My longform reading list for 2021
I quite enjoy long-form reading and I made a resolution to return to it at the start of 2021. While I did not read too many, I learned so much from these books and I hope that they will make for useful recommendations or distractions. Here they are in chronological order.
Certain to Win: The Strategy of John Boyd, Applied to Business - Chet Richards
How might a navy pilot’s strategy and decision framework help you stay ahead of adversaries and competitors in business? Chet explores the possibilities. Could have been shorter.
The Enchiridion - Epictetus
Epictetus suggests practical ways to develop and maintain Stoic sensibilities. A pretty solid foundation in my opinion.
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire - J.K. Rowling
Alchemy: The Surprising Power of Ideas That Don’t Make Sense - Rory Sutherland
Time and again, Rory conjures his unique storytelling abilities to reveal the whimsical nature of our human experience. More stories please, Rory!
A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy - William B. Irvine
William B. Irvine profers a pragmatic guide on how to live a better life today but tapping into ancient Greek and Roman stoicism. One of my favorites.
The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers - Ben Horowitz
Ben Horowitz, while dropping serious bars, reminds us that building a worthwhile business is hard. This is a handbook to carry with you through the best or the worst of times. For the oblivious, it will help you tell these times apart.
Failing To Win: Hard-earned lessons from a purpose-driven startup - Mike Quinn
Mike Quinn shares hard-won lessons from his startup journey with Zoona in Malawi. Poignant and instructive reading for anyone interested in the history of the African startup scene.
Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience - Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
Mihaly investigates how to derive genuine satisfaction from the things we choose to do. We explore how to get in the groove and stay there. Major tip: because you enjoy doing something for no other reason than the act of doing it. One of my favorites.
Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World - David Epstein
David reminds us that diversity of knowledge and experience makes for an optimal life experience. It may even help us thrive despite the specialized needs of modern work. Could have been shorter.
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix - J.K. Rowling
What You Do Is Who You Are: How to Create Your Business Culture - Ben Horowitz
As with anything worth doing, Ben reminds us that setting company culture is about having skin in the game. As a leader, it is not what you say but what you do that defines your culture. The values you embody at critical decision points are the culture you set for your organization. He also quotes the sickest bars in hip hop.