If this seems redundant, I did indeed accidentally release a draft version of this list earlier in the year.
In 2018, I put together my book recommendations,
and while I don’t currently have any ambition to reflesh that list (those are pretty timeless books!),
I decided to collect the non-fiction books I’ve read since writing that list through the end of 2022,
which is roughly 2019 through 2022.
I’m certain that I’ll miss a few, but here is a fairly representative list,
particularly those where I read a physical copy.
Altogether, this is 57 “books about work” over the past four years, or just over one per month.
I don’t set reading goals, but this isn’t a startling number that I’m concerned about one way or
I’ll also note that I read more fiction than non-fiction, but have omitted those because that’s not really what this blog is about.
For books that I still think about somewhat frequently,
I’ll preface with a star emoji, “⭐”.
- When McKinsey Comes to Town by Walt Bogdanich
- Talent by Cohen and Gross.
As someone who is primarily focused on scalable, repeatable hiring processes (like hiring a team of engineers),
this book’s focus on hiring one-off individuals (e.g. founders) was an interesting one,
although most lessons would be difficult to translate
- Atomic Habits by James Clear.
Have seen recommendations for years on this one, but never actually read it.
A quick read with some interesting ideas
- An Everyone Culture: Becoming a Deliberately Developmental Organization by Kegan and Lahey.
A recommendation from my father stemming from a discussion about dead-end jobs
- ⭐ The Staff Engineer’s Path by Tanya Reilly.
An excellent book on succeeding as a Staff Engineer, with a deeper focus of on doing the day-to-day, month-to-month assignments
that a Staff Engineer is likely to be focused on (both those literally assigned and those implicitly necessary but never assigned).
- Never Search Alone by Phyl Terry.
I saw someone recommend this as an interesting read, and it was. The premise of the book is that you should search for jobs
in a circle of other folks concurrently searching for jobs, and that feedback from this circle will prevent you from wasting a
tremendous amount of time pursuing jobs you’re not qualified for, help you negotiate, and so on
- Inside the Tornado by Geoffrey Moore
- Invent and Wander: The Collected Writings of Jeff Bezos by Jeff Besos, Walter Isaacson.
- ⭐ System Design Interview – An Insider’s Guide: Volume 2 by Alex Xu and Sahm Lam.
I’ve gotten to know Alex Xu from a distance as someone doing interesting and very successful independent publishing work,
and wanted to both support and learn from his work.
- System Design Interview – An insider’s guide by Alex Xu.
Same as the previous book, although this is the first volume.
- Startup CXO by Matt Blumberg.
I really like what this book aims to do, but I found it wasn’t quite at the right depth for me, personally.
- The End of Loyalty by Rick Wartzman.
Interesting context behind the social contract between employees and businesses.
- ⭐ The Power Law by Sebastian Mallaby.
I learned a lot about the history of venture capital from this book.
It’s absolutely the history of venture capitalists from the perspective of venture capitalists,
so take it with a grain of salt, but I enjoyed it.
- Amp It Up by Frank Slootman.
An interesting read of one CEO’s perspective on good leadership.
My personal opinion on “the value of intensity” has changed quite a bit over time
(not in a consistent direction), and I appreciate reading folks’ opinions on it.
More of an aspirational book than a tactical one.
- Doing Good Even Better by Edgar Stoesz.
A primer on how to be an effective non-profit board member,
which I read while refining my approach to personal altruism.
- Couples That Work by Jennifer Petriglieri.
Read while looking for more perspectives on navigating dual career parenthood.
I thought it was good, but I’m hard pressed to identify a novel takeaway that changed
our approach. (The biggest idea–be explicit–was an idea we’d heard a lot.)
- Startup Wealth by Josh Maher.
- Fool’s Gold? by Scott Shane.
A skeptical review of data on angel investing.
- Venture Deals by Brad Feld and Jason Mendelson.
- ⭐ The Bogleheads’ Guide to Investing by Mel Lindauer, Taylor Larimore, and Michael LeBoeuf.
A useful summary of the approach to personal finance that we follow as a family.
- The Trauma of Everyday Life by Mark Epstein.
- Lean Analytics by Alistair Croll and Benjamin Yoskovitz.
- Empowered by Marty Cagan.
- Working Backwards by Colin Bryar and Bill Carr.
- Who: The A Method for Hiring by Geoff Smart and Randy Street.
- Pivot by Jenny Blake.
- Ruined by Design by Mike Monteiro.
- Seeing Like a State by James Scott.
- Weinberg on Writing by Gerald Weinberg.
- How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi.
- The Unicorn Project by Gene Kim.
- Designing Data-Intensive Applications by Martin Kleppmann.
- White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo.
- Billion Dollar Brand Club by Lawrence Ingrassia.
- ⭐ All the Shah’s Men by Stephen Kinzer.
- Traction by Gino Wickman.
- Super Pumped by Mike Isaac.
- Building Evolutionary Architectures by Neal Ford, Rebecca Parsons, Patrick Kua.
- The Lean Product Playbook by Dan Olsen.
- Enterprise Strategy by Jeanne Ross, Peter Weill, David Robertson.
- The Principles of Scientific Management by Frederick Taylor.
- Secrets of Sand Hill Road by Scott Kupor, Eric Ries.
- The Broken Ladder by Keith Payne.
- Late Bloomers by Rich Karlgaard.
- ⭐ Escaping the Build Trap by Melissa Perri.
I wrote up notes on this book when I finished reading it.
- Practical TLA+ by Hillel Wayne.
- The Rust Programming Language by Steve Klabnik, Carols Nichols.
- Angel by Jason Calacanis.
- ⭐ The Two-Income Trap by Elizabeth Warren, Amelia Warren Tyagi.
- Company of One by Paul Jarvis.
- Silk Road by Eileen Ormsby.
- ⭐ The Soul of A New Machine by Tracy Kiddler.
I wrote notes on this one as well.
- Swipe to Unlock by Parth Detroja, Aditya Agashe, Neel Mehta.
- Move by Patty Azzarello.
- The Advantage by Patrick Lencioni.
This is sort of a summary of his other books, many of which I love.
- Principles by Ray Dalio.
- What Works for Women at Work by Joan Williams, Rachel Dempsey, Anne-Mare Slaughter.