Book Reports

  • Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell

    December 16, 2019

    My rating: 5 / 10

    Like all Gladwell books, Outliers does an excellent job of building an engaging narrative out of topics that the average person might otherwise find inaccessible. His exploration into the causes of airline crashes was especially fascinating.

    While it provides a nice collection of interesting stories, I didn’t feel like Outliers delivered on any meaningful overarching point.

    Full review
  • The Mom Test by Rob Fitzpatrick

    August 1, 2019

    My rating: 7 / 10

    A quick, practical guide to interviewing customers during the early stages of a new product idea.

    I expected basic advice about how you shouldn’t ask customers leading questions, but Fitzpatrick goes much more in-depth. The book made me recognize weaknesses in my approach to interviewing users and provided interesting perspectives about obtaining unbiased, actionable feedback from customers.

    Full review
  • Chaos Monkeys by Antonio García Martínez

    May 30, 2019

    My rating: 6 / 10

    An insider’s story about Facebook in the years leading up to its IPO. It’s surprisingly candid — it names names and exposes internal Facebook discussions that were never meant to be public.

    An engaging read, but the narrator is painfully obnoxious.

    Full review
  • Start Small, Stay Small by Rob Walling

    November 15, 2018

    My rating: 6 / 10

    I wish that I had found this book nine years ago. It taught me a great deal about choosing the right product to build and the advantages of targeting small niches. The author makes compelling points about the importance of marketing and small founders' common pitfall of treating it as an afterthought.

    Unfortunately, much of the content aged poorly. Published in 2010, Walling intentionally kept the book pragmatic, recommending specific tools and strategies that were popular at the time. Reading it in 2019, many of the services he recommends are either irrelevant or dead. It would be nice to see an updated edition, which Walling has suggested is a possibility.

    Full review
  • Fooled by Randomness by Nassim Nicholas Taleb

    September 4, 2018

    My rating: 5 / 10

    The book contains many interesting examples of common biases and logical fallacies, but it’s buried in a lot of bluster and fluff about how smart the author is. While it was likely groundbreaking when it was published in 2004, its ideas have since permeated into the mainstream. Reading it in 2018, the ideas feel neither novel nor original. Thinking Fast and Slow covers the same material with more depth and better writing.

    Full review
  • Deep Work by Cal Newport

    August 26, 2018

    My rating: 9 / 10

    This was my favorite book of 2018. It profoundly impacted the way I approach my work and organize my time. After reading it, I find it easier to maintain concentration and to prioritize important tasks. It was also the final push I needed to un-addict myself from social media.

    Full review
  • Happy City by Charles Montgomery

    August 6, 2018

    My rating: 8 / 10

    Given how much urban design affects our lives, it’s surprising how little we think about and participate in it. This book was eye-opening in terms of the way I look at cities and how its inhabitants interact with them.

    I took for granted the idea that cities should be friendly to car-travel, but the book highlights many ways in which a focus on car-friendliness makes cities worse overall. It was interesting to see examples of how cities can flourish when they prioritize the needs of pedestrians, bicyclists, and public transit.

    Full review