There’s nothing better than reading a new book, so if you have one to recommend, feel free to reach out! Here are a few of my favorites this season.
Principles, by Ray Dalio. Currently reading.
The Remains of the Day, by Kazuo Ishiguro. Currently reading.
Einstein, by Walter Isaacson. Currently reading.
South of the Border, West of the Sun, by Haruki Murakami. Currently reading, on hold.
The Three Body Problem, by Cixin Liu. Currently reading, on hold.
Designing Data Intensive Applications, by Martin Kleppmann. This book (along with my team) was my source of truth for helping me build distributed systems at Pinterest. If you’re at all interested in distributed systems or systems architecture, this is a great read.
The Art of Happiness, by the Dalai Lama. For the respected spiritual leader of millions around the world, the Dalai Lama has a very good sense of humor. Through a series of conversations with a western psychologist, the Dalai Lama expresses his viewpoints – colored by a lifetime of scholarship, advocacy, and refugeeship – on our fundamental nature and working with the imperfect hands that we’ve been dealt. I’d recommend the Art of Happiness to anyone looking for ways to grow their happiness, focus, and compassion for other human beings.
Sputnik Sweetheart, by Haruki Murakami. A fragile love triangle with hints of a mystery that seamlessly meanders between metaphor and reality, Sputnik Sweetheart gives an account of a subtle web of relationships that feel, in some ways, as if they end before they even begin.
High Growth Handbook, by Elad Gil. Originally recommended from a friend at a small high-growth startup. This guide codifies the advice of one of Silicon Valley’s most trusted advisors into a set of direct and practical instructions for those looking to grow their company from 10 to N. This is a great reference with high believability sources for anyone starting or looking to join an early stage startup.
Zero to One, by Peter Thiel. One of the most interesting ideas from Zero to One is Thiel’s theory about the historical circumstances surrounding nation states and how they result in distinct perspectives of the future, which has consequences for the paths we seek. As one example – he thinks the United States treats the future as optimistically indefinite – causing our youngest workers to pursue high-status paths with diverse exit options, such as investment banking or nowadays, computer science. Definitely check this out if you want to take a look into Thiel’s unique perspectives on philosophy and building value in the world.
The Manager’s Path, by Camille Fournier. The Manager’s Path is one of the only books that I know of specifically written for engineering managership (or aspiring managers).
Norwegian Wood, by Haruki Murakami. A friend gifted this book to me (without reading it first, mind you), knowing that I loved exploring Murakami’s surreal portrayals of lonesomeness in his other books Kafka and the Wind-up Bird Chronicle. Norwegian Wood forgoes the magical realism of Murakami’s previous works to focus instead on a very real story between two Tokyo college students entangled together in threads of love, loss, and mental wellness. This comparatively straightforward love story is now one of my favorites from Murakami.
Nonviolent Communication, by Marshall Rosenburg. In 2014, when Satya Nadella took over Microsoft as CEO, the first thing that he did to start breaking down Microsoft’s toxic work culture was to give each member of his leadership team a copy of this decades-old book (Jeff Weiner’s thoughts). In Nonviolent Communication, Dr. Marshall Rosenberg uses basic psychological principles – and the belief that humans are good at heart – to support an approach to communication that revolves around the use of observations, emotions, and needs, as opposed to judgments or inferences.
The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, by Marie Kondo. “Does it spark joy?” In a few words, Kondo’s method of organizing – KonMari – is the art of figuring out what you love, discarding everything else, and cherishing what remains. By bringing a unique mixture of spirituality and practicality to the act of tidying up, Marie Kondo turns simple acts that are normally taken for granted, like stepping into your home or folding laundry, into physical, heartfelt confrontations with the things that support you through your life.
Blitzscaling, by Reid Hoffman. When is scaling at a breakneck pace in an uncertain environment a good decision? In this book, Reid, cofounder of Linkedin and partner at Greylock, sets out to explain why and how to blitzscale in order to succeed in winner-take-all environments.
Mindset, by Carol Dweck. In this book, Professor Dweck talks about how people with a “fixed mindset” – a tendency to believe that success is a result of innate, immutable ability – learn less and pursue fewer challenges than those with a “growth mindset”. By adopting a growth mindset, we can reframe failures into opportunities to become better students, teammates, leaders. As Dweck puts it, “Why waste time proving over and over how great you are, when you could be getting better?”
Deep Work, by Cal Newport. Cal argues that focusing deeply without interruptions on challenging tasks is a differentiating skill that allows you to produce work that most cannot, all the while providing maximal fulfillment in your life. “The more you try to do, the less you actually accomplish.” Cal – who also happens to be a professor of computer science at Dartmouth – outlines several strategies to practice deep work, including: minimizing attention residue, batching/minimizing shallow tasks, practicing attention, and quitting social media. He also emphasizes the role of downtime for creativity and recovery (see ego depletion). It’s a great read that fits well into the existing litany of psychology research on willpower and attention.
How to Get Startup Ideas, Paul Graham
Status as a Service, Eugene Wei
Invisible Asymptotes, Eugene Wei