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.
*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.