Books I listened to in 2019
As always, I have been using Audible and listening to books on 2.5x speed (I’ve slowly trained myself over the past 4 years and now perfectly comfortable in 2-2.5x speed range). I recommend you to train your brain to listen faster too. It helps you stay focused on the book and not to be distracted with your own thoughts and is an interesting mental exercise.
This year I started listening to 23 books, but I stopped 4 of them halfway. If I don’t like a book, I’ll stop listening to it. Below is a list of 19 books I loved and listened to the end.
1) Made in America — Sam Walton and John Huey
Walmart’s founding story, an interesting old book and story. Great way to see how founding and funding was decades ago, similarities, and differences. Don’t very much like his personality, but it was a good business story, similar to Nike’s story, Shoe Dog.
2) Economics in One Lesson — Henry Hazlitt
This 1946 book is a long-read overview of economics in one book. Interestingly, economics concepts from 70 years ago are still very relevant. As is with every book, the author had specific ideas and agenda he was pushing in the book narrative that I don’t necessarily agree with.
3) “Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman!” — Richard Feynman
I can’t believe I had not read this as a former Physics geek. This is a great story, not much actually about Physics, but just a story of life and how Feynman lived. I can’t believe how much how many times he has moved and changed where he lived and the types of hobbies he has had.
4) Becoming — Michelle Obama
This was a beautiful story; emotional at times, sad at times, and educational at other times. Gets you to better feel and live the life in the White House and the long journey Michelle and Barack went through. Proud of her for her achievements and journey.
5) Trillion Dollar Coach — Eric Schmidt, Jonathan Rosenberg, Alan Eagle
Story of Bill Campbell. You would be fascinated by how large of an impact he has had on our Silicon Valley ecosystem and how far reaching his mentees were (anywhere from mentoring Steve Jobs and Google founders to coaching football teams). His main ethos, it’s fine to bring love and empathy for your colleagues in the workplace.
6) Law School for Everyone — Part of “The Great Courses” Series
Super long book, a self learners first year law school course, on everything from corporate to civil and criminal law. It was great to learn about the history and structure of U.S. judicial system
7) I Will Teach You to be Rich — Ramit Sethi
BEST personal finance book you can ever read. What I loved was real, direct, practical advice, plus naming names and providing number calculations, rather than generic high level chat.
8) Secrets of Sand Hill Road — Scott Kupor
A flawless overview of the dynamics between venture capital and startups. Great read for both VCs and founders, history of venture money, incentives, and structures, plus all the legalities of LPAs, term sheets, acquisitions, and boards.
9) Behind the Cloud — Marc Benioff
The story of the early days of Salesforce told in the format of 111 tactics. Impressive how much they had to resist to create the SaaS model as we know it today.
10) Atomic Habits— James Clear
Atomic Habits, easy read of a collection of methods to build new habits. I liked that it gave examples to remember. The main idea is to break any habit to super small steps, it’s more important to repeat a habit every day than fully perform the habit.
11) Priced Out — Uwe Reinhard
Next I read a number of US health policy books, biggest problem in the US in my opinion. First one, Priced Out by Uwe Reinhardt, just shows you how deep the problem is and what types of systems other nations have adopted.
12) An American Sickness— Elisabeth Rosenthal
American Sickness shows how outrageous the “business” of health has become, with great tips for consumers to help solve it. What I loved was examples of real stories from real people.
13) The Code— Margaret O’Mara
Amazing history of silicon valley from 1950s up to now. Interesting how big of a role government and defense has played as well as how tax laws, international competition, and other factors have played a role. Nice overview of earlier days of venture capital too.
14) Super Pumped — The Battle for Uber — Mike Isaac
What an astonishing read. Mike Isaac has written the story of Uber, a fair one, like a novel you cannot stop reading. It’s been a hell of a journey for Uber. Best part, you remember reading about the events happening just few years ago and this book shows the backstage story
15) Medical School for Everyone — The Great Course Series
Very interesting approach on teaching a quick summary of the basics you will learn in med school through a couple dozen case studies. Very engaging and informative. The whole series of TheGreatCourses is a very well done micro education series.
16) The Ride of a Lifetime — Robert Iger
@RobertIger tells a surprisingly open and honest story of his life running Disney. What’s unique is that he started from doing menial labor on TV set (after graduation) and became the CEO of Disney after 30 years. He worked at the same company his entire life (through two acquisitions)
17) What You Do is Who You Are — Ben Horowitz
Latest book from Ben Horowitz, you hear a little bit of his own culture through the book too. A mix of historical stories as well as stories from companies like Netflix, Stripe, etc. It’s not very long, and a lot of goodies are at the end, so make sure to read till the end!
18) The Man Who Solved the Market — Gregory Zuckerman
The story of how Renaissance and quant trading started, life of Jim Simons, and Mercer and Brown. It’s fascinating how fast things change in 30 years and what is norm today, was a big question mark back then.
19) That Will Never Work — Marc Randolph
This is the story of the early days of Netflix. It’s fascinating how Netflix fought the dot com bust and was one of the few startups that survived it. It’s also interesting to hear about how the emerging DVD helped Netflix have a chance to start big.
These were all great books and I am grateful to all of these authors for spending years of their invaluable time and life to write the books. I’ve learned a lot of new things from each of these books.
If I were to pick my favorite books of this year, it will be these:
1) Economics in One Lesson — Very simple way of looking at key economics concepts (which I don’t necessarily agree with all)
2) Super Pumped — Story of how Uber was born and all the wrong and right things they did to win
3) Made in America — Story of how Walmart was born