Ev Williams's favorite books

  • Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

    Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

    Robert M. Pirsig
    An Inquiry Into Values
    Essence (Philosophy)

    A book which speaks directly to the confusions and agonies of existence, detailing a personal, philosophical odyssey.

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    One of the few novels I've ever read twice

     — Source

  • Sphere

    Sphere

    Michael Crichton
    Fiction

    From the author of Jurassic Park, Timeline, and Congo comes a psychological thriller about a group of scientists who investigate a spaceship discovered on the ocean floor. In the middle of the South Pacific, a thousand feet below the surface, a huge vessel is unearthed. Rushed to the scene is a team of American scientists who descend together into the depths to investigate the astonishing discovery. What they find defies their imaginations and mocks their attempts at logical explanation. It is a spaceship, but apparently it is undamaged by its fall from the sky. And, most startling, it appears to be at least three hundred years old, containing a terrifying and destructive force that must be controlled at all costs.

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    I don't know why, but I loved this book when I read it, which I did in one sitting. Literally.

    Dec 16, 2007 — Source

  • The Power Of One

    The Power Of One

    Bryce Courtenay
    Fiction

    “The Power of One has everything: suspense, the exotic, violence; mysticism, psychology and magic; schoolboy adventures, drama.” –The New York Times “Unabashedly uplifting . . . asserts forcefully what all of us would like to believe: that the individual, armed with the spirit of independence–‘the power of one’–can prevail.” –Cleveland Plain Dealer In 1939, as Hitler casts his enormous, cruel shadow across the world, the seeds of apartheid take root in South Africa. There, a boy called Peekay is born. His childhood is marked by humiliation and abandonment, yet he vows to survive and conceives heroic dreams–which are nothing compared to what life actually has in store for him. He embarks on an epic journey through a land of tribal superstition and modern prejudice where he will learn the power of words, the power to transform lives, and the power of one. “Totally engrossing . . . [presents] the metamorphosis of a most remarkable young man and the almost spiritual influence he has on others . . . Peekay has both humor and a refreshingly earthy touch, and his adventures, at times, are hair-raising in their suspense.” –Los Angeles Times Book Review “Marvelous . . . It is the people of the sun-baked plains of Africa who tug at the heartstrings in this book. . . . [Bryce] Courtenay draws them all with a fierce and violent love.” –The Washington Post Book World “Impressive.” –Newsday “A compelling tale.” –The Christian Science Monitor

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    I read this book when I was young, hungry, and impressionable. I found it quite inspiring. Not sure how it would strike me today, but giving it five stars, based on the impact it had on me at the time.

    Dec 16, 2007 — Source

  • Thinking, Fast and Slow

    Thinking, Fast and Slow

    Daniel Kahneman
    Psychology

    Major New York Times bestseller Winner of the National Academy of Sciences Best Book Award in 2012 Selected by the New York Times Book Review as one of the ten best books of 2011 A Globe and Mail Best Books of the Year 2011 Title One of The Economist's 2011 Books of the Year One of The Wall Street Journal's Best Nonfiction Books of the Year 2011 2013 Presidential Medal of Freedom Recipient Kahneman's work with Amos Tversky is the subject of Michael Lewis's The Undoing Project: A Friendship That Changed Our Minds In the international bestseller, Thinking, Fast and Slow, Daniel Kahneman, the renowned psychologist and winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics, takes us on a groundbreaking tour of the mind and explains the two systems that drive the way we think. System 1 is fast, intuitive, and emotional; System 2 is slower, more deliberative, and more logical. The impact of overconfidence on corporate strategies, the difficulties of predicting what will make us happy in the future, the profound effect of cognitive biases on everything from playing the stock market to planning our next vacation—each of these can be understood only by knowing how the two systems shape our judgments and decisions. Engaging the reader in a lively conversation about how we think, Kahneman reveals where we can and cannot trust our intuitions and how we can tap into the benefits of slow thinking. He offers practical and enlightening insights into how choices are made in both our business and our personal lives—and how we can use different techniques to guard against the mental glitches that often get us into trouble. Winner of the National Academy of Sciences Best Book Award and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and selected by The New York Times Book Review as one of the ten best books of 2011, Thinking, Fast and Slow is destined to be a classic.

