April 5, 2019

What books are you reading this month?

Callum Harrod @soluxos

Hi everyone, I thought it'd be great to see what books everyone is currently reading, what those books are about, and if you'd recommend it to others.

#books #ask-ih

  1. 5


    I am often "reading" two books at the same time. One audiobook & one on my Kindle.

    I am currently "listening" to Principles from Ray Dalio. The book teaches a lot about the mental models and how to approach complex problems with people, at work or for your personal life. Really interesting, but I am only halfway through.

    The book that I just finished was : American Kingpin the epic Hunt behind the Mastermind behind the Silk Road. (One word. Captivating.)

    On my list this month. The Culture Code by Daniel Coyle. I am extremely interested in that domain.

    1. 2


      Sounds good! I seem to struggle with audiobooks, I don't seem to take in the same information, but everyone's learning is different haha!

      I came across Ray Dalio in a podcast ages ago and he mentioned Principles, it's one I've meant to get round to reading... Definitely pushed up in my list!

      I'd actually be really interested to read American Kingpin, so thanks for the recommendation.

      The Culture Code also looks great. Maybe we can have a chat about this when I post the next what books are you reading post!

      Thanks @ibrakadabra (love the username by the way haha)

      1. 2

        Sure. Let's do that next month!!

    2. 2

      Loved Principles! Even the design of the book is 👌👌. American Kingpin is on my short list of books to start soon too!

  2. 4

    I'm currently reading the The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor which argues that happiness leads to success, not the other way around.

    I recently read The Hard Thing About Hard Things by Ben Horowitz which gives an honest portrayal of starting a high-growth business.

    (So far) would recommend both!

    1. 1

      I haven't read The Happiness Advantage but it looks intriguing, that's for sure! Will add this to my list.

      I've actually got about half way through The Hard Thing About Hard Things and you're right it's great! It's so cool to have some insights into such large companies, really captivating read. So yes everyone, it's definitely worth reading The Hard Thing About Hard Things!

      What are some of your main takings from The Happiness Advantage?

  3. 3

    I onyl read self improvement/business books. Currently reading shoe dog, I Think that I'll read thinking un systems or from Zero to One next.

    1. 2

      Sounds good!

      Shoe Dog is probably one of my favourite books of all time, it's absolutely amazing. It reads like a film, and has some amazing lessons to be learned throughout.

      I can't say I've come across Thinking in systems but it looks pretty unique. I'd love to read more on problem solving though so I'll check it out at some point.

    2. 1

      Shoe dog was a great book, any other recommendations that are similar?

      1. 1

        I Think that any other entrepreneur biography could make it. I have always heard that Steve Jobs biography by Walter Isaacson is a must; it's already in my backlog.

        From my personal experience, I read Elon Musks biography and it is trully amazing. You can't go wrong with it.

        1. 1

          If you are interestey in a story about a crazy genius andthe evolution of the tech industry, Steve's bio a good read. But I found it to be more entertainment than a source of knowledge or excellence.

    3. 1

      Read that book (Shoe Dog) in January. Loved it to pieces

    4. 1

      Also I'm not a massive fan of Zero to One but I think a lot of people have had some great points to take away from the book. I think one of the main points I took away was to just be unique, and stand out from everyone else!

  4. 2

    Make by Pieter Levels and UX team of one by Leah Buley

    1. 1

      Ah Make was great! One of my favourite non-fiction books I must admit, I found it was quite an easy read with loads of great insights!

      UX Team of One sounds right up my street! How're you finding it so far? Is it worth me picking up?

      1. 2

        It's quite practical, especially on how to do research when there is no other designers etc. Still reading but enjoying so far.

        1. 1

          Well I'm the lone designer for my job and my side project so I'm sure it'll be useful. I'll check it out!

  5. 2

    The Design of Everyday Things

    1. 1

      Ah yeah, perfect for the UX enthusiasts! How're you finding it so far? I found it quite dry after a while I must admit...

      1. 1

        The book gave interesting insights; personally I found affordances, signifiers, mapping, mental models very useful.
        Yes, I agree with you. The first half was comparatively richer in content (25 highlights in 1st half vs 3 highlights in 2nd half).

  6. 2

    Whats up Callum! We briefly worked at WeMakeWebsites at the same time!

    I'm currently reading Outliers. It's decent but I had higher hopes

    1. 1

      Hey @AndrewLeonardi! Yeah I remember haha, what a small world eh? Are you still working there?

      Ah really? I've heard good things from some others on Outliers, what parts didn't cut it for you?

