Fun Friday: The AVC Book Club

We talked about books last December on AVC. It was a good one.

RichardF suggested in wednesday's disqussion that we talk about books again. He's going on vacation and so am I and we both need some good books to read.

I will kick this off. I am finishing The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides. This is a book about three young adults graduating from college in the early 80s. That was me and the Gotham Gal thirty years ago. It is also a love letter to Roland Barthes and his book, A Lover's Discourse. My daughters told me to read this and I am glad I did.

Next up is Reamde by Neal Stephenson. This was a gift by AVC community member Dave Pinsen. Dave knows that much of our investment strategy at USV comes from reading Neal's books and getting a glimpse into the future. He gave me Reamde in hardback. It's over 1000 pages. I will put it on my Kindle Fire for the vacation. And I will put the hardback in my office. I prefer sci-fi over business books every day of the week.

So that's what I am reading. How about all of you? What should Richard and bring on vacation?


Comments (Archived):

  1. RichardF

    Thanks Fred, I know that there are going to be some great suggestions.I’m currently reading A.I. Apocalypse by William Hertling, it’s the second novel in the Singularity Series, the first one was Avogadro Corp: The Singularity Is Closer Than It Appears. I got switched onto these book by @bfeld – he’s a great source of books for me. I also discovered Daniel Suarez through Brad’s blog. These are all sci-fi/tech thrillers and enjoyable reads.Another book I have just ordered is They Have their Exits: A Classic World War Two Memoir of Action and Escape, by Airey Neave, it’s a recommendation by another avc regular James Ferguson on Gotham Gal’s blog, so looking forward to that.I’m a voracious reader so I hope there are plenty of suggestions

    1. fredwilson


  2. andyswan

    Lone Survivor: About Navy Seal training and mission gone awry– REALLY pumps me up and puts me in “no excuses no pain” mentality.Burning Entrepreneur by @bfeld : Especially love the section on being “thought leader”.And as always re-reading a section or two from 48 Laws of power or 33 Strategies of War by Robert Greene

    1. awaldstein

      Lone Survivor is now going with me on my short beach getaway over the holiday.Thnx Andy.

      1. andyswan

        ya it’s awesome. Really wakes you up…. how comfortable you are, how much you’re capable of….etc.

        1. awaldstein

          Last beach vacation you inspired me to read Blue Ocean Strategy again. A refound winner.I’m carrying a bit of your inspiration with me this time as well.

    2. fredwilson


    3. Joe Yevoli

      Lone Survivor sounds awesome. I’m definitely picking that up next!

    4. Elie Seidman

      Good book.

    5. Dan T

      Unbroken and Heart and the Fist are two other great Life/Military true stories. Unbroken – if this guy can survive in a raft in the middle of the ocean for more than a month without supplies, then I guess I don’t have it so bad. Heart and the Fist – why would someone that goes on international missions to help the poorest/greatest in need in the world decide he needs to become a Navy Seal?

    6. Aaron Klein

      I’m taking Blue Ocean (reread) and 48 Laws of Power on vaca with me. I have them both as physical books and that is the only time I have to read physical books!

      1. karen_e

        It’s nice to read a physical book once in awhile, isn’t it.

        1. Aaron Klein

          I was actually given the hardbound version of “Thinking Fast and Slow” as a gift. I ended up having to buy it on Kindle in order to get it read! 90% of my non-vacation reading time is at the gym, and I’m just not going to truck physical books there every morning. ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. John Best

    Now we’re talking! I’m a big sci-fi nerd, I grew up on Niven, Anderson, Clarke et al. There’s a very good series of classics published by Gollancz here that covers all the bases. I’ve got a fair few already, but it’s like a reading list of classics –… .I *like* Stephenson (I’ve not picked up REAMDE yet) but I just wish he could finish a book. In all fairness he seems better at it recently.I’d also suggest trying Neal Asher (British sci-fi author).I really enjoyed Steven Erikson’s Malazan books of the Fallen. I’m not a huge fan of Fantasy, but really enjoyed all of them. Erikson is an archaeologist and anthropologist, and it really showed in the writing. The civilisations and races all seemed believable, so I’d heartily recommend that, beginning with the first book “Gardens of the Moon”.Those would be my “fun” suggestions.

    1. fredwilson

      I am going on a sci-fi bender. Great suggestions

      1. mikenolan99

        Inferno by Niven and Pournelle – just found a $3 used copy on Amazon. Was one of the first books my dad gave me to read.Enders Game – Very, very good.

    2. mydigitalself

      If you enjoy Asher, you’ll probably really enjoy Richard Morgan. He’s pretty violent in places, but very compelling reading. Start with Altered Carbon.

      1. John Best

        Thanks for the recommendation, added to the list.

  4. awaldstein

    Somehow I’m the only person on the planet who has not read Steven Johnson’s Emergence . Remedial reading that I”m excited about.

    1. fredwilson

      You must do it

      1. awaldstein

        First one I read when I get on the plane.

    2. William Mougayar

      Make than 2. Mind u I’m in the air sometimes & not on this planet.

    3. ShanaC

      I haven’t (actually I haven’t read any of his stuff…)

  5. Ricardo Parro

    I am reading Boo Hoo : a dot com story . And for a change this book is about a startup that failed big time.

    1. LIAD

      Great book.A what not to do guide.

    2. fredwilson

      Cant read stuff like that. Hits too close.

      1. LE

        ptsd.Related – I have a hard time reading UDRP’s (domain name decisions).

  6. LIAD

    Social Commerce in action.I’d be curious to know the total $ value of sales made on the back of the recommendations and conversations in this thread.Anyone care to hazard a guess?(Im $13 in already. $8 on Lone Survivor and $5 Burning Entrepreneur – both reco’d by Andy)

    1. awaldstein

      You and I will be reading the same ones this holiday.

    2. kidmercury

      next step is for us to read these books together and discuss them. perhaps where the blog star charges a fee to get into a private book club.

    3. Fernando Gutierrez

      I usually wait for a couple of days and the review all comments and make orders. Everytime we talk books here I end up buying 4-5 books and adding another ten books or so to my already unreadable wishlist. To get that value you should get the impulse sale and the delayed one… tough challenge.

  7. William Mougayar

    I’m going on vacation next week too, so I’m going to take Fred’s advice and read Reamde, my first sci-fi for a long time.ย And upon Aaron Klein’s suggestion, will try Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahnemanย…

  8. Tom Labus

    I loved The Marrriage Plot. He’s really good. Maybe the best pure US novelist.Fiction. 11-22-63. Stephen King. Usually not a fan but this is incredible. So good. This is a homage to American life from a maybe a better time not that long ago.…Non Fiction. The Price of Inequality. Joseph Stiglitz. All the economic stuff that gets bantered around he sets straight.

    1. Shawn Cohen

      speaking of Stephen King, ran across this graphic a few days ago that shows connections between all stories and characters: http://tessiedesigncompany….

      1. Tom Labus

        Someone was telling me that if you read a lot of his stuff you see old characters make appearances in newer novels.

        1. Shawn Cohen

          I’m not even a Stephen King fan but the graphic was intriguing.

      2. Guest

        He wrote a book called “On Writing” which describes how he comes up with his books. From reading that book it’s easy to see why those connections would happen.

  9. tyronerubin

    Below are books I have read this year without any mini review but I feel all the Non-fiction books specifically are all well worth reading for their specific focuses. If at all you want any more pushes for any of these books please comment and I will elaborate on any of them. I love books so much and if anyone has any recommends on the more science or engineering subjects please let me know. If you have any future releases that one should look out for please let me know, for eg I just got The Honest Truth About Dishonesty: How We Lie to Everyone—Especially Ourselves by Dan Ariely this week.Non-FictionQuiet by Susan CainThe Start-Up of You by Reid Hoffman and Ben CasnochaThe Power of Habit by Chalres DunhiggImagine by Jonah LehrerAbundance by Steven Kotler and Peter H. DiamandisInside Apple: How America’s Most Admired–and Secretive by Adam LashinskyHow Will You Measure Your Life? by Clayton M. Christensen and James Allworth Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel KahnemanThe Lean Startup by Eric RiesFictionBefore I Go to Sleep by S J WatsonIn One Person by John IrvingBiosLife Itself: A Memoir by Roger EbertThe Fry Chronicles by Stephen Fry

    1. awaldstein

      How was Ebert’s memoir?

