Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Noam Wasserman: The Founder's Dilemmas

Date: 7/2015

Title: The Founder's Dilemmas

Author: Noam Wasserman

Duration: 13.5 hrs

Review: Great research on all the different ways that equity and control splits go right, and go wrong. The take away: you should assume, assume  that everything will change, talk through as many eventualities as you can imagine with your co-founders.  Inspiring quantity and quality of research.
I really enjoyed reading it.

Marty Neumeier: ZAG: The Number-One Strategy of High Performance Brands

Date: 7/2015

Title: ZAG: The Number-One Strategy of High Performance BrandsStrategic Thinking Skills

Author: Marty Neumeier

Duration: 2 hrs

Review: I really liked this short little gem of a branding book.  Your brand is your relationship to your customer, nothing less. Its what you mean to your customer.  Neumeier artfully and powerfully argues for what he calls "radical differentiation"   I'm sure i'll come to this book again, it was just too fun and went by too fast. I recommend it to anyone thinking about their branding strategy.

Peter Thiel and Blake Masters: Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future

Date: 5/2015

Title: Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future

Author: Peter Thiel and Blake Masters

Duration: 5 hrs

Review: I really like this book.  Peter Thiel's contrarian style, along with his successful-mans swagger make this a ver fun read.  What does the Don of the PayPal Mafia have to say?  This book is what.

Neal Stephenson: SeveNeves a Novel

Date: 5/2015

Title: SeveNeves A novel

Author: Neal Stephenson

Duration: 32 hrs

Review: I loved this book.  Especially the fist half. Stephenson, as usual, brings in all the minute technical detail, this time the domain is near-earth space survival (i loved LOVED this part). I so the encyclopedic nature of this author: science, philosophy, technology, psychology, all in stories that span millennia. So cool.

David Allen: Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity

Date: 5/2015

Title: Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity

Author: David Allen

Duration: 7 hrs

Review: I only listened to the 1.5 hours or so. This seemed like it might be good but I couldn't get into it enough to finish it.  I guess ill keep being stressed out while productive.

Robert Greene: The 48 Laws of Power

Date: 5/2015

Title: The 48 Laws of Power

Author: Robert Greene

Duration: 10 hrs

Review: I only listened to the 1.5 hours or so. Laughably terrible, and the vilanous voice in which it is read makes it more so

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Jeff Sutherland: Scrum: The Art of Doing Twice the Work in Half the Time

Date: 4/2015

Title: Scrum: The Art of Doing Twice the Work in Half the Time

Author: Jeff Sutherland

Duration: 6.5 hrs

Review: I don't recommend this book to anyone who has been doing agile scrum for a while.  It's a cheerleading collection of examples of uses where scrum saved the day, but it doesn't have any advice for the many day to day difficulties of implementing scrum: stories routinely get carried over into future sprints, pressures to change scope mid-sprint, the tendency for testing to be back loaded into the sprint (all stories coming to a ready-for-testing-state at once, near the end of the sprint), the level of effort for developers to support their stories through testing is difficult to estimate in points, maintenance work is continuous, as opposed to periodic, and doesn't lend its self well to time windows like sprints, product teams often need to be larger than a half dozen and many other real problems inherent in the scrum methodology.  Don't get me wrong, I haven't yet found a better way; as far as I'm concerned the agile scrum methodology is the best process framework for software development. But, it's still very hard to develop high quality software in an efficient and predictable way, and this book didn't offer me anything to help with the hard parts of agile scrum software development.

Jennifer Foehner Wells: Fluency

Date: 4/2015

Title: Fluency

Author: Jennifer Foehner Wells

Duration: 10.5 hrs

Review: I really enjoyed this page turner of a yarn. Some interesting ideas, but mostly, for me, just a good ol' space adventure with lots of action. This story has some emotional  and inter-relational human complexities and nuances that don't usually make it into military space expedition stories. I liked it and would recommend it to anyone.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Viktor Frankl: Man's Search for Meaning

Date: 3/2015

Title: Man's Search for Meaning

Author: Victor Frankl

Duration: 5 hrs

Review: "Between stimulus and response, there is a space...".  The incredible memoir of Victor Frankl, concentration camp survivor and founder of Logotherapy. Frankl successfully explains where resilience comes from

What a hero...truly inspirational.  I loved it!

Daniel H. Pink: Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us

Date: 3/2015

Title: Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us

Author: Daniel H. Pink

Duration: 6 hrs

Review: Autonomy, Mastery, Purpose...right, got it. Interesting and useful if somewhat overstated. Also, very interesting ideas regarding the motivational effectiveness of carrots; It's not in the carrots themselves but in the way that they are offered. 

Dave Sedaris: Let's Explore Diabetes with Owls

Date: 3/2015

Title: Let's Explore Diabetes with Owls

Author: Dave Sedaris

Duration: 6.5 hrs

Review: I love Dave Sedaris:  Hilarious, sarcastic but not distant, personal, human.

Steven D. Levitt, Stephen J. Dubner: Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything

Date: 2/2015

Title: "Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything"

Author: Steven D. Levitt, Stephen J. Dubner

Duration: 6.5 hrs

Review: More Super fun explorations and explanations of apparent paradoxes, that, once explained are revealed to be shaped by the same forces as other, less controversial reasoning for observations. Why do very successful drug dealers still live with their parents?  What kind of impact did Roe v. Wade have on violent crime. What makes this book, indeed, this genre so fun is that the authors,  in this case Levitt and Dubner,  manage to find the quantifiable, which is the trustworthy explanation, for phenomena that are not readily quantified. Super fun read... I recommend it to anyone. 

