Book recommendations from 2013

For the past 3 years, I’ve shared my favorite books I read during the year. I do this in the hopes that folks send me their book recommendations in return. So please let me know what you enjoyed reading last year.

By the way, I tried to link all these to Amazon’s new Smile.Amazon website which donates a tiny fraction of any purchase to charity.  I didn’t put affiliate links in here, but WordPress decided to pop up big “Buy from Amazon” buttons under each book.  Sorry it’s a bit ugly.

My favorite books of 2013:

http://smile.amazon.com/Lean-Women-Work-Will-Lead-ebook/dp/B009LMTDL0/
Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead
by Sheryl Sandberg
All men should read this book.
Side story: I was inspired enough by this book that I decided to attended the TED Women conference last month. I actually ran into Sheryl Sandberg in the lobby as she was getting ready to speak there. She says to me “I’m surprised to see you here. But since you are one of the very few men who came here today, we are going to grant you a pass when the inevitable revolution comes.” So I got that going for me, which is nice.


http://smile.amazon.com/Righteous-Mind-Divided-Politics-Religion-ebook/dp/B0052FF7YM/
The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion
by Jonathan Haidt
So illuminating! This book helped me become much more understanding of other people’s political views. A great read. I’d also highly recommend that last book he wrote called “The Happiness Hypothesis.” http://smile.amazon.com/The-Happiness-Hypothesis-Finding-Ancient-ebook/dp/B003E749TE/


http://smile.amazon.com/Secret-Race-Inside-Cover-ups-Winning-ebook/dp/B008WOUJQG/
The Secret Race: Inside the Hidden World of the Tour de France: Doping, Cover-ups, and Winning at All Costs
by Tyler Hamilton , Daniel Coyle
Great read on doping in the Tour de France.


http://smile.amazon.com/Ready-Player-One-Ernest-Cline-ebook/dp/B004J4WKUQ/
Ready Player One
by Ernest Cline
My son and I read this together. He loved the fact that the characters live inside a video game. I loved the 80s culture reference. My top sci-fi book of the year.



http://www.amazon.com/Outsiders-Unconventional-Radically-Rational-Blueprint-ebook/dp/B009G1T74O/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1388289244&sr=1-1&keywords=outsiders+ceo
The Outsiders: Eight Unconventional CEOs and Their Radically Rational Blueprint for Success
William N. Thorndike
This is the best researched business book I have read in a while. The lessons here around rational capital deployment strategies are so obvious, yet so totally foreign to Silicon Valley thinking. It was very eye opening.


http://smile.amazon.com/Everything-Store-Jeff-Bezos-Amazon-ebook/dp/B00BWQW73E/
The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon
by Brad Stone
Jeff Bezos is amazing.


http://smile.amazon.com/Sebastiao-Salgado-Genesis-Wanick-Salgado/dp/3836538725/
Genesis
by Lelia Wanick Salgado (Author) , Sebastiao Salgado (Photographer)
This a collection of photographs of landscapes, animals, and people that have yet to be impacted by industrial progress. It’s absolutely beautiful and thought provoking.

 

 

 

Highly Recommended Books:

http://www.amazon.com/Hatching-Twitter-Nick-Bilton-ebook/dp/B00CDUVSQ0/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1388288805&sr=8-1&keywords=hatching+twitter
Hatching Twitter: A True Story of Money, Power, Friendship, and Betrayal
by Nick Bilton
As if I needed any more reasons not to accept VC investment at wikiHow, this book provided one more. As it reads almost like a thriller, for a business book, this was very hard to put down.


http://smile.amazon.com/The-Rare-Find-Talent-Stands/dp/1591845629The Rare Find: Spotting Exceptional Talent Before Everyone Else
by George Anders
When I read a resume, I always skip to the bottom first to read what additional interests the person lists. Now after reading this illuminating book, I realized that this is actually a good way to hire.


http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000SEGEVC/ref=kinw_myk_ro_title
Let My People Go Surfing: The Education of a Reluctant Businessman
by Yvon Chouinard
Yvon Chouinard, Yosemite climbing pioneer and the founder of Patagonia is one of my heroes. His business practices are as inspiring as his first ascents were.


http://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/B00E0RPGGC/
Rags to Roses: The Rise of Stanford Football
by Joseph Beyda , George Chen , Sam Fisher
Every Stanford football fan should read this book. Even non-Stanford fans would enjoy learning how school known for nerds and bad football teams managed to become the only school who has gone to a BCS bowl in each of the last 4 years.