      1. tyronerubin

        Ebert’s memoir was outstanding. I am a film freak and hearing his love of film, the film people he met was essential reading. Then he got personal in regards to his health issues. Speaking interestingly about how he loved food and cant eat anymore and dealing with. Well worth the read.

        1. awaldstein

          Thanks!You and I both love the movies it seems.When I was first marketing 3D back when REALD rolled out, Ebert was the biggest detractor, still is.Agreement has little to do with respect.I’m buying the book.

          1. tyronerubin

            @awaldstein:disqus we def do!Ebert very much didn’t like it with the films post Avatar and his main grip was that is was dark. And factually 3D films did make the image 20% darker in a lot of cases and that did suck.More recently with great film makers working with it they compensate. Peter Jackson is changing every color in The Hobbit to compensate for this. One of the production videos he went into detail… cant remember which one but also same video he spoke about having 48 Reds.But please sir know that Ebert is def coming around. I read a lot of his work and he is very much coming around, please know this.Here in Scorcese’s Hugo he very much loved the film and the 3-D http://rogerebert.suntimes….extract ‘Scorsese uses 3-D here as it should be used, not as a gimmick but as an enhancement of the total effect.’and more recently Scott’s Prometheushttp://rogerebert.suntimes….extract ‘I’m a pushover for material like this; it’s a seamless blend of story, special effects and pitch-perfect casting, filmed in sane, effective 3-D that doesn’t distract.’p.s. are you going to watch Moonrise Kingdom?

          2. awaldstein

            Yup…know the light issues with 3D personally. Spent countless hours on this early on.Rolling out the first 100 theaters for Chicken Little was quite the task: changing projector, adding Z screen, new screen, glasses…not to mention new way of making the film itself. Frame by frame with Disney. Amazing..Saw Moonrise Kingdom. Really liked it. A fan of quirky as art when it works. Royal Tennebaum’s is a favorite.

          3. tyronerubin

            @awaldstein:disqus wow I loved Chicken Little. Flawless stop motion.

          4. awaldstein

            Yes…was fun.A bold move by Disney and a bunch of Theatre owners to just do something brand new.

    2. William Mougayar

      How will you measure life is intriguing. Has anyone read it already?

      1. LIAD

        Yes. Big fan of Clay.It’s a decent book. Explains how to use theories to make emotional/life decisions.Have read better. And worse.

        1. William Mougayar


      2. tyronerubin

        well worth the read. I am half way through and just loving it!

      3. karen_e

        Oh – I missed your question. I commented just now that it sold out quick in Cambridge, MA.

    3. fredwilson

      You read a lot!

  10. James Ferguson @kWIQly

    Great Timing – and time to share some link love :)I recommended a book to @GothamGal at… , – Hope you enjoy it :)Her article is less about the land of opportunity and more about entrepreneurial spirit in the face of adversity in my view.Naturally your readers will have to get to the bottom of her brilliantly inspiring article ( hehehe “leverage” but I really strongly recommend this one) – to find the recommendation I made and what inspired her to buy it.2 I used quotes from a very well known book to answer Brad Felds’… two days ago – they are so apposite to entrepreneurialism that I think you should all have a quick read – and then read the book!It will boost your culture quotients if nothing else ! I was particularly pleased with Brads simple reply – “Love it ” So much more rewarding than an upvote !

  11. John@PGISelfDirected

    I love books and I just love this post, too. ๐Ÿ™‚

  12. Carl Rahn Griffith

    Will skip on book recommendations for now as my brain is too drained, currently, but I strongly recommend watching the film ‘Senna’ – incredibly moving, a fascinating man.Note, even if one has no interest in F1/etc, this film is beautiful – all about the human condition. Truly engrossing.I had 2 DVD copies bought for me last Christmas. I resisted watching them as I knew I’d find the film to be draining/emotional, being an admirer of Senna – both as a racer and a person. Film premiere was on Sky TV last night and I felt the time was right to watch it.Wow. Yes, I blubbed. Beautiful. Recommended, highly. Not depressing, uplifting.

    1. Fernando Gutierrez

      Thanks Carl, I will surely watch it. I admired Senna a lot and was watching the Imola race when he died. Still remember vividly that tragic weekend. It was not only him, Ratzemberger died the day before.

    2. Jan Schultink

      I agree, it is on Netflix

    3. Andy

      Great film. On a side note I cannot wait for F1 Austin this November!

      1. Dave Pinsen

        And F1 is coming to North Jersey next year.

    4. Dudu Rocha

      Senna is a national hero, here in brazil. Sometimes I think it’s all media, and the brazilians are pushing a little bit.Comments like your make me think again, and acknowledge that Senna is a hero not only in brazil, but in very F1 fan around the world.

      1. Jan Schultink

        My favorite scene is the shot from inside the cockpit as he wins the grand prix of Brasil

    5. Cima

      “Senna” is a well-made film. The editing, pacing, and storytelling are superb. It was a bit unnerving to view the on-board footage of his last race at Imola, but @egoboss:disqus is right in saying that the film is uplifting; it’s a celebration of a person’s life and passion.

    6. Chris Hill

      Senna is a fantastic documentary. It has the type of stoyline (rivalry among teammates) that almosts seems movieline cliche, but all factual. And the driving footage is unique. Most people will never have anything like it.

  13. tacanderson

    If you’re really serious about using sci-fi to look at the future you should really check out @arcfinity It’s a quarterly put out by New Scientist and mixes sci-fi shorts with real science articles. It’s my favorite publication, by far, right now.

    1. Kirsten Lambertsen

      I love New Scientist ๐Ÿ™‚

    2. JimHirshfield


    3. fredwilson


    4. Mark Essel

      nice find Tac!

    5. Riaz Kanani

      sounds spot on – good find ๐Ÿ™‚

  14. Kirsten Lambertsen

    Love all these sci fi recos. I’ll have to get on board.I never have time to read anything but how-to books. But when I do, I like to read humor like James Thurber or the New Yorker humor writing collections (such as “Disquiet, Please!”). I’m always the goob giggling on the train while I read.

  15. Kasi Viswanathan Agilandam

    Fred, have you ever read a book after watching the movie made out of the novel? Greatest experience in reading a book … while reading will hear sounds and the reading becomes so real.Another good thing about novel after movie is … the characters comes to real life when you read and they are already defined in the movie.I don’t have any recommendations to make except for some old Ken Follett and Jeffrey Archer collections

    1. fredwilson

      I generally do it the other way. Book first film second

      1. ShanaC

        exception to this rule: Gone with the Wind.

    2. Fernando Gutierrez

      But then you already know everything that will happen in the book! I can forget about the book for a couple of hours if I’m watching the movie (or simply enjoy the movie knowing how it will end), but a book takes more time, usually with interruptions and time thinking about it, so I think I would not be able to do it the way you do it.

      1. Kasi Viswanathan Agilandam

        @fernandogutierrez:disqus @fredwilson:disqus Trust me.Try this once … any good spy or thriller movie with some seductive scenes. I am sure you will thank me.Edit Add: Take one of those old novel … the movie you have almost forgotten … you will enjoy how the images come into life when you read. Seriously … i donno whether you will thank me … but definitely won’t curse me.

  16. Riaz Kanani

    Enjoyed Reamde so definitely worth the read.I am just reading Peter F Hamilton’s Pandora’s Star (yes a bit old) ( after reading the Void Trilogy ( – great read if you haven’t already done so. Also, a thought provoking book I just finished was Intrusion by Ken McLeod ( – looks at individual choice in the near future.

