Book Reports

  • Badass: Making Users Awesome by Kathy Sierra

    October 10, 2021

    My rating: 6 / 10

    Overall, this was an interesting read, but I found it hard to apply the lessons to my product. The book contains compelling case studies and ideas from the field of meta-learning, but most of the ideas were either too theoretical or too specific to large companies.

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  • How to Stop Worrying and Start Living by Dale Carnegie

    August 24, 2021

    My rating: 5 / 10

    As a big fan of Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People, I was interested in this book. 70 years after it was published, I still see people recommending it, so I had high hopes.

    Sadly, the book fell short of my expectations. When I read How to Win Friends and Influence People, every chapter felt relevant and useful. In contrast, only about 20% of How to Stop Worrying and Start Living felt useful. Most of the book is personal anecdotes that failed to connect with me and mental exercises that didn’t appeal to me.

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  • The Goal by Eliyahu M. Goldratt

    June 22, 2021

    My rating: 7 / 10

    The Goal is an attempt to reevaluate business management from first principles. The book explains Goldratt’s Theory of Constraints, which states that in any business, the sole determinant of output is the bottleneck resource. To grow, a business has to identify its bottlenecks and reorganize business processes to address them. It sounds simple and perhaps obvious, but the lessons helped me to think about my own business.

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  • Shoe Dog by Phil Knight

    April 3, 2021

    My rating: 6 / 10

    I bought this book hoping for lessons to apply to my business, manufacturing and selling physical products. I didn’t find many business insights, but it was still an engaging and funny story.

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  • How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi

    December 30, 2020

    My rating: 5 / 10

    I had a mixed reaction to this book. Some of Ibram X. Kendi’s ideas felt novel and compelling. It broadened my perspective in thinking about race. And there’s a lot of historical discussion of race and slavery that covered details I don’t remember from school. At the same time, I felt that many of Kendi’s arguments were flimsy and his facts questionable. He cherry-picked statistics and often misrepresented details or got them outright wrong.

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  • Bowling Alone by Robert D. Putnam

    November 14, 2020

    My rating: 3 / 10

    The idea of social capital has interested me for a long time, but when I finally sat down to read this book, it was painfully dry. It offers an eye-opening investigation into the many ways that civic engagement has declined in the US, but it was a real slog to get through.

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  • Traction by Gabriel Weinberg and Justin Mares

    August 23, 2020

    My rating: 5 / 10

    This book was thoroughly underwhelming. Dozens of people have recommended it to me in the past couple of years, and I don’t understand the hype. It has some insightful ideas, but they’re buried under questionable advice and poor writing.

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  • The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey

    August 3, 2020

    My rating: 8 / 10

    Before reading The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, I thought of it as the canonical cliché self-help book. But as the saying goes, clichés become clichés because they’re true. The book’s insightfulness surprised me, and I found many of its ideas useful in my everyday life.

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  • The Making of Prince of Persia by Jordan Mechner

    June 10, 2020

    My rating: 7 / 10

    This book follows the author of the hit 90s computer game Prince of Persia through the game’s development, release, and several years after. The book consists of diary entries that author Jordan Mechner wrote during that time, with margin notes and accompanying photos and sketches Mechner added for publication.

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  • Nonviolent Communication by Marshall B. Rosenberg, Ph.D.

    May 5, 2020

    My rating: 7 / 10

    Nonviolent Communication describes a communication style centered around sharing vulnerability and offering empathy. One of its biggest strengths is in how it highlights common patterns of lazy communication that exclude personal feelings or critical thinking. I also found its discussion of empathy illuminating, as it made me realize ways that I could improve my skills at listening empathetically.

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