Wrap up your 2016 with YC's winter reading list

A Christmas reading list as recommended by the high priests of Silicon Valley.
Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance
The Amity Affliction - Pittsburg
The Amity Affliction - Shine on
See your ratings

Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance

by Angela Duckworth

About the book:  In this instant New York Times bestseller, pioneering psychologist Angela Duckworth shows anyone striving to succeed—be it parents, students, educators, athletes, or business people—that the secret to outstanding achievement is not talent but a special blend of passion and persistence she calls “grit.”Drawing on her own powerful story as the daughter of a scientist who frequently noted her lack of “genius,” Duckworth, now a celebrated researcher and professor, describes her early eye-opening stints in teaching, business consulting, and neuroscience, which led to the hypothesis that what really drives success is not “genius” but a unique combination of passion and long-term perseverance. In Grit, she takes readers into the field to visit cadets struggling through their first days at West Point, teachers working in some of the toughest schools, and young finalists in the National Spelling Bee. She also mines fascinating insights from history and shows what can be gleaned from modern experiments in peak performance. Finally, she shares what she’s learned from interviewing dozens of high achievers—from JP Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon to New Yorker cartoon editor Bob Mankoff to Seattle Seahawks Coach Pete Carroll. Among Grit’s most valuable insights: *Why any effort you make ultimately counts twice toward your goal *How grit can be learned, regardless of I.Q. or circumstances *How lifelong interest is triggered *How much of optimal practice is suffering and how much ecstasy *Which is better for your child—a warm embrace or high standards *The magic of the Hard Thing Rule Winningly personal, insightful, and even life-changing, Grit is a book about what goes through your head when you fall down, and how that—not talent or luck—makes all the difference.


Notes:  “It’s the best book I have read on how to discover and build passion as well as perseverance. I love her thesis on why ‘effort counts twice’.”

Talent x Effort = Skill
Skill x Effort = Achievement

–Anu Hariharan

Buy on Amazon Add to your reading list Remove from your reading list
Available on: Asset 1 Asset 1 Asset 1
The Idea Factory: Bell Labs and the Great Age of American Innovation
The Amity Affliction - Pittsburg
The Amity Affliction - Shine on
See your ratings

The Idea Factory: Bell Labs and the Great Age of American Innovation

by Jon Gertner

About the book:  From its beginnings in the 1920s until its demise in the 1980s, Bell Labs-officially, the research and development wing of AT&T-was the biggest, and arguably the best, laboratory for new ideas in the world. From the transistor to the laser, from digital communications to cellular telephony, it's hard to find an aspect of modern life that hasn't been touched by Bell Labs. In The Idea Factory, Jon Gertner traces the origins of some of the twentieth century's most important inventions and delivers a riveting and heretofore untold chapter of American history. At its heart this is a story about the life and work of a small group of brilliant and eccentric men-Mervin Kelly, Bill Shockley, Claude Shannon, John Pierce, and Bill Baker-who spent their careers at Bell Labs. Today, when the drive to invent has become a mantra, Bell Labs offers us a way to enrich our understanding of the challenges and solutions to technological innovation. Here, after all, was where the foundational ideas on the management of innovation were born.


Notes:  “It’s amazing how prolific Bell Labs was — the transistor, information theory, Unix, amongst other creations — but it’s fascinating to understand it as an organization. Researchers at Bell Labs performed basic research that was open-ended in approach, but the problems addressed very much influenced by the problems parent company AT&T faced with deploying and iterating on their products. It’s made me think a lot about the best ways for companies to help guide and catalyze basic research.” –Matt Krisiloff

Buy on Amazon Add to your reading list Remove from your reading list
Available on: Asset 1 Asset 1 Asset 1
Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration
The Amity Affliction - Pittsburg
The Amity Affliction - Shine on
See your ratings

Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration

by Ed Catmull,Amy Wallace

About the book:  NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER | NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY The Huffington Post • Financial Times • Success • Inc. • Library JournalFrom Ed Catmull, co-founder (with Steve Jobs and John Lasseter) of Pixar Animation Studios, the Academy Award–winning studio behind Inside Out and Toy Story, comes an incisive book about creativity in business and leadership—sure to appeal to readers of Daniel Pink, Tom Peters, and Chip and Dan Heath. Fast Company raves that Creativity, Inc. “just might be the most thoughtful management book ever.”Creativity, Inc. is a book for managers who want to lead their employees to new heights, a manual for anyone who strives for originality, and the first-ever, all-access trip into the nerve center of Pixar Animation—into the meetings, postmortems, and “Braintrust” sessions where some of the most successful films in history are made. It is, at heart, a book about how to build a creative culture—but it is also, as Pixar co-founder and president Ed Catmull writes, “an expression of the ideas that I believe make the best in us possible.” For nearly twenty years, Pixar has dominated the world of animation, producing such beloved films as the Toy Story trilogy, Monsters, Inc., Finding Nemo, The Incredibles, Up, WALL-E, and Inside Out, which have gone on to set box-office records and garner thirty Academy Awards. The joyousness of the storytelling, the inventive plots, the emotional authenticity: In some ways, Pixar movies are an object lesson in what creativity really is. Here, in this book, Catmull reveals the ideals and techniques that have made Pixar so widely admired—and so profitable. As a young man, Ed Catmull had a dream: to make the first computer-animated movie. He nurtured that dream as a Ph.D. student at the University of Utah, where many computer science pioneers got their start, and then forged a partnership with George Lucas that led, indirectly, to his founding Pixar with Steve Jobs and John Lasseter in 1986. Nine years later, Toy Story was released, changing animation forever. The essential ingredient in that movie’s success—and in the thirteen movies that followed—was the unique environment that Catmull and his colleagues built at Pixar, based on leadership and management philosophies that protect the creative process and defy convention, such as: • Give a good idea to a mediocre team, and they will screw it up. But give a mediocre idea to a great team, and they will either fix it or come up with something better. • If you don’t strive to uncover what is unseen and understand its nature, you will be ill prepared to lead. • It’s not the manager’s job to prevent risks. It’s the manager’s job to make it safe for others to take them. • The cost of preventing errors is often far greater than the cost of fixing them. • A company’s communication structure should not mirror its organizational structure. Everybody should be able to talk to anybody. Praise for Creativity, Inc.“Over more than thirty years, Ed Catmull has developed methods to root out and destroy the barriers to creativity, to marry creativity to the pursuit of excellence, and, most impressive, to sustain a culture of disciplined creativity during setbacks and success.”—Jim Collins, co-author of Built to Last and author of Good to Great “Too often, we seek to keep the status quo working. This is a book about breaking it.”—Seth Godin


Notes:  “Ed Catmull, the co-founder of Pixar with Steve Jobs and John Lasseter, on how they built a culture of openness, honesty, self-reflection, and risk-taking that protects new ideas and creativity instead of squashing them.” –Aaron Epstein

Buy on Amazon Add to your reading list Remove from your reading list
Available on: Asset 1 Asset 1 Asset 1
The Agony And The Ecstasy
The Amity Affliction - Pittsburg
The Amity Affliction - Shine on
See your ratings

The Agony And The Ecstasy

by Irving Stone

About the book:  Irving Stone's powerful and passionate biographical novel of Michelangelo. His time: the turbulent Renaissance, the years of poisoning princes, warring popes, the all-powerful Medici family, the fanatic monk Savonarola. His loves: the frail and lovely daughter of Lorenzo de Medici; the ardent mistress of Marco Aldovrandi; and his last love - his greatest love - the beautiful, unhappy Vittoria Colonna. His genius: a God-driven fury from which he wrested the greatest art the world has ever known. Michelangelo Buonarotti, creator of David, painter of the Sistine ceiling, architect of the dome of St Peter's, lives once more in the tempestuous, powerful pages of Irving Stone's marvellous book.

