Tuesday, December 15, 2015

2015 Reading List

In the spirit of Mark Zuckerberg's "A Year of Books" initiative, I thought I would share some of the books I have read this year.

Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future by Ashlee Vance

Ashless Vance's well-researched biography on Elon Musk makes a Musk-fan respect Elon Musk even more. If you do not have a chance to read the book, at least read this excerpt.

Flash Boys: A Wall Street Revolt by Michael Lewis

There is a fair bit of financial jargon in this book and it can be tough to follow for those unacquainted with the stock market. Nevertheless, Lewis does a good job explaining the take-all, competitive culture of Wall Street and the absurdness of high-frequency trading.

The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics Paperback by Daniel James Brown

The Boys in the Boat is a biographical account of the University of Washington rowing team and the improbable journey of the team from beating Cal, winning the Poughkeepsie Regatta, and to representing the country at the 1936 Berlin Olympics. The book is superbly written for the man-on-the-street -- one does not need any specialized knowledge of rowing to appreciate this uniquely american story of hard work and determination.

The Idea Factory: Bell Labs and the Great Age of American Innovation by Jon Gertner

From the 1930s to the late 1990s, Bells Labs was the center of the world of American innovation. What started of as a research lab to preserve Ma Bell's monopoly gave way to numerous technological innovations that changed the course of human history. The word "innovation" was literally born at Bell Labs. Mervin Kelly's leadership and vision created a defining environment -- an idea factory -- where new ideas and new discoveries could be facilitated by human process and not by chance. Naturally, the book devotes a good section to the discovery of the transistor. I was extremely delighted that a good chapter was devoted to Claude Shannon, a man who founded the entire field of information/communications theory but is often unknown to the general public.

Marissa Mayer and the Fight to Save Yahoo! by Nicholas Carlson

A well-written biography on Marissa Mayer and the history of Yahoo!. At a time when the tenure of Marissa Mayer hangs in the balance, this book might be relevant again.

The Sense of Style: The Thinking Person's Guide to Writing in the 21st Century by Steven Pinker

The Sense of Style presents a contemporary view on writing, and attempts to explain the beauty and joy of writing creatively. It is an alternative to the plain unimaginative style espoused in Strunk and White's "The Elements of Style".

Crossing the Chasm: Marketing and Selling High-Tech Products to Mainstream Customers by Geoffrey Moore

This is a must-read book for anyone attempting to market any innovative, new product. Moore argues that the Technology Adoption Lifecycle is an illusion, and proposes a revised model filled with gaps (or chasms) between market groups.

Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol Dweck

Everyone from Bill Gates to Satya Nadella has been talking about the importance of having a growth mindset. Having a growth mindset is perhaps easier said than done, but Dweck's book is accessible for all ages and worth the read.

Business Adventures: Twelve Classic Tales from the World of Wall Street by John Brooks

Personally, I found this book too meticulous and long-winded for my taste, but the stories are interesting. There has to be a reason Gates calls this book the best business book he has ever read.