2010 in Books

These are the books that kept me company and taught me in 2010:

Business

  • Four Steps to the Epiphany: Steve Blank
  • The Checklist Manifesto: Atul Garawande
  • The Innovators Dilemma: Clayton Christensen
  • The Innovators Solution: Clayton Christensen
  • Positioning: Al Ries
  • Lean Thinking: James Womack/Daniel Jones
  • Perfect Pitch: Jon Steel
  • Complete Guide to Accelerating Sales Force Performance: Andris Zoltners/Prabhakant Sinha
  • Principles of Product Development Flow: Donald Reinertsen
  • Hacking Work: Josh Klein
  • The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing: Al Ries

If I’d only read one of these books it would be Steve Blank’s, though the books I found myself quoting most were Clayton Christensen’s. Lean Thinking was one of my honeymoon books and got me thinking about my business in a totally different way. Perfect Pitch confirmed all my biases against powerpoint.

Design

  • The Art of Game Design: Jesse Schell
  • The Inmates are Running the Asylum: Alan Cooper
  • Serious Play: Michael Schrage

Jesse Schell taught me about the importance of balancing game mechanics; Alan Cooper’s book was great in many ways but also showed its age in a world of agile methodologies.

History

  • The Ascent of Money: Niall Ferguson
  • Hero: The Life and Legend of Lawrence of Arabia: Michael Korda
  • Team of Rivals: Doris Kearns Goodwin

Team of Rivals was another awesome Honeymoon book that gave me some insight into how to manage a team, Michael Korda’s Lawrence of Arabia biography shone a largely uncritical light on Lawrence but was a comprehensive account of his life and achievements.

Fiction

  • The Count of Monte Cristo: Alexander Dumas
  • The Broken Window: Jeffrey Deaver
  • Unseen Academicals: Terry Prathchett
  • The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo: Stieg Larssen
  • The Girl Who Played with Fire: Stieg Larssen
  • The Girl who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest: Stieg Larssen
  • The Burning Wire: Jeffrey Deaver
  • Breakfast of Champions: Kurt Vonnegut
  • Siddhartha: Herman Hesse
  • The Diamond Age: Neal Stephenson
  • Juliet, Naked: Nick Hornby
  • A Man in Full: Tom Wolfe

Stieg Larrsen’s series were read over the course of four days so I think I must have liked them a lot, but the best fiction books for me were The Diamond Age and A Man in Full (part of my minor stoic obsession).

Philosophy/Psychology/Religion

  • A Guide to the Good life, The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy: William Irvine
  • Thoughts of a Philosophical Fighter Pilot: James Stockdale
  • Flow: Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
  • The Evolution of God: Robert Wright

Irvine provided a great intro to stoicism, while the Evolution of God put our beliefs in their proper historical framework. Flow is simply amazing for anyone wanting to understand how to get things done and be happy doing it.

Science

  • E=MC2: David Bodanis
  • Electric Universe: David Bodanis
  • Physics for Future Presidents: Richard A Muller
  • The Grand Design: Stephen Hawking
  • Bursts: Alberto Lazlo Barbasi

E=MC2 and Physics for Future Presidents were the clear winners here. Bursts was intermittently interesting but spoiled by the shoehorning of pointless narrative. Hawking blew my mind but I started to understand less as the book went on.

Apocrypha

  • The Intellectual Devotional: David Kidder
  • Amusing Ourselves to Death: Neil Postman
  • Becoming a Writer: Dorothea Brande
  • The Black Swan: Nassim Nicholas Taleb
  • I live in the Future: Nick Bilton

Amusing ourselves to Death kicked off my year totally changing my position on how we build for the Internet and what it means. The Black Swan provided great material for a future talk. The Intellectual Devotional is the best bathroom book out there and I learned from Nick Bilton that I apparently live in the Future too.

tony

3 thoughts on “2010 in Books

  1. Great recommendations, already ordering a few!

    To get deeper on stoicism I highly recommend diving right on Seneca’s Letters from a Stoic. The Robin Campbell translation, available in the Penguin Classics series, is quite good. Also, Meditations by Marcus Aurelius is the default must-read – I recommend the Gregory Hays translation.

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