Buy on Amazon Add to your reading list Remove from your reading list
Available on: Asset 1 Asset 1 Asset 1
A Guide to the Good Life
The Amity Affliction - Pittsburg
The Amity Affliction - Shine on
See your ratings

A Guide to the Good Life

by William B. Irvine

About the book:  One of the great fears many of us face is that despite all our effort and striving, we will discover at the end that we have wasted our life. In A Guide to the Good Life, William B. Irvine plumbs the wisdom of Stoic philosophy, one of the most popular and successful schools of thought in ancient Rome, and shows how its insight and advice are still remarkably applicable to modern lives. In A Guide to the Good Life, Irvine offers a refreshing presentation of Stoicism, showing how this ancient philosophy can still direct us toward a better life. Using the psychological insights and the practical techniques of the Stoics, Irvine offers a roadmap for anyone seeking to avoid the feelings of chronic dissatisfaction that plague so many of us. Irvine looks at various Stoic techniques for attaining tranquility and shows how to put these techniques to work in our own life. As he does so, he describes his own experiences practicing Stoicism and offers valuable first-hand advice for anyone wishing to live better by following in the footsteps of these ancient philosophers. Readers learn how to minimize worry, how to let go of the past and focus our efforts on the things we can control, and how to deal with insults, grief, old age, and the distracting temptations of fame and fortune. We learn from Marcus Aurelius the importance of prizing only things of true value, and from Epictetus we learn how to be more content with what we have. Finally, A Guide to the Good Life shows readers how to become thoughtful observers of their own lives. If we watch ourselves as we go about our daily business and later reflect on what we saw, we can better identify the sources of distress and eventually avoid that pain in our life. By doing this, the Stoics thought, we can hope to attain a truly joyful life.


Notes:  “A modern exploration of stoic philosophy.” –Finbarr Taylor

Buy on Amazon Add to your reading list Remove from your reading list
Available on: Asset 1 Asset 1 Asset 1
Don Quixote
The Amity Affliction - Pittsburg
The Amity Affliction - Shine on
See your ratings

Don Quixote

by Miguel De Cervantes

About the book: No description available


Notes:  “It’s useful to read about a dreamer who keeps going despite getting repeatedly beaten up.” –Aaron Harris

Buy on Amazon Add to your reading list Remove from your reading list
Available on: Asset 1 Asset 1 Asset 1
Shoe Dog
The Amity Affliction - Pittsburg
The Amity Affliction - Shine on
See your ratings

Shoe Dog

by Phil Knight

About the book:  In this candid and riveting memoir, for the first time ever, Nike founder and board chairman Phil Knight shares the inside story of the company’s early days as an intrepid start-up and its evolution into one of the world’s most iconic, game-changing, and profitable brands. Young, searching, fresh out of business school, Phil Knight borrowed fifty dollars from his father and launched a company with one simple mission: import high-quality, low-cost running shoes from Japan. Selling the shoes from the trunk of his Plymouth Valiant, Knight grossed eight thousand dollars that first year, 1963. Today, Nike’s annual sales top $30 billion. In this age of start-ups, Knight’s Nike is the gold standard, and its swoosh is more than a logo. A symbol of grace and greatness, it’s one of the few icons instantly recognized in every corner of the world. But Knight, the man behind the swoosh, has always been a mystery. Now, in a memoir that’s surprising, humble, unfiltered, funny, and beautifully crafted, he tells his story at last. It all begins with a classic crossroads moment. Twenty-four years old, backpacking through Asia and Europe and Africa, wrestling with life’s Great Questions, Knight decides the unconventional path is the only one for him. Rather than work for a big corporation, he will create something all his own, something new, dynamic, different. Knight details the many terrifying risks he encountered along the way, the crushing setbacks, the ruthless competitors, the countless doubters and haters and hostile bankers—as well as his many thrilling triumphs and narrow escapes. Above all, he recalls the foundational relationships that formed the heart and soul of Nike, with his former track coach, the irascible and charismatic Bill Bowerman, and with his first employees, a ragtag group of misfits and savants who quickly became a band of swoosh-crazed brothers. Together, harnessing the electrifying power of a bold vision and a shared belief in the redemptive, transformative power of sports, they created a brand, and a culture, that changed everything.

