Book List 2017

Last year I promised myself I won’t get stuck in any one book. If I am not enjoying a particular book, I will move on. Since I am a slow reader, this single act has enabled me to read whole a lot more books then I imagined. But again I didn’t read all these from page to page. And Audible has a fair share as well.

The books are ordered according to the format I read them i.e. Paper, Kindle, and Audible respectively. And are linked accordingly as well.

Sapiens The second best book I read this year. But probably the most important one since it inspired a lot of others on the list.

The Icarus Deception Skimmed through in two hours.

The Ultimate Sales Machine

Creativity I spend the most time on it without completing. Somehow I never connected to it which is a dangerous thing to say about a book praised so much. One possible explanation could be I read so much about it beforehand. It happened with The Hard Thing about Hard Things for me as well, a book I read after two years while it sat on my bookshelf staring at me every day. I will probably give it another try this year.

Elon Musk Breathtaking. But I still like Tim Urban’s blog series more which I read last year.

Option B Good. But not as good as Lean In. I dropped it halfway and picked up again to complete after one month.

The Sovereign Individual The book of the year for me.

Berkshire Hathaway Letters to Shareholders The Kindle version gets updated automatically with the new letter every year. I didn’t read all of them.

The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing

Parenting Hacks

Go the F**k to Sleep For parents only. Audible version is more fun because of Samuel L. Jackson’s narration.

The Republic of Tea You can’t spend a $1 more worthwhile than this.

Love yourself like your life depends on it Just Ok.

Autobiography of a Yogi Left it early.

HTML 5 for Web Designers HTML 5 is so adequate.

Read this if you want to take great photographs So damn good.

Design is a Job Must read if you are a typical artist who does not like money/business talk.

The Road Ahead It’s amazing how wrong Bill Gates was about the Internet in the early 90s.

Don’t Make me Think

Tools of Titans I never finished any of Tim Ferriss’ books. Ever.

Sprint Yup, a sprint read.

The Inner Game of Tennis Best self-help book I read this year.

Between You and Me

The Master Algorithm Best overall book on AI. I didn’t get all of it the first time. Will probably pick up again this year.

The One Device Story of iPhone, I didn’t finish it.

Churchill

Lying

Our Final Invention A relatively fun read on a depressing topic.

The Third Wave

High Output Management Finally.

A Mind for Numbers Still reading.

The Dip Listened to it again this year. It’s short but powerful.

The Art of War Listened again for the third time. It’s amazing.

The War of Art Best book on controlling your sarcastic mind and getting back to work.

Steve Jobs This time in audio.

On Tennis Great, if you are a tennis or David Foster Wallace fan. I never seem to get enough of it.

The Great Stagnation Repetitive if you are a regular reader of Marginal Revolution. Brilliant otherwise.

Think and Grow Rich

Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World He is so misunderstood.

This is Water David Foster Wallace at his best.

In the Plex At times repetitive mainly because so much about Google is now common knowledge.

Debt

Codependent No More

The Hero with a Thousand Faces

Principles

Tribes Repetitive if you are a regular reader of Seth Godin’s Blog. I bought it because I like listening to him every now and then.

The Singularity is Near

SuperIntelligence

Perennial Seller

Along the Way

God’s Debris Not recommended if you have strong religious beliefs.

Astrophysics for People in a Hurry

The Other Side of History You will love this if you liked Sapiens.

The Phoenix Project You know you are a nerd when the only novel you read in the whole year was about IT operations.

The Big Burn Sapiens has basically turned me into a history buff.

The Butterfly Effect The story of Porn and the Internet.

What If

The Obstacle is the Way I lost the count of how many times I have listened to this. The reason is most certainly personal though.

Writing Great Fiction

The Friendly Orange Glow Basically no one ever invented anything useful in this world.

Overdiagnosed My obsession with healthy living.

I will teach you to be Rich

The Wizard of Menlo Park Amazing.

 

Making Hard Choices

Nerves are good. They are a sign that you are onto something. The way to tackle them is not to assume that you are not nervous. But rather in accepting that you are.

Being emotional is fine too. Until you don’t dread. Let your emotions be genuine and come in short bursts.

You (or your life choices) don’t matter as much as you think you do. Most people will be fine with or without you.

Take good proteins just before. And exercise.

It’s going to be a rollercoaster ride. Be patient and humble as you move along.

Smart vs Hard Work

It’s a long standing debate which is yet to settle down. Perhaps because the proponents from both sides don’t understand each other. I am on the smart side. Being smart does not mean that you choose less effort over more. It’s about choosing better results. It has nothing to do with how much effort you put in, its more about the output you gain in result. Aren’t two the same thing or at least directly proportional? No, they aren’t. E.g. If I have an idea or concept which I need to translate so that someone else can understand. It’s better for me to put it in words than to sketch. Because I am better at writing than sketching. And even if I put more effort into the later, the end result will still be poor.

Doing smart work means putting your hard work in the right direction. It means finding your leverage and building on top of it.

For startups the leverage is normally an innovative product or marketing idea. From Breaking Smart:

There is a whole painful genre of entrepreneurial motivational commentary based on fetishizing the pain, blood and sweat of certain kinds of struggle into something sacred and noble. This is smarmy bullshit. You should not avoid hard work where it is the only path, but you SHOULD use every available trick and hack to mitigate the need for Sisyphean efforts.

Do read the entire newsletter.

Apple, now you are hurting me

I love iPad. More than any other product from Apple. And that says something because my work life is dependent on MacBook and iPhone. I cannot function without these two. I can, however, without an iPad. But I don’t want to. That’s the beauty of it. Yet, like so many other people, I can’t help to ignore it. And Apple is to blame for that.

Yesterday, Apple made an existing remarkable product even better. iPad Air was super awesome. Every iteration after that is plain brilliance. And yet that’s not iPad’s problem.

Ben Thompson wrote a three piece series on the topic back in 2013. The conclusion makes me cry even today:

The “why” of the iPad, then, lies in its magic. It’s in the experience, and, crucially, it’s in the apps.

The iPad is not an iPad, yet-another-Apple device to weigh down your bag and your wallet. Rather, it is whatever, and exactly, you need it to be.

If you are a musician, the iPad is your instrument, your studio.
If you are an artist, the iPad is your paint brush, your easel.
If you are a student, the iPad is your textbook.
If you are a child, the iPad is your storybook, or your entertainment.
If you are a grandma, the iPad is your connection to your family.

If you are human, the iPad is your magic wand. And, honestly, who does not want a magic wand? And why isn’t Apple selling it as such?

And yet Apple insists on selling me specs. A replacement for PC. I don’t want that. Since when you started championing corporate productivity, Apple?

Mossberg’s last appearance

Most of my memories of Walt are from All Things D. I don’t know why but Code Conference never clicked with me as much as its initial carnation. Though I really enjoyed some interviews. But for me his interviews with Steve Jobs were definitive. Somehow he used to get best out of him without pissing him off.

Legend. I will miss him.