Non-Fiction

Getting down to the real world. Some psychology, some economics, some anthropology, and lots of business books.

Barking up the Wrong Tree by Eric Barker

Barking up the Wrong Tree audiobook cover

What’s great about this book is that the author examines both sides of common perceptions (often misconceptions) about success. He takes them to their logical extreme, digs in and finds research to most refute both sides of the extreme, and often ends up recommending something right in the middle. However, there were a few good take-aways from the book, including one piece that I’m continuing to work on in my daily life: self-compassion. It’s a good book and is worth a read, even if it’s not totally mind-blowing. 

Genre: Non-Fiction, Self Improvement

Black Swan, The by Nassim Nicholas Taleb

Black Swan audiobook cover

The point of the book is well worth knowing and understanding, though I think you could get the point with a very well made 10 minute video.

Genre: Business, Non-Fiction

Blink by Malcolm Gladwell

Blink audiobook cover

I’m writing this review six years and one month after buying this audiobook—I started this project of reviewing my Audible library at Thanksgiving 2018, and I’m writing this review at Christmas 2018—and at that distance, I recall liking this book quite a bit, but not much else. The stories in the publisher’s summary, below, ring a bell. What I do remember is that this book got me started on a string of other about thinking, decision making, and applying those insights to daily life. I may go back and re-read this as a refresher and come back to review it again. In the meantime, I recall it was a good Gladwell book.

Genre: Non-Fiction, Psychology

Confessions of an Economic Hitman by John Perkins

Confessions of an Economic Hit Man book cover

The recent history of America is fascinating, and this book will provide an interesting perspective on how USA waged economic war in the cold war era, and beyond. 

Genre: Bios & Memoirs, Non-Fiction

Do More Faster by Brad Feld, David Cohen

Do More Faster audiobook cover

Once upon a time, the idea of a startup accelerator was new, uncommon, even unique. YC and Techstars were the originators of this model. I moved to Boulder to be part of the tech startup world here, led by Techstars, and this was the bible. Filled with short stories told by the founders, this was a great read—one I read multiple times. It’s been a few years, so I don’t know how it stands up after nearly seven years. 

Genre: Business, Non-Fiction, Startups

Eisenhower in War and Peace by Jean Edward Smith

Eisenhower in War and Peace audiobook cover

I’m not super into biographies, but I really wanted to read about great leaders, and heard good things about this book. I enjoyed learning out Eisenhower, but when it got into his presidency it started to drag for me. I finished it and am glad I read it, but decided that I’m just not that into biographies. 

Genre: Bios & Memoirs, Non-Fiction

Escape from Cubicle Nation by Pamela Slim

Escape from Cubicle Nation audiobook cover

I don’t remember anything about this book. To be fair, I’m writing this review in November of 2018, over nine years from when I read it. But some books stick with you for the impact they make on you, no matter how long it’s been. And some fade in memory. This is the latter. 

Genre: Non-Fiction, Self Improvement

Freakonomics [Revised Edition] by Stephen J. Dubner, Steven D. Levitt

Freakonomics book cover

This is a great, easy read with some mind-bending research and conclusions. I highly recommend picking this book up for a fun read—and that’s not something you’d like anyone would ever say about an economics book.

Genre: Economics, Non-Fiction

Long Tail, The by Chris Anderson

The Long Tail audiobook cover

Reading this in 2006 when it came out or even in 2009 when I picked it up, it felt like the inevitable future of the internet. “Mass Customization” was the trend of the day. I remember being influenced by it and enjoying it. As I write this review in 2018, I think it’s worth revisiting the book to see how well it holds up today—though I don’t think we’ve quite fulfilled Anderson’s vision.

Genre: Business, Non-Fiction

Power of Habit, The by Charles Duhigg

The Power of Habit audiobook cover

What’s interesting about this book is that it’s the why behind the how. If you want the “how” then read Hooked. But the “why” these things work, and why we have habits and what we do with or without them and the how they form is fascinating. I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Though it is basically a psychology book, it’s a great read filled with tons of stories. 