      Great to hear from you man :)

  7. 2

    The Uninhabitable Earth by David Wallace-Wells. I'd not only recommend it to others, I'll be forcing it on some friends and family :)

    I've actually been going through it with a highlighter pen, I've never done that with a book before.

    1. 1

      Ooh I saw The Uninhabitable Earth in my local book shop. I'll pick it up when I head there next! :)

      I've started to record my notes a lot more on books. I'm also going to try and summarise the chapters of each book so I can come back to it in the future and rekindle my memory of it.

      What are you going to read next? @blunicorn

      1. 1

        The origins of political order is next up for me :-)

        Summarizing chapters is a nice idea actually, what are your thoughts on services like Blinkist?

        1. 1

          Ah cool! Politics, in general, is one area I keep my distance from haha but enjoy either way :)

          Thanks! I love Blinkist, but I still think there is a place for recording your notes. With your own notes you can take learnings from a book that others might not have. Services link Blinkist takes that level of depth away from you I think.

          If you were to apply the same model as Blinkist to fiction books, yeah you'd be able to take away the overall story and some aspects of it, but it'd miss the key parts that make a book unique to you. That's my take on it at least.

          1. 1

            I agree, I mean one person's 'summary' of a book is never going to provide the same value for each other reader

  8. 2

    I'm into sapiens right now, then I will go with Watchmen.

    Mental Models, that I will have to check, it kind of reminded me of Blink by Malcolm Gladwell

    1. 1

      Ah Sapiens has been in my backlog for so long. I need to get to it. And I'm sure you can't go wrong with Watchmen.

      Oh wow Blink looks great. How was it?

  9. 2

    I'm reading the Secrets of Consulting by Gerald M. Weinberg. Very good book about human behaviors and problem solving. Everybody should read that.

    1. 1

      Hi @MatthieuCneude, would you recommend it as a book for someone not particularly interested in consulting?

      1. 1

        Consulting is about problem solving, for a client. If you're not interested in problem solving, this book is not for you. If you are, you will learn a lot.

        1. 1

          I'm definitely interested in problem solving! Looks like I'll have to give it a go then! Looks like I've got some learning ahead of me!

  10. 2

    I usually read 2-3 books at once.
    Currently, I'm reading "Consuelo" by George Sand (it's rather a historical adventure book than love novel) and "Business storytelling for dummies".
    Just finished "Peace Is Every Step" by Thich Nhat Hanh and "How to Sell Anything to Anyone Anytime" by Dave Kahle.

    1. 1

      I'm guilty of the exact same thing...

      Sounds pretty different haha! How're you finding Consuelo?

      Business for dummies sounds like it's a good guide, any key things you'd care to share?

      Peace Is Every Step is I could do with. I'm really eager to learn more on meditation, a lot of successful entrepreneurs practice meditation, it's got to mean something right!

      How to Sell Anything to Anyone Anytime looks good for B2B stuff. Could probably do with this in my day job.

      Thanks for the post!

      1. 2

        I'm guilty of the exact same thing...
        Why do you feel guilty? I'm proud of it :)))
        Consuelo is fine, just a little bit too many coincidences :)) but as for I love to read about the past, it's interesting.
        "Business storytelling for dummies" would be much better if they would put good examples so I stopped reading it. So, the book actually has a lot of good pieces of advice but the stories they give are just boring or not impressing at all, some of them are really nasty.
        "Peace Is Every Step" is actually not about the meditation. It's about the state of mind and soul, how to be more peaceful and calm than you are now.

        1. 1

          I think it's from the amount of times I will start reading something completely new and fail to see through some books fully haha...

          I see :) well either way it looks pretty different to what I usually read. I suppose reading a book from the past is almost like stepping back in time, so that sounds pretty fun!

          Ah that's a shame, you need captivating stories really or the content just feels dull in those sort of books...

          Ah well that's my bad! But nonetheless, could be useful for me, again it's just an area I've never thought to learn about. So I'll check it out at some point.

          Thanks for the reply, I love to learn what people are reading, it's helpful to get others insights on useful( and fun ) books. Also Caravel looks great, just checked it out!

