My 2020 Reading List

Wow, what a year. There’s not much to say that hasn’t been said a million times so I’ll just say this – be kind, be caring, love yourself, love others, and let’s work together to build a better tomorrow.

Alright, on with the list 🤙

In 2020, I read 14 books. I loved all of these books ( I don’t finish ones I don’t like), and I hope you will too. Here they are, in order.

PS – If you want to reach out and say hello, feel free to reach me via Twitter, Instagram, or email meajm@hey.com.


It Doesn’t Have To Be Crazy At Work

By: Jason Friend and David Heinemeier Hansson

Buy at Bookshop.org

Long hours, an excessive workload, and a lack of sleep have become a badge of honor for modern professionals. But it should be a mark of stupidity, the authors argue. Sadly, this isn’t just a problem for large organizations—individuals, contractors, and solopreneurs are burning themselves out the same way. The answer to better productivity isn’t more hours—it’s less waste and fewer things that induce distraction and persistent stress.

It’s time to stop celebrating Crazy, and start celebrating Calm.

The Secrets of Sandhill Road

By: Scott Kupor

Buy on Amazon

If Silicon Valley is the greatest wealth-generating machine in the world, Sand Hill Road is its humming engine. That’s where you’ll find the biggest names in venture capital, including famed VC firm Andreessen Horowitz, where lawyer-turned-entrepreneur-turned-VC Scott Kupor serves as managing partner.

Whether you’re trying to get a new company off the ground or scale an existing business to the next level, you need to understand how VCs think. In Secrets of Sand Hill Road, Kupor explains exactly how VCs decide where and how much to invest, and how entrepreneurs can get the best possible deal and make the most of their relationships with VCs.

ReWork

By: Jason Friend and David Heinemeier Hansson

Buy On Bookshop.org

Most business books give you the same old advice: Write a business plan, study the competition, seek investors, yadda yadda. If you’re looking for a book like that, put this one back on the shelf.Read it and you’ll know why plans are actually harmful, why you don’t need outside investors, and why you’re better off ignoring the competition. The truth is, you need less than you think.

You don’t need to be a workaholic. You don’t need to staff up. You don’t need to waste time on paperwork or meetings. You don’t even need an office. Those are all just excuses.What you really need to do is stop talking and start working.

This book shows you the way. You’ll learn how to be more productive, how to get exposure without breaking the bank, and tons more counterintuitive ideas that will inspire and provoke you.With its straightforward language and easy-is-better approach, Rework is the perfect playbook for anyone who’s ever dreamed of doing it on their own.

Hardcore entrepreneurs, small-business owners, people stuck in day jobs they hate, victims of downsizing, and artists who don’t want to starve anymore will all find valuable guidance in these pages.

What You Do Is Who You Are

By: Ben Horowitz

Buy On Amazon

Ben Horowitz has long been fascinated by history, and particularly by how people behave differently than you’d expect. The time and circumstances in which they were raised often shapes them―yet a few leaders have managed to shape their times. In What You Do Is Who You Are, he turns his attention to a question crucial to every organization: how do you create and sustain the culture you want?

What You Do Is Who You Are is a journey through culture, from ancient to modern. Along the way, it answers a question fundamental to any organization: who are we? How do people talk about us when we’re not around? How do we treat our customers? Are we there for people in a pinch? Can we be trusted?

Permanent Record

By: Edward Snowden

Buy On Bookshop.org

Edward Snowden, the man who risked everything to expose the US government’s system of mass surveillance, reveals for the first time the story of his life, including how he helped to build that system and what motivated him to try to bring it down.

In 2013, twenty-nine-year-old Edward Snowden shocked the world when he broke with the American intelligence establishment and revealed that the United States government was secretly pursuing the means to collect every single phone call, text message, and email. The result would be an unprecedented system of mass surveillance with the ability to pry into the private lives of every person on earth. Six years later, Snowden reveals for the very first time how he helped to build this system and why he was moved to expose it.Spanning the bucolic Beltway suburbs of his childhood and the clandestine CIA and NSA postings of his adulthood, Permanent Record is the extraordinary account of a bright young man who grew up online–a man who became a spy, a whistleblower, and, in exile, the Internet’s conscience. Written with wit, grace, passion, and an unflinching candor, Permanent Record is a crucial memoir of our digital age and destined to be a classic.