http://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/B00A9WE10Y/
Conscious Capitalism: Liberating the Heroic Spirit of Business
by John Mackey , Rajendra Sisodia , Bill George
I’m interested in people who are trying to reshape the nature of business. John Mackey, the founder of Whole Foods, and his call for conscious capitalism is inspiring.


http://www.amazon.com/Signal-Noise-Many-Predictions-Fail/dp/159420411X/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1388289401&sr=1-1&keywords=signal+and+the+noise
The Signal and the Noise: Why So Many Predictions Fail — but Some Don’t
by Nate Silver


http://smile.amazon.com/Future-Perfect-Case-Progress-Networked-ebook/dp/B0085DP4OG/
Future Perfect: The Case For Progress In A Networked Age
by Steven Johnson


http://smile.amazon.com/System-Scandal-Big-Time-College-Football-ebook/dp/B00C0AM2XG/
The System: The Glory and Scandal of Big-Time College Football
by Jeff Benedict , Armen Keteyian


http://smile.amazon.com/Surely-Youre-Joking-Mr-Feynman-ebook/dp/B003V1WXKU/
Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman!
by Richard P. Feynman
A nerd classic.

 

 

 

Recommended Books

http://smile.amazon.com/Antifragile-Things-that-Gain-Disorder-ebook/dp/B0083DJWGO/
Antifragile: Things That Gain from Disorder
by Nassim Nicholas Taleb
Brilliant core idea that could have been communicated with 80% less words. Read the first few chapters at a minimum.


http://www.audible.com/pd/Nonfiction/Worm-Audiobook/B005STWUSI
Worm: The First Digital World War
by Mark Bowden
How a collaborative group of volunteers possibly saved the world from a computer worm. The story about how these volunteers collaborated to do something great reminds me of the wiki way.


http://www.amazon.com/Great-Excellent-Its-Execution-Overcoming/dp/1490956891/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1373556139&sr=8-1&keywords=jim+alampi
Great to Excellent; It’s the Execution!: Overcoming the Natural Barriers to Profitable Company Growth Paperback
by Jim Alampi


http://smile.amazon.com/Focus-Hidden-Excellence-Daniel-Goleman-ebook/dp/B00BATG220/
Focus: The Hidden Driver of Excellence
by Daniel Goleman


http://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/B00BEM0QSY/ref=kinw_myk_ro_title
How Did You End Up Here?: The Surprising Ways Our Questions Connect Us
Davy Rothbart

http://www.audible.com/pd/Business/Who-Audiobook/B002V5D3TC
Who: The A Method for Hiring
by Geoff Smart , Randy Street

http://www.audible.com/pd/Business/The-Lean-Startup-Audiobook/B005LXV0HI
The Lean Startup: How Today’s Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses
by Eric Ries

http://smile.amazon.com/Before-They-Pass-Jimmy-Nelson/dp/3832797599/
Before They Pass Away
by Jimmy Nelson (Photographer)
Another collection of photographs. I’d recommend Sebastiao Salgado’s Genesis if you were to choose only one huge, expensive book like this.

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1608320995
Double Double: How to Double Your Revenue and Profit in 3 Years or Less
by Cameron Herold
I would highly recommend any entrepreneur watch Cameron Herold, the former COO of 1-800-Got-Junk speak if you ever can. He’s mesmerizing.


http://www.amazon.com/Take-Your-Eye-Off-Ball/dp/1600783910
Take Your Eye Off the Ball: How to Watch Football by Knowing Where to Look Paperback
by Pat Kirwan, David Seigerman
Reading this book helped me see things on the football field that the TV announcers were missing.


http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B002MQYOFW/ref=kinw_myk_ro_title
The Hunger Games
and
http://smile.amazon.com/Catching-Fire-Second-Hunger-Games-ebook/dp/B003O86FMW/
Catching Fire
by Suzanne Collins


http://smile.amazon.com/Minecraft-Unlikely-Persson-Changed-Everything-ebook/dp/B00CQZ5MMS/
Minecraft: The Unlikely Tale of Markus “Notch” Persson and the Game that Changed Everything
by Daniel Goldberg, Linus Larsson

 

 


Enjoyed some moments of these books

http://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/B009NF74GG/
Power Moves: A Guide to Livin’ the American Dream, USA Style
Karl Welzein
I love following the lovable loser @DadBoner so much on Twitter that I bought his book. I never thought this would have been possible, but apparently it’s possible to say a lot more with 140 characters than it is in a novel. The joke just didn’t work in long form.

http://www.audible.com/pd/Business/Top-Dog-Audiobook/B00B77MASU
Top Dog: The Science of Winning and Losing
by Po Bronson , Ashley Merryman
I loved the same author’s book on parenting. Read that instead.

http://www.audible.com/pd/Arts-Entertainment/Story-Audiobook/B002V8DKDS
Story: Substance, Structure, Style, and the Principles of Screenwriting
by Robert McKee

http://www.audible.com/pd/Business/Conscious-Business-Audiobook/B002V5D5AO
Conscious Business
by Fred Kofman


Please share your book recommendations with me.