          1. 2

            a book from the past is almost like stepping back in time, so that sounds pretty fun!
            It's rather a book about the past, not necessarily from. But yes, you are right, it's like to see how people lived ages ago. It's very interesting. I'm a big lover of historical fiction books, science fiction books, memoirs, books about nature, life, people... and I feel very sad seeing that so many people just don't read anything else but business/selfdev books.
            Why do you guys restrict yourself? It's like to live in a big city and don't move out of a small street where you dwell.
            Also Caravel looks great, just checked it out!
            Thanks a lot!
            Btw, I watched your session with Courtland and I totally agree with what he said. I just would like to add that you could use some content marketing to appeal more people to your club. But I also would like to suggest you think first about how books help people. I see a big trend to describe books, to review them but I don't see many articles on real-life cases when books help. It could be a gem.
            Good luck!

            1. 1

              Sorry, that's my fault for not checking when it was written! Either way, history, whether fiction or non-fiction, it's a massive area where I have very little knowledge. I feel the same way to be fair, I desperately wanted a place to discuss non-fiction books with other like-minded people, but never found a great place to do so, hence my side project haha.

              I think more people, in general, need to read. Ideally, my side project will allow me to focus on even more book related project to try and get more readers.

              No problem! I'm trying to learn Python again as I was considering it for my next project or a rebuild. How many users do you have if you don't mind me asking? :)

              Ah, awesome. Yeah, he had loads of advice that will really help me out. Content marketing is going to be a big part of what I do. So I'm planning on releasing content such as summaries of books similar to Blinkist, blog posts on various book-related subjects such as the healthy habit of reading, and also some articles the things people have taken away from a book. Overall I'm hoping to make reading a much more sociable thing, more engaging, and something that provides more value to the readers, so I've got a lot to do. Hopefully, I'll see you on my site! It's been good fun talking with you.

              (Sorry for the wall of text haha)

              1. 1

                Sorry, that's my fault for not checking when it was written!
                That's ok.
                How many users do you have if you don't mind me asking? :)
                It's hard to say because I put the project down almost immediately - I decided I did it wrong and now I'm rebuilding everything with a new concept.
                So I'm planning on releasing content such as summaries of books similar to Blinkist, blog posts on various book-related subjects such as the healthy habit of reading, and also some articles the things people have taken away from a book
                I'm hoping to make reading a much more sociable thing, more engaging,
                Well, this task is not easy at all... you will compete with social networks, computers, smartphones, memes and whatever knows...
                It's been good fun talking with you.
                For me too!
                Good luck!
                P.S. Let me know if you need any help :) book lovers are in the same boat ha :)

                1. 1

                  Funnily enough I did the exact same with Bookerino, I tackled my 'problem' in the complete wrong way. This time around I've thought through a hell of a lot more to try and do it right.

                  I know the task isn't easy, but I'm not in it for being easy haha, I think I can provide a fresh take on things, but we'll see what the future brings!

                  Thanks, and if you ever need any help with more design based stuff, give me a shout! More than happy to lend a helping hand. Just email me if you want to catch up (in my profile).

                  Was really good to meet you @Zencentric :D

                  1. 1

                    Was really good to meet you @Zencentric :D
                    Me too :))

  11. 2

    Finishing up Without Their Permission by Alexis Ohanian, Red Rising by Pierce Brown and a book of essays on double sided markets (will post the title when I get home).

    1. 1

      Oh amazing, is it any good? I'm a huge fan of Reddit, so I'd be eager to hear your thoughts on it.

      Red Rising is probably one of my favourite books, so easy to read, and so epic as the series goes on. Love it.

      And those titles would be awesome!

  12. 2

    I'm reading 'The Power of Moments' by the Heath brothers. Incredible. How companies, teachers, doctors, hotel chains, etc, create incredible moments intentionally for their customers and users.

    1. 1

      Ah I was so close to buying The Power of Moments! What are some of the best things you've personally taken from it so far?

      1. 2

        I love the fact that it works for parents, teachers, entrepreneurs, business owners, employees, among others. It's a great book about creating moments with a purpose in order to boost something. That could be working on some techniques to grow my restaurant's revenue, or putting an employee in a bad spot on purpose in order to allow her to grow by herself within the company and learn by failing. I just love it, go for it! It's short and very easy to read, contains a ton of real stories so it's very catchy.

        1. 1

          That sounds really great! I'm going to have to check it out. I'll let you know how I get on with it! :) Thanks @imgermi

  13. 2

    I just wanna say I love these threads. I recently finished The Tipping Point. I cant say it was my favourite but I recently switched to audio books on my commute to work and my mind is usually racing with other thoughts compared to sitting down at night and reading a book (so my attention span may be to blame there). some useful nuggets of information in there though and interesting insights into how things become epidemics

    1. 1

      These threads love you too haha.