Genre: Business, Non-Fiction, Psychology

Reminiscences of a Stock Operator by Edwin Lefevre

Reminiscences of a Stock Operator audiobook cover

I first read this book in 2000 when I was a day-trader. The stories were just as entertaining then as they were when I recently re-read it. And by entertaining, I mean entertaining to a finance nerd. I bought a copy of this book for my dad, who does his own trading, is a self-taught corporate finance guy, and has interest in the stock market. He thought this was terribly boring. I obviously disagree, but I do want to give you the caveat of my glowing recommendation: the stories are about stock and commodities trading from nearly 100 years ago.

I find the stories fascinating and the lessons especially prescient in the crypto markets today. But if you are unsure that you’ll find it interesting, then skip it.  

Genre: Bios & Memoirs, Non-Fiction

Screw It, Let’s Do It by Richard Branson

Screw it lets do it audiobook cover

Richard Branson is one of those guys that everyone wants to be or wants to know. He does cool shit, does it his way, and doesn’t seem to be a dick about it—from the limited I’ve read about him. I was excited to read a book by him. It was fun. It was cool. It had great stories about his origins and the growth of Virgin. I didn’t get much else out of it. 

Genre: Bios & Memoirs, Business, Non-Fiction

Sex at Dawn by Allyson Johnson, Jonathan Davis

Sex at Dawn

This entire book was a retort to another anthropology book, “Anatomy of Love” by Helen Fisher. I had read that book right after college and recalled being blown away by it. Somehow I stumbled across a review of “Sex at Dawn” and how it provided a counterpoint to “Anatomy of Love.” It’s less of a counterpoint and more of a line-by-line nitpick. I concluded that either I’m not as into anthropology as I thought I was, or this book is just terrible. I did’t finish it.

Genre: Anthropology, Non-Fiction

Start with Why by Simon Sinek

Start with Why audiobook cover

An absolute must-read. There are very few non-fiction books I recommend unequivocally, and now that I think about it, this might be the only one that I recommend without preamble or qualification. I consider Start with Why to be baseline reading for anyone, anywhere. In case this wasn’t abundantly clear, you should go read this book now. And if you have read it, go re-read it. I think I’ll do the same.

Genre: Business, Leadership, Non-Fiction
Subjects: Rich's Reco's

The Lean Startup by Eric Ries

The Lean Startup audiobook cover

Reading this for the first time in 2013 felt like reading the secret code for how all businesses will be run in the future. And it is. It’s a must-read for the startup world. It’s such an important piece of the modern business world it’s practically table-stakes. 

Genre: Business, Non-Fiction
Subjects: Rich's Reco's

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck audiobook cover

There were times during this book where I thought I was listening to a self-aggrandizing autobiography, and just as I was judging the author for a pointless diversion, BAM! He’d hit me upside the head with something mind-blowing, earth-shattering, or just laugh-out-loud funny. This book is now on my unequivocal recommendation list. GET IT, READ IT. 

Genre: Non-Fiction, Self Improvement
Subjects: Rich's Reco's

Tipping Point, The by Malcolm Gladwell

Tipping Point audiobook cover

The Tipping Point is research and stories about what happens after you follow the advice in Made to Stick. If you want the how, read the latter. For the “what” read the former. That’s not a criticism, it’s just that I found the book interesting though not containing specific instructions.

Genre: Business, Non-Fiction

Venture Deals by Brad Feld, Jason Mendelson

Venture Deals audiobook cover

Note: this review is for an older edition of the book—they’re on the third edition now.

I don’t offer many conditional reviews, but this review is predicated on the fact that you want to learn more about startup venture financing. It’s a dry subject, and if you’re not into it, or it’s not relevant to you, then skip this book.  However, if you are in the startup world and you want to know about venture capital from the experts, then this is a must. It’s just OK as an audio book, and I got a copy of the print book (print! so old fashioned) to be able to review the parts with math. 

Genre: Business, Non-Fiction, Startups