  17. reece

    anything by Kurt Vonnegut

    1. Jan Schultink

      I recently read The Sirens of Titan, which reminded me of the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy somehow ๐Ÿ™‚

      1. reece

        Sirens of Titan is fantastic

        1. willcole

          One of the few books where I found myself cracking up out loud as I read it. Preferred it greatly to some of his others.

    2. fredwilson


      1. reece

        my all time fav author

        1. Jason Gelman

          Me too. Breakfast of Champions was always my favorite.

    3. Dudu Rocha

      just read Slaughterhouse 5, and is one of the best fiction works I’ve ever read.what do you sugest to read after? Cat’s Cradle? Breakfast of Champions?

      1. willcole

        Mother Night and Sirens of Titan were my favorites. By quite a large margin too.

      2. reece

        Cat’s Cradle is awesome. my all time favorite probably, and the foundation of my ‘religion’ (read it to see what i mean)your other option is to read Welcome To The Monkeyhouse, a collection of his short stories, of which Harrison Bergeron is my favorite and a must-read

        1. Luke Chamberlin

          A fellow Bokononist!

          1. reece


          2. Alex Stillwell

            Busy busy busy!

      3. Luke Chamberlin

        Cat’s Cradle.

    4. Abdallah Al-Hakim

      I love his books as well

    5. ShanaC

      on my to do list

  18. RacerRick

    Just read ‘The Art of Fielding’. Loved it. I assume the GG has already read it.

    1. fredwilson

      Yes. She really liked it

      1. Sophia A.

        Do you or GG subscribe to Harbach’s journal N+1? It might appeal to the social liberal in you. To quote from issue 11 “As for the inhabitants of the other universe-โ€Šโ€œthe reality-based communityโ€ of old-fashioned skeptics and empiricists, frequenters of public and university libraries, readers of the New York Times and of Elizabeth Kolbert in the New Yorker, avid perusers of Harperโ€™s Index and WikiLeaks”

  19. Humberto

    for a short vacation (or anything else really) i’d recommend Embers – Sandor Marai. It’s the best short novel about friendship i’ve ever read.

  20. aweissman

    Two relative short but beautiful books: Motherless Brooklyn by Jonathan Lethem is a brilliant, funny, novel about NYC. The Mysteries of Pittsburgh by Michael Chabon is as poignant a story about growing up after college as I have ever read.

    1. awaldstein

      Motherless Brooklyn has been on my list for a bit. You may have pushed it up towards the top.

    2. fredwilson

      I love Chabon. Will get both.

      1. Sophia A.

        Chabon has a new novel coming out in Sept called “Telegraph Avenue”

    3. ShanaC

      motherless brooklyn sounds really interesting – what is about beyond NYC?

    4. kidmercury

      the movie for motherless brooklyn comes out next year, directed by and starring edward norton. i have trouble reading fiction but am very much looking forward to the movie.

    5. Luke Chamberlin

      Fortress of Solitude by Lethem is also very good.

    6. sprugman

      If you’re talking Chabon, go for Cavalier and Clay!

      1. aweissman

        Loved that, loved Pittsburgh evenmore

    7. Sophia A.

      If you like Lethem you should check out his non-fic collection “The Ecstasy of Influence”

    8. Sophia A.

      In keeping with the bildungsroman theme Ben Lerner’s “Leaving the Atocha Station”- ย a really tiny novel that deals with the search for identity & authenticity prob better than anything else I’ve read.Martin Amis’s “The Rachel Papers” (his first book)Donna Tart’s “The Secret ย History”

  21. kidmercury

    i always read a few books at the same time, takes me a while to get through them this way but i prefer the diversity.currently reading:investing in the uranium bull market by david miller. i went paperback for this one! about 50% through it. if you’re interested in invest in uranium stocks i highly recommend; the book was written pre-2007 so it is a little dated, but still contains very good transitions by vaclav smil. very boring. forcing my way through it. a couple good data points but not much else in here thus far, about 50% through.hubbert’s peak by kenneth deffreyes. a book on peak oil. only in the very beginning of this, but so far so good. i’ve watched some presentations the author has given online and found them to be pretty good.saturn by liz greene. astrology textbook! re-reading this, i’ve read it many times since i first found it in 2001. only useful for those who are fluent in the basics of western astrology, though. liz greene is my all-time favorite writer by a very wide margin.

      1. Mark Essel

        @kidmercury:disqus yeah Tom gives it a great recommendation

    1. fredwilson

      Your reading interests and patterns explain a lot. I mean that as a compliment.

      1. LE

        “explain a lot.”@kidmercury:disqus being analyzed and dissected like a lab animal or a maybe a pre-teen in therapy. Or the pinball wizard.Gave me an idea for another fun friday. Which person, either avc-er or not, would someone want on their jury if they committed a crime. And why?

  22. Richard

    Europe on the Edge, Fiction or Nonfiction?

  23. Mark Essel

    Just finished predictably irrational by Dan Ariely, just 10% in to coders at work.Tough reading between buying my noise in native nodejs/v8 docs

    1. Max Yoder

      I loved Predictably Irrational. I need to read Ariely’s new one.

  24. JimHirshfield

    I’ve never read Neal Stephenson. What’s a good first one of his to read?

    1. Mark Essel

      same here, Kindle ap links much appreciated

      1. johnmccarthy

        Big agree.

        1. JimHirshfield

          thx guys

      2. Guest

        Yea, +1.

      3. William Wagner

        cryptonomicon is kind of long. Zodiac and Big U are earlier works that are short and sweet. They cover environmental terrorism and the collapse of the academic establishment, respectively

      4. leigh

        uch. i can’t get through it.

    2. awaldstein

      Snow Crash was the first I read. Required reading for all new hires at a very early virtual community startup called Electric Communities in the 90s.

      1. John Best

        Yup, Snow crash is probably a good place to start.

        1. JimHirshfield


      2. JimHirshfield

        Thx Arnold

    3. Nate Kidwell

      “In The Beginning was The Command Line” –…An essay about Linux, Macs, Windows, etc.I’m not a scifi guy, so only thing of his I read, but was awesome.

      1. ShanaC

        there is an annotated version out there. totally brilliant essay

      2. JimHirshfield


    4. Riaz Kanani

      yup – ditto on snowcrash.. was my first read

      1. JimHirshfield


    5. fredwilson


      1. JimHirshfield


      2. Guest

        I haven’t read Snowcrash. Is it heavy on the science? I like to get blueprints with the technology in the Sci-Fi books I read. Just to make sure there are no bugs in the systems.

    6. Dudu Rocha

      Try Snowcrash either. I finished last week. And its only 400 pages, a lot less frightening than his other works.

    7. rick gregory

      AS many have said, Snow Crash is the classic place to start. If you like that, try Diamond Age. He changes quite a lot after that and not, for me, for the better. But as always, YMMV.

  25. Tom Hessert

    The End of Money. David Wollman.

  26. Lisa Mogull

    Loved The Marriage Plot. Thought it has one of the truest endings I’ve read in a long while. Great narrative, characters were people I could have and did know in college. Can’t wait to see more recommendations from the community.

    1. ShanaC

      I thought the main female character was off – where is her best friend? Where are her friends period?

  27. Aaron Klein

    About 30% through with Daniel Kahneman’s Thinking Fast and Slow. Hoping to finish that one the week of July 4. It’s a great read on how we think and make decisions, and there are some fascinating applications to risk and investing.

    1. Riaz Kanani

      Agreed – worth a read

    2. ShanaC

      I just started it. I find it totally fascinating that he adapted his writing style to fit the point of his book. Takeaways every chapter, ect.

      1. Aaron Klein

        So true! The takeaways are one of the best parts. I find myself wanting to flip forward and read them first to cement the ideas.

  28. Fernando Gutierrez

    Related: anyone into audiobooks? I’m driving a lot lately and I was thinking about Audible, but the couple times I’ve tried I didn’t enjoy as much.

