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There are some books I keep coming back to when I am "feeling lost and/or hopeless", when my "back is up against the wall and/or feel cornered", when I feel like I have "hit rock bottom" or I just need to "escape reality"... This list contains books I have read/listened to more than a couple times:

!For inspiration:! 1. Loosing my virginity (Richard Branson) - Richard Branson's Autobiography. From student magazine to Virgin to crazy ballooning adventures and space! I keep coming back to this when I feel like I need a morale boost. There isn't an audible version for this book, but there is a summary-type version on Audible "Screw it, Let's do it"- does a good job curating the exciting parts.

  2. The Everything Store (Brad Stone) 
-AMAZON and the man leading the massive team behind it. Jeff Bezos is quite easily one of the most important and influential people in the world. His relentless pursuit to build Amazon (& it's various products) amid constant setbacks, losses and naysayers... I personally use Amazon and their products every day. It's a really interesting view of how things are run backstage.

  3. Steve Jobs (Walter Isaacson) 
- One of the most popular books in the Valley. Almost all startup founders I have met has read this. They usually have a very polarized view of Jobs after reading this. Take the good stuff and leave out the bad/crazy. Jobs was a very polarizing person and so is his biography...This is a very long book. "The second Coming of Steve Jobs" by Alan Deutschman is another really good book and a much shorter read and not super-polarizing (leaves out some of the crazy stuff from early life). Other notable Steve Jobs books I have read & highly recommend: Becoming Steve Jobs & The Steve Jobs Way.

  4. Elon Musk (Ashlee Vance) 
-Another polarizing book. I am a Spacex & Tesla Fan-boy. I picked this up in 2015 the day it was launched! I have read this at least half a dozen times by now. Hard-work, perseverance and creativity to the max. A must read for every entrepreneur.

  5. iWoz (Steve Wozniak) 
-If you are a technical-founder, this is a must read! Gives a very interesting view of- behind the scenes at Apple during its inception and early years. I was really moved by how humble Woz was/is and I am inspired by his problem solving approach.

  6. How Google Works (Eric Schmidt, Alan Eagle & Jonathan Rosenberg) 
- A very good book to read after/before this: "In the Plex" by Steven Levy. Hands down the two most important / influential books while you are starting something new. I read these while I was contemplating conceiving my startup and giving up the "safety" (illusion of safety) of a "normal-job". A must read for anyone planing to start a company and want to take it to the stratosphere (or higher)!

  7. Dreams from My Father (Barack Obama) 
- Another polarizing personality. A short but powerful memoir by Obama. This gives a unique insight into Obama's thought processes. Most people can relate to this and every "Leader" must read this. It really helps clear some of the fog on- what makes an effective leader.

!Business & Management:!

  1. The Upstarts (Brad Stone) 
-An amazing story about AirBnB and Uber. Culture is key and culture is defined by the Founders and the first few hires. The two companies are extremely similar in many ways (timing, shared economy, disruptive) but radically different in the way they are run. This came out earlier this year and is probably one of the best "startup-books" of 2017!

  2. Zero to One (Peter Thiel)
-A very short book, a must read for every entrepreneur. Dives into "first principal" thinking & execution. A very good read after/before "Elon Musk" the biography by Ashlee Vance.

  3. The power of Habit (Charles Duhigg)
-I have always wondered how successful people get so much done. They have the same amount of time as everyone else, but they are able to get so much more done...how? This book answered that question. Ever since, I have been using "Habits" as my ultimate personal tool. Day & night difference when you figure out how habits are formed how they are broken and how you can influence the process. A good companion book (from the same author) "Smarter Faster Better".

  4. How to win friends & Influence people (Dale Carnegi)
- I bought this book freshman year in college. I tried reading it then and gave up / got bored after the first few pages. I really wish I had actually made an effort to read the whole thing. It sat on my shelf collecting dust. Luckily I picked up the book again and gave it another shot. I read this during a particularly "rough-patch" at our startup- really helped me cope with the "situation". What was once a boring book is now scribbled with notes, bookmarks and highlights. A very useful life-guide.

  5. How to win at the Sport of Business (Mark Cuban)
- A very entertaining yet eye-opening book. It is very short, finished it in a couple hours. A must read for every entrepreneur. I keep coming back to this when I feel like things are going dreadfully slow and I need a boost. If you follow Mark Cuban's blog, skip this. It is mostly a summary of his blog posts.

  6. Finding the next Steve Jobs (Nolan Bushnell)
- Finding good talent and retaining it is probably the single most important thing you will do as startup founders (especially if you are the CEO). Many things in this book seem obvious (if you are familiar with the Silicon-valley culture). A good read before you set out to hire your dream team of "rockstars". A good companion book: "Outliers" By Malcom Gladwell.

  7. The hard thing about hard things (Ben Horowitz)
-Are you in a startup? If the answer is YES, then read this NOW. Ties well with "Finding the next Steve Jobs". I wish I had read this before I started my company. I have lost track of how many times I have listened to this audio-book.

  8. Start with the Why (Simon Sinek) 
- Mid-late 2013 I came across Simon Sinek's ted talks on the golden-circle and my mind was blown. I bought the book the very next day and I keep coming back to my notes whenever we are starting a new project. Get the "Why?" right and the product will define itself. This is true for building companies as it is for building great products. A must read for every entrepreneur.

  9. Art of the Start (Guy Kawasaki)
-Getting ready to pitch? read this! Also watch Guy's many presentations/talks on YouTube. A good companion book- "Pitch Anything" By Oren Klaff

!Escaping Reality! 1. Hatching Twitter (Nick Bilton) -Sooooo much drama! Definitely learnt what not to do! Very interesting read.

  2. The accidental Billionaires (Ben Mezrcih) 
-I have heard that not everything in this book is "completely-true" (more distorted than others...) but still a great read!

  3. The Martian (Andy Weir)
- Hands down the best science fiction book I have read. I have lost count how many times I have listened to the audio-book (probably >15). I want to go to MARS!

  4. Harry Potter Series. 
-My go-to "background noise". I read the books as a kid. I use the audio-books to tune out the world when working on stuff that does not require my full attention (Listening Goblet of Fire as I type this)...

  5. Jurassic Park || The Lost world (Michael Crichton)
- Read the books as a kid. I usually listen to it while I am traveling. Still gets me as excited as it did when I first read the book. (The movies are nothing compared to the book...)

  6. Ender's Game (Orson Scott Card) 
- I am looking forward to reading the entire series. Read it once, listened to it many times (lost count). I love Space!

  7. Ready Player One (Ernest Cline)
-I picked this book up while I was working on a VR project back in 2014. An excellent book for re-reads and a nice place to get some inspiration.

!Other honorable mentions:! Actionable Gamification (Yu-Kai Chou) I invented the Modern Age (Richard Snow) Inside the tornado (Geoffrey Moore) Jony Ive (Leander Kahney) Sprint (Jake Knapp) The lean startup (Eric Ries) The selfish Gene (Richard Dawkins) Titan (Ron Chernow) The inevitable (Kevin Kelly) The Innovators (Walter Isaacson) Scrum (Jeff Sutherland)

!Most if not all have an audio-book version!

If you are in a startup or plan to start one soon, reading/listening to books should become a routine. I try to get through at least one book a week, sometimes two.

Good luck!




Don't bother with the rest of the Ender Quartet. While they're not terrible, they don't hold a candle to Ender's Game. There's just better uses of your time (like any other book on this page).


Thank you for this awesome comment :-) I'm gonna pick up some of these!


Thanks! Your summaries are really helpful.




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