Summer has unofficially begun here in the U.S. And I don’t know about you, but there’s nothing I love more than relaxing with a great book on the beach or laying in the grass at a park.
And if I can get better at my job in the process? That, my friends, is a win-win. Or double win, as I like to call it.
Since our previous reading lists (here and here) were so helpful for me personally as a reader, I want to pay it forward. So I caught up some friends that have both great taste and mad skills – I figured they would have some great recommendations, and they didn’t disappoint.
And what’s great about this collection is the variety. We have books specifically for people at startups, a few specific to certain job functions, and a bunch that anyone working in the professional world can learn from.
Everybody Writes by Ann Handley
If you’re thinking, “but I’m not a writer – why do I need to read this,” then take a second look at the title.
Even if you’re not a writer, you write things. Because everybody writes. This book’s full of writing tips for anyone that uses written communication for their job. Aka, anyone in general.
I’ve read this book cover-to-cover twice already, and I don’t think I’ll stop until I have it memorized. It will help anyone become a better communicator. Yes, I’ve applied a ton of tips from the book to my writing (such as blog posts), but it’s also changed the way I write everyday communication such as emails.
The Product Hunt Manual by Kiki Schirr
I haven’t read this yet, but I bought it during my research for this post. As someone who’s still early on in their Product Hunt obsession, I haven’t really looked at PH much from the business side.
But Product Hunt is becoming an integral part of more and more startups’ launch strategies, so it’s obviously time I get familiar with how the site can be used.
Startup marketers like myself: definitely read this one as soon as possible (in fact, I’m making a promise to start it today). But it’s likely helpful and informative for anyone in the startup community, any Hunter, or just people like me who can’t wait for their PH daily email each morning.
Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products by Nir Eyal & Ryan Hoover
This book is the how-to guide for startups who want to build great products. In other words, this is the how-to guide for all startups.
For a product to really catch on, it needs to be more than cool or helpful. It needs to become a part of the user’s life – a staple.
Hooked looks at the 4-step model to build a product that will do just that. This book will show you how to build a product that encourages customer behavior and builds habits that will bring them back to you over and over.
There’s no one department of your startup that should read this one; it’s for all of us. Ever team takes part in building a better company, and reading this book should help you get there.
The Year without Pants by Scott Berkun
Aside from having an awesome name, this book looks at how a successful software company is built and run.
Which software company? Automattic. They built this blogging thingy you might’ve heard of: WordPress.
Like Remote (which we’ll talk about later), it covers building a team of remote workers successfully. But it also digs deep into company culture at large: fostering creativity, building leadership, and staying productive through it all.
And it’s always interesting to see the behind-the-scenes of successful software startups.
Predictably Irrational by Dan Ariely
In the blurb for this book, Ariely poses this question: “Why do our headaches persist after taking a one-cent aspirin but disappear when we take a 50-cent aspirin?”
He goes on to ask a series of similar questions, all making you question how you make your own decisions. We like to think we’re rational beings, but are we really?
Predictably Irrational looks at how we make decisions – the different forces that drive us. And since that information is no good without action, the book also goes into how you can use these insights to make better decisions.
Reinventing Organizations by Frederic Laloux
“One of the most important books we’ve read as a Buffer team. It’s packed with incredible insights about the way we work best and the direction that organizations are headed – toward self-management, wholeness, and purpose.” – Kevan
This book has been on my radar even since Buffer announced they were experimenting with having no managers.
I felt like I read about their experiment with vested interest – personally, I could not imagine how a company could run with no managers. And for that very reason, I wanted to see Buffer make it work.
They did make it work, and are now a “no managers” company – this new structure as ingrained in their culture as any of their other values. They even ask if you’ve read it when applying for a job.
Intercom on Product Management by Intercom
“A fantastic guide to the ins and outs of product management, with great tips for beginners and deep thoughts for the pros. It’s a short (and free!) read that I found super helpful in wrapping my head around all the amazing considerations that go into building a great product.” – Kevan
When people highlight what makes startups great, they tend to focus on the culture. But at the heart of every successful startup, there was a great product. This book covers building the initial product all the way through to building new features and letting the product evolve.
Not only is this book a go-to guide for product managers, but it’s great for anyone outside the product team who’s looking to learn more about how things get built and shipped.
(Read Kevan’s favorite takeaways from the book here.)
The Art of Stillness by Pico Iyer
“Useful and important for understanding the importance of rest. It’s a short, easy read, based on a TED talk and part of the TED book series. Well worth an afternoon or evening to read this one through.” – Kevan
If I were to say that #startuplife is synonymous with a “go, go, go,” lifestyle, I doubt I’d be the first person to do so. I’ll be the first to admit I’m horrible at sitting still. Mentally, at least. It never rests in the same place for long without some external force.
In a book based on his 2013 TED talk, Pico Iyer muses about how the more connected we become, the more we need to disconnect and just…be still.
The Burned-Out Blogger’s Guide to PR by Jason Kincaid
“My must-read book for Startup Folks this summer is former TechCrunch reporter, Jason Kincaid’s “PR For Burned Out Bloggers.” I’ll admit, I’ve never been one for reading business books, but after a colleague suggested I give this one I try, I ended up devouring it in one sitting.
As a PR Pro, it’s hard to find a book that gives you new advice, but Jason’s unique perspective as an actual former tech reporter gives you an inside look that you won’t find from PR books written by the pros. Grab a cold drink and check this one out this summer – I promise you’ll learn something new!” – Crystal
This one may not seem like a startup book on the surface, but let’s think about this: how many new startups have a dedicated PR person on staff? Nah, usually in the beginning, things like PR are done by the co-founders or whoever else has time. And that’s who the audience for this book is.
Remote by David Heinemeier Hansson & Jason Fried
This one is from the founders of 37signals and speaks of their own experience building a remote company that’s responsible for such products such as Basecamp.
They’ve clearly figured out how to make remote work.
The book should be a must-read for any startup founder considering hiring remote employees, as well as anyone who works remotely.
It can also serve as a resource if you’re trying to make the argument for remote at your own company. One Goodreads review suggests that the book would have the most appeal for readers who are unfamiliar with successful remote work.
What’s on your Kindle?
This list is 10 books long. But let’s be real. With the right books, that really pull you in, that will only last you half the summer.
What else will you be reading? Comment below with your “to read” list.
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