    1. Jason Rudin

      Not really, for me reading is enjoyable because of the active thought process it requires to get any real value out of a book. It requires more effort and time to sit down and actually read something, but I would say it is certainly worth it. Of course, if you’re looking for a simple diversion, I’m sure audiobooks would work great!

      1. Fernando Gutierrez

        Yes, I also prefer sitting down, but I’m doing several 2-4 hours drives everyweek and would love to use that time to catch up with my “reading”. Maybe I’ll give it a try with some light literature and see how it works.

    2. Tom Hughes

      A year ago my family gave me the unabridged life of George Washington, by Ron Chernow, as CDs. It’s perfect for long drives (in my case, NYC to Vermont). We know the story well enough that listening in stages, with long breaks between, you don’t “lose your place.” At the same time — and even though we know how it comes out — it manages to be a cliffhanger. How is this slightly stiff, maybe pompous guy gonna get this crowd of colonial ding-a-lings to stay focused long enough to defeat the world’s most powerful country? I’m not otherwise a huge fan of audiobooks — I love to read in an armchair, curled up with a solid tome — and hadn’t previously enjoyed books on long drives, but long-form historical biography like this is working for me.

      1. Fernando Gutierrez

        Thanks, I’ll try with some specific audiobooks also. Some other books will need to be books (or ebooks).

    3. mikenolan99

      I love ’em – have a 3 hour commute once a week.Steve Jobs bio is well read… Also, if you can get your hands on any of the John D. McDonald read by Darren McGavin (Night Stalker) – fantastic performance.And, as cheesy as it sounds, all of the Harry Potter books on tapes are magnificently performed by Jim Dale.

      1. Fernando Gutierrez

        Steve Jobs sound like a good start. I wasn’t very concerned about performers, but I guess it’s something to consider.

    4. K_Berger

      I’m a big fan of audiobooks. I don’t have a long commute anymore but when I did, they made the time pass quickly. Sometimes I would get to work and be surprised I was there. (I’m pretty sure I didn’t cause any accidents along the way.) I also find they are great at keeping me awake on road trips at night when everyone else is sleeping. The Shining kept me company on my last trip.

      1. Fernando Gutierrez

        Thanks, I usually travel alone, but I hope they’ll also keep me awake.

  29. Nate Kidwell

    Anything by Cormac McCarthy.Yukio Mishima’s books are often fantastic (Acts of Worship, Sun and Steel, and The sailor Who Fell From Grace With The Sea).Oh, and UFC Fighter Chael Sonnen’s The Voice of Reason.

    1. fredwilson

      Agree about Cormac. Will check out the others

      1. Luke Chamberlin

        The Sailor Who Fell From Grace With The Sea by Mishima was translated by my Japanese literature professor, John Nathan. It’s a very good translation.

  30. Dave W Baldwin

    Reamde looks good!I’ll have to plug my friend Soren Petrek’s book “Patience County War”…about battling a meth operation in a Missouri small town that has international connections. This is the middle book in a 3 book series. Glad you did this because it reminds me of my promise to write a customer review. It is fast paced and reads like a movie.

  31. lbarlev

    I love Jeffrey Eugenides. Middlesex is one of my favorite books. I loved the multigenerational story line.I just finally read Pride and Prejudice and loved the evolution of the main characters–their flaws and mistakes, their recognition of them and their ability to change. While I knew the story line from the movie, I found the character development fabulous.For anyone with youngish children, I loved Nurtureshock. Some of the chapters were better than others but I found the discussion around risk in teenagers and the importance of self-control in success among others to be fascinating.

  32. falicon

    I’m pretty sure FAKEGRIMLOCK’s upcoming book will be an instant classic ->… (not sure when it will be ready though)

    1. Fernando Gutierrez

      Thanks for the tip, I bet it’s gonna be awesome!

  33. Max Yoder

    The McCormick Reaper gave us grain, making it possible to produce livestock on an industrial scale. This created a need for meatpacking, which created a need for ice. Ice created a world where an item didn’t have to be consumed close to where it was produced, lengthening the menu options for people everywhere.I learned this by reading At Home: A Short History of Private Life by Bill Bryson. It’s my go-to book recommendation. Bryson takes you through the rooms of a typical house and explains the history of each, revealing things like why salt and pepper sit on the dinner table and not cinnamon and turmeric.If you like stories that are wittily told and non-fiction offerings that are exceedingly well-written, read this book. Here’s the link!

  34. Ryan Stephens

    Some of my favorites I’ve read thus far this year:Fiction -The Hunger Games Trilogy (writing isn’t superb, but fun nonetheless)How I Became a Famous Novelist (hilarious if you don’t mind irritating protagonist – see: Confederacy of Dunces)Ender’s Game (Awesome, how had I never read this?)Non-Fiction -In the Basement of the Ivory Tower (Good luck at shortcomings of edu from a college prof)A Billion Wicked Thoughts (The best book I’ve found on differences in sexes w/ respect to sex)The Education of Millionaires (What you REALLY need to know & how they don’t teach that in any classroom)Incognito – David Eagleman (Get to know what really goes on in your brain)

    1. Robert Thuston

      A friend recently recommended “A Billion Wicked Thoughts”

    2. Avi Deitcher

      I also read the Ivory Tower, was fascinating.

    3. Fernando Gutierrez

      Agree about The Hunger Games Trilogy, not great writing but fun. And much better than the movie.

  35. KalpanaAdlakha

    Found this post at just the right time. I am left with last 30 pages of Atlas Shrugged and need a book that is at par with it. I have to take a few long flights over the next few weekends and need the books to keep me company.

    1. fredwilson

      Look at Andy Swan’s suggestions#collaborativefiltering

      1. KalpanaAdlakha

        Thanks! Let me go through it.

    2. Fernando Gutierrez

      Anthem, also by Ayn Rand, is really enjoyable. It’s really short, so you’ll need a few more.

      1. KalpanaAdlakha

        Thanks Fernando! I’ll try it. Are you aware of any other authors who could probably be grouped with Ayn Rand?

        1. Fernando Gutierrez

          I haven’t read a lot from her, so I can’t say for sure. Most things Amazon recommends after buying something by Ayn Rand are also by her.I can’t explain very well, but in my head I have Anthem next to Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, George Orwell’s Animal Farm and 1984, or recently deceased Ray Bradbury’s Farenheit 451. I guess it is their strong defence of the individual fighting against totalisarism.

          1. KalpanaAdlakha

            I have read two of her best works, Fountain Head and Atlas Shrugged and absolutely loved both of them. I refer to those as my daily dose of sanity ๐Ÿ™‚ George Orwell has been recommended by others too, so, I will let you know which I end up picking.

          2. KalpanaAdlakha

            Just wanted to let you know that I read Animal Farm over the weekend. Loved the book and the fact that it still seems relevant.Lasted me just half the flight but then I used the remaining half to appreciate it.

  36. Nicholas Petroski…Imagine: How Creativity WorksI like this one a lot, only half way through though.

  37. Dan Epstein

    I just finished Conspiracy of Fools (Kurt Eichenwald). Non-fiction look behind the scenes of Enron as it built up and fell apart. Very fast read. Highly recommended.Previously read The Magicians and The Magician King (Levi Grossman). A darker Harry Potter. Good read, surprisingly few, if any, sympathetic characters (less than at Enron).Started Top of the Rock (new Warren Littlefield non-ficiton about his time at NBC), but it hasn’t sucked me in yet.

  38. ErikSchwartz

    Reamde is a fine and enjoyable book. I am sure if you like Snowcrash it will appeal to you. It largely describes a world that could exist now.But it is no Snowcrash.The mind blowing thing about snowcrash it it was published in 1992 (probably written in 1989 or 1990). There was no commercial web. There was no real time 3d beyond simple unshaded polygons. Online consumer was compuserve (7xxxx,xxxx). A 44meg syquest cartridge was huge. There were no web browsers. When I read the book I had been working for an interactive TV start up for about 2 years and the book was describing the kind of future we were trying to build.

