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Books I’m reading (2013)

A friend asked me what I was reading this year, so I wanted to share the sorta tech/nerd related ones at least, along with a quick blurb about what they are:

  • The Little Kingdom. Michael Moritz, in his previous job as a journalist, covers the early Apple years. Late on he wrote a followup, which I haven’t read yet. Great complement to all the contemporary Steve Jobs adoration, since it’s written from the perspective of the early days.
  • Expert Political Judgement. UPenn professors analyze why people are so bad at predicting all sorts of things in geopolitics, whether it’s elections or which dictators get deposed. Talks about two styles of analysis- hedgehogs which have “a big idea” and start their analysis with that versus foxes that try to analyze lots of data.
  • Predictable Revenue. Ex-Salesforce sales head breaks down how they sold to B2B. Lots of great details on how to organize sales teams, generate leads, incentive compensation, etc.
  • Engineers of Victory. Detailed dives into specific WW2 engineering problems: Defeating the UBoats, resisting the blitzkrieg, etc. Talks about how the engineers played a role in winning the war.
  • The Better Angels of our Nature. Amazing book by Steven Pinker, which I originally found via this glowing review by Bill Gates. He calls it one of the most important books he’s ever read. Pinker tells a compelling story, via graphs, anecdotes, and academic studies, about how violence has fallen over the last several thousand years.
  • The Signal and the Noise. One of my favorite books I read this year, by Nate Silver. Talks through how people go about modeling different things, whether it’s elections, gambling or weather. Lots of important points made about model errors and how people suck at predicting.
  • Sports Gene. After reading Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers, this book is a great followup that talks more about the “nature” part of the nature/nurture debate. Talks about Jamaican sprinters, Kenyan runners, high jumpers, and the variance in the 10,000 hour “rule.”
  • Antifragile. Loved the first 1/3 and last 1/3 of this book. Taleb talks about the idea of antifragility, where things benefit from disorder. (Not just robustness, which resists disorder). He starts with the idea from a financial concept, but cleverly applies it to his own personal health and weightlifting routine. Could probably be shorter and less boastful though.
  • Your First 1000 Copies. Short and sweet book on how to build a mailing list to launch a book. A friend sent it to me after he started noodling on writing a book. I found some of the mailing list ideas helpful for this blog.

So there you have it! If you have more recommendations for what to read this year or next, shoot me a tweet at @andrewchen.

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