One of my New Year Resolutions last year was to read 10 non-fiction books in 2013 and I’m happy to report that I’ve failed. Well, only by one book though. And a little cheat. So here’s the list:
- Predictably Irrational, Revised and Expanded Edition: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions. This is the little cheat I’ve mentioned. I’ve started this book last year, but finished it in January. So I guess it counts, right? This is a very good and a highly recommended book. It is both informative/interesting and just plain fun to read.
- Getting Results the Agile Way: A Personal Results System for Work and Life. I was thinking about sort of improving efficiency of my professional and personal life and this book came recommended by someone. While the ideas and concept in it sounded potentially good, I just couldn’t stand the writing style. It was terribly patronizing with a lot of repetition. It felt like I was in the army or just plain stupid. So I gave up half way through.
- Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In. One of my worst nightmares is shopping at a middle-eastern bazaar. Yes, I can’t bargain. So I decided I need to read something on negotiations and this book sounded intriguing. And it was really good. I actually plan to reread it paying more attention to actual methods, tips and tricks.
- The Upgrade: A Cautionary Tale of a Life Without Reservations. OK, this is as close to crossing to fiction as a non-fiction book can be, but who cares. The premise is that Paul Carr figured that for the money he spends living modestly in London he can live pretty much anywhere in the world. While this looked like it’s going to be a “lifehacking” book, it ended up being a crazy, alcohol-induced rollercoaster. A real fun to read nevertheless. I’ve learned at least one lifehack from it too – how to iron clothes while traveling. :)
- Who: The A Method for Hiring. While I’ve participated in the hiring process a few times in my life, I haven’t done much hiring myself. And then I needed to hire quite a few people. So I realized, I need help and this book looked like the best option. It definitely delivered on the subject matter, but it was a little annoying in a way, because the authors tried to productize this thing (like “Lean Startup”, etc.) It’s not a bad thing per-se, but it doesn’t add much value to the content while adding some useless stuff around it.
- The Startup Owner's Manual: The Step-by-Step Guide for Building a Great Company. Steve Blank’s books are considered must-read for anyone in startups, but I refused to read them for a while because they weren’t available in the ebook format and I promised myself not to buy any more paper books a few years back. But now it’s available on Kindle so I had no excuses. The book has a lot of useful content, but I didn’t realize at first that it’s basically 3 versions of the same book in one (1 generic, 1 for startup founder (or something) and something else I forgot). So I read the generic version first and then realized that the version I was supposed to read comes next, but was too lazy to basically read the same thing again.
- Steve Jobs. I’m not a big Steve Jobs fan, but even I knew most of the things in this book. For an official biography with unprecedented access to Jobs himself, I think this book is pretty weak. No, it’s not bad. It’s just sort of meh.
- In The Plex: How Google Thinks, Works, and Shapes Our Lives. Now this is a book about Google and it’s way more interesting than the Jobs’ one (IMHO). It was very interesting to read and I found quite a few ideas and thoughts I’m going to use myself, even though I didn’t expect anything useful from a book like this.
- Start-up Nation: The Story of Israel's Economic Miracle. This is considered the de-facto business book about Israel and since I was there 2 times in 2013, I decided I need to read it. I expected it to be more about startups, but I’d say it has more to do with Israel’s history through the prism of entrepreneurship than startups as such. In any case it is really good and makes you think about why things are the way they are both in Israel and around you (wherever you live).
That’s it. It feels like 10 non-fiction books a year is a good tempo for me (I’m alternating them with fiction) and I’d like to read another ten in 2014. Will report back in a year.