Leave a your book recommendation in the comment box below or send me an email or tweet me at @JackH.

PS Here are the book recommendations from 2010, and 2011 and 2012.

Book recommendations from 2012 and 2011

Every year I try to share a list of the book I most enjoyed over the previous year.  Since I failed to do this last year, this list contains my favorite books from 2011 and 2012.  

Highly Recommended

Moonwalking with Einstein by Joshua Foer

Delightful account of a reporter who becomes so enchanted with the super human memory feats of the US memory championship he is covering that he starts memory training. One year later he wins the US memory championship and spells out exactly how he did it.  It should come as no surprise that any book that recommends great how-to info would come highly recommended from me.  The major methodology is covered in this wikiHow http://www.wikiHow.com/Build-a-Memory-Palace

World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie Wars, by Max Brooks

The most fun book I’m recommending here. I’ve always been a sucker for apocalyptic fiction and this is one of the best pieces out there. Author Max Brooks, son of famed humorist Mel Brooks, brings intelligence, humanity and a dose of realism to this otherwise ludicrous topic. This book is being turned into a movie staring Brad Pitt.  

Great by Choice, by Jim Collins and Morten Hansen

Jim Collin’s research methodology is questionable, but his insights are always illuminating. His past books explained how companies are built to last, or rise from mediocrity to greatness. Great by Choice explains how companies thrive in turbulent times. Some findings: Don’t blame poor performance on market conditions, bad luck, Google Panda, or whatever your excuse is here.  Great companies manufacture good luck by being obsessively disciplined, paranoid (especially in prosperous times), and   using empirical research to reach unique decisions. To the chagrin of the Silicon Valley ethos, Collins found that break through innovators are usually not the companies that remain great over long stretches. While innovation and dramatic change excites, it isn’t as dependable as steadily improving a functioning flywheel.

Ender’s Gamer, by Orson Scott Card

A sci-fi classic and a great read!

A Few Lessons for Investors and Managers from Warren Buffett, by Warren Buffett and Peter Bevelin

If like me, you have never found the time to read all Warren Buffett’s shareholders letters of the last 35 years than this is the book for you.  It excerpts passages from Buffet’s letters and talks and packs them into a wisdom packed 81 pages.  Eye opening stuff for those new to Buffett-ism. 

The One World Schoolhouse by Salman Khan

Online education is one of the more under appreciated forces that is going to dramatically improve our world.  Salman Khan, the founder of Khan Academy shares his perspectives on how education can and should change. 

Unbroken: A World War II Survival, Resilience, and Redemption, by Laura Hillenbrand

Heartbreaking and inspiring story of human courage and hope.

Steve Jobs, by Walter Issacson

and

The Steve Jobs Way, by Jay Elliot

I hate to recommend Steve Jobs books purely since too many entrepreneurs are currently trying to imitate the great and uncopyable Steve Jobs.  Just stop now.  The Issacson book is by far the best of these two biographies, but the Elliot book lends the firsthand impressions of an exec from the early Mac team days.  

Recommended

What Technology Wants, by Kevin Kelly

The only technology book that will simultaneously give you more respect for technophiles, the Amish, and the unabomber.  Without dipping  into the usual futurist traps, Kelly eloquently argues that technology has desires and needs that are clearly visible through history and future trends. And technology will obtain it’s goals, whether we humans want it to or not.  Stimulating and insightful.  If you liked this book, you will also like The Singluarity is Near or Where Good Ideas Come From. 

No Easy Day by Kevin Maurer, Mark Owen

The gripping account of the mission to kill Osama Bin Laden as told by a Navy Seal on the raid.  In addition to the exciting blow by blow account of the raid, the book details the life of a Navy Seal.  In some ways the camaraderie, competitive athletic feats, and sheer determination of the Navy Seals reminds me of many of the hard core rock climbers I’ve known (but without all that killing stuff.)

Tribal Leadership by Dave Logan, John King, et all

Insightful look into the 5 phases of leadership and organizations.  Most everyone you know is stuck around level 2 or 3.  We could all do better. 