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    I love surprising scientific findings, as well as information about how our brains work. This is a treasure trove of both.

     — Source

  • Reinventing Fire

    Reinventing Fire

    Amory Lovins
    Bold Business Solutions for the New Energy Era
    Business & Economics

    Oil and coal have built our civilisation, created our wealth and enriched the lives of billions. Yet their rising costs to our security, economy, health and environment are starting to outweigh their benefits. Moreover, the tipping point where alternatives work better and compete purely on cost is not decades in the future - it is here and now. And that tipping point has become the fulcrum of economic transformation. In Reinventing Fire, Amory Lovins and the Rocky Mountain Institute offer a new vision to revitalise business models and win the clean energy race - not forced by public policy but led by business for long-term advantage. This independent and rigorous account offers market-based solutions integrating transportation, buildings, industry and electricity. It maps pathways for running a 158%-bigger US economy in 2050 but needing no oil, no coal, no nuclear energy, one-third less natural gas and no new inventions. This transition would cost $5 trillion less than business-as-usual - without counting fossil fuels' huge hidden costs. Whether you care most about profits and jobs, or national security, or environmental stewardship, climate, and health, Reinventing Fire makes sense. It's a story of astounding opportunities for creating the new energy era. -- Publisher description.

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    an antidote for doom and gloom. It offers a thoroughly researched set of options for engineering our way out of the crisis.

     — Source

  • The Dip

    The Dip

    Seth Godin
    A Little Book that Teaches You when to Quit (and when to Stick)
    Business & Economics

    The author of Permission Marketing and Purple Cow shares insights into knowing when to support or fight corporate systems, explaining how to recognize and drop defunct practices to protect profits, job security, and professional satisfaction.

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    I found this book inspiring and clarifying about what it takes to succeed.

    Dec 15, 2007 — Source

  • Antifragile

    Antifragile

    Nassim Nicholas Taleb
    Things that Gain from Disorder
    Business & Economics

    Shares insights into how adversity can bring out the best in individuals and communities, drawing on multiple disciplines to consider such topics as the superiority of city states over nation states and the drawbacks of debt.

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    Few books have made me think more than this one over the last decade.

     — Source

  • Getting Things Done

    Getting Things Done

    David Allen
    The Art of Stress-Free Productivity
    Business & Economics

    ALLEN/GETTING THINGS DONE

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    I need frequent reminders on the approach laid out in this book, as I fall off the GTD wagon often.

     — Source

  • The Effective Executive

    The Effective Executive

    Peter F. Drucker
    The Definitive Guide to Getting the Right Things Done
    Business & Economics

    What makes an effective executive? The measure of the executive, Peter F. Drucker reminds us, is the ability to "get the right things done." This usually involves doing what other people have overlooked as well as avoiding what is unproductive. Intelligence, imagination, and knowledge may all be wasted in an executive job without the acquired habits of mind that mold them into results. Drucker identifies five practices essential to business effectiveness that can, and must, be learned: Managing time Choosing what to contribute to the organization Knowing where and how to mobilize strength for best effect Setting the right priorities Knitting all of them together with effective decision-making Ranging widely through the annals of business and government, Peter F. Drucker demonstrates the distinctive skill of the executive and offers fresh insights into old and seemingly obvious business situations.

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    This slim 1969 guide to managing yourself and others in the knowledge economy is otherwise incredibly on point.

     — Source

  • The Halo Effect

    The Halo Effect

    Phil Rosenzweig
    . . . and the Eight Other Business Delusions That Deceive Managers
    Business & Economics

    Controversial and iconoclastic, a veteran corporate manager and business school professor exposes the dangerous myths, fantasies, and delusions that pervade much of the business world today.

