Month: December 2015

Book A Month 2016: January

With 2016 right around the corner it is time to put together my list of books that I will be reading during this upcoming year. While I don’t know the entire list yet, I do have the first four picked out in no particular order:

How Google Works by Eric Schmidt & Jonathan Rosenberg

Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future by Ashlee Vance

The Consolations of Philosophy by Alain De Botton

When to Rob a Bank: …And 131 More Warped Suggestions and Well-Intended Rants by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner

January

I don’t remember exactly when I heard about Elon Musk first (although I think it was around the time I first watched this) but this past summer I stumbled upon Wait But Why right as Tim Urban started his series on Musk. After reading through those (which I highly recommend you do as well) I became fascinated with Musk’s mission and drive.

There are other books about Elon Musk but this is the only one that the author was authorized to write, which means there are hours and hours of interviews behind it making it the best one available. After reading the first chapter already, I can say that it is worthy of the accolades. Ashlee Vance is very open about the process and has a very relaxed and casual writing style that makes this an engaging and fun read. Before I get too carried away I will get back to reading and let you know how it turns out.

-Adam

Reading a Book a Month: The Innovators

For Christmas last year I received The Innovators by Walter Isaacson. It is almost a year later and I am just about to finish it, which is fairly pathetic. While it is the longest book I will have read so far, it is a bit longer than average at 560 pages, it shouldn’t have taken me this long to read. Couple this with how I have recently added 29 books (and counting) to my reading list and I will never end up reading everything I want to read.

In an effort to remedy this I am going to be reading a book a month starting in 2016. I haven’t decided which books those will be but you can bet your fanny that the ones I end up reading will come from the list I linked above*. To kick things off let me give you a short review of The Innovators.

The Innovators by Walter Isaacson

What is it about?

Starting in the 1800’s and coming up to the first decade of this century, Isaacson describes how we went from Ada Lovelace’s idea of a counting machine, to the founding of Intel, to Ev Williams creating Blogger and everything in between.

What did you like about it?

As someone who is starting out in the tech startup industry, it was refreshing to take some time to understand how we got to where we are. Isaacson does a very good job of dumbing things down such as how silicon transistors work so that I get how they work but he doesn’t go into so much detail that I get bored and put the book down.

He is also a wonderful storyteller. In breaking up each chapter into bite sized chunks I was better able to grasp how the individual parts fit into the larger scheme of things. With each chunk he would take a person or group of people and write a mini biography about them, glue those stories together and by the end of the section I had a very confident grasp on how say AOL came to be. There were also a lot of audible “Oh so that’s how that happened” and other such phrases since I had a basic understanding of how digital history happened after 1950 but The Innovators helped connect the dots.

What did you not like about it?

I have two main complaints with The Innovators but in no way should these stop you from reading it if you have been interested so far.

My first gripe would have to be with how history goes, so it has less to do with Isaacson than it does with my lack of interest in how things worked back in the day. Getting through the first couple chapters was a bit of a struggle since I had to remove my familiarity with a smartphone and think in highly simple terms. The first couple chapters are more about concepts and wooden counting machines than what I would consider technology as a 21st century Millennial.

My other annoyance would be with the second half of the book. The first half felt very put together and fluid as he went from topic to topic. In the second half there are parts here and there that sound like he wrote it before the section or chapter before it. What ends up happening is terms he has already explained are re-explained or he uses different terms to talk about something he was describing earlier in the book.

Considering those are the only two negative factors, I would definitely recommend giving this book a read especially if you are interested in entrepreneurship, computers, coding, etc.

Look forward to a similar post in early January on what book I am going to read next.

-Adam

*I have since discovered that Amazon removes items from my wish lists as I purchase them. Fret not my friend as I have kicked things off a bit early which you can read here. This includes the books excluded from my Amazon list.