what books did you enjoy this year?

Amazon links

January 11th, 2010

Not really HBS related, but I found myself sending this list of links again and again for the past few weeks, so decided to put it here instead.

Other than that, all is well. Cheers from sunny (!) Seattle.

Web Worker Daily » Archive Amazon Quietly Launches Software Downloads «
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Jeff Bezos’ Risky Bet – BusinessWeek
Amazon‘s CEO wants to run your business with the technology behind his Web site. But Wall street wants him to mind the store
Amazon: We Want Sellers. An Interview with Matt Williams is creating soup-to-nuts solutions for sellers of all sizes, from individuals selling one-off items, to multi-billion-dollar enterprises. But is Amazon looking for sellers of more eclectic inventory, such as antiques and collectibles? AuctionBytes sat down with Director of Business Solutions Matt Williams, who explains Amazon‘s philosophy regarding sellers on its site.
An Interview with’s Matt Williams (Part 2)
In an interview last week with’s Director of Business Solutions Matt Williams, he talked about options for third-party sellers on Amazon. Part 1 of the interview, which discussed the Selling on Amazon program, was published in the February 17th issue of the AuctionBytes-Update newsletter. Part 2 of the interview follows and covers Webstore by Amazon, a solution that lets sellers create their own branded ecommerce sites, and Amazon‘s latest offering, Product Ads.
Howstuffworks “Amazon E-commerce”
Amazon started out as a bookseller and now serves as a sales platform. Find out about Amazon‘s expansion and the sales integration that makes it so profitable.
Sold on eBay, Shipped by – New York Times is expanding a program to allow independent sellers — even vendors who sell through eBay — to use its shipping services.
Ten things Amazon can do better online | Internet Marketing News and Blog |
Amazon is one of the great e-commerce success stories and we often use the site as an example of best practice. But what can it improve The site s usability isn t perfect but users have become famili…
Howstuffworks “How Amazon Works”’s story is an e-commerce dream. Find out what makes Amazon different and how its technology infrastructure supports its sales approach.
Amazon isn’t `leading indicator’ of economy, chief Bezos says | | Tacoma, WA is the South Puget Sound’s premier news and information source with local, national and regional news, the best sports section in the Pacific Northwest and a daily updated classified ad section.
Bezos On Innovation’s founder discusses his approach to innovation—both how to do it and how to stay focused when critics question high-risk projects.
Amid the Gloom, an E-Commerce War –
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Jeff Bezos on Amazon Kindle and Digital Media – US News and World Report
Amazon founder describes forays into electronic books, music, and video.
Is Amazon Ready For The Enterprise? –
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Chief Of The Year: Amazon CTO Werner Vogels — IT Management — InformationWeek
Amazon‘s external-facing CTO is helping to devise a cloud computing architecture with customer requirements built-in.
Q&A: Amazon‘s Andrew Jassy on web services and buffalo wings – TechFlash: Seattle’s Technology News Source
Seattle’s Technology News Source
How Amazon Aims to Keep You Clicking – BusinessWeek
Maintaining good customer “experience” is key, even when it’s an outside merchant making the sale.
The World’s Best Retailer –
Jeff Bezos’ is winning customers with competitive prices, wide selection, reliability — and Kindle. It’s winning shareholders, too. (Video)

Done. Or am I?

May 10th, 2009

Last Tuesday I uploaded my last exam (yes, we’re very high tech at HBS) and thus concluded my two years of HBS MBA. My exams still need to be checked and graduation is still a month from now, but for all intents and purposes I’m done.

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Happy Birthday 2.0

April 18th, 2009

Wow, it is almost the second birthday of the blog. I don’t remember doing anything voluntarily for such a long time (well, perhaps sticking with the same guy).

I got a nice birthday present: “2008-9 Best of Blogging” nomination from ClearAdmit. ClearAdmit is an admissions consulting company that runs an MBA blog which is an excellent resource for MBA applicants (I used to read it when I was applying). So the nomination, as they say at HBS, is an honor, a privilege and a humbling experience. I also got a cool icon:

ClearAdmit Best of Blogging

The birthday and the nomination motivated me to update many parts of the blog – the pages that appear at the header (best posts, blogroll) have been updated, as well as other things.

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Forget about my HBS Essay Analysis or the books HBS students read, or my other best posts. In what promises to be the ultimate post of all times, here are…

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Some good things

April 4th, 2009

After my last post created some interesting controversy, this time I want to share with you the other side of the coin. It’s not just fun and games (and travel) that we do here at HBS. In short, it’s also a lot of hard work and and doing good.

Here’s what I mean:


February 25th, 2009

These are very turbulent times we’re living in – one of the world’s deepest recessions, elections in Israel, etc. But this time, I want to write about something much more important.

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January 28th, 2009

Life Update

First semester ended and we had our winter break. I went to NYC for a week:

Ice skating in Central Park. More photos here.

Then I came home to Israel for the rest of the break. Spent some quality time in Eilat with my family, some time with friends in Tel Aviv (though as always, I left feeling I didn’t do that enough) and also tagged along with the HBS Israel Immersion.

The immersion was awesome – a group of ~40 HBS students, led by Prof. Dan Isenberg, came to Israel for a week titled “The Israeli Entrepreneurship Miracle and High Tech Industry” (or something like that). They visited Israeli start ups, met successful entrepreneurs, VCs, multinationals like Google and Microsoft and of course did the required touristy things – Jerusalem, Masada and the Dead Sea. You can read about the immersion in this beautiful Harbus article.

The immersion took place at the same time of the mess in Gaza strip. I’m so happy the school decided not to cancel it, and only 5 (out of 49) students canceled their participation. Since the immersion took place around Tel Aviv, participants had a safe experience and I’m so glad they got to see the Real Israel firsthand.

Some photos from Eilat are here.

Me pedaling in Timna Park near Eilat

Job Update

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First Snow

December 8th, 2008

Yes, I’ve been bad. Here’s what I’ve been up to recently:

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October 21st, 2008

HBS is full of euphemisms and politically correctness. So this time, when HBSers say X, they actually mean Y:


They say… They Mean…
The recruiting process was a humbling experience The recruiting process was a humiliating experience
There wasn’t a cultural fit I didn’t get an offer
I wouldn’t have gone back anyway I didn’t get an offer
How’s the lifestyle at your company? Will I have a life or will I work 19 hours a day?
I had a great summer at Lehman and plan on going back I’ve been smoking something really strong in the last few weeks
It’s a competitive offer I’m getting tons of money!
I’m trying for consulting, I think it’s a good fit for me Finance is gone and I have no idea what I wanna do with my life
I applied to all strategic corporate rotational leadership development programs I have no freaking idea what I wanna do with my life
I’m considering canceling my hell week interviews and accepting the McKinsey offer There are awesome deals to the Bahamas
Dedicated Interview Period Hell Week

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