When Genius Failed by Roger Lowenstein

The lessons from the 1998 implosion of uber hedge fund Long Term Capital Market are even starker given the 2008/9 financial crisis. How we as a society have failed to adequately address these risks in our financial system continues to baffle me. 

The Wizard of Menlo Park: How Thomas Edison Invented the Modern World  by Randall Stross

Like Steve Jobs, Edison was more than just a great innovator, he was a fantastic self promoter. He played the media so masterfully that the general public widely believed he solely invented several key innovations he had only a peripheral role in. Similar to other great entrepreneurs he blocked out anything that distracted him from work.  For example he once left early from a party his wife was throwing in his honor and went to work at his lab. He became so enraptured in an experiment that he ended up working through the night. He didn’t stop there though.  He continued to eat and sleep in  the office for a week straight all in that same new suit he wore to the party.  He must have had a pretty understanding wife!

Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman

Your brain is buggy and can be easily tricked.  You probably knew that already, but the science behind it is fascinating.  

In the Plex, by Steven Levy

The best book written about how Google ticks. 

1776 by David McCullough

George Washington was a president, Navy Seal, Martha Stewart style home decorator all rolled into one.  He was simply too awesome to ever get past the primaries today. 

Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert

Warning this is chick lit.  But if you manly men can get past the first 1/3 of the book that contains incessant tears about broken relationships, the back part the book contains a wonderful travelogue and story of personal growth. 

How to Win Friends and Influence People, by Dale Carnegie

As a lover of “how to” writing, I can’t believe it took me this long to read the most famous how-to book of all time.  While Carnegie’s tips have been widely re-hashed over ensuing decades, there is a reason this book is still a classic. 

The Anatomy of Peace, by the Arbinger Institute

A unique look at conflict resolution that applies at home, at work, or in between nations. 

Reality is Broken, by Jane McGonigal

How games make the world a better place. 

The Blame Game, By Ben Dattner

This under-appreciated book highlights many of the problems in the modern workplace and offers some solutions.  Fortunately, none of these problems exist at the perfectly managed wikiHow.  🙂 Right? 🙂

The Snowball: Warren Buffett and the Business of Life, by Alice Schroeder

Honorable Mention

The Score Takes Care of Itself by Bill Walsh, Steve Jamison

Did you know that in addition to developing the West Coast Offense, and winning 4 Superbowls, that Bill Walsh was a business and organizational genius?  He had techniques and a standard of excellence for everything in an organization. Yes, everything.  He would even write flow charts for how receptionists were supposed to answer the phone when they called the 49ers front office.  Reading this book gave me a new appreciation for the effort, planning, and obsession with details one needs to win not just on Sunday but everyday. 

Avogadro Corp, by William Hertling

Set in the near future, the engineers of Avogadro Corp (which is clearly meant to be Google Inc) accidentally create a strong AI.  Recommended for fans of techno sci fan.  

Margin of Safety: Risk-Averse Value Investing Strategies for the Thoughtful Investor, by Seth Klarman

Part of my continuing education on value investing. This book is out of print and not worth the $1000 you will need to pay eBay for a copy.  Thank you Claude for a copy!

The Breakthrough Company by Keith McFarland

A Jim Collins style long term study of several medium size companies that grow phenomenally over decades. 

Boomerang, by Michael Lewis

The great story teller Michael Lewis deconstructs the financial crises of recent years. 

Makers by Chris Anderson

I’m looking forward to the day I can print out my afternoon snack, my holiday gifts, and my lost house key from my desktop 3D printer.  Till then reading Makers by Chris Anderson gave me a good look at the current state of 3D printing and DIY robotics.  

Kill Decision, by Daniel Saurez

No author better weaves current technology and political near realities into thrilling science fiction.  In Kill Decision some unwitting Stanford CS grad students program software that unseen corporate interests use to launch an army of autonomous drones. It’s clearly a book written for geeks.  But who knows? Maybe autonomous drones will become Hollywood’s new zombies. If you like techno thrillers, I’d more strongly recommend Suarez’s other books Daemon and Freedom. 

The Progress Principle by Steve Kramer

People at work are much happier if they are continually making progress.  Sadly most organizations needlessly stand in the way of individual progress.  There are lots of little things a boss or coworker can do to keep people’s internal momentum positive. 

Folks, This Ain’t Normal by Joel Salatin

Sad commentary on the American food system by a lifelong farmer. 