Getting Real

By: Jason Friend and David Heinemeier Hansson

Buy On Amazon

Getting Real details the business, design, programming, and marketing principles of 37signals. The book is packed with keep-it-simple insights, contrarian points of view, and unconventional approaches to software design. This is not a technical book or a design tutorial, it’s a book of ideas. Anyone working on a web app — including entrepreneurs, designers, programmers, executives, or marketers — will find value and inspiration in this book. 37signals used the Getting Real process to launch five successful web-based applications (Basecamp, Campfire, Backpack, Writeboard, Ta-da List), and Ruby on Rails, an open-source web application framework, in just two years with no outside funding, no debt, and only 7 people (distributed across 7 time zones). Over 500,000 people around the world use these applications to get things done. Now you can find out how they did it and how you can do it too. It’s not as hard as you think if you Get Real.

This Could Be Our Future

By: Yancey Strickler

Buy On Bookshop.org

A vision for building a society that looks beyond money and toward maximizing the values that make life worth living, from the cofounder of Kickstarter.

Western society is trapped by three assumptions: 1) That the point of life is to maximize your self-interest and wealth, 2) That we’re individuals trapped in an adversarial world, and 3) That this is natural and inevitable. These ideas separate us, keep us powerless, and limit our imagination for the future. It’s time we replace them with something new.

This Could Be Our Future is about how we got here, and how we change course. While the pursuit of wealth has produced innovation and prosperity, it also established an implicit belief that the right choice in every decision is whichever option makes the most money. The answer isn’t to get rid of money; it’s to expand our concept of value. By assigning rational value to other values besides money–things like community, purpose, and sustainability–we can refocus our energies to build a society that’s generous, fair, and ready for the future. By recalibrating our definition of value, a world of scarcity can become a world of abundance.

Hopeful but firmly grounded, full of concrete solutions and bursting with creativity, This Could Be Our Future brilliantly dissects the world we live in and shows us a road map to the world we are capable of making.

Let My People Go Surfing

By: Yvon Chouinard

Buy on Bookshop.org

In this newly revised 10th anniversary edition, Yvon Chouinard–legendary climber, businessman, environmentalist, and founder of Patagonia, Inc.–shares the persistence and courage that have gone into being head of one of the most respected and environmentally responsible companies on earth.

From his youth as the son of a French Canadian handyman to the thrilling, ambitious climbing expeditions that inspired his innovative designs for the sport’s equipment, Let My People Go Surfing is the story of a man who brought doing good and having grand adventures into the heart of his business life-a book that will deeply affect entrepreneurs and outdoor enthusiasts alike.

This is the story of an attempt to do more than change a single corporation–it is an attempt to challenge the culture of consumption that is at the heart of the global ecological crisis.

Company of One

By: Paul Jarvis

Buy On Bookshop.org

Company of One is a refreshingly new approach centered on staying small and avoiding growth, for any size business. Not as a freelancer who only gets paid on a per piece basis, and not as an entrepreneurial start-up that wants to scale as soon as possible, but as a small business that is deliberately committed to staying that way. By staying small, one can have freedom to pursue more meaningful pleasures in life, and avoid the headaches that result from dealing with employees, long meetings, or worrying about expansion. Company of One introduces this unique business strategy and explains how to make it work for you, including how to generate cash flow on an ongoing basis.

Paul Jarvis left the corporate world when he realized that working in a high-pressure, high profile world was not his idea of success. Instead, he now works for himself out of his home on a small, lush island off of Vancouver, and lives a much more rewarding and productive life. He no longer has to contend with an environment that constantly demands more productivity, more output, and more growth.

In Company of One, Jarvis explains how you can find the right pathway to do the same, including planning how to set up your shop, determining your desired revenues, dealing with unexpected crises, keeping your key clients happy, and of course, doing all of this on your own.

Essentialism

By: Greg McKeown

Buy On Bookshop.org

Have you ever:

• found yourself stretched too thin?
• simultaneously felt overworked and underutilized?
• felt busy but not productive?
• felt like your time is constantly being hijacked by other people’s agendas?
 
If you answered yes to any of these, the way out is the Way of the Essentialist
 
Essentialism is more than a time-management strategy or a productivity technique. It is a systematic discipline for discerning what is absolutely essential, then eliminating everything that is not, so we can make the highest possible contribution toward the things that really matter.
 
By forcing us to apply more selective criteria for what is Essential, the disciplined pursuit of less empowers us to reclaim control of our own choices about where to spend our precious time and energy—instead of giving others the implicit permission to choose for us.
 
Essentialism is not one more thing—it’s a whole new way of doing everything. It’s about doing less, but better, in every area of our lives. Essentialism is a movement whose time has come.