      The Tipping Point is in my backlog. I'll get to it eventually! What are some of the books that you have enjoyed, that you think are worth reading?

      1. 2

        Hooked is for sure one of my favourite books. It talks about a 4 stage process (triggers, actions, variable reward and investment) of how users get "hooked" on a product, using lots examples from social media sites. Would absolutely recommend to anyone that wants to be product or UX focussed.

        Made to Stick, Contagious and Think and grow Rich are all great too. The latter re-affirmed my belief that if you truly believe you will be successful in a goal, you will sub-consciously make changes to your behaviour and put systems in place to drive you towards that goal.

        1. 1

          Ooh! I've actually read like half of Hooked I just got swept up in the Kingkiller Chronicles at the time... I'll have to finish it soon...

          I actually own Think and Grow Rich, will definitely have to read it after your reaffirmed beliefs haha, I think I've found the more I've tried to have that mindset in general, the more opportunities I've had. So it sounds like it will be a useful read.

          Made to Stick sounds perfect with my current project in mind, and the same goes for Contagious. Thanks for the recommendations, look forward to hearing what you're reading next month!

  14. 2

    Currently reading: The Messy Middle: Finding Your Way Through the Hardest and Most Crucial Part of Any Bold Venture

    I'm about 1/2 way through. Great read but broken up into stages and concepts with good stories to prove them... like essays... but in the style it's taken me a long time to read since you can easily put it down

    The backlog:

    • Blue Ocean Strategy
    • Multipliers - How The Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter
    1. 2

      So you are essentially stuck... In the messy middle of the messy middle? 😛

      1. 1

        That's an understatement! Def in more ways than one! Lol

    2. 1

      The Messy Middle sounds great. I'm looking to release my book club site on the 15th, and I can imagine I'm going to need to release this to stay sane! Thanks for the recommendation! Any key learnings you'd care to share on the book?

      Blue Ocean Strategy looks cool, added to my backlog too.
      Multipliers Sounds like it's a must read.

      Thanks for sharing!

  15. 2

    I am reading 'Peak Performance' which goes into the psychology and biology behind growth, improvement and productivity. It's based on best practices from top athletes, artists, creatives and inventors which are then backed by research and science. It's written in a capturing way, and even though I find it cliche to use sport athletes as an analogy for being productive and creative, there are some interesting pieces in there regarding rest, sleep and conditioning your body into doing great work.

    Before this read Company of One by @pjrvs which I really enjoyed from start to end. Helped me put some big decisions in perspective (downscaling headcount at my startup, stopping our ad-spend and sales efforts) and is generally motivating and relaxing to read. Highly recommend.

    1. 1

      Peak Performance sounds pretty interesting. I'm pretty terrible myself with rest, sleep, and general healthy living, so I could probably learn a lot from the book.

      Company of One has been on my radar. I'm on Paul Jarvis' mailing list, so I've seen it about. I'll pick this one up soon. What are some of your main takeaways from the book?

      1. 2

        You should read the book, so I'm not going to spoil too much; but generally the book is great and creating the notion of being mindful about what you want in your business. Do you want to grow/hire/scale just because that's 'normal' or is there a point where your business is 'enough', and if that's the case, what should you focus on?

        1. 1

          Oh I definitely will be. Okay great, I must admit I don't want to just grow/hire/scale forever, at a point I want to focus on happiness and fulfilment, so it looks like I'll have to read soon! Thanks Robert, really appreciate it.

  16. 2

    Just finished "Drop City". It's a novel about the 1970's back-to-the-land movement. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/24724.Drop_City

    I think it has implications and insights for the current state of the community.

    Waiting till April 7th for the Farnam Street Mental Models book to come out.

    1. 1

      So would you recommend Drop City? Sounds very different to the kind of books I read (Generally non-fiction, fantasy or sci-fi).

      And Mental Models looks great! Can't believe I haven't heard of it yet! Definitely added to my list.

      1. 2

        Yeah I think so, although I'd recommend any reading on the 70's hippie movement.

        It was basically a reaction to consumerism and technology. Idealistic young people attempted to start new lives for themselves in the country, living off the land. Simple, independent, wholesome lives.

        You can easily draw parallels between that time and the current time. Where people are frustrated with technology, politicians, and the state of the environment.

        Basically, what can we learn from the radical, intentional community movements? How did they fail? What did they get right?

        1. 1

          Okay great.

          I must admit I'm highly interested in 'Simple living', so it sounds like I'd actually get some real insights into that way of thinking. I daydream a lot about having a cabin in the middle of nowhere and living off the land so to speak.

