What I read in 2018
13 min read
disclaimer, this list was originally a list of tweets
Wondering what to read this year? Here's a list of the 61 books I read last year with mini reviews. The authors are also worth following.— 👨💻 Perttu Lähteenlahti ⛲️ (@plahteenlahti) January 1, 2019
The Accidental Billionaires: The Founding of Facebook, a Tale of Sex, Money, Genius, and Betrayal by @benmezrich ⭐️⭐️⭐️ Reads more like a fiction book, but is still a decent look at the founding of Facebook. If you’ve seen The Social Network movie, you might not get much out of this.
Venture Deals by @bfeld ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐⭐ Perhaps the best guide on how venture funding works and you should approach it if you’re an entrepreneur. Helps you understand stuff like term sheets, convertible loans, and dilution. 5/5 will read again.
Norse Mythology by @neilhimself ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐⭐ Greek mythology used to be the thing I loved to read about, but after reading this books I’m definitely more in love with Norse mythology and the crazy stories about Loki, Thor, and Odin. Like reading campfire stories.
Enkeleitä ja yksisarvisia – Startup-Suomen tarina by Tuomas Vimma ⭐️⭐️⭐️ Wouldn’t call it a good book, but it’s the only one there is about the birth of the Finnish startup ecosystem. Pair this with Kutsuvat sitä pöhinäksi.
Vox by @CVDalcher ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Set in an alternate future where women can only speak 100 words a day. The cognitive scientist & scifi lover in me loved this book.
How Not to Be Wrong: The Hidden Maths of Everyday Life by @JSEllenberg⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Awesome book explaining the mathematics and statistics behind our everyday thinking, for example in what case you should take part in a lottery.
Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Former atheist writes about his understanding about Christianity. Worth reading even if you’ re not a religious person, just to understand Christianity a little better
It Doesn’t Have to Be Crazy at Work by @jasonfried ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ One of the most valuable books I’ve read this year. Strategic guide to building ‘the calm company’, an approach that reduces chaos, anxiety and stress at your workplace.
Netflixed: The Epic Battle for America’s Eyeballs by @ginamkeating ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Captivating book on how Netflix was founded. Surprisingly my favorite parts were the once focusing on Blockbuster and its rivalry with Netflix.
Lab Rats: How Silicon Valley Made Work Miserable for the Rest of Us by @realdanlyons ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐⭐ Last year I read Disrupted, which changed the way I looked at SV startups. Lab rats did the same and changed the way I think about lean startup, agile, and the modern way of working.
I Hate the Internet by Jarett Kobek ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Feels almost like reading a novel about Silicon Valley written by Kurt Vonnegut. Loved this book for its endless one-liners and how it shows no mercy for silicon valley.
Lost and Founder: The Mostly Awful, Sometimes Awesome Truth about Building a Tech Startup by @randfish ⭐⭐️⭐️⭐⭐ The best book I’ve read this year, hands down. This book should read by everyone working on a startup or thinking about founding/joining one.
Paranoid Optimist by @rsiilasmaa ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Probably the best depiction of why Nokia lost the mobile phone war, and how it was able to redeem itself after it. Also an excellent look at how a well functioning board should work.
Blackfish City by @sentencebender ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ One of kind scifi novel with Orcamancers and floating cities. Starts slowly, but picks up speed after and in the end I was hoping it would have lasted a little longer. Also the best looking book cover ever.
Springfield Confidential: Jokes, Secrets, and Outright Lies from a Lifetime Writing for The Simpsons by @MikeReissWriter ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Not a huge Simpsons fan, yet enjoyed this book a lot. Really good (and sarcastic) look at how Simpsons is made, but also how comedy writing works.
Brotopia: Breaking Up the Boys’ Club of Silicon Valley by @emilychangtv ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Book that should be read by everyone working in tech, to understand why it consists of mostly white males, how it got that way, and what should be done to fix it.
The Launch Pad: Inside Y Combinator, Silicon Valley’s Most Exclusive School for Startups by Randall E. Stross ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Read this while I was applying to @Ycombinator and it was a really eye-opening on how the most prestigious accelerator in the world works.