How the Mighty Fall by Jim Collins

One of the paradoxes of business is that successful businesses are incredibly hard to start but surprisingly difficult to kill. This book shows how that with years of hubris or over extension even the best businesses can fall. Every Jim Collins book is good, but if you are only going to read one this year, I’d go with “Choose to be Great”. 

Start with Why by Simon Sinek

Quiet by Susan Cain

Why introverts and misunderstood and under appreciated.  

Game Frame, by Aaron Dingan 

What if everything were gamified?  Well it would mostly be annoying, unless the games were designed well.  Aaron Dingan explores were gamification  works, and when it falls flat.   

The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin, by Benjamin Franklin

Home Evolutis , by Steve Gullans

This quick read makes the case that technological acceleration and it’s bi-products of gene hacking and augmented human capacity, will give rise to a new human species. Homo sapien sapiens have had a good run as the only dominant species for a long time, but that will change. This book is funny, provocative, and ultimately hard to refute. 

Multipliers, by Greg McKeown and Liz Wiseman

Click, by Ori Brafman and Rom Brafman

Cyber War: by Richard A. Clark 

Scary and eye opening. There is a shadow war going on, that most people don’t know about.  And if cyber war ever turns hot the results could kill tens of millions.  Author Richard Clark served in the White House under Clinton and George W Bush. He authored a illuminating report on America’s failures leading up to Sept 11th.  Sadly he sees many of the same failures in US Cyber War defense.  He claims the US has the best offense for cyber war, but has almost no defensive abilities.  As a result, it might be possible for a cyber attack to crash airplanes, turn off electricity and sewer systems, erase records and cripple the financial system and even  possibly causing nuclear meltdowns. Clark claims the US government is largely ignoring this real and growing threat. 

Is the Internet Changing the Way You Think?, edited by John Brockman

So, is the internet changing the way you think? Yes. But you already knew that, right? This book asks prominent computer scientists, poets, artists, politicians, philosophers, entrepreneurs and psychologists this same question and elicits some interesting replies.  

Give Smart: Philanthropy that Gets Results, by Thomas J. Tierney 

This book wasn’t targeted at me, and unless you are one of my billionaire friends or work for a charitable foundation, it’s probably not targeted at you either. Yet I still learned some good lessons that will guide my far more modest charitable giving. Tierney takes the rigorous analytical approach he honed running the prestigious consulting firm Bain and applies them to maximizing the impact of philanthropy. Some great case studies of success and failure here too. Did you know that the idea to paint white lines on the sides of highways came from a philanthropists in the 50s and ended up reducing highway fatalities by over 30%?   

The Net Delusion   by Evgeny Morozov 

The Internet will not magically solve all our societal problems.  It will not free oppressed peoples. But people like me really want to believe it will.  Read this to realize the one hope you had is a false one.  That said, I’d like to believe the events of Arab Spring, which took place after this book was published has slightly tarnished Morozov’s hypothesis.

Out of Our Minds, by Ken Robinson

On how schools are squeezing the creativity out of our minds. 

Life, by Keith Richards

The opening story of Keith Richards, madly swallowing and flushing drugs down the toilet before getting arrested in the deep south, is one of the funnier things I read in 2011.  That said, not all the stories of sex, drugs and rock and roll held me as captivated in this long read.  

ScreamFree Parenting, by Hal Runkel

Fascinate, by Sally Hogshead

The Most Important Thing, by Howard Marks

A collection of mostly contrarian investment advice from a successful hedge fund manager.

Recommended Kids Books

 Here are the books my kids most enjoyed having me read to them:

Harry Potter 5, 6 and 7 – So far no books have equally captivated father and  son as much as the Harry Potter series.   

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, by C.S. Lewis

Rats of NIMH 

Percy Jackson: The Lightening Thief 

The Hobbit

Read not bad but not necessarily recommended

Wired to Care, By Dev Patnaik

21 Immutable Laws of Marketing by Al Reis and Jack Trout

The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding by Al Ries and Laura Ries

Zag by Marty Neumeier

The Little Book that Still Beats the Market by Joel Greenblatt

 The Way We’re Working Isn’t Working, by Tony Schwartz and Jean Gomes

Most work environments suck. You already knew that right? 

Book recommendations from 2010

I’m always looking for good books. You probably are too. Here are my recommendations from  the books I read in 2010. I’ve grouped them into “highly recommended”, “recommended” and “OK, but not necessarily recommended”.

Highly recommended

The Happiness Hypothesis, by Jonathan Haidt
http://www.amazon.com/The-Happiness-Hypothesis-ebook/dp/product-description/B003E749TE
This erudite summary of research on positive psychology picks up where Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s Flow left off 15 years ago. Also includes some practical tips to a happier life: money matters but not as much as relationships, avoid commutes, and meditation is as good and cheaper than Prozac or psychotherapy.