          Sounds really interesting. Looks like I should open my mind to some of these more hippie movement books.

          Thanks for the recommendation, really appreciate it!

  17. 2

    I just started on Buzzing Communities. It's a book about building successful online communities. Hopefully I learn something!

    I plan to start Selfie soon. My brother recommended it to me. He said it had some big concepts that have dominated his thinking as of late, and I love books that affect my worldview, so that shot it close to the top of my list.

    The Innovator's Dilemma and The Innovator's Solution. I probably won't get to these this month, but they're classics. And after Jason Cohen recommended them in the latest podcast episode, I decided I should finally read them.

    1. 1

      Buzzing communities looks great, another one I'm going to have to pick up and put into practice! Would love to hear any of your key findings once you've read it!

      Selfie looks very deep and covers a lot of the psychology of using social media. I think social media is a very untested area, especially with personal development of younger minds, so I'd love to learn a bit more. Added this to the reading list.

      The Innovator's Dilemma looks more like a book to read if I manage to scale what I'm doing haha, so might hold off on this. The Innovator's Solution looks like it could be really useful for growth, so I'll pick this up soon for sure.

  18. 2

    Shameless plug, but since we are in the process of finalizing it, I'm technically re-reading the newest version of my book on Technical Blogging (https://pragprog.com/book/actb2/technical-blogging-second-edition). :)

    1. 1

      Hi Antonio, the book looks absolutely great, and probably something that'd help me out too!

      What have been some of the hardest parts of writing a book if you don't mind me asking?

      I'll definitely be picking it up, sounds like it'd be good for me (just waiting for payday).

      Would you be willing to join a book club discussion on your book once it's fully released?

      1. 2

        Thank you, Callum.

        I'd say that the two hardest parts are time management and avoiding information overload for the reader.

        Finding the time to really focus and crank out a lot of writing is a common challenge and that's part of the reason why I even included a chapter on that topic in this new edition.

        As far as organizing the information, my goal was to provide as much value as possible by giving actionable advice. Unfortunately, it's very easy to start trying to include everything but the kitchen sink. Even topics that can be safely ignored by 99.99% of readers. So I had to keep my tendency in check to avoid overwhelming the reader.

        In a way, this second edition was more challenging than the first, for refactoring reasons all software developers are familiar with.

        I'd be more than happy to participate in a book club discussion. :)

        1. 1

          No problem, thanks for the reply!

          I can imagine that both of those are difficult, I find similar difficulties when dealing with design work.

          It sounds like your chapter on time management would be really useful haha.

          With the information I imagine you could almost go on endlessly. I was actually listening to a podcast/video with Tim Ferriss and one of his books (I think the 4 hour work week) he ended up writing around 1300~ pages but had to cut it down and keep refining it until it because the useful book that it is today. So like you say, it's making sure it's not overwhelming to the user but still packs value in every corner.

          It sounds like a massive amount of thought went into the 2nd edition of your book, so I'm sure it'll be appreciated by old readers and new!

          And that's amazing, is it alright to contact you via email when I can feature you on the book club?

          1. 2

            Yes, please feel free to contact me by email.

            1. 1

              Thanks Antonio, I will do.

    2. 1

      Hi Antonio,

      I enjoyed the first version of your book, and I was following your blog for a while. Then I remember reading about your blog post about the fire.

      Glad to see you are now back on your feet and you have started writing on the blog again.

      1. 1

        Thank you very much, Aravind. As soon as the book is wrapped up, I'll really get back into full gear.

  19. 2

    The War on Normal People - Andrew Yang (2020 US presidential candidate)

    1. 1

      Awesome, looks really good. Can't say I really know much about American politics being English, but it looks like a worth read to try and understand what the future of politics should and could be.

      How have you found the book so far?

  20. 1

    I am currently reading:

    • Traction by Gabriel Weinberg, and Justin Mares.

    It's a guide on getting customers or users for your startup, and takes a look at the different channels you can focus on to find those customers and users.

    I would thoroughly recommend it so far, it has already given me a lot of insight into ways I can try and get my first users.

    1. 2

      I read this book, it left the impression that many pieces of advice are pretty useless because they are for rather established or well-founded companies but not for bootstrapped ones.

      1. 1

        It definitely is aimed towards more established companies, however I still think the traction channels are a good basis, and when combining that with their 'Bullseye' method, I've found it really useful for looking at initial marketing of my site!

        Any books on similar topics you'd recommend?

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