Ryan Hoover, Startup Edition, Product Hunt

Read what else Ryan Hoover is reading for work

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Senior Visual / Motion designer at Fitbit

A bit cliched but I really found fight club to be a great book, subsequently if you have already read fight club might I suggest Survivor by the same author

Director of Marketing at Playerize

Love most of Palahnuik's work.

Traction Book, Exceptional Cloud Services

Another upvote for Fight Club

Quibb, Uber

Selfish Gene by Richard Dawkins. I'm reading Angels of our Better Nature which is great so far. Also Mythical Man Month, and The New New Thing for some tech history.

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Associate Strategy Director at Frog Design

Stumbling on Happiness by Daniel Gilbert. I read it a few years and still reference it all the time - it provides an incredibly useful context for understanding how our brains are capable (or rather, incapable) of accurately imagining the future and the impact that has on our everyday happiness and goal setting. Being in the Type-A surroundings that we are, it was actually comforting to understand more about why seeking out and achieving goals that we think will make us happy is much more difficult than we think it is.

Ahem, I know you requested just one book, but I also highly recommend Thinking Fast, Thinking Slow by Daniel Kahneman, although it's super dense...not sure if it's vacation reading. I wrestled my way through The Hidden Reality of Parallel Universes when I was on a beach in Thailand, and sort of wish I had brought a bunch of gossip mags instead.

VP Product at RelayRides

+1 on both recommendations.

Founder at Glyder

The Black Swan by Nassim Nicholas Taleb. Really influenced my thinking in both regards to taking risks personally/in my career, and in regards to company building.

Product at Dropbox

Not sure if these were *the* most impactful on my life - but here are some great reads:

Checklist Manifesto

Insanely Simple- I re-read this book to reinforce the importance of detail & simplicity in product and marketing. As we say here at Dropbox, simplicity demands eternal vigilance :)

Full Stack Marketing, G2 Crowd

I read the Checklist Manifesto very quickly over my Christmas Vacation. It's a real interesting look at other industries (like construction and medicine which I know nothing about) and how they use processes to be incredibly efficient and safe.

I learned a lot about how structuring processes can really speed up and help decision making. There's also a broader lesson about how in large organizations, the central decision making unit should provide the structure and communication schedule, but empower the spokes of the org to make their own decisions.

Product Lead at Flurry

I second thinking and fast and slow - it will really dismantle a lot of assumptions you've had about how you make decisions, your thought processes and the biases we are all likely to fall victim to. If that sounds interesting but you want something lighter, I'd recommend Predictably Irrational which explores the same topics but is a shorter easier read.

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Startup Edition, Product Hunt

I read Predictably Irrational several years ago and really enjoyed it. If Thinking Fast and Slow is similar, I'm sold.

Director of Marketing at Playerize

What Technology Wants by KK is awesome. For writer geeks, Hunter S. Thompson's Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas forever changed how I approached writing and the idea of creating a voice. If I could describe that impact I'd say it was the most impressive and enjoyable piece of work I came across early on that felt as if I was being spoken to - Bukowski and Vonnegut are two others that I devour on the same premise.

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Techbikers, Google Ventures
Growth and Analytics at Buffer

@Eze I'm a big fan of the Flow book as well! Describes very well something I've experienced but had not been able to verbalize.

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One? An impossible request for me. But here are a couple of ones off the top of my head, limited to those that are (for me, anyway) enjoyable reads as well as thought-provoking ones:

One book that's wonderful fiction and also should be required reading for anyone working at the intersection of technology and people. Prescient may not be too strong a word: The Diamond Age, by Neal Stephenson

One (relatively) recent book that gives a fascinating view into a phenomenally closed society, while also giving rise to odd little questions about one's own society: Nothing To Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea, by Barbara Demick.

One book that is a view into a dimly lit, dangerous alley of New York City's history, which will cause you (if you live in New York) to spend weeks walking the city's streets looking for the little pieces of that history that still remain: Low Life: Lures and Snares of Old New York, by Luc Sante


Thanks so much for reminding me of the existence of Low Life. I adored that book when I read it in the mid-nineties as a punk wanna-be writer prowling around NYC.

Fwiw, it's loosely based on a novel from the twenties, Gangs of New York, which Sante has been accused of stealing from. GONY was out of print for decades before Scorsese loosely based his movie on it, and whoever owned the rights saw an opportunity to cash in and reprinted it. I've been meaning to read it forever, but kids and companies have pretty well decimated my leisure reading. Something to look forward to when the smoke clears, someday.

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Gangs of New York actually isn't a novel, but a series of essays -- much like Sante's book, actually. (My dad was a historian and enthusiastic transplant to NYC, so I've got his copy of the original sitting on a shelf at home.) The Scorsese movie basically just grabbed the setting and some characters from the book and grafted a narrative on to it.

It's a fascinating book, as is "All Around the Town," also by the author of GONY. Another entry for your read-it-one-day list. :)

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Partner at USV

+1 for The Diamond Age

Senior Product Manager at PlayHaven

Not sure if you already read it but The 4-Hour WorkWeek is a great read during a vacation

Startup Edition, Product Hunt

I read that a few years ago as well. Definite +1.

