43 books, a reading list from a16z Crypto

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Original source: a16z crypto editorial

Original translation: Little Catcher CHAOS, crypto KOL

What are a16z employees reading?

On June 28, a16z crypto updated the article Some books were reading this summer 2024 on its official website. I did a simple translation and sorted it out, and put the books related to investment/finance/technology in front.

43 books, a reading list from a16z Crypto

Only by using the time others spend watching porn to read books can you outperform others in the bull market.

Lyn Alden: Broken Money: Why Our Financial System Is Failing and How We Can Fix It

“The lessons and insights Alden extracts from the history of money make a powerful case for how decentralized digital currencies can address past and current challenges facing monetary systems.”

Carol Coye Benson, Scott Loftesness, and Russ Jones: America’s Payments System: A Guide for Payment Professionals

“This textbook covers many aspects of the payment system (wire transfers, ATMs, credit cards, debit cards, etc.) in great detail. You probably won’t finish this book from cover to cover, but if you want to understand how money moves after a credit card is swiped, it’s a great resource. More importantly, understanding the complexity of the existing payment system made me even more excited about the future of blockchain payment networks.”

Annelise Osborne: From Hoodies to Suits: Innovating Digital Assets for Traditional Finance

“I really enjoyed this book. It builds a bridge between traditional finance and technical engineering and cryptocurrencies. Both types of people are necessary to continue to develop the web3 ecosystem.”

Verity Harding: AI Needs You: How We Can Change the Future of AI and Save Ourselves

“Harding is an expert on the interaction between artificial intelligence and public policy, and she understands the rise of modern AI through the lens of technological movements over the past century or so. This book, ‘A Humanistic Manifesto for the Age of AI,’ argues that AI’s impact on society is far from predetermined, and that it is up to all of us to push technology toward its greatest social potential.”

Ran Spiegler: The Curious Culture of Economic Theory

“A vibrant collection of essays that explores the intellectual history and philosophy of economic theory. Spiegler discusses how and why economists reason in particular ways about topics such as strategic behavior, (ir)rationality, and information—all the while teaching the conceptual framework and anthropologicalizing the field.”

Henry Hazlitt: Economics in a Lesson

Full of insights and thoughts on basic economics.

Peter Robison: Flying Blind

This is the most complete history of Boeings business, showing its gradual decline from a widely respected engineering company to one that lost its reputation for safety and quality.

Scott Page: Model Thinkers: What You Need to Know to Make Data Work for You

This book teaches a range of mathematical models, from networks to Markov chains to signaling, and shows how they can be applied to datasets. This may sound very dry – it is not. Page shows how to use these mental models in the real world, and argues that because any one model is a poor simulation of the real world, we need multiple models to navigate our lives.

Rick Rubin: The Creative Way: A Way of Being

“A master class in incorporating the creative process into your life. Whether you’re making music, writing, painting, programming, or investing in tech: be open to new ideas, willing to experiment, and ready to fail. Concise, accessible, and thought-provoking.”

Greg McKeown: Essentialism: The Quest for Less and Better

“This book introduced me to the concept of timing. The ancient Greeks had two words for time – one was chronos, the linear, clock-measured time we are familiar with. The second was kairos, which represented the moment of chance or the ‘right’ time, which can only be experienced by living in the present moment. Kairos is a timeless time that occurs at a decisive or meaningful moment. None of us can change chronos (though sometimes we want it to go faster and sometimes slower), but we can all increase the time we live in kairos. This is an old bestseller and worth rereading.”

David McCullough: The Great Bridge: The Epic Story of the Building of the Brooklyn Bridge

“McCullough is an exhaustive researcher who knows how to weave a narrative. His account of the extraordinary efforts behind one of the greatest engineering achievements of the 19th century is for anyone interested in innovation, technology, and bold leadership. It is a paean to will.”

