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):
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.
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.
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?