Book Reviews

The Nix by Nathan Hill

nixJust read THE NIX by Nathan Hill. It’s brilliant, hilarious and mind-bending… that is, for the first half of the book. After that, it slowly loses its brilliance.

Is it worth reading? Definitely, if only for the first half. It’s Hill’s debut novel, and it’s an amazing achievement for a first-time author.

I expect big things from him in the future. But it’s simply too long. He could have cut it down by 30% and had a perfect novel.

South of No North by Charles Bukowski

South

I’m on a Charles Bukowski binge. Just finished reading SOUTH OF NO NORTH.

Juicy Bukowski Quotes:

“To be young is the only religion.”

“We’re all going to die, all of us, what a circus! That alone should make us love each other but it doesn’t.”

“The courage it took to get out of bed each morning to face the same things over and over was enormous.”

“Can you remember who you were, before the world told you who you should be?”

Hollywood by Charles Bukowski

hollywood

Just read HOLLYWOOD by Charles Bukowski. It’s been years since I indulged in Bukowski’s barroom banter, and it was just as messy, screwed up and thoroughly delightful as ever.

His drunken, misogynistic musings are crude, crafty and hilarious. If you’ve never tried Bukowski, grab a bottle and chug it down. He’s the real deal.

Bukowski Quotes:

“If you’re going to try, go all the way. Otherwise, don’t even start.”

The $100 Startup

startup

Just read THE $100 STARTUP by Chris Guillebeau. It’s a great book if you plan on starting a small business. It’s full of useful tips and encouraging words for entrepreneurs who want to quit their day job and work for themselves.

However, if you plan on starting a venture funded tech startup, this isn’t your book. It’s not written for entrepreneurs who want to build a big business that investors would be interested in funding.

The Ultralight Startup

Ultralight

Just finished reading THE ULTRALIGHT STARTUP by Jason Baptiste. It goes into detail about how to launch a startup without much money or clout.

If you haven’t read many books on launching startups, this is a good book to get you going. However, if you’ve read a lot or have experience, you probably can skip this book. You’ll know most of what it says already.

The American

american

Just read THE AMERICAN by Henry James. What makes this novel so fascinating is that a wealthy man, who has nearly everything, is denied his true love precisely because of his good and honorable nature.

If he had been the least bit deceitful or immoral he could have obtained his prize. Unfortunately, his own goodness condemns him to a life without love.

Industries of the Future

book

INDUSTRIES OF THE FUTURE by Alec Ross is a smart, well-written book about how startups and technology are changing business and where things are headed. The biggest takeaway is that open societies where women can fully participate will flourish, while overly restrictive governments that curb free markets will suffer.

Dear Leader

leaderJust finished reading “Dear Leader” by Jang Jin-Sung. It’s the unbelievable true story of how a high-level government official escaped from North Korea.

The book works on many levels. It gives a vivid account of the suffering in North Korea; it’s a gripping tale of escape, with all the twists and turns of an action novel; and it’s a political and social commentary.

I love this book!

Inside the Dream Palace

chelsea3

The book “Inside the Dream Palace” is about the legendary Chelsea Hotel.

The Chelsea started out as a 19th century experiment in communal living and evolved to become home to many of New York’s brightest writers and luminaries, including Andy Warhol, Mark Twain, Dylan Thomas, Arthur Miller, Patti Smith, Jim Morrison and scores of others.

If you want to build an intensely creative, chaotic and counter-culture ecosystem, read this book!

Think Like a Freak

Freak

I love the book THINK LIKE A FREAK. If you aren’t already familiar with the Freakonomics series, you should check this out. Like all of their work, it’s filled in eye-opening insights into economics, business and human nature.

How and why do people do what the do? That’s the question they ask, and they teach you how to think outside the box. The book is filled with examples of freaky thinkers. It reveals how a skinny Japanese guy became the world’s #1 hot-dog-eating champion, the reason an Australian doctor swallowed deadly bacteria, and why Nigerian email scammers write such idiotic emails.

The Future of the Mind

TheMind

Just read FUTURE OF THE MIND by Michio Kaku. It’s a mind-blowing book on how our brains work, the nature of consciousness, and the way future technologies will change how we think, communicate, and experience reality.

The Next Species: The Future of Evolution in the Aftermath of Man

thenextspeciescover

I just read THE NEXT SPECIES by Michael Tennesen. This book asks whether humans will eventually go extinct. The answer is YES. There is a 99.99% chance that we will disappear in the next 100 million years. If you look back at earth’s history, there were five mass extinctions already:

1) Ordovician-Silurian mass extinction
2) Late Devonian mass extinction
3) Permian mass extinction
4) Triassic-Jurassic mass extinction
5) Cretaceous-Tertiary mass extinction

Make It New

Make it New

Just read “Make It New” by Barry Katz. This book goes into excessive detail on the history of design in Silicon Valley. It’s interesting only if you’re a total design geek and need to know the historical facts.

What it lacks is insight into the design process and thinking of these amazing people. What made them so original and innovative? That’s what I was craving and couldn’t find in this book.

Future Science: Essays from the Cutting Edge

Future

“Future Science: Essays from the Cutting Edge” by Max Brockman isn’t so much a book as a collection of short, topical scientific papers.

The papers cover everything from gene splicing to life on other planets. They are written by professors from a number of top universities and are quite interesting, if you’re a science geek like me!

I enjoyed the book, although for most people, it’s probably too technical. This is by no means a pager turner. Instead, it’s a thought-provoking, intellectual smorgasbord suited only for nerds.

ELON MUSK: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future

Musk
I just read “ELON MUSK: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future” by Ashlee Vance.

Despite his flaws, Musk is driven by a deep conviction that it’s his job to save the human race. This thinking drives every decision he makes. Unlike so many entrepreneurs today, he does not care about getting rich quick. In fact, he’s willing to risk every penny he has on his ventures.

The Importance of Being Earnest

maxresdefault-2

Startup founders, followers and freaks, take a break from your work, mindless tech blogs, and fruitless pitch events, and bury your head in something sweet and intoxicating. Every time I read Oscar Wilde, it’s like taking happy pills.

Just finished reading “The Importance of Being Earnest,” and I assure you that each utterance is a delicious mouthful of wit, whimsey and wonder–a marvelous poke at what makes us human. I never wanted it to end!

Moments of Impact

moments

Moments of Impact is a book about how to structure a strategic conversation. Two leading experts expound upon the creative process that allows teams to tackle their most challenging issues.

Great strategic conversations generate breakthrough insights by combining the best ideas of people with different backgrounds and perspectives. The book has some good ideas, but it’s much too repetitive.

Smarter Faster Better

image

Just read the book “Smarter Faster Better” by Charles Duhigg. The most interesting idea was that of creating mental models of the future, where you imagine various outcomes based on decisions you make and data from past experiences.

People who create detailed mental models perform better on the job and are more successful in life.

1421: The Year China Discovered America

chinese-ming-treaure-fleet-zheng-heDid you know that China discovered America 70 years before Columbus? If you don’t believe me, read the book “1421” by Gavin Menzies. I just finished reading it and was amazed to learn that China was a maritime superpower in the 15th century, with the world’s largest fleet.

The One Minute Manager

image

Just read “The One Minute Manager” and enjoyed it. It’s a quick, fun read. It gives advice on how to manage employees in one minute sessions. As you’d expect, it’s somewhat idealized and impractical. No one can really be a “one minute” manager. But the core ideas and insights into human psychology are valuable.