When I was young, I hated reading. I not only didn't read, I actively tried not to read. When a book was assigned to me for school, I would, first, procrastinate the assignment until the last possible moment, second, attempt to read it very quickly by any means necessary, and third, either give up or trick myself into believing that I had read it (tricking myself was just a matter of reading the words quickly enough without comprehending anything). Instead of reading, I would come up with tricks to get out of the assignment: I would ask my mom to read the book to me, I would ask friends at school the next day what happened in the assigned reading, occasionally, I would peruse various websites with chapter summaries.
Occasionally, there were books that I really enjoyed; in those cases, I would read the book very quickly. The trouble was not that I hated reading, I hated being tasked with reading books that I didn't like.
This year I attempted to read a lot of books. Somehow, I read 31 books--I'm pretty sure that matches the number of books that I've actually read in the combined eight years of college and high school. There were many periods this year where I went without picking up a book at all; I read most of them in the last four months when I pressured myself to at least finish 26. If I cotinue at the rate that I've been reading recently, I see it to be no problem to finish more than 52 in 12 months
Key: Unlinked means I do not reccomend it. Linked and bolded means it's one of my top reccomendations for the year. Linked but not bolded is somewhere in between.
The Signal and the Noise by Nate Silver
A great book. It is written in a way that does not make you feel like you are being talked down to (something that Gladwell is guilty of) while presenting information that is informative for both a newcomer and a somewhat seasoned expert. Each chapter is written in such a way that reinvigorates your interest in reading the book--something that many books that I read are unable to accomplish.
It's like a blog; the chapters are short snippets, which made it really easy to read. There is some good information in it. I'm glad, however, that it was only near the end that it discussed that the proper way to launch one's app is through the "Hollywood Launch." And I thought that the comments about DHH in this video may have been a little unwarranted...
I'm Feeling Lucky by Douglas Edwards
There are two views of what goes on inside Google: many believe that it's Disneyland--all fun all the time, others think that it's the collection of the world's greatest minds bashing their heads against their computers for 100 hours per week.
Neither is true.
The latter is the Google of the early days; Edwards perfectly explains the growing pains that Google experienced and how the added bureaucracy came to be.
This is the book that I wish that they had made me read at Noogler orientation. Many of the questions that I asked myself about the organization during my first few months are answered in this book.
Excellent storytelling for both Googlers and non-Googlers.
No One Makes You Shop At Walmart by Tom Slee
Well explained and easy to understand economic theory bundled up into real-world examples. Quite good.
Don't Make Me Think by Steve Krug
My dad has been trying to get me to read this book for years. I finally picked it up and read it this year. Some of the concepts are dated, but most of what he is saying is spot on. I hope that everyone who wants to create a website reads this.
The Big Con: The Story of the Confidence Man by David Maurer
The Responsible Company by Yvon Chouinard and Vincent Stanley
The Soul of a New Machine by Tracy Kidder
Awesome. The kind of book that makes you want to jump out of your chair and join a big project.
The Launch Pad by Randall Stross
A serviceable, well written, long-form narrative about YC.
The Mythical Man Month by Frederick Brooks, Jr.
While dated, this book has many important concepts. I think that the best audience for something like this is someone who is non-technical and is lacking in technical project experience.
Masters of Doom by David Kushner
I put off reading this book for a very long time based on the author's track record. When I finally got around to reading it, I was pleasantly surprised; it was well researched, well written, and entertaining.
The Lean Startup by Eric Ries
Even though it is littered with business speak, this is a fantastic book. Through anecdotes, Ries explains some very powerful concepts about how software should be made.
Moral Mazes by Robert Jackall
This book is life changing.
I am consistently surprised at the quality and importance of sociology books. Prior to reading Moral Mazes, the book that had the biggest impact on my life was For Harmony And Strength by Thomas Rohlen, another sociology book. While many non-fiction narratives give me intuition as to what I should do in the future when I'm presented with a problem, sociology books like Moral Mazes and For Harmony And Strength forced me to make important decisions about my life the moment after I finished reading.
I seriously think that had I read this book before graduating college, I would have never worked for a company.
Toyota Production System by Taiichi Ono
Though a little dry, no place else can you get a better explanation of lean production than from the source. I wish the translation were a little better, but I have purchased the original Japanese and I plan on making my way through it in the future.
Without Their Permission by Alexis Ohanian
I guess I'm a "condescending misanthrope" since I feel that certain parts are missing from what is ultimately a self-congratulatory book.
Delivering Happiness by Tony Hsieh
This book was wonderful. I was captivated by it from the beginning and found it hard to put down. While Hsieh is not the best writer, he was able to captivate me and leave me with a sense of excitement that very few authors are able to do.
The Everything Store by Brad Stone
Much has been said about the access (or lack thereof) that Stone was allowed for this book. That being said, some narratives in this book are quite interesting. It does make Bezos out to be a lucky indecisive risk taker, which is likely not the case, but made for an interesting read nonetheless.
Remote: Office Not Required by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson
Great children's book!
Diary of a Very Bad Year by n+1
Hatching Twitter by Nick Bilton
Bilton did a great job on this book. While, like every non-fiction company narrative, I'm sure the events are not portrayed 100% accurately, there were few books this year that I basically read in a single sitting; this was one of them.
The Agile Samurai by Jonathon Rasumusson
The Halo Effect by Phil Rosenzweig
I always love it when someone uses solid logic to disprove an entire genre of books.
Discover Meteor by Tom Coleman and Sacha Greif
I've played around with Meteor a little bit, but there really isn't a nice starter tutorial out there for people who want to get their feet wet. I was actually able to, on a plane without internet, make a quick reddit clone in Meteor, but once I was done, I had no real idea of how the application structure should actually work. Discover Meteor not only showed best practices, but explained things about Meteor that aren't even particularly well explained on the internet.
Meteor might turn out to be the next big thing and Discover Meteor might well be the Hartl tutorial for it.
Kingpin by Kevin Poulsen
Poulsen is an excellent writer; this is an excellent book.
Why's (Poignant) Guide to Ruby by why the lucky stiff
I really wish that I could have read this book when I was 11 or 12 years old. This book is so wonderful on so many different levels. For a child, I feel that it would spark this curiousity inside them to start coding. For me, it taught me the "magic" of Ruby syntax right before I needed to use Ruby. Even if you are already a Ruby master, you should still read this book.
The Watchman by Jonathan Littman
A really wonderful book, although I definitely thought that it was pure fiction a couple of times.
The Visual Display of Quantitative Information, Envisioning Information, and Visual Explanations by Edward Tufte
Bubble City by Aaron
Blurring the lines between fiction and non-fiction, I feel the reason I enjoyed this is that it helped explain events that he never explained to me.
Bonnouji Vol. 1 by Aki Eda
The Box by Marc Levinson
While a few chapters of this book are dry and boring, overall it's an interesting read. It makes me interested to read more about McLean.