    1. awaldstein

      You and I both.I was working for a startup trying to build a platform that enabled individuals online to have a consistent identity as they moved from ‘place’ to ‘place’. Snowcrash was required reading and imagined a future we wanted to build but couldn’t.Actually the possibilities of Disqus and community remind me the dream of community we had back then working with the early greats of online community thinking.Found this old post comparing Disqus to those times and ideas

      1. Guest

        I’ve worked on consistent identity over the years, I call it “virtual mobility.” The technical issues aren’t as difficult as the cooperation issues.

        1. Avi Deitcher

          Heh, I am convinced humans are anything but consistent in real life, why should they be different in virtual life? ๐Ÿ™‚

          1. awaldstein

            So true…but identities when it comes to things like one identity for each credit card and for brands, locked identities for branded characters are e big deal.Our two target customers were banks and a cartoon network;)

          2. Guest

            I designed eMOS to offer the whole identity management thing. It’s not really that difficult from a tehncial standpoint. One issue is with handling standalone apps that don’t announce their existence for long periods of time. Oh well…

          3. Avi Deitcher

            How did you manage to end up with those two??

          4. awaldstein

            Yes…a bit weird.Probably in some ways cause I had deep connections into Hollywood through my previous gig at Creative Labs and someone else into the financial worlds.

          5. Avi Deitcher

            So essentially using the existing network? Is there any business commonality that gets missed in the obvious, “what do cartoons and banks have to do with each other?” Really piques my interest.

          6. awaldstein

            Bigger discussion.Persistent secure identities. Multifaceted ways of interacting are the big two.Was early days. We had a very big idea and a robust platform. Lot’s of times in those situations your market is opportunistic.

          7. Avi Deitcher

            I can see the similarities, though I imagine the security and admin requirements would be vastly different. Would enjoy the discussion, but this is probably not the forum.

        2. awaldstein

          True…But in 92 both the chicken and the egg were missing.

          1. Guest

            Yea, but rock-n-roll still kicked ass! Just thought I’d mention that.

    2. fredwilson

      We could have just listed snowcrash as our investment thesis on our initial offering memo for USV2004would have saved us a lot of time!

      1. Guest


      2. William Wagner

        Mafia pizza delivery network is the next Twitter

    3. Dave Pinsen

      What’s ironic about that is that Neal Stephenson himself lamented the smallness of vision among many science fiction writers (and technologists) in recent years.As for mind blowing, it’s worth remembering, too, that William Gibson wrote Neuromancer (published in 1984) on a typewriter.

      1. ErikSchwartz

        That was what was so disappointing about the new book compared to my expectations. If I read a press release for the MMORPG described in the book it would not raise an eyebrow. Compare that to the metaverse in snowcrash or the nanotech in Diamond Age (read it if you have not) which still all these years later are staggering.

        1. Dave Pinsen

          I’ve read Diamond Age, and agree the tech in Reamde is less ambitious and future-oriented. That’s partly because, unlike Snow Crash or Diamond Age, Reamde is set in the present (sort of like Gibson’s Pattern Recognition was set in the present). That said, writing a 1000 page page-turner is impressive, and so far Stephenson has done that at least twice (with Cryptonomicon and Reamde).

  39. ErikSchwartz

    A great non fiction book I recently finished was In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler’s Berlin

  40. Adrian Palacios

    I really enjoyed Joshua Ferris’ “Then We Came to the End”; it’s about a large ad agency in Chicago on it’s last legs after the Internet Bubble popped. Really enjoyable.…FWIW, there are a few twist and turns that may seem unreasonable, but stick with it…felt the author handled everything really well ๐Ÿ™‚

  41. Andy

    Currently giving The Great Gatsby a re-read. Unfortunately it’s not a good vacation book since you can read it in half the time it takes you to get to your destination.

  42. BillMcNeely

    Two books Unintended Consequences by Edward Conard and Broken Markets by Sal Amuk

  43. johnmccarthy

    Just finished The Passage of Power: The Years of Lyndon Johns, Robert’c Caro 4th installment on Johnson’s life. Superb telling of the VP years and the coming into power on 11/22/63.

  44. Robert Thuston

    Read in last 2 months/reading:Moonwalking with EinsteinSocial Animal50 Shades of Grey

  45. Yalim K. Gerger

    I am reading Inside Apple but so far I am not impressed. Nothing interesting just the regular stuff that everyone knows around tech industry. Maybe it gets more interesting after a few pages.By the way, buying digital books from Amazon or iBooks Store is not an option in Turkey, which does not make sense at all. This makes it very difficult for the book publishers to make me a customer even though I try really hard to become one.

  46. brian

    Psmith in the City. Free on Kindle – super funny, old school classic about an Englishman running a newspaper in gangland New York. P. G. Wodehouse.

    1. brian

      Sorry – Psmith Journalist is the one you want.

      1. Tom Hughes

        So glad to find a fan of P.G. Wodehouse. Just finished “Leave It to Psmith,” the first novel I’ve ever read that is as good as, say, “The Importance of Being Earnest.” His novels and short stories are, word for word, the funniest things I have read in my life, and utterly disconnected from our experience — which makes them the perfect vacation reading.

  47. Aviah Laor

    Steven Pressifield is not going to let the enemy fool you to waste your life. Just finished his new awesome title, “Turning Pro”. http://www.blackirishbooks….

  48. brian piercy

    Ender’s Game. Buy it now. Do it.

    1. Andrew

      one of the best

    2. Avi Deitcher

      Thanks, good suggestion.

    3. Dave Pinsen

      Have you read the sequel, Speaker for the Dead? Read it a couple of weeks ago. Different and darker than Ender’s Game (no laser tag), but I think it’s a better book.

      1. Luke Chamberlin

        Ender’s Shadow is really good. It happens in parallel to Ender’s Game but from the perspective of Bean.

        1. Dave Pinsen


      2. Fernando Gutierrez

        I really enjoyed Enders Game but was dubious about the sequel. You’ve convinced me now.

        1. Dave Pinsen

          Let me know what you think of it.

      3. brian piercy

        My wife just downloaded Speaker for the Dead – so I guess it’s on deck. ๐Ÿ™‚

        1. Dave Pinsen

          Let me know what you think after you read it.

  49. Ian Hogarth

    At the intersection of New York, music and an outsider mindset I really enjoyed Netherland by Joseph O’Neill and A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan. Think you might too. Just finishing Wild by Cheryl Strayed which has been great so far – rebuilding a life over 1000 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail.

    1. ShanaC

      A Visit from the Goon Squad is an incredible piece of storytelling – she kind of blew open the idea of what a book should be like. Really incredible.

  50. cameomike

    Wool by Hugh Howey…Self published series that has gained a massive fan base and has already been picked up by Fox for a movie. It’s impossible to put down.

    1. Mark Essel

      Michael, setup your avatar with disqus. We need some Nasa juice.Heyo other avc’ers this is a founder I work for/with at Fast Society. Please give him a warm welcome!

    2. James Ferguson @kWIQly

      So Michael – A) Welcome aboard- B) Synopsis of Wool looks interesting – will give it a try- C) I expect there are some people here who would love to hear how you discovered your way here – first impressions and how you hope to engageThis is partly because there are huge vested interests in these areas and secondly because we are nosey – mostly the latter ๐Ÿ™‚ Look forward to the debate!

      1. cameomike

        JamesA) Thank you!B) You will love it!C) I’ve been a passive reader for a long time (actually my first and only previous comment was from a post back in 2008!). Fred’s blog has been extremely valuable over the years and I regularly use it as a reference. Learning about the community through Mark Essel’s involvement in it, has spurred me to get more involved though ๐Ÿ™‚ Looking forward to participating more

    3. Guest

      Wool is good. If anyone is looking to buy it there is a series of novellas (?) and there is the Omnibus Edition which is one book containing the whole series.