Crush It!: Why Now Is the Time to Cash In on Your Passion by @garyvee ⭐️⭐️⭐️ I’ve never really understood the hype surrounding Gary Vaynerchuk or the so called struggle porn. However, this book did have its moments and did help me understand what @garyvee talks about better.
Rework by @jasonfried & @dhh ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐⭐ A book every founder should read at some point, just to understand that workaholism and long hours are not a sign of a good company nor a founder. You can read this book in an afternoon.
Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things by @TheBloggess ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐ I actually picked up this book just because of its cover (you have to see it), but ended up loving everything in it. Humoristic take on subjects such as mental illness, depression, and anxiety.
The Innovator’s Dilemma: The Revolutionary Book that Will Change the Way You Do Business by @claychristensen ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ If you want to understand innovation & disruption and how underdog startups can win against older, bigger, and often better companies read this book.
Contagious: Why Things Catch On by @j1berger ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐ Fun book full of ideas on how to things more interesting. Good book if you’re interested in marketing and branding. Pair this with Made to Stick.
Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die by Chip Heath, Dan Heath ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐ Guide to making ideas and things to stick. Changed the way I think about copywriting and pitching. Pair this with Contagious.
Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness by @R_Thaler, @CassSunstein ⭐️⭐️⭐️ If you’ve read Thinking fast and slow, and like behavioral economic, you should read this book. Short book but filled with different cases of nudging.
Open Innovation: The New Imperative for Creating And Profiting from Technology by Henry William Chesbrough ⭐️⭐️⭐️ You should read this if you’re working in a corporation and feel that you’re not innovating enough. You should also read this if you’re a technology startup.
Dear Founder: Letters of Advice for Anyone Who Leads, Manages, or Wants to Start a Business by @maynard ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Most likely the best collection of advice every startup founder needs. Keep it on your desk and consult when you come across problems.
Work for Money, Design for Love by @DavidAirey ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Wish I had come across this book when I started my first business. It has all the answers to starting and running a successful design business.
Traction: A Startup Guide to Getting Customers by @yegg & @jwmares ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ So happy that I came across this book. Filled with advice on how to get that much-needed traction for your startup and framework for implementing and testing different methods for gaining traction.
Solving Product Design Exercises: Questions & Answers by @hvost ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐ Although more oriented towards applying to your first design job, this book also excellent for designing your hiring pipeline so that you hire the best designers for your company.
Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams by @sleepdiplomat⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐⭐ Read this book, it will change your life. Or if it doesn’t do, it will at least change how you look at sleep.
Experience on Demand: What Virtual Reality Is, How It Works, and What It Can Do by Jeremy Bailenson ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐ If you want to understand the capabilities of VR, and how it has been used e.g. to cure phobias read this book. No unnecessary hype, just the facts about VR.
The Culture Code: The Secrets of Highly Successful Groups by @DanielCoyle⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐⭐ A look at some of the best organizations and what makes them so successful. Helpful for understanding your own company’s culture and how to make it better.
Kutsuvat sitä pöhinäksi – Tositarinoita kasvuyrittäjyydestä by @KHelaniemi@annaleenakur @VenlaVakevainen ⭐️⭐️⭐️ Pair this with “Enkeleitä ja yksisarvisia”. Demystifies startup buzz. Wish there had been something like this when I was in high school.
Never Eat Alone: And Other Secrets to Success, One Relationship at a Time by @ferrazzi ⭐️⭐️⭐️ Kinda like Dale Carnegie’s How to make Friends but for business. Concrete steps to getting started in networking and making better connections.
Vicious by @veschwab ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Revenge story with psychopaths and superpowers - what’s not to like?
Steal Like an Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative by @austinkleon ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐⭐ Like an Aspirin for inspiration and motivation, or lack of those. You can finish it in one sitting, but it’s still able to challenge you to be a better designer.
Autonomous by @Annaleen ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐ Hard to explain in a tweet but let’s try. Scifi book about biotech, patents, and artificial intelligence, with a pharmaceutical pirate bringing cheap drugs to poor people.
Ask an Astronaut: My Guide to Life in Space by @astro_timpeake ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Ever wondered how astronauts go to the toilet in space? The answer to this and many other questions can be found in this wonderful book. Super fun to read.
Creative Confidence: Unleashing the Creative Potential Within Us All by @kelleybros⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ A book about how everyone can be creative. Highly informative yet really fun to read. You should definitely read this if you don’t see yourself as a creative person.