Scout Ventures, Dozen Digital

For fiction, I just read Angels by Denis Johnson. Amazing. For non-fiction, Guns Germs and Steel is still one of my faves.

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Sometimes a Great Notion, by Ken Kesey, is an absolutely stunning book. I was delirious over it when I read it 20 years ago, but wasn't sure if it stood the test of time. My wife just read it, voraciously, and assures me it does. It's less well known than One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, but in my opinion far better.

Given how shockingly brilliant it is, it's sad Kesey never really did much of note after it. It seems he more or less coasted on "Cuckoo's Nest" and his early association with the Dead.

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ps -- Quibb is heavy on internet/technology types (which is, you know, cool), and a good proportion of these book recommendations reflect that. But if you're on vacation, take a real vacation--read some fucking art. Tech people--much as I love you, and am one of you--we can often use some broadening. Read some big-picture shit about the human condition and whatnot. I miss having time for more of that, dearly, and credit the small amount of horse-sense I have, basically, Tolstoy and Philip Roth. It'll come back to you, certainly, so I would not consider it wasted time to read stuff that's flat-out literary. But too... even if it doesn't help in a professional sense, it'll just make you a richer, happier person, in the best, most complex ways.

Damn. I've convinced myself. Must make more time for novels!


Which reminds me: read American Pastoral, by Philip Roth. It's his best book, which is saying something. He's the anti-Kesey. He took slightly longer to get up to speed, but once he did (as with Kesey, in the early 60s) he never stopped. American Pastoral might be the Best American Novel of the Past Twenty Years. The very idea of which is nonsense, of course, but... it still might be.

He claims to have retired. And he sounds like an alcoholic who insists their next drink will be the last. Selfishly, I hope he can't stop.

Lead Analyst at HootSuite

"Why Nations Fail" by Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson, "Poor Economics" by Abhijit Bannerjee and Esther Duflo, and "The Sun Also Rises" by Hemingway.

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Ryan, not everyone needs a book that will change their lives on a holiday- just sayin'. Currently I've been guffawing all the way through Chuck Klosterman's 'Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs: A Low Culture Manifesto' and it makes me FEEL like I'm on holiday, despite the very real fact that I am not. Download an excerpt here (http://www.amazon.com/Sex-Drugs-Cocoa-Puffs-Manifesto/dp/0743236017/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1363827974&sr=8-3&keywords=chuck+klosterman) and see if 'ol Chuck floats your boat.

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Co-founder, CEO at Rollbar

Side-stepping that hard question... a book I'm reading now (about half-way through) and finding absolutely fascinating is Influence: Science and Practice. Easy read, references actual research; highly recommended.


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Co-Founder at edshelf

Love that book. A very easy read.

And a quick story:

I once sat next to a multi-level marketer on a plane ride. Didn't know he was an MLM at first, but it dawned on me as he systematically went through every tactic from Influence. Social proof, consistency, scarcity, all of them. I kept talking to him only to see how he'd approach the next tactic.

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Principal, Business Development, Games at Amazon

Great book. One of my fav.

Sr. Product Manager at LinkedIn

Changed my life? It has to be 'The art of living: Vipassana meditation' by William Hart


Here is why:
If you get to know of a pill which will help you be happy in all circumstances, which you can take as many times you like, which doesn't have any side-effects whatsoever, would you take that pill? Did you say yes. Well that pill is meditation. This book helped me go on a course which transformed my life, gave me a new birth, changed my definition of happiness.

Co-Founder at edshelf

There's no single book that has had the biggest impact on my life, as many have shared in crafting my perspective. But to add more variety to the other great suggestions here:

On Writing Well by William Zinsser.

His book is a must-read for anyone who writes emails, newsletters, pitch decks, marketing copy, blog articles, magazine articles, research dissertations, short stories, novels, etc. If you write any kind of prose, you need to read this book. It has influenced all aspects of my writing.

P. S. But for a fun vacation book, I'd recommend any book by Mary Roach. She presents in-depth research on some random topic in a hilarious light.

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Product Manager at Pinterest

I think you might have enough here to keep you busy for your next several vacations, but I'll add a few :)

The Signal and the Noise by Nate Silver
The Design of Everyday by Donald Norman

And a couple of my favorite short story collections:

Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri
CivilWarLand in Bad Decline by George Saunders

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Business Design & Prototyping at IDEO

Designing Design by Kenya Hara (a must read)

The New New Thing (as Andrew mentioned)

Imagined Worlds by Freeman Dyson (a favorite, and a good step back)

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Photographer / Filmmaker at Bracket This, LLC

Do you have a link to your http://GoodReads.com account? That would help us out lots. :)

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Quibb, Uber

OK, after re-reading this question, I have to ask: Ryan, where are you going that doesn't have internet???!!???

Startup Edition, Product Hunt

A full week without internet is scary... but I think I'll survive: https://twitter.com/rrhoover/status/314948709051953152

CEO and Co-Founder at Data School Inc.