    4. Avi Deitcher

      Welcome, Michael!This community is one of the best I have come across on the Net. Never boring, some really smart people. I think Mark’s intro of “other avc’ers” says it all. This has become a community, hasn’t it?

    5. ShanaC

      and welcome – why is this your favorite book?

  51. ayo

    In the sci-fi/fantasy world, try the Prince of Nothing Series:…. Think of it as Game of Thrones but on steroids.Supercapitalism by Robert Reich is also a touch dated, but an exceptional economic history of post WW2 industrial America.

    1. fredwilson


  52. Sigmund Hsu

    Deep Survival – Laurence Gonzalez. Who lives – who dies. Explains why you always ask the lifeguard in Hawaii where is safe to swim – and why you want him to seemly daydream and read the water before answering you

  53. Chris Fralic

    Father’s Day by Buzz Bissinger – might be the most honest book I’ve ever read.

  54. leigh

    Favourite summer reading list:- Like water for chocolate – The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society- Major Pettigrew’s last stand- Kate Remembered (by scott berg – mixed reviews but i LOVED it)- The War on Don Emmauel’s Nether Parts (same person who did Captain Corellii’s Mandolin but i liked this one much better)- Interpreter of Maladies by Jumpa Lahiri (i freakin’ loved this book)- The Girls A Novel by Lori Lansens- Still Alice (bit depressing but a great read)- The Curious Incident of the Dog in the NIght-Time- Lights on Air by Elizabeth Hay – and of course all the light reading like Girl with series, Hunger games, Game of Thrones and any Sci-Fi or the Vince Flynn spy novels are hilarious fun – like harlequin romances but involving the CIAOk i’m gonna stop here ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. William Mougayar

      How do you find time to read all these !

      1. leigh

        i love reading. reading feeds me in other ways that makes me better at everything else. so i make the time ๐Ÿ™‚ but i never do it as much as I’d like. i usually read 3 or 4 novels per holiday.

        1. Sophia A.

          I’m with you on Jhumpa Lahiri, one of my all time fav writers. You might like Nicole Krauss’s “The History of Love” (although it’s a novel) & David Bezmozgis’s “Natasha”, a short story collection about the immigrant experience.

          1. leigh

            History of love is a great book. bought it for a couple people after i read it. Never heard of Natasha — will give it a go on my next vacation ๐Ÿ™‚

  55. Tom Hughes

    I can highly recommend “Halting State,” by Charles Stross, to anyone who likes Neal Stephenson or William Gibson. He also has one of the few blogs I keep in iGoogle alongside AVC:

    1. ShanaC

      I’ve been meaning to pick up Gibson, what would you start with?

      1. Jon Winebrenner

        Neuromancer you can’t go wrong with.

      2. Tom Hughes

        Pattern Recognition is where I would start, though I like pretty much all his books.

      3. Dave Pinsen

        I liked Neuromancer. If you want something more contemporary, with a female lead character, try Pattern Recognition. I think he may have lost some steam after that. I was underwhelmed by Spook Country.

        1. ShanaC

          pattern recognition it is then!

    2. BillSeitz

      Yes, as well as the recent sequel Rule34.

    3. BillSeitz

      And his earlier Accelerando, esp the earlier Lobsters/ManfredMacx bits which play right to the crowd of people trying to mush the net and their brain together.

  56. ShanaC

    Just finished the Story of O and Hunger Games.Reading”Thinking Fast and Slow” “A Passage to India” (em forster)The Lotus Sutras.And always looking for recommendations ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. awaldstein

      Wow…not often that I think of Pauline Rรฉage!

      1. ShanaC

        ๐Ÿ™‚ I got the idea from @panterosa ๐Ÿ™‚

    2. leigh

      i loved passage to india. such a great book. it was so long ago that i read it would be wroth it to read it again.

  57. takingpitches

    In the beach bag are Ron Chernow’s Alexander Hamilton and Richard Clarke’s Cyber War.

  58. Farhan Lalji

    Couple of peeps have already mentioned the books I would recommend – Imagine by Lehrer, Art of Fielding, Moonwalking with Einstein. I’m currently reading The Psychopath Test and Rich Dad, Poor Dad – which has been on my to read list for a while.Does anyone use Goodreads? Or another method of sharing books? Might be good to have a list of the avc community’s reading list. If you do I’m at

    1. Riaz Kanani

      good idea.. haven’t seen goodreads in a while. hows it coming along?

  59. mikenolan99

    Recently:Lamb – Christopher Moore. Laugh out loud inappropriately during your flight funny.The Steve Jobs Bio – listened to this one – fascinatingRe-Read – Time to go back through the Prey Novels by John Sandford. Start in order with Rules of Prey.

    1. Tom Labus

      That’s a tough read but the guy is amazing.

  60. markslater

    did you get to the intention economy?i just finished the wolf of wallstreet – wow.

  61. Paul Kedrosky

    Fred — I just re-read first three books of Herbert’s Dune series. Highly re-recommended.

    1. Luke Chamberlin

      Fear is the mind-killer! So good.

  62. jmorf

    I always get great reads from AVC book threads so I feel obliged to contribute. To change the theme from Sci-Fi a little, two great non-fiction books:Dancing in the Glory of Monsters by Jason Stearns…An excellent book on the oft overlooked conflict in the Congo.Bloodlands by Timothy Snyder…While there are some stretches in the links, Snyder takes a unique look at some of the darkest moments of the 20th century.Both rather dark books, but both worth reading.

  63. Angel Martinez

    Imagine: How Creativity Works by Jonah Lehrer

    1. FlavioGomes

      That sounds interesting.

  64. ericrosen

    Just finished the “Passage of Power” by Robert Caro and “The Righteous Mind” by Jonathan Haidt…both highly recommended. Also anything by James McPherson about the Civil War..right now I’m reading his series of essays in “Drawn with the Sword”–truly the story of how America was formed and has evolved. And finally “Mongoliad” by Stephenson and others is, so far, pretty good.

  65. Tim

    A great fiction book with a business twist is “The Fear Index” by Robert Harris.I’d also highly recommend the following recent reads:”Where Good Ideas Come From” by Steven Johnson.”Agent ZigZag” by Ben Macintyre”Adapt: Why Success Always Starts With Failure” by Tim Harford

    1. sprugman

      +1 for adapt

  66. Andrew

    “Risk: the Science and Politics of Fear” by Dan Gardner. It’s a huge trip into how fear rightly and wrongly affects our perceptions about the world, and our decisions as a result. Starts out with an analysis of how many people died in car accidents because they were too afraid to fly after 9/11 and goes from there.… On the fiction side, here’s a couple picks from Canada:- “Half-Blood Blues” by Esi Edugyan – the life of black jazz musicians in Nazi Germany and France- “Three Day Road” and “Through Black Spruce” by Joseph Boyden – another take on World War II, this one from the perspective of First Nations (Indian) soldiers, and then the later fall-outAnd, if members of AVC haven’t already read it, “Super Sad True Love Story” by Gary Shteyngart. A “Brave New World”/”1984” style look at a future where everyone is locked into social media– unless they live in the slums. Funnier than it sounds.

  67. Guest

    Funny you mentioned Roland Barthes. Currently reading Mythologies and it’s brilliant.

  68. Tieg

    Ready Player One: if anything, it’s worth reading for the 80s geek/video game nostalgia

  69. jamiemcdonald

    Sister’s Brothers – Patrick deWittMatterhorn – Karl MalantesBorn to Run – Christopher McDougall

  70. Hrishi Mittal

    Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality – you’ve ever enjoyed any of Yudkowsky’s writings, this is GOLD.

