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10 Favorite Books of 2018


These books either changed the way I looked at the world or taught me something that I will remember for the rest of my life.

The 10 books listed below deserve extra recognition for being so awesome, so without further delay, here they are (in no particular order):

10) The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, by Stephen R. Covey

Here is the Goodreads link to the book.

This book is a classic and I finally had time during the summer of 2018 to read it. The more experience from life you have, the easier it will be to use the lessons and habits that are mentioned in the book.

If you want to get a quick summary on what it’s all about, check out this video.

9) The Messy Middle — Scott Belsky

Here is the Goodreads link to the book.

This book focuses on the entrepreneur’s endurance. All those days and nights of suffering as your company almost dies, for years on. Eventually, Belsky and his team manage to sell their company Behance to Adobe for $120.

I think this is one of the best books on the startup struggle, and highly recommended for anyone who’s thinking about doing a startup. They aren’t easy to pull of and make into a success.

Here’s a great video on the topic.

8) Black Box Thinking — Matthew Syed

Here is the Goodreads link to the book.

This is a phenomenal book on learning from mistakes. There’s so much to be learned when you approach game making on a pure decision-making level: What were the decisions made? Not just what happened during the project, but why was the project greenlit, and why was it a good idea in the first place to start the project?

This book covers many situations where mistakes are made, including how seniority can often cause moments where juniors aren’t given a voice into the decisions, or a way to uncovering learnings. As John Dewey famously said, “We do not learn from experience, we learn from reflecting on experience.”

Check out this video for a breakdown on the book.

7) Creative Selection – Ken Kocienda

Here is the Goodreads link to the book.

Ken Kocienda was on the original iPhone and iOS team, and this book goes into detail on how the iPhone was developed, from concept to launch. I especially loved the parts where they talk about how the touch screen keyboard came to be what it is today. The went through so many iterations before knowing that they’ve got something that could work.

6) Elon Musk — Ashlee Vance

Here’s the Goodreads link to the book.

There was so much insights into Elon Musk, from his days growing up in South Africa, to moving to Canada for school, and eventually going the United States and getting into startups.

The most interesting parts are on how Elon learns, how he reads, builds things, how he works. There some much in here. And you’ll get an answer to why he never started a video games company.

5) Bad Blood — John Carreyrou

Here’s the Goodreads link to the book.

The biggest startup fraud that has ever happened. Elizabeth Holmes had built up a persona, at similar heights of Steve Jobs, and her company, Theranos, was backed by investors like Larry Ellison and Tim Draper. Theranos was valued at $9 billion, putting Holmes’s worth at an estimated $4.7 billion. But there was just one problem: Theranos’ technology didn’t work. After years of work and hundreds of millions of investor money, it just didn’t work.

This is a really funny interview with the author.

4) High Growth Handbook – Elad Gil

Here’s the Goodreads link to the book.

Excellent book on taking a tech startup from ten to 10,000 people. Elad Gil is an entrepreneur and investor in Silicon Valley, and his book High Growth Handbook provides practical, immediately implementable advice for any startup, regardless of company stage. Product management, roles, organization structure, recruiting & hiring… and so much more.

Most of the knowledge in this book is a form of interviews with “Unicorn” builders. Elad’s interviews with Marc Andreessen, Ruchi Sanghvi, and Mariam Naficy were particularly great.

3) Angel — Jason Calacanis

Here’s the Goodreads link to this book.

This book got me started to think about becoming an angel investor. Jason Calacanis is famously known from the This Week In Startups podcast (see above video with Jon Carreyrou, author of Bad Blood) and he was one of the people who invested into Uber when the company was only valued at a few million. Jason made his money back 5000x, where $25,000 turned into $125,000,000.

He shares his knowledge on how people could start angel investing, with only writing checks of a few grands, then doing that for a few years, to learn on what are good deals and what aren’t, and where you as the angel can help the entrepreneurs. Then he goes in to how to source deals, build a portfolio and to work with other angels.

2) Zero to One — Peter Thiel, Blake Masters

Here‘s the Goodreads link to the book.

Zero to One is based on Peter Thiel’s Stanford lectures, captured by Blake Masters. If you haven’t read the notes from those lectures, you can find them from here. This one from class 18 is especially interesting.

This book is probably the most inspirational book at there for inspiring new entrepreneurs. I found the parts on economics the most insightful. Take a look at this video for a breakdown on the book.

1) The Better Angels of Our Nature — Steven Pinker

Here’s the Goodreads link to the book.

This book centers around the fact that violence has been on a decline during the recent decades and that there’s no way that common violence will make a comeback.

In the first seven chapters, Steven Pinker shows lots of numbers to back up his thesis. In the eighth and ninth chapters, he also explores the scientific reasons for violence and the reasons for increasingly non-violent behavior.

I’ve never read a book that is captivating in covering history, physiology, geopolitics, religion, ever caveat imaginable on a topic. Here’s a conversation between Bill Gates and Steven Pinker, talking about the book.

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