Buy on Amazon Add to your reading list Remove from your reading list
Available on: Asset 1 Asset 1 Asset 1
Strangers in Their Own Land
The Amity Affliction - Pittsburg
The Amity Affliction - Shine on
See your ratings

Strangers in Their Own Land

by Arlie Russell Hochschild

About the book:  In "Strangers in Their Own Land," the renowned sociologist Arlie Hochschild embarks on a thought-provoking journey from her liberal hometown of Berkeley, California, deep into Louisiana bayou country a stronghold of the conservative right. As she gets to know people who strongly oppose many of the ideas she famously champions, Hochschild nevertheless finds common ground and quickly warms to the people she meets among them a Tea Party activist whose town has been swallowed by a sinkhole caused by a drilling accident people whose concerns are actually ones that all Americans share: the desire for community, the embrace of family, and hopes for their children. "Strangers in Their Own Land" goes beyond the commonplace liberal idea that these are people who have been duped into voting against their own interests. Instead, Hochschild finds lives ripped apart by stagnant wages, a loss of home, an elusive American dream and political choices and views that make sense in the context of their lives. Hochschild draws on her expert knowledge of the sociology of emotion to help us understand what it "feels" like to live in red America. Along the way she finds answers to one of the crucial questions of contemporary American politics: why do the people who would seem to benefit most from liberal government intervention abhor the very idea? "


Notes:  “A book about conservative America – very helpful for understanding the other half of the country” –Jared Friedman

Buy on Amazon Add to your reading list Remove from your reading list
Available on: Asset 1 Asset 1 Asset 1
The Rent Is Too Damn High
The Amity Affliction - Pittsburg
The Amity Affliction - Shine on
See your ratings

The Rent Is Too Damn High

by Matthew Yglesias

About the book:  From prominent political thinker and widely followed Slate columnist, a polemic on high rents and housing costs—and how these costs are hollowing out communities, thwarting economic development, and rendering personal success and fulfillment increasingly difficult to achieve. Rent is an issue that affects nearly everyone. High rent is a problem for all of us, extending beyond personal financial strain. High rent drags on our country’s overall rate of economic growth, damages the environment, and promotes long commutes, traffic jams, misery, and smog. Yet instead of a serious focus on the issue, America’s cities feature niche conversations about the availability of “affordable housing” for poor people. Yglesias’s book changes the conversation for the first time, presenting newfound context for the issue and real-time, practical solutions for the problem.


Notes:  “Fascinating look at the impact of high housing prices on the rest of the economy” –Jared Friedman

Buy on Amazon Add to your reading list Remove from your reading list
Available on: Asset 1 Asset 1 Asset 1
City of Gold
The Amity Affliction - Pittsburg
The Amity Affliction - Shine on
See your ratings

City of Gold

by Jim Krane

About the book:  Award-winning journalist Jim Krane charts the history of Dubai from its earliest days, considers the influence of the family who has ruled it since the nineteenth century, and looks at the effect of the global economic downturn on a place that many tout as a blueprint for a more stable Middle East The city of Dubai, one of the seven United Arab Emirates, is everything the Arab world isn't: a freewheeling capitalist oasis where the market rules and history is swept aside. Until the credit crunch knocked it flat, Dubai was the fastest-growing city in the world, with a roaring economy that outpaced China's while luring more tourists than all of India. It's one of the world's safest places, a stone's throw from its most dangerous. In City of Gold, Jim Krane, who reported for the AP from Dubai, brings us a boots-on-the-ground look at this fascinating place by walking its streets, talking to its business titans, its prostitutes, and the hard-bitten men who built its fanciful skyline. He delves into the city's history, paints an intimate portrait of the ruling Maktoum family, and ponders where the city is headed. Dubai literally came out of nowhere. It was a poor and dusty village in the 1960s. Now it's been transformed into the quintessential metropolis of the future through the vision of clever sheikhs, Western capitalists, and a river of investor money that poured in from around the globe. What has emerged is a tolerant and cosmopolitan city awash in architectural landmarks, luxury resorts, and Disnified kitsch. It's at once home to America's most prestigious companies and universities and a magnet for the Middle East's intelligentsia. Dubai's dream of capitalism has also created a deeply stratified city that is one of the world's worst polluters. Wild growth has clogged its streets and left its citizens a tiny minority in a sea of foreigners. Jim Krane considers all of this and casts a critical eye on the toll that the global economic downturn has taken. While many think Dubai's glory days have passed, insiders like Jim Krane who got to know the city and its creators firsthand realize there's much more to come in the City of Gold, a place that, in just a few years, has made itself known to nearly every person on earth.


Notes:  “The story of how Dubai got built.” –Jared Friedman

Buy on Amazon Add to your reading list Remove from your reading list
Available on: Asset 1 Asset 1 Asset 1
1