  71. James Haft

    I still use Snow Crash as a reference. ๐Ÿ™‚

  72. Thor Muller

    So many good suggestions here. I’m surprised no one’s mentioned Stephenson’s The Diamond Age, which imagines a world transformed after physical stuff is as essentially free as information has become (also connecting it to the rise of transnational cryptocurrency subverting national currencies). Countless interesting ideas that seem so relevant these days.Agree that Charles Stross is worthy sci-fi, Accelerando for an encyclopedia of mind-blowing ideas (though not a very cohesive novel) and Glasshouse for a fun, quick read about a post-singularity universe after humans (or, really, post-humans) have spread out across the galaxy and forgotten what they once were.I’m surprised nobody’s mentioned Cloud Atlas, which is both a literary tour de force with science fiction overtones. No pulp here, just pure inventiveness. He also wrote a historical novel about Edo-era Japan I liked–The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet.For the sci-fi shy who haven’t read Ray Bradbury, I’d recommend reading some of his short stories, if nothing else. My son (age 10) and I have been reading Martian Chronicles and Illustrated Man, and I’m getting things out of them that I largely missed the first time. Namely, the darkness and skepticism about how technology was changing us (on this note, I’m meaning to read the recent Douglas Coupland biography on Marshall McLuhan). We’re also watching all the old Twilight Zones on Netflix, which like Bradbury are of an era that we think about as techno-optimistic, but which reflect the underlying paranoia and deeper self-reflection of the mid-century.I’m now in the midst of The Power Broker by Robert Caro, a massive biography of Robert Moses, the man who shaped twentieth century New York City’s politics and physical structure.

  73. IggyFanlo

    For the sports lover, Dafid Halberstam’s “Breaks of the Game”. An oldie but a greatie

  74. Avi Deitcher

    Just some recent ones:- I just read “The Unincorporated Man.” Some of the writing is sloppy, but the concepts are great, and they deal with multiple sides of the issues fairly well.- “Atlas Shrugged.” Always classic.- “The Count of Monte Cristo,” Alexandre Dumas. Just reread it for the first time in about 10 years, how did I wait so long?If we are doing non-fiction, too, well:- “Closing of the Muslim Mind” is brilliant. I bet almost no one here knows of the philosophical debates raging in Islam in the 9th-11th centuries, and how they impact modern Islam, but a first-rate read.- “Power, Faith and Fantasy,” Michael Oren. Very readable tour de force review of the history of America in the Middle East from 1776 to today.- Anything by John Keegan, if you like well-written history.- I assume everyone here has read Steve Blank’s latest “Startup Owner’s Manual,” (and so much better written than “Four Steps to the Epiphany.”)And many many more…

  75. willcole

    Just re-read Heinlein’s Stranger in a Strange Land. I was too young to appreciate it before. Quick read, one of his best. Highly recommended.

    1. Dave Pinsen

      I’ve been reading a little Heinlein this year. Just finished Doorway into Summer. Read The Moon is a Harsh Mistress earlier this year — great book.

      1. willcole

        The Moon is a Harsh Mistress is my favorite of his. Probably read it 3-4 times.

  76. Jon Winebrenner

    Reamde is next on my list as well. If you read that and like it, pick up William Gibson’s “Pattern Recognition” next. I also liked the follow-on “Spook Country”, but not to the same level I liked Pattern Recognition. My all time favorite is still “The Road” by Cormack McCarthy.

  77. tdevane

    Savage Detectives, The Cut, and/or The Lost City of Z

    1. Guest

      I’m considering “The Lost City of Z.” Is it more science and adventure or more character relationship stuff?

      1. karen_e

        I couldn’t get into it. I have it in hardback and will gladly give it to you if you are in Boston/Cambridge or environs.

        1. Guest

          Thank you for the offer. I only do eBooks now. Reason is, last year I organized my paper books and during that fiasco I realized an ereader would be a better way to store books.

    2. Sophia A.

      The Savage Detectives was incredible! Have you read any of Bolano’s novellas or short stories? The Return (2nd short story coll.) is pretty amazing.

  78. LE

    I used to read and buy a ton of books. Nothing I liked more than wandering through a B&N for hours.I haven’t done that in a few years. No time anymore with all the reading on the web that has replaced that enjoyment. It’s not the cost it’s the fact that you get multiple viewpoints on the web which you don’t get in a single book. And instant ability to fork if you need further understanding of a subject that you are reading about.Take a recent NYT article about kids an adhd drugs. You get the viewpoint of the writer. Then you get 700 comments curated to see what real people’s experience is and make up your own mind and add to your knowledge.(I’m not a reader of fiction at all..)

  79. pointsnfigures

    Neptune’s Inferno, story of the Naval battles at Guadalcanal; The Color of Rain, about how two people lost their spouses tragically to cancer and found each other-and built a Brady Bunch family; Unbroken, amazing story of Louis Zamperini; Monuments Men by Robert Edsel. Incredible story of how Eisenhower and a group of hand picked museum curators saved the stolen and looted Nazi art trove and returned it to Western Culture.

  80. BDavey

    Neuromancer, great stuff.

  81. Guest

    The Dig by Siemsen is pretty good. Not much Sci but pretty good Fi.

  82. unlisted

    A Song of Ice and Fire – George R. R. MartinPopularized by the HBO TV series “Game of Thrones”.

  83. deancollins

    “The Most Powerful Idea in the World: A Story of Steam, Industry, and Invention” you dont think this book has anything to do with tech and patents….until you are half way into the book realise this is the exact issue is still at the crux of relevance for every startup even today –

  84. Doug Gibbs

    I just finished “Avogadro Corp: The Signularity is closer than It Appears”, based on a recommend from Brad Feld’s blog. Also the novel Daemon, by Daniel Suarez is great, but much darker.

  85. John Revay

    Essence of Decision: Explaining the Cuban Missile Crisis (2nd Edition)…An extremely impressive book and one that everyone should read, to betterunderstand what really happens in large organizations and government. Thereโ€™s also a wikipedia article on the book.

  86. FlavioGomes

    After a recent trip to San Francisco…..Jack Londons Sea Wolf. Wonderful read.

  87. James Ferguson @kWIQly

    Ahhh the answer just came to me !I recommend you take a web enabled device, and get embroiled in Disqus – its what I would do.I would recommend a bit of discovery on too – is also as good a place as any to start from. Enjoy a wine with @awaldstein – why not have a guest blogger put something up and comment from the heart under a one-day psuedonym – we could have a find the fred competition (one guess per commentator)This answer dawned on me as I was tempted to login to ZDNET to respond to a pretty anodyne comment. But then I thought – I really can’t be bothered until they implement Disqus. I had the same feeling with the BBC news blog site which I otherwise enjoy – there is no discovery, no community and responses are character count limited => no JLM => no comment ! – and ultimately no reward more than could be had by daubing a graffiti’ed slogan on brickwork for a sense of ego.So that’s what I will be reading – Informed interesting opinions – whether on fiction, business, social engineering, the environment (I might have to write some of those myself as there is a startling ignorance), startups or whatever.Oh and enjoy some down-time – No connectivity, no books, just family and friends !

  88. LukeG

    William Gibson’s latest three novels (Pattern Recognition, Spook Country, Zero History) are all pretty fascinating looks at how we & the world are changing.His new collection of nonfiction essays, Distrust That Particular Flavor, is also particularly epic, especially when you look at the dates and realize when he wrote each of them. He picks up on fascinating intersections of social and technological trends *so* early, and writes amazing stories about them.Despite Neuromancer, et al, he’s not a sci-fi writer. He writes about the way people and technology influence each other, and he does it with rad, rad style. He’s shaped my thinking about technology & culture more than any other single source.”If you believe, as I do, that all cultural change is essentially technologically driven…”Few other gems:- today’s web as the “test pattern” of the future [web] emergent technology, pagers, and drug dealers: remember reading an OATV prospectus at some point, and I was sure much of it had come from him (Bryce denied it).

  89. Chris Hill

    Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel. The sequel just came out. Some unbelievable writing and fascinating as an insight into any situation involving politics and power. One of the better books I’ve read recently (though at times difficult due to narrative style)

  90. Abdallah Al-Hakim

    For those into science fiction: I am starting the Daemon by Daniel Suarez. It was highly recommended by Brad Feld on his blog.