Superlife

By: Darin Olien

Buy On Amazon

In Superlife, Darin Olien provides us with an entirely new way of thinking about health and wellbeing by identifying what he calls the life forces: Quality Nutrition, Hydration, Detoxification, Oxygenation, and Alkalization. Olien demonstrates in great detail how to maintain these processes, thereby allowing our bodies to do the rest. He tells us how we can maintain healthy weight, prevent even the most serious of diseases, and feel great. He explains that all of this is possible without any of the restrictive or gimmicky diet plans that never work in the long term.

Olien has traveled the world, exploring the health properties of foods that have sustained indigenous cultures for centuries. Putting his research into practice, he has created a unique and proven formula for maximizing our bodies’ potential. He also includes a “How-to-eat” user’s guide with a shopping list, advice on “what to throw away,” a guide to creating a healthy, balanced diet plan, and advice on how to use supplements effectively. 

Written in Olien’s engaging conversational style, Superlife is a one-of-a-kind comprehensive look at dieting and nutrition, a timeless and essential guide to maintaining the human body and maximizing its potential.

The Responsible Company

By: Yvon Chouinard and Vincent Stanley

Buy on Bookshop.org

The Responsible Company, by Yvon Chouinard, founder and owner of Patagonia, and Vincent Stanley, co-editor of its Footprint Chronicles, draw on the their 40 years’ experience at Patagonia – and knowledge of current efforts by other companies – to articulate the elements of responsible business for our time.Patagonia, named by Fortune in 2007 as the coolest company on the planet, has earned a reputation as much for its ground-breaking environmental and social practices as for the quality of its clothes. In this exceptionally frank account, Chouinard and Stanley recount how the company and its culture gained the confidence, by step and misstep, to make its work progressively more responsible, and to ultimately share its discoveries with companies as large as Wal-Mart or as small as the corner bakery.In plain, compelling prose, the authors describe the current impact of manufacturing and commerce on the planet’s natural systems and human communities, and how that impact now forces business to change its ways.

The Responsible Company shows companies how to reduce the harm they cause, improve the quality of their business, and provide the kind of meaningful work everyone seeks. It concludes with specific, practical steps every business can undertake, as well as advice on what to do, in what order.

This is the first book to show companies how to thread their way through economic sea change and slow the drift toward ecological bankruptcy. Its advice is simple but powerful: reduce your environmental footprint (and its skyrocketing cost), make legitimate products that last, reclaim deep knowledge of your business and its supply chain to make the most of opportunities in the years to come, and earn the trust you’ll need by treating your workers, customers and communities with respect.

Greenlights

By: Matthew McConaughey

Buy On Bookshop.org

I’ve been in this life for fifty years, been trying to work out its riddle for forty-two, and been keeping diaries of clues to that riddle for the last thirty-five. Notes about successes and failures, joys and sorrows, things that made me marvel, and things that made me laugh out loud. How to be fair. How to have less stress. How to have fun. How to hurt people less. How to get hurt less. How to be a good man. How to have meaning in life. How to be more me.
 
Recently, I worked up the courage to sit down with those diaries. I found stories I experienced, lessons I learned and forgot, poems, prayers, prescriptions, beliefs about what matters, some great photographs, and a whole bunch of bumper stickers. I found a reliable theme, an approach to living that gave me more satisfaction, at the time, and still: If you know how, and when, to deal with life’s challenges—how to get relative with the inevitable—you can enjoy a state of success I call “catching greenlights.”
 
So I took a one-way ticket to the desert and wrote this book: an album, a record, a story of my life so far. This is fifty years of my sights and seens, felts and figured-outs, cools and shamefuls. Graces, truths, and beauties of brutality. Getting away withs, getting caughts, and getting wets while trying to dance between the raindrops.
 
Hopefully, it’s medicine that tastes good, a couple of aspirin instead of the infirmary, a spaceship to Mars without needing your pilot’s license, going to church without having to be born again, and laughing through the tears.
 
It’s a love letter. To life.
 
It’s also a guide to catching more greenlights—and to realizing that the yellows and reds eventually turn green too.
 
Good luck.

The Practice

By: Seth Godin

Buy on Bookshop.org

Creative work doesn’t come with a guarantee. But there is a pattern to who succeeds and who doesn’t. And engaging in the consistent practice of its pursuit is the best way forward.

Based on the breakthrough Akimbo workshop pioneered by legendary author Seth Godin, The Practice will help you get unstuck and find the courage to make and share creative work. Godin insists that writer’s block is a myth, that consistency is far more important than authenticity, and that experiencing the imposter syndrome is a sign that you’re a well-adjusted human. Most of all, he shows you what it takes to turn your passion from a private distraction to a productive contribution, the one you’ve been seeking to share all along.

With this book as your guide, you’ll learn to dance with your fear. To take the risks worth taking. And to embrace the empathy required to make work that contributes with authenticity and joy.

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