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    If you read business books, you should read this business book. You'll read all others with a more skeptical (and intelligent) eye.

    Dec 15, 2007 — Source

  • The Martian

    The Martian

    Andy Weir
    Young Adult Fiction

    #1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER * "Brilliant . . . a celebration of human ingenuity [and] the purest example of real-science sci-fi for many years . . . utterly compelling."--The Wall Street Journal The inspiration for the major motion picture Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first people to walk on Mars. Now, he's sure he'll be the first person to die there. After a dust storm nearly kills him and forces his crew to evacuate while thinking him dead, Mark finds himself stranded and completely alone with no way to even signal Earth that he's alive--and even if he could get word out, his supplies would be gone long before a rescue could arrive. Chances are, though, he won't have time to starve to death. The damaged machinery, unforgiving environment, or plain-old "human error" are much more likely to kill him first. But Mark isn't ready to give up yet. Drawing on his ingenuity, his engineering skills--and a relentless, dogged refusal to quit--he steadfastly confronts one seemingly insurmountable obstacle after the next. Will his resourcefulness be enough to overcome the impossible odds against him? NAMED ONE OF PASTE'S BEST NOVELS OF THE DECADE "A hugely entertaining novel [that] reads like a rocket ship afire . . . Weir has fashioned in Mark Watney one of the most appealing, funny, and resourceful characters in recent fiction."--Chicago Tribune "As gripping as they come . . . You'll be rooting for Watney the whole way, groaning at every setback and laughing at his pitchblack humor. Utterly nail-biting and memorable."--Financial Times

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    If I was really stranded on a desert island, this novel would be good to have

     — Source

  • Mindfulness for Beginners

    Mindfulness for Beginners

    Jon Kabat-Zinn
    Reclaiming the Present Moment—and Your Life
    Self-Help

    We may long for wholeness, suggests Jon Kabat-Zinn, but the truth is that it is already here and already ours. The practice of mindfulness holds the possibility of not just a fleeting sense of contentment, but a true embracing of a deeper unity that envelops and permeates our lives. With Mindfulness for Beginners you are invited to learn how to transform your relationship to the way you think, feel, love, work, and play—and thereby awaken to and embody more completely who you really are. Here, the teacher, scientist, and clinician who first demonstrated the benefits of mindfulness within mainstream Western medicine offers a book that you can use in three unique ways: as a collection of reflections and practices to be opened and explored at random; as an illuminating and engaging start-to-finish read; or as an unfolding “lesson- a-day” primer on mindfulness practice. Beginning and advanced meditators alike will discover in these pages a valuable distillation of the key attitudes and essential practices that Jon Kabat-Zinn has found most useful with his students, including: Why heartfulness is synonymous with true mindfulness The value of coming back to our bodies and to our senses over and over again How our thoughts “self-liberate” when touched by awareness Moving beyond our “story” into direct experience Stabilizing our attention and presence amidst daily activities The three poisons that cause suffering—and their antidotes How mindfulness heals, even after the fact Reclaiming our wholeness, and more The prescription for living a more mindful life seems simple enough: return your awareness again and again to whatever is going on. But if you’ve tried it, you know that here is where all the questions and challenges really begin. Mindfulness for Beginners provides welcome answers, insights, and instruction to help us make that shift, moment by moment, into a more spacious, clear, reliable, and loving connection with ourselves and the world. Contents Part I Entering Beginner’s Mind The Breath Who Is Breathing? The Hardest Work in the World Taking Care of This Moment Mindfulness Is Awareness Doing Mode and Being Mode A Grounding in Science Mindfulness is Universal Wakefulness Stabilizing and Calibrating Your Instrument Inhabiting Awareness Is the Essence of Practice The Beauty of Discipline Adjusting Your Default Setting Awareness: Our Only Capacity Robust Enough to Balance Thinking Attention and Awareness Are Trainable Skills Nothing Wrong with Thinking Befriending Our Thinking Images of Your Mind That Might Be Useful Not Taking Our Thoughts Personally Selfing Our Love Affair with Personal Pronouns—Especially I, Me, and Mine Awareness Is a Big Container The Objects of Attention Are Not as Important as the Attending Itself Part II: Sustaining Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction A World-Wide Phenomenon An Affectionate Attention Mindfulness Brought to All the Senses Proprioception and Interoception The Unity of Awareness The Knowing Is Awareness Life Itself Becomes the Meditation Practice You Already Belong Right Beneath Our Noses Mindfulness is Not Merely a Good Idea To Come Back in Touch Who Am I? Questioning Our Own Narrative You Are More Than Any Narrative You Are Never Not Whole Paying Attention in a Different Way Not Knowing The Prepared Mind What Is Yours to See? Part III: Deepening No Place to Go, Nothing to Do The Doing That Comes Out of Being To Act Appropriately If You Are Aware of What Is Happening, You Are Doing It Right Non-Judging Is an Act of Intelligence and Kindness You Can Only Be Yourself—Thank Goodness! Embodied Knowing Feeling Joy for Others The Full Catastrophe Is My Awareness of Suffering Suffering? What Does Liberation from Suffering Mean? Hell Realms Liberation Is in the Practice Itself The Beauty of the Mind That Knows Itself Taking Care of Your Meditation Practice Energy Conservation in Meditation Practice An Attitude of Non-Harming Greed: The Cascade of Dissatisfactions Aversion: The Flip Side of Greed Delusion and the Trap of Self-Fulfilling Prophecies Now Is Always the Right Time The “Curriculum” is “Just This” Giving Your Life Back to Yourself Bringing Mindfulness Further Into the World Part IV: Ripening The Attitudinal Foundations of Mindfulness Practice Non-Judging Patience Beginner’s Mind Trust Non-Striving Acceptance Letting Go Part V: Practicing Getting Started with Formal Practice Mindfulness of Eating Mindfulness of Breathing Mindfulness of the Body as a Whole Mindfulness of Sounds, Thoughts, and Emotions Mindfulness as Pure Awareness