I've read a good number of the books recommended here so far so I just wanted to give you my two cents, homie. I like reading business/tech related books but most of them come across as weather forecasts for those moments when I can just look outside a window. So much of what these books are covering are symptoms of problems that philosophy has been trying to solve for hundreds of years.

As far as books that have the biggest impact on my perspective, I'll give you three and you could find better summaries than I can give on Amazon or something:

- The Primacy of Perception by Maurice Merleau Ponty
- The Net Delusion: The Dark Side of Internet Freedom by Evgeny Morozov
- A Different Existence by JH Van Den Berg

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Startup Edition, Product Hunt

"...weather forecasts for those moments when I can just look outside a window."

Well articulated, sir! That's why I've focused on reading short form blogs and articles online instead of books; however, I know there's a lot of good work I'm missing. And I won't have internet access. :P

Head of Data & Analytics at Bedrocket Media Ventures

Wow, what a list. Thanks for asking this question Ryan. Here's a few more for good measure:

* The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran (http://amzn.to/WHiwfX). Read this collection of philosophical essays years ago and it's changed the way I look at living ever since. It's a quick and accessible read, but also deep and thought provoking.

* On the escapist vacation route, my favorite escapes to date have been Herman Woulk's Don't Stop the Carnival (http://amzn.to/Xt4hZa) and Bill Flanagan's Evening's Empire (http://amzn.to/14fewIa). They're both hilarious.

* If you want a historical read, check out The Power Broker by Rober A Caro (http://amzn.to/Z3YUCw). It's a fascinating profile of power and why New York City is the way it is today.

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Co-Founder & CEO at Fieldbook

*Atlas Shrugged*. One of the few books about which many people honestly say that it changed their lives.

If you've read it already or aren't into Ayn Rand, try *Great by Choice*, recent book by Jim Collins. Great for entrepreneurs. My mind keeps coming back to the ideas in that one.

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I would like to recommend "Power of Pull" by John Seely Brown. It made me think through how knowledge creation takes place in this social media era.

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Head of Sales - EMEA at HackerRank

I really enjoyed "Boomerang: travels in the new Third World" by Michael Lewis. Quick read, but definitely make you think.

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Engineer at Autodesk

"The Halo Effect" by Phil Rosenzweig. Will provide a good perspective on business research and *gasp* make you wiser.

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Engineer at Autodesk

Folks who have read Jim Collins' works should read this at least once.

Director of Education, Tow-Knight Center for Entrepreneurial Journalism at CUNY Graduate School of Journalism

The book that had the most impact on me recently was "Unbroken" by Laura Hillenbrand. It's a wonderful non-fiction WWII story of amazing resilience. The story illustrates what the human spirit is capable of, and it's both remarkably inspiring and a superb page-turner.

[By the way, in case it's of interest to anyone, there's a good page on Quora with various questions about book recommendations, with some interesting answers: https://www.quora.com/Book-Recommendations ]

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Senior Editor, Financial Services at Economist Intelligence Unit

I'll echo the sentiments of other respondents in saying that any one book is unlikely to change your life. [Flip it around, outside of one's impressionable adolescence, I'd be quite worried if a one-week read was capable of shaking the fundamental tenets of my life anyway]. However, a few books that did make me think long after I'd put them down:

Non-fiction: Thinking Fast and Slow, Predictably Irrational - both made me reflect on how I was arriving at decisions. Poor Economics - made me rethink what I thought I knew about the choices that poor people make.

Fiction: (And, I'd really recommend fiction on a vacation): The Women's Room - I was angry for a week after I read this book, but it honed my thinking on what I wanted from life and from a partner. Nine Stories by J D Salinger, because I love Salinger. Revolutionary Road - again, made me question and hone how I wanted to craft a life without regrets (not without ups and downs, but firmly without regrets).

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Product Manager at General Assembly

Picking one book is insanely hard, because it has to hit you at just the right time. When I was younger I read Fountainhead and it helped me develop a desire to build something great. Lately, I've experienced different kinds of perspective changes. For example, I read Catcher In The Rye for the first time and it really helped me understand why some people lack ambition. I read Perks of Being A Wallflower and it showed me the value of really understanding people and how to observe them.

If I had to pick just one recent book that had a deep impact on my understanding of the world it'd be Wired for Culture. It does more to teach you what makes us different from animals than anything else I've ever read. http://www.amazon.com/Wired-Culture-Origins-Human-Social/dp/0393065871

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Test Engineer at ChannelAdvisor

I recently read and found interesting is "Difference by Bernadette Jiwa " (I am not a marketer but this was a good read). "Bringing Our Languages Home: Language Revitalization for Families" by Leanne Hinton which is really a good read if you have any interest in endangered languages.

Tiffany Zhong, BD at Product Hunt Tiffany Zhong
BD at Product Hunt
Erik Torenberg, Hustler at Product Hunt Erik Torenberg
Hustler at Product Hunt
Bram Kanstein, We Are Off The Record / Startup Stash Bram Kanstein
We Are Off The Record / Startup Stash