Reading

02 Jan 2020

I decided I’d start tracking what I read so I can become more purposeful. I think I’ve erred on the side of reading “output” based books historically, and this is an attempt to focus on improving my ability to think from first principles instead.

Biographies

Alexander the Great

Achieves an incredible empire by the time he’s 30. Leaves you simultaneously impressed but very conflicted about the means.

Design

Design as Art, Bruno Manari

Made me wish I had a Japanese house.

book of branding, Radim Malinic

A good initial overview on how to achieve strong branding in practise, with a lot of case studies. It felt a little too much like paying for a portfolio but was helpful.

The Design of Everyday Things, Donald A. Norman

A must read for design principles. I’ll never see doors, light sockets or electric cars the same way.

Visual Grammar, Christian Leborg

Clarifies the terms used in visual design, a very quick read but useful if you collaborate with designers regularly.

Growth

Traction, Gabriel Weinberg and Justin Mares

Gives a nice framework with tons of practical examples from leading companies. Tactical advice that doesn’t deal in the hypothetical.

Hacking Growth, Morgan Brown and Sean Ellis

Not bad, but a fluffier version of the above. The anecdotes are more generic and ones you’re more likely to already know.

Blitzscaling, Reid Hoffman and Chris Yeh

Demonstrates what true ambition can look like.

Management

No Rules Rules: Netflix and the Culture of Reinvention, Reed Hastings

Didn’t agree with everything - more clarity for repeated decisions would drive more efficiency and less stress, but the way he runs the business like a sports team - distributed decision making, paying top of market and generous severance - and the tactics to build a culture of feedback resonated.

Product

The Mom Test, Rob Fitzpatrick

Worth a very quick read for anyone that has any interest in product at all. Makes on fundamental point, but it’s critically important to working out if your idea is a good one.

Hooked, How to build habit forming products, Nir Eyal

Simple concepts, lots of good practical examples.

Inspired, Marty Cagan

A less good version of the above - found it a bit repetitive.

Raising

Secrets of Sand Hill Road, Scott Kupor

A good fundamental grounding in how VCs think. Click-baity title, but it worked for me.

Travel

Blood River, Tim Butcher

A journalist’s solo trip through the Congo. Sad but engrossing.

Sheila in the Wind, Adrian Hayter

The author documents his journey in a 100 year old yacht from the UK to Australia, without a motor. The boat in this story is the sister of my wife’s family’s boat, so it was an interesting personal read.

Sport

Born to Run, Christopher McDougall

A fascinating first-principles approach to running in action.

The Extra Mile

A list of non-chain restaurants within 1 mile of the motorway, across the UK.

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