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    For me, mindfulness meditation is the most important habit I've taken up in my adult life.

     — Source

  • Mindset

    Mindset

    Carol S. Dweck
    Family & Relationships

    After more than 20 years of study on how an individual's mindset motivates success, Dweck shows how these mindsets profoundly shape achievements and relationships, and how a mindset can be applied to achieve success.

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    Her book goes far beyond the implications for children and has lessons for all in work and personal life.

     — Source

  • Jonathan Livingston Seagull

    Jonathan Livingston Seagull

    Richard Bach
    A Story
    Fables

    Jonathan Livingston Seagull, the most celebrated inspirational fable of our time, tells the story of a bird determined to be more than ordinary. This bestselling modern classic, reissued with a beautiful new cover design, is a story for people who want to follow their dreams and make their own rules and has inspired people for decades. `Most gulls don't bother to learn more than the simplest facts of flight how to get from shore to food and back again,' writes author Richard Bach in this allegory about a unique bird named Jonathan Livingston Seagull. `For most gulls it is not flying that matters, but eating. For this gull, though, it was not eating that mattered, but flight.' Flight is indeed the metaphor that makes this story soar. This bestselling modern classic is a fable about seeking a higher purpose in life, even if your flock, tribe or neighbourhood finds your ambition threatening (at one point our beloved gull is even banished from his flock). By not compromising his higher vision, Jonathan learns the meaning of love and kindness and gets the ultimate payoff transcendence. The dreamy illustrations by Russell Munson provide just the right illustrations for this spirituality classic that has inspired thousands of readers to follow their own path in life and so fulfill their true potential.

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    His message was that there is a bigger world out there, and that I didn't need to conform to those around me. It was an important and enduring lesson.

     — Source

  • In Search of Excellence

    Didnt solve the problems of my tiny web development shop.

    May 18, 2013 — Source

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