Where Good Ideas Come From: The Natural History of Innovation, by Steven Johnson
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B003ZK58TA/ref=kinw_myk_ro_title
Debunks the myth that innovation comes from a genius inventor working in isolation. Plus offers tips to become more innovative: spend more time connecting, leave the burbs, hike more – work less, frequent coffee shops, have lots of hobbies, write every intellectual curiosity down, and seek serendipity.

Daemon, by Daniel Suarez
http://www.amazon.com/Daemon-ebook/dp/B003QP4NPE/
and the sequel
Freedom (TM) by Daniel Suarez
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B002VUFKDY/
Entertaining sci-fi / detective thriller. Offers the rare combination of being a fun page turner while delivering thought-provoking mind bombs. If you are a techno-optimist who thinks our existing technologies couldn’t be used to control you in a dystopia, read this. If you are a techno-pessimist who thinks we couldn’t use existing technologies to create a better world, read this.
Thank you Vince Monical for the recommendation to read this.

Nurture Shock, by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B002LHRLO8/
Like candy for nerd parents.

The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable, by Nassim Taleb
http://www.amazon.com/Black-Swan-Impact-Highly-Improbable/dp/1400063515
Taleb explains the financial crisis of 2008/2009 2 years before it happened.  Re-read this now to understand the next few risk meltdowns we are destined to face next. Don’t read this if you want your investment portfolio, job or society to ever feel stable again.
Thanks to Naval Ravikant for the recommendation.

Delivering Happiness, by Tony Hsieh
http://www.amazon.com/Delivering-Happiness-Profits-Passion-Purpose/dp/0446563048/
I usually try to avoid entrepreneur’s books because entrepreneurs typically write as poorly as I do and because their success stories make me feel like I’m not trying hard enough.  But Zappos leader Hsieh breaks the mold on the usual formula: This book is as much about a voyage of personal discovery and pivoting the world as it is about building a business.

Harry Potter Books 1 – 4 : http://www.amazon.com/Harry-Potter-Paperback-Box-Books/dp/0545162076/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1294153865&sr=1-1
I’ve been reading the entire Harry Potter series to my 6 year old son, but I’m not sure who is enjoying it more.  A huge upgrade over Goodnight Moon repeats.
Thank you Marc Bodnick for the recommendation to read this to my kids.

Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, by Daniel Pink
http://www.amazon.com/Drive-Surprising-Truth-About-Motivates/dp/1594488843
If you edit on wikis, you already know that intrinsic motivation is more powerful than extrinsic motivation. Drive explains why this is true and highlights how most business motivation schemes are doomed to go haywire. Even better than Drive is Daniel Pink’s “A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future”.

Recommended:

The Big Short, by Michael Lewis
http://www.amazon.com/Big-Short-Inside-Doomsday-Machine/dp/0393072231
Only Michael Lewis can make complex business stories into page turning humor pieces. I can’t wait for him to write about Silicon Valley.
Thank you Bob Brisco and Josh Hannah for the recommendation.

The Rational Optimist, by Matt Ridley
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B003QP4BJM/
I’m a believer in this book’s “the world is getting better, but it’s not cool to say so” thesis.  But I think this idea has been more thoughtfully articulated in Robert Wright’s Nonzero, published in 2000.
Thank you Claude Leveille for the recommendation here.

Cognitivie Surplus, by Clay Shirky
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B003NX75HC/ref=kinw_myk_ro_title
Clay Shirky has a knack for distilling this era’s Tofflerian future shock into sensible bits. If you are going to pick one book to explain participatory media dynamics read this, but if you’ve already been reading the older works by Clay Shirky, Larry Lessig, and Yochai Benkler, you may not find many new insights in this book.

Foodista Best of Food Blogs: 100 Great Recipes, by Barnaby Dorfman
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0740797670/
If I actually cooked anything that wasn’t in a microwave or over a camp stove this would be highly recommended.  Without that experience I can only say that this book does look great!

Shantaram, by Gregory David Roberts
http://www.amazon.com/Shantaram-Novel-Gregory-David-Roberts/dp/0312330529
Mostly semi-autobiographical novel about a recovering heroin addict who escapes from a maximum security prison in Australia to India where he alternately becomes a doctor in slum, drug dealer, mafia gangster, and warrior in Afghanistan. A great story, that I wish had been told in less than it’s 944 pages.
Thank you Dan Frank for the recommendation.

