Yanda's Book Recommendations

Context

I like reading books and listening to audiobooks. Friends sometimes ask me for recommendations. If you're among them, or looking for more book content to consume, enjoy. Updated as of November 2022.

Business

  1. Never Split the Difference by Chris Voss. The business book that has been most impactful to my life. I've written extensively about my love for this book, including in a rare Amazon review and a blogpost. If you like the book, check out my negotiation cheat sheet based on its lessons.
  2. Business Adventures by John Brooks. I originally discovered this book on one of Bill Gates' favorite books list. Each chapter is a priceless business parable.
  3. Monetizing Innovation by Madhavan Ramanujam. The bible on pricing anything from cars to SaaS software. If you get a chance, work with Simon Kucher & Partners, the pricing agency where M. Ramanujam is an EVP.
  4. The Challenger Sale by Matthew Dixon. Has hugely influenced how I think about the sales process and the importance of multi-stakeholder conversations.
  5. Hiring for Attitude by Mark Murphy. Recommended by a friend, it has shaped my view on recruiting and inspired our cultural constitution at my last company. A blog post on the process can be found here.
  6. How to Read a Financial Report by John & Tage Tracy. Short and sweet primer on how to make sense of business numbers.
  7. Amp It Up by Frank Slootman. If one of the best performing CEOs of all time writes an instruction manual, it's worth reading it.

Brain, Consciousness & Meditation

  1. Turning Confusion into Clarity by Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche. An instruction manual, with practice meditations, to the most important & fundamental insight of meditation: that the self is an illusion. If you want to go down the rabbit hole...
  2. Waking Up by Sam Harris. The book that started my meditation journey in earnest. If you like it, check out Sam's lovely app with tons of priceless medidation content.
  3. Being You by Anil Seth. A lovely and detailed study on the biological basis of consciousness.
  4. Seven And A Half Lessons About The Brain by Lisa Feldman Barrett. Why and how the brain actually exists and what its purpose is.
  5. Wanting: The Power of Mimetic Desire in Everyday Life by Luke Burgis. An approachable book explaining and expounding on Rene Girard's mimetic theory.
  6. Why We Sleep by Matthew Walker. We spend 1/3 of our lives doing it. Why?
  7. The Joy of Living by Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche. An easy onramp to meditation, with actionable and immediate benefits. Meant to be read as an instruction manual (with practice meditations, etc).
  8. Free Will by Sam Harris. Why it doesn't exist and what it means for humans and humanity.
  9. The Undoing Project by Michael Lewis. The tale of the delightful intellectual romance between Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky.

Physics & The Nature of Reality

  1. The Order of Time by Carlo Rovelli. Beautifully written, it will make you question everything you think you know about time.
  2. Helgoland by Carlo Rovelli. Explaining one of the most perplexing subjects - quantum theory - in a tractable and poetic way.
  3. The Case Against Reality by Donald Hoffman. Our eyes did not evolve to see the truth.
  4. Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman by Richard Feynman. An old classic on the experimental mischievousness needed to explore the weirdness of physics.

History & Geopolitics

  1. The Lessons of History by Will and Ariel Durant. Itself the "cliff notes" to their massive life's work The Complete Story of Civilization, it describes in clear language the patterns of history and how it tends to "repeat itself."
  2. The Years of Lyndon Johnson by Robert Caro. One of the most detailed biographies ever written, it spans 4 books with a 5th on the way. Start with The Path To Power. I learned more about how the US political system works from these books than any other source.
  3. The Power Broker by Robert Caro. A biography of Robert Moses and his incredible ability to amass and wield power.
  4. The Ghost Map by Steven Johnson. The evolution of scientific investigation, city planning, maps, pandemics, and more.
  5. In the Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson. A fascinating look at the start of Nazi rule, through the eyes (and letters) of the American Ambassador to Germany and his family.
  6. The Storm before the Storm by Mike Duncan. The decay that marked the beginning of the end for the roman republic. Since history can repeat itself, worth watching closely for dangerous parallels.

Science Fiction

  1. The Expanse Series by James SA Corey. There are 9 books. Start with Leviathan Wakes. An epic space opera with political intrigue. Think Game of Thrones in space.
  2. The Three-Body Problem Series by Cixin Liu. There are 4 books in the series. Start with the eponymous The Three-Body Problem. The second book in the series, The Dark Forest has a compelling but scary take on the Fermi Paradox.
  3. The Silo Saga Omnibus by Hugh Howey. An originally self-published scifi masterpiece about a post-apocalyptic future where humans live underground.
  4. His Master's Voice by Stanislaw Lem. A scifi classic I first read on recommendation from my dad. This book is a gem about the perplexing nature of alien communication.
  5. The Children of Time book series, by Adrian Tchaikovsky. Two books with a third on the way. Sentient spiders and octopi: need I say more?
  6. Foundation Series by Isaac Asimov. This was my first & favorite scifi as a kid and goes the distance again when re-read in "early middle age." An expansive space opera.
  7. The Singularity series by Charles Stross, my favorite being Accelerando (3rd book). They are loosely related as I recall, so you can read them out of order.
  8. The Lathe of Heaven by Ursula K Le Guin. Scifi even non-scifi fans will enjoy. The power of dreams can reshape the world.

Nonfiction that reads like Fiction

  1. Billion Dollar Whale by Bradley Hope. How a con man stole $5Bn from a sovereign wealth fund and is still on the lam.
  2. Rise and Kill First by Ronen Bergman. The story of the Mossad, Shin Bet, and IDF's targeted assassination programs, and why this strategy, albeit distasteful, should often be preferable to the alternative.
  3. Red Notice by Bill Browder. Incredible story of trying to do business in Russia during the ascent of Putin's reign.
  4. Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts. Loosely an autobiography about an escaped Australian convict who builds a new life in the slums of Bombay.
  5. Born a Crime by Trevor Noah. Told both poignantly and hilariously, Trevor's autobiography about his youth in apartheid South Africa.

Magical Realism

  1. Anything by Gabriel Garcia Marquez but especially One Hundred Years of Solitude
  2. Anything by Haruki Murakami but especially The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle and Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World