Startup Studio Playbook by @aszig ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Wish this book was longer, because the subject is so interesting. I think this is the only book about this subject? Gives a pretty good look at the current startup studios and how they work.
Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup by @JohnCarreyrou⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐⭐ This book is really hard to put down once you start reading it. The story of Theranos and its founder Elisabeth Holmes is so crazy.
Bank 3.0 - Why Banking is No Longer Somewhere You Go, But Something You Do by @BrettKing ⭐️⭐️⭐️ There’s already a version 4.0 out of this book, which is probably more timely. Still a pretty good read, and as a former analyst at a bank, this book had me nodding at several points.
The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon by @BradStone ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐ Captivating story of Amazon and Jeff Bezos. Found this book really valuable because of dives into the culture and ways of working at Amazon.
Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐ Classic self-improvement book. The age of the book shows a little, and the book ends up being a weird combination of both relevant advice and some really funny pseudoscience stuff.
The Intelligent Investor by Benjamin Graham ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐⭐ The classic book on value investing that everyone interested in investing should read just to understand the basis of value investing. Book is better towards the end.
Hacking Growth: How Today’s Fastest-Growing Companies Drive Breakout Success by @SeanEllis ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐ Still pretty much the best book about growth hacking. I think every business owner should read this book at least once, even if they don’t see growth as an important factor.
Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration by Ed Catmull ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐⭐ Really great book about inspiration, Pixar and what makes it different. Really useful book for building a more creativity driven business.
Masters of Doom: How Two Guys Created an Empire and Transformed Pop Culture by @davidkushner ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐⭐ Damn this book was good. Tells a story id Software and the masterminds behind it and games like Quake and Doom. Most likely going to read it again.
The Quick and Easy Way to Effective Speaking by Dale Carnegie ⭐️⭐️⭐️ The title pretty much says it all. Useful book to look at everytime you’re going to do a new type of speaking gig. If you like How to Win Friends and Influence People you will probably find this useful as well.
The View from the Cheap Seats: Selected Nonfiction by @neilhimself ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐ Collection of nonfiction writing by Neil Gaiman. Personal favorites are the ones that talk about libraries. Really useful for structuring your own talks and writings as well.
How to Turn Down a Billion Dollars: The Snapchat Story by Billy Gallagher ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐⭐ Really good for understanding what made Snapchat so successful. Valuable also understanding how Snapchat actually got started and who is actually the original inventor of Snapchat.
The Startup Way: Making Entrepreneurship a Fundamental Discipline of Every Enterprise by @ericries ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐ If Lean Startup is must read for every startup founder, then this a for the people working in large corporations. I would pair this with Open Innovation by Chesbrough.
Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐ This book played a big role in finding my way through some hard times last year. Helped me to understand that you can’t avoid suffering, but you can choose how to deal with it.
The $100 Startup: Reinvent the Way You Make a Living, Do What You Love, and Create a New Future by @chrisguillebeau ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐ Valuable lessons in turning your ideas into a viable business. Lowers barriers to entrepreneurship by focusing on small businesses.
The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America by @exlarson ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐ Tells the story of H.H. Holmes, one of the most terrifying serial killers in America. Read it as a physical book, the audiobook was harder to follow.
The Internet of Money by @aantonop ⭐️⭐️⭐️ A good introduction to why cryptocurrencies that explains what makes this technology so significant to not just finance but also other things.
How to Shoot a Feature Film for Under $10,000: And Not Go To Jail by Bret Stern ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐ Liked the style and subject of this book. The book is quite funny, although slightly bro-ey. The age of the book is starting to show a little.
Flash Boys: A Wall Street Revolt by Michael Lewis ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐ Michael Lewis never let’s down. Great book about high-frequency trading. You would expect a book about stock trading to be boring but this is far from it.
Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything by Steven D. Levitt, Stephen J. Dubner ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐ Even if you don’t like economics you should consider reading this book. If for nothing else, then just for the conversations starters you can get out of it.
Good Strategy/Bad Strategy: The difference and why it matters by Richard P. Rumelt ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐⭐️ Great book about strategy, without all the unnecessary bullshit. Read this book and learn the real meaning of word strategy and also how to use it.