The Facebook Effect: The Inside Story of the Company That is Connecting the World, by David Kirkpatrick
http://www.amazon.com/Facebook-Effect-Inside-Company-Connecting/dp/1439102112
If you don’t already have massive respect for Mark Zuckerberg and hate for the Winkelvi read this twice. For the those who don’t even know what the above means, this will provides a good overview of the Facebook history thus far.

World Wide Rave: Creating Triggers that Get Millions of People to Spread Your Ideas and Share Your Stories
Not as thoughtful as Chip Heath’s Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die, but this book offers good tips to explain what goes viral and why.
Thank you Tony Mamone for the original recommendation on Made to Stick.


OK but not necessarily recommended:

How to Survive the End of the World as we Know It
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B002R2048M/
I’m a sucker for survivalist fantasy. (See Neil Strauss’s Emergency for a most entertaining read on this theme.) And I wanted to learn how to prepare for the coming zombie apocalypse, robot uprising, or pandemic whatever comes first.  But this book depressed me by saying the only path to survival is to drop out of your current life and spend the next 10 years building a secure bunker in Idaho. Now I know when the zombies come to eat my family’s brains we are sure goners. BTW, if you followed all the directions in this book, could you please invite me into your bunker when the stuff hits the fan?

The Happiness Project: Or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun,  by Gretchen Rubin
http://www.amazon.com/Happiness-Project-Morning-Aristotle-Generally/dp/0061583251/
This is perhaps the best personal growth book for those who aren’t actually willing to risk much personal growth.

The Upside of Irrationality, By Dan Ariely
Interesting, but I felt I had read much of this research before actually picking up this book.  And I require no further proof that I’m irrational.

Rework, By Jason Fried
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B002MUAJ2A
Just read Jason’s excellent blog instead.

Crush It!,  by Gary Vaynerchuk
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0029ZA3H4
This book isn’t terrible, but the fact that books like this have 485 reviews with 4.5 stars on Amazon tests one’s faith in participatory media.

Snow Crash, by Neal Stephenson
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000FBJCJE/
Yes, this is a sci fi classic.  Sorry that I didn’t love it.  Send flames over email.

Offers some interesting history about viral successes.  As always stories about James Hong from HotOrNot are the most entertaining.

That’s it.

I won’t even list the bad books that I hated or I’m too embarrassed to admit that I read.

Please send me any book recommendations you have for 2011, by commenting here or emailing me.  Thanks!

Power of good mobile design: Wikipedia mobile traffic up 10x in five months.

Every now and then I learn something about the web that blows my mind.  The success of the Wikipedia mobile site is one such example.

In early July Wikipedia officially launched their mobile version which made it easier to browse Wikipedia on the iPhone, Android and other smart phones.  Looks like their mobile traffic increased by a factor of 10 in just a few months!

Mobile Wikipedia Statistics-2

Wikipedia received about 142 million mobile page views in October.  The raw data can be viewed at Wikipedia. This growth shows the power of a good mobile design.  When people found that they could actually use Wikipedia on their phones, they started using it a bunch more.  Not surprising when you compare the before and after images from an iPhone.  The redesigned version is on top, and the original site as seen on an iPhone is below.

IMG_0415

Wikipeida "After"

IMG_0416

Wikipeida "Before"

Congrats to Brion Vibber, Hampton Catlin, and the rest of the Wikimedia tech team for creating such a successful site.

PS. I’d love to build something similar for wikiHow.  If you know a designer or coder who can help, please email me at  jack “at” wikihow dot com.

wikiHow on How to Write a Limerick

How to Write a Limerick

from wikiHow – The How to Manual That You Can Edit
A limerick is a short, comical, and almost musical poem that often borders on the nonsensical or obscene. It was popularized in English by Edward Lear (and thus Limerick Day is celebrated on his birthday, May 12). Writing them takes a little practice at first, but before long you’ll be addicted to coming up with these witty, whimsical rhymes.

