Here’s a log of audiobooks I’ve listened to recently, with some notes.
Sapiens: A Brief History of Human Kind by Yuval Noah Harari
This was a wonderful book. Some of my favorite points:
- Corporations and nations are a collective fiction like religions.
- Money is an uniquely valuable technology because it transcends culture.
- Agriculture and the Neolithic revolution changed humanity in harmful ways, increasing the likelihood of violent conflict and poverty (reminiscent of Ishmael by Daniel Quinn).
- The chapter on happiness and Zen Buddhism gave me galaxy brain.
The Essential Drucker by Peter F Drucker
A wide-ranging collection of insights on business management, many from the early-mid 1900s.
Good to Great by Jim Collins
I read this because it’s popular among Glossier leaders, with frequent references to a ‘flywheel’ and ‘getting the right people on the bus’. I found it quite valuable.
- Humility and egolessness are critical leadership skills.
- You are more likely to get revolutionary results from an evolutionary process than a revolutionary process. I.e. evolving a process is like compound interest.
- Opportunity selection is more critical than opportunity creation.
Inspired by Marty Cagan
I read this b/c an Eng/PM friend recommended it when I confessed a lot of role confusion amongst PMs, Eng Managers, and tech leads. It’s a good primer on what Product Management should be. I particularly appreciated the emphasis on finding reference customers as a symbiotic partnership.
Doughnut Economics by Kate Raworth
A thought-provoking exploration of an economics that doesn’t assume indefinite growth. She argues that systems thinking (stocks and flows) are much more helpful to economics than trying to discover physics-like natural laws and constants.
Algorithms to Live By by Brian Christian and Tom Griffiths
I especially liked applying the multi-armed bandit approach to explore/exploit trade offs in everyday life (like whether to try a new restaurant).
Structure of Scientific Revolutions by Thomas S Kuhn
I re-read this for the first time since college. One point that really stuck out what that work on novel paradigms is often accessible to a non-academic audience. Examples were Newton’s Principia and Darwin’s Origin of Species. In contrast, as a paradigm is well-established, academic work becomes deeply niche and inscrutable without decades of training.
Turns out, the hard sciences are more subjective than we realize.
- His Dark Materials trilogy by Philip Pullman
- The Broken Earth trilogy by N. K. Jemisin
- The Yiddish Policemen’s Union by Michael Chabon
- Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir. Rocky! I liked The Martian and Artemis. This is my favorite of the three. Weir has really found his groove.
- Death’s End (Remembrance of Earth’s Past trilogy) by Cixin Lui