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Dan Ariely: Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions

Date: 2/2015

Title: "Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions"

Author: Dan Ariely

Duration: 7 hrs

Review: I love this "new economics" genre. Call it what you will: behavioral economics, social psycology, freakanomics, its all great.  What I especially appreciate about Dan Ariely's work though, is that he is such a prolific  and inventive experimenter.  The emphasis on the tools of psychology and the resulting ability to create resourceful and elegant experiments to test hypotheses, and to illustrate generalizable truths is what distinguishes Ariely and makes me love him.

I really liked this book and would recommend it to anyone.

Andy Weir: The Martian

Date: 2/2015

Title: "The Martian"

Author: Andy Weir

Duration: 11 hrs

Review: This is SUCH a great read.  I loved it.  An perfect example of "Realistic SciFi".  The main character is a really smart and resourceful (huge understatement) engineer who is also full of pop-culture witticisms and jokes. What else could you possibly want?

I recommend this book to anyone who loves science, space, a thrilling story of survival, man against nature (martian nature).


Tony Robbins: MONEY Master the Game: 7 Simple Steps to Financial Freedom

Date: 1/2015

Title: "MONEY Master the Game: 7 Simple Steps to Financial Freedom"

Author: Tony Robbins

Duration: 21 hrs

Review: If you can stomach the salesy style; Robins actuall says "secrets of the ultra wealthy" in the book, this book delivers A LOT of very valuable information and essential practices for getting your financial house in order.  I found it very useful and Also, the hyper-optimistic "coach" style and accompanying "I can do it" emotional high is a plus for us sentimental types.

I recommend it to those with a high threshold for salesmanship.

Joe Navarro and Marvin Karlins: What Every BODY Is Saying: An Ex-FBI Agent’s Guide to Speed-Reading People

Date: 1/2015

Title: "What Every BODY Is Saying: An Ex-FBI Agent’s Guide to Speed-Reading People"

Author: Joe Navarro, Marvin Karlins

Duration: 7 hrs

Review: Meh! I thought this would be more interesting than it turned out to be.

William Gibson: The Peripheral

Date: 12/2014

Title: "The Peripheral"

Author: William Gibson

Duration: 14 hrs

Review: A master doing what he does best.  Great plot, filled with interesting elements: class conflict, historical and cultural commentary, powerful technologies that are so new that the societal changes they portend are just barely beginning to be understood, amazing nuanced invention of a near and medium term future.  Gibson is so good at this: simple moral situation, nuanced everything else, and truly gifted ability for extension of technological change within cultural and social constants.

I really liked it!

Stephen R. Covey: The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change

Date: 12/2014

Title: "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change"

Author: Stephen R. Covey

Duration: 13 hrs

Review: Fairness, integrity, honesty, and human dignity. Got it! Thanks.

No really, it turns out that good character really is the key to  solving most of the personal and professional problems we'll ever face.  This self help classic is all about describing what good character is made of and how we might come to develop it by habit of thought.  I really enjoyed this book and would recommend it to any anyone.  I should read this book once a year.

Friedrich Nietzsche: Thus Spoke Zarathustra: A Book for All and None

Date: 12/2014

Title: "Thus Spoke Zarathustra: A Book for All and None"

Author: Friedrich Nietzsche

Duration: 12 hrs

Review: I love reading Nietzsche for the quality and purity of the sheer rebellion. Nietzsche reminds us that nothing, NOTHING is a given, that every single assumption, from the smallest to the deepest, from the moral to the empirical, is up for grabs. Listening to the thoughts and words of the Superman Zarathustra is nothing but pleasure. A master of moral philosophy and a wonderful writer, reading Nietzsche reminds me of reading William Blake, but simpler, sharper and more accessible. Reading Nietzsche is fun and challenging for me in a way that I haven't been been challenged for quite some time: Literary Greatness challenging. Thanks Liberal Humanities Education, you continue to have been worth it despite what everyone says.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Ayn Rand:Atlas Shrugged

Date: 10/2014

Title: "Atlas Shrugged"

Author: Ayn Rand

Duration: 63 hrs

Review: What can I say about Atlas Shrugged?  I loved it.  As literature, Atlas Shrugged is pretty weak. The characters are wooden, the dialogue is cheesy and sentimental, and the plot is conventional, but, the heros of this political distopia novel are so convinced of their rightiousness, and I am also so convinced of it, that I cant help but root for them. I love the speechifying, the grandstanding, and the moralizing. Rand would make a great political speech writer, in fact, the whole novel is a political speech, and the characters, mere mouth pieces for Rand's moral and political views.   Of course she sets up a situation in which the decisions are easy to make as the hero capitalists are honorable, humain and true to their convictions while the socialists are corrupt, nihilistic and cowardly.  In this set up, its easy to root for the capitalists.

One thing to keep in mind is that the viewes aren't so much pro-capitalist, though they plainly are that, as much as a reaction against totalitarian collectivesim. The novel can easily be interpreted as a reaction against the revolutioanry movement that confiscated her family's small business and displaced them from their home. Rand immigrated/escaped from Russia in 1926.  Although Atlas Shrugged was published in 1957, Rand started to work on the novel in 1943.

I've been meaning to read this book since I learned of it in my early twenties and it didnt dissapoint. It's a wonderful self-help book filled with strong, iconic go-getters who bend the world to their noble vision.  I'd reccomend it to anyone.