    1. Ryan Brohman

      I really enjoyed Daemon. The sequel, Freedom, wasn’t as good, but still enjoyable.

  91. RichardF

    This is a fantastic thread. Thanks AVC community, there is no other like it

  92. karen_e

    I think I got through all the comments and am surprised that no one in this crowd is picking up Clay Christensen’s new book, How Will You Measure Your Life? We wandered into two bookstores in Harvard Square a week ago and it was sold out at both places. They told us at one that it is probably already in a rush reprint. Should be interesting to see how a Christian and an atheist battle out recommending a thesis-driven business [see: USV] or principle-driven life.

    1. Guest

      That’s one good thing about ebooks, no stock outs.

  93. karen_e

    Oh! @aaronklein’s comment (and others’) about reading real books reminds me of what is next to my bed. I am absolutely gorging on Beautiful Evidence by Edward Tufte. Everyone who presents anything at anytime can benefit from reading how words and images can optimally work together. Filled with examples from art and science, an easy read, and a joyous read.

  94. rick gregory

    Lots of classic recommendations here… I’ve not scanned the entire thread but here are some recent SF books I’ve liked:The Quantum Thief, Hannu RajaniemiBoth Moxyland and Zoo City, Lauren Beukes. There’s a reason she recently won the Clarke award.For Snow Crashness, Charlie Stross’ novel Accelerando (a few years old, but…)For lighthearted fun, any Terry Pratchett, i.e. Small Gods. Or, of course, his classic with Neil Gaiman Good Omens (never let the anti-Christ get switched at birth…)If you’ve not read Richard Kadrey’s Sandman Slim books, do that now. Start with Sandman Slim.A recent discovery, Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell

  95. William Wagner

    The Big U is another underappreciated early Neal Stephenson work, its a brisk read about the fiery combustion of the academic system set in Boston

  96. sbmiller5

    If you like Sci-Fi – Game of Thrones books – so much better than the TV series.

  97. Guest

    Well, since sci-fi is well represented I figure I might as weigh in with my reading list:I am reading Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck this weekend for what must be the 10th time.I just finished three books on India:The Last Mughal: The Fall of a Dynasty: Delhi, 1857 by William DalrympleFreedom at Midnight by Dominique Lapierre and Larry CollinsRaj: The Making and Unmaking of British India by Lawrence JamesOh, and another great book that I finished a couple of months ago:The Lost: A Search for Six Of Six Million by Daniel Mendelsohn.

    1. Luke Chamberlin

      “Steinbeck is a newspaper man, not really a novelist.” – William Faulkner

      1. Guest

        Then between “Grapes Of Wrath” and “The Winter Of Our Discontent” he wrote some awesome newspapers! :)I can’t write a once a week blog post so I am impressed even with a “newspaper man.”

  98. Denim Smith

    Not a new one but an all-time fav:A Short History of Nearly Everything ย by Bill BrysonIt’s a long one but great on so many levels.



  100. Danny Haber

    I dont know about books, but I just wrote a blog post about Rainmakers. Would like to see what you guys think:…

  101. Luke Chamberlin

    I love science fiction so I’ll write about science fiction.Science fiction is the most underrated literary genre. A glimpse into our collective stream of consciousness and imagination, and often eerily prescient.Foundational sci-fi:Ender’s Game – Orson Scott Card (who I met once and who signed my book, “To a fellow talespinner, keep on flickering!” the meaning of which I have no idea)Neuromancer – William GibsonSnow Crash – Neal StephensonDune – Frank HerbertCat’s Cradle – Kurt VonnegutRingworld – Larry NivenFollowing generations:Altered Carbon – Richard K. MorganHardboiled Wonderland and the End of the World – Murakami HarukiGun, With Occasional Music – Jonathan LethamEon – Greg BearHouse of Leaves – Mark Z. DanielewskiI would also find some time for Ray Bradbury (RIP) this summer. Most famous for Fahrenheit 451, his short stories are the real gems of his oeuvre. “The Golden Apples of the Sun” might be his best collection, especially the stories “The Flying Machine” and “Embroidery”, which is one of the great short stories of the 20th century.

  102. James Alonso

    I just read The Barron in the Trees by Italo Calvino. Really fantastic.

  103. ChuckEats

    invisible cities by calvino – for the love of language & ideascomplete short stores by jorge borges – rethink the way you think every storyblood meridian by cormac mccarthy – life and death

  104. Ben Apple

    Should I be ashamed that I haven’t heard of Neal Stephenson…? Havent been led astray by the community here so I’ll have to check him out.I was on a Murakami kick for a little while- Kafka on the Shore, Norwegian Wood, and was a little disappointed by his latest-1Q84- he’s got many short stories too for some lighter reading.What I Talk About When I Talk About Running is also a pretty cool book, sort of a memoir told through his experiences with running

  105. BillSeitz

    AndyKessler’s Grumby and EatPeople.

  106. BillSeitz

    NonFiction: just finished TonyWagner’s CreatingInnovators, pretty good survey of some interesting education experiments (HighTechHigh, Olin Engineering, etc.).

  107. Raja

    Here are the responses to my Quora question that may be of interest to this topic:…Have fun.

  108. michaelbstrong

    I write from Zola Books (eBooks startup with curator-driven recommendations) and we have the following recommendations for someone inspired by Stephenson’s Snow Crash. These books all came out in the last year:Consider Phlebas – Iain M. Banks2312 – Kim Stanley RobinsonExistence – David BrinLeviathan Wakes – James S.A. Corey (awesome action-adventure)Zoo City – Lauren BeukesWe’re in private beta now but in September you can try out the recommendation engine yourself to get great answers to just this sort of question. Until then – enjoy your summer reading! (I recommend you start with Consider Phlebas.)

    1. mydigitalself

      Lauren Beukes is one of my friend’s sisters, she’s an amazing up and coming South African author and sort of a cross between Jeff Noon and William Gibson. Loved her first book, Moxyland, which also had a music soundtrack, which I thought was a great touch.

  109. Jen_McFadden

    Just finished Reamde last week. Despite the completely implausible multiple plot lines, it was a great read. Kept me awake until all hours several nights in a row. And, there are some kick-ass female characters in it!In honor of Ray Bradbury, you could pick up his very short book on writing–it’s a quick and useful read. Good for the beach.

  110. Rebecca A. Holloway

    Unbroken, a harrowing story of one of the most buoyant spirits I have ever come across. Louis Zamperini was an athlete in the Berlin Olympics, then a fighter pilot in World War Two where his plane crashed into the Pacific Ocean. He battles sharks, bullets from enemy air crafts, starvation, and thirst, only to wind up on the shores of Japan to face even more dire threats. Its a seriously powerful story. And its true.

  111. Gman

    Fred, there are brief book reviews of some of these in my LinkedIn profile:1) Life Without Limits: Inspiration for a Ridiculously Good Life by Nick Vujicic2) Escape from Camp 14: One Man’s Remarkable Odyssey from North Korea to Freedom in the West by Blaine Harden3) Letters to My Torturer: Love, Revolution, and Imprisonment in Iran by Houshang Asadi4) The Long Walk: The True Story of a Trek to Freedom by Slavomir Rawicz5) The Bielski Brothers: The True Story of Three Men Who Defied the Nazis, Built a Village in the Forest, and Saved 1,200 Jews by Peter Duffy…

  112. Clay Schossow

    All the King’s Men. I finally got around to reading it and hated myself for not doing it sooner. Easily one of the best books I’ve ever read. Great look at politics and power and what people are driven to do in the name of both. Even though it’s fiction, the story rings very true for anyone who is involve in a world with political power, and I think business/startups definitely meet that criteria.

  113. Henrik Berggren

    You know you can track and share readings and highlights using Readtracker, it connects to Readmill also.

  114. Sasha

    Also, a big Sci-Fi fan, but just came across a fantastic satire of the genre, really short and a bit prophetic (written in the ’50s):

  115. MarkUry

    -Easy Riders, Raging Bulls -Moneyball