One thing to note is that Chris worked with Ryan and has a close relationship with him (Chris actually wrote the trailer for Ryan's book).
And judging from Ryan's usual tactics, Chris wrote this list simply to push Ryan's book, which he cleverly included alongside clear classics like The Lean Startup, In The Plex, and The Innovator's Dilemma.
Edit: Here are some other tactics cleverly used by Chris/Ryan in the post...
1) they mentioned Ryan Holiday in the first couple paragraphs so that the reader would have some familiarity with his name and be even more likely to click through to his book
2) they included Ryan's book early in the list but not as the first, and specifically after at least one book that you probably haven't heard of, but that seems credible
3) they marked The Innovator's Dilemma (arguably the most well known book in the list) as "optional," leading one to perceive that the other books in the list that aren't marked as optional must be even better
Edit: evidence for Chris and Ryan's relationship... https://www.google.com/search?q=chris+johnson+ryan+holiday
Trust Me, I'm Lying just might wind up as a classic itself! OK, I know it's controversial, as is the author, and I get why. But there's some solid stuff in that book. I learned a lot from reading it, and I think there's some actionable advice in there, even if you don't want to go quite as "underhanded" as Holiday may have on occasion.
Note: I have no relationship with Ryan Holiday whatsoever, beyond having purchased and read a copy of his book.
I guess if there's a thread connecting "hacker-ethos" self improvement authors, it's Ryan Holiday. I have quite some respect for him.
I'd just note that being in the personal circles of talented authors is quite different from being a talented author yourself. The book may be good (I haven't read it) - I'm just pointing out that you should be cautious and consider that the hype surrounding the book is artificially inflated.
Though I will say that this list is missing a few good books:
22 Immutable Laws of Marketing
48 Laws of Power
The Fish That Ate the Whale
The Pirate's Dilemma
and I think PG's book of essays is worth reading for any founder as well
I highly recommend reading Trust Me I'm Lying if you're interested in getting any sort of press, especially for blogs. I haven't read a better book on that topic yet.
I also recommend his CreativeLive course which is more thorough.
Also, yes, I realize that bad press is good press and that this controversy will probably drive Ryan even more sales, just by virtue of the fact that more people are talking about his book than would have otherwise. And I don't really care either way, I'd just prefer that people be in the know.
So is this hidden promotion for Holiday, or isn't it? It's not bad if it is, I meant to pick the book up anyways.
The book that continues to be the one that has given me the most practical value is "Start Small, Stay Small":
It is not a "classic" - twenty years from now some of it will look really dated, but right now it has got lots of great advice for someone trying to bootstrap a small business.
One bit of advice from someone who is very much a reader is that sometimes, yes, books can give you good advice, but you've got to take the time to go out and do as well. Lots of stuff you read won't completely make sense until you try and put it in practice.
I publish my own reviews here, although I just mix everything up, so they are not startup specific:
The Fremont one was fascinating - that guy really got around and happened to be in a number of right places at the right times.
IT depends on what you do. I made it for salespeople initially, based on books I'd become familiar with.
How did I hear of him? My copreneur and I were discussing the idea of giving shares to our sole employee as performance incentive. She didn't like the idea from the beginning and googled for "real" reasons. :-) She found John Warrillow. This podcast sobered me up a bit:
Here's my summary of Built to Sell, fwiw:
I am kind of surprised to see Steve Blank's "The Four Steps to the Epiphany" (http://www.amazon.com/Four-Steps-Epiphany-Steve-Blank/dp/098...) omitted. Is that one that everyone mentions, but nobody reads?
This is a great recommendation not just for entrepreneurs, but for anyone wanting to learn what Sarah is about.
I can understand if the argument is that it's so far down the list of priorities that by the time you get to it you'd rather just go to sleep. I get that. But don't say you're too busy to do it, say it isn't enough of a priority.
But, as someone who sometimes reads the types of books recommended on this blog post, I've found they have usually been a worse use of my time than writing code.
So, "I don't have time for ___" could be rephrased as "there are better uses of my time than ___." And I think that's a reasonable point of view in this case.
One of the books was marked optional, though, so there's that.