Steps

  1. Know the basic characteristics of a limerick.
    • Rhyming pattern. A limerick has five lines; the first, second, and fifth rhyme with each other, and the third and fourth rhyme with each other.
    • Number of syllables. The first, second and fifth lines should have eight or nine syllables, while the third and fourth lines should have five or six.
    • Meter. A limerick has a certain “rhythm” created by how the syllables are stressed.
      • Anapaestic meter – two short syllables are followed by a long (stressed) one (duh-duh-DUM, duh-duh-DUM). Here’s an example (note that the emphasis naturally falls on the italicized syllables): Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house
      • Amphibrachic meter – a long (stressed) syllable is sandwiched between two short ones (duh-DUM-duh, duh-DUM-duh). Example: There was a young lady of Wantage
      • Lines can begin on two, one, or occasionally no unstressed beats. Some prefer to continue the rhythm across from one line to the next, especially when a sentence carries across lines, but this is not essential.
  2. Choose the ending of your first line, usually a geographical place. For instance, Pittsburgh. Note that the first syllable of Pittsburgh is stressed, resulting in one short syllable at the end of the line. Another example: New York. Note that the second syllable of New York is stressed.
  3. Think of lots of different things to rhyme with your first line ending. Let the story and punchline of your limerick be inspired by the rhymes you think of. You’ll appear funny, witty and clever this way. Example 1: Because Pittsburgh is stressed on the first syllable, you’ll have to rhyme with both syllables. First things that come to mind: kids lurk, zits work, bits jerk, hits perk, lit smirk, or maybe a different combination of these words. Example 2: Because New York is stressed on the second syllable, you only need to rhyme with that one. First things that come to mind: cork, pork, stork, fork. Write your own extensive list.
  4. Make associations with the rhyme words. Example 1: With words like kids and zits and private bits, you could go for a limerick about puberty. Example 2: Through the combination of cork, pork and fork, you could think about a limerick about a fancy dinner with lots of meat and wine. Go through the list you created and think up little stories of what could have happened and how your ideas could be related.
  5. Pick a story that appeals to you, and decide on who the person(s) is you introduce in line 1. What is important about him or her? Do you focus on their profession or social status, or on age, health or particular stage in his or her life? Example 1: For the Pittsburgh limerick, you could go for the word ‘adolescent’. Example 2: For the New York limerick, you might be thinking of the word ‘distinguished’ with something following that.
  6. Make the first line nice and fitting with the meter. Example 1: Adolescent is stressed on the 3rd syllable. Pittsburgh starts with a stressed syllable. This means we need one more long syllable at the start, and only have room for one short syllable between ‘adolescent’ and ‘Pittsburgh’. So we get: ‘A young adolescent from Pittsburgh’. Example 2: Distinguished is stressed on the second syllable. Combined with ‘from New York’, that leaves us only two syllables for in between, with the second one stressed. You could solve this, for instance, by borrowing from a foreign language: ‘The distinguished beau monde of New York’.
  7. Choose a situation or action in which your person starts off. This is the starting point of your story or joke. Use one of the rhyming words from list. Example 1: ‘A young adolescent from Pittsburgh, was just finding out how his bits work’. Example 2: ‘The distinguished beau monde of New York, was heavily dining on pork’. Note how the rhyme in line 2 seems to fit with the subject in line 1, while it actually is the other way around.
  8. Think of a ‘turn’ or ‘twist’ in your story, while considering rhyme words for the 3rd and 4th line, but save the punchline for your last line. Example 1: Of course the bits story can get messy, and because limericks often border on the obscene, you could have your hero’s hormones take the best of him (without making it too explicit). How about: ‘He dreamt every night, of a girl by his side’? Example 2: Thinking of cork and pork, maybe you notice how wine rhymes with swine. That would be a great follow-up.
  9. Go back to your list of rhyme words and find a nice one to wrap up the story with a punchline. This is the most difficult part. Don’t be put off if your first few limericks aren’t funny enough. Remember that it’s first of all a matter of taste, and second: everything takes practice. Example 1: ‘A young adolescent from Pittsburgh, was just finding out how his bits work. He dreamt every night, of a girl by his side, but his zits seemed to make all the kids smirk’. Example 2: ‘The distinguished beau monde of New York, was heavily dining on pork. They drank so much wine, that instead of the swine, many were chewing on cork.’

Tips

  • Clap your hands when reciting your limericks aloud. It helps you find out the ‘feel’ of the meter, and check if it has the right flow.
  • When you know your way around the basics, try experimenting with internal rhyme, alliteration or assonance to make your poem even more special.
  • Use the alphabet massively, even if you don’t have it memorized and need to use a cheat sheet. This will allow you to quickly come up with unlimited number of rhymes–for example, take the word “Wiki” and run the “iki” part through the alphabet: aicki…bicki…. By the time you’ve mentally checked off all 26 letters, you’ll at LEAST have:…chickie…hickey…mickey…nicky…picky… tricky…. You get the point! There are also rhyming dictionaries in print and online that can help.
  • If you’re stuck, try looking through a few limericks other people have written; each writer’s limericks have a special, individual “feel” to them. You never know which one may crack right through your writer’s block.

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