William Zinsser: Writing to Learn

“I recently learned that the author of the writing bible, The Art of Writing, has another book on writing. If you only read one, read The Art of Writing, but if you’re a huge Zinsser fan, like me, read both. This sequel is filled with samples of clear, concise, powerful writing from masters like Einstein and Darwin. His argument is that anyone can learn any subject—no matter how complex—by writing in simple language. It’s a beautiful belief because it’s true.”

Emily Monosson: Wilting: Fungi and the Coming Pandemic

“This is a mind-opening and thought-provoking book that isn’t just meant to make you terrified about fungal pandemics, but to make you think about evolutionary competition and the strategic struggles between various organisms and the fungi that sometimes exterminate them.”

Adrian Tchaikovsky: Children of Time

A perfect blend of science fiction and evolutionary biology, Children of Time takes readers on an epic journey across time and space. The novel explores the rise and fall of civilizations, the resilience of life, and the unexpected consequences of humanitys quest for survival. Its very difficult to make epic hard science fiction both intellectually stimulating and emotionally moving, but this book does it. It will capture your imagination and linger long after youve finished reading it.

Sid Meier: Memoirs!: A Life in Computer Games

“The creator of Civilization and dozens of other computer games looks back on how he and his collaborators built one of the greatest game franchises in history. Not only does Memoirs trace the history of computer hardware, graphics, AI, and game design, it’s also filled with top advice for aspiring entrepreneurs and creators. And it’s got a lot of humor, too.”

Yufei Zhao: Graph Theory and Additive Combinatorics: Exploring Structure and Randomness

“My friend Yufei Zhao has written a beautiful, vibrant book about the phenomenon in combinatorics where structure emerges from apparent randomness and vice versa. The book is an entertaining introduction to the field, covering everything from Szemerédi’s theorem to the card game SET.”

James C. Scott: Upstream

“In Upstream, James C. Scott turns the common logic of civilization on its head: animals, plants, and fire domesticated humans; so-called ‘savages’, with their cleaner, healthier lifestyles, emerged as a vital, economically necessary counterpoint to the state; these early states did not develop taxes—rather, it was the ability to tax agriculturalists by collecting domesticated grains that were readily available on the ground that led to early states. The economic, technological, and political systems we rely on all have stories to explain their origins.”

Numa Denis Fustel de Coulanges: The Ancient City

“What did the ancients of the ancients think? We understand and pay attention to the history and beliefs of the ancient Romans, Greeks, and Indians because we have easier access to their writings. But how much do we know about the beliefs of the ancients who came before them? Those Proto-Indo-European beliefs shared by the ancient Romans, Greeks, Indians, Persians, etc., which formed the foundation of Western civilization.

The Ancient City (1864) is surprisingly readable despite its age. It explores everything we can infer based on ancient texts and linguistics. It is the clearest account I have ever read of the development of Western culture up to the advent of Christianity.

Will Guidara: Unreasonable Hospitality: The Extraordinary Power of Giving People More Than They Expect

“He worked at Eleven Madison Park for many years and was a big part of the success of the restaurant. It’s an easy read but very applicable to our daily work. It’s also applicable to politics.”

Peter Nichols: Sailing for Madmen

“This is a fascinating account of the first solo race around the world! The race took place in 1968-1969 and was open to the public — which is why most of the participants had little experience. The winner completed the race in 312 days (the current solo record is 42 days). I think there are a lot of similarities with startup founders: most people have no idea what the journey entails, they have to fix problems with the boat as they sail, and for some, the journey itself is more important than the monetary reward and accolades at the end.”

James C. Scott: Seeing Like a State: Why Some Plans to Improve the Human Condition Fail

“Think Like a State gave me some clarity on how to think about operating organizations of all sizes. I’ve been recommending this book to anyone running a startup, business, or community. Yes, you need to decentralize control and encourage grassroots innovation — lessons that are especially true in the blockchain space. Also, the first half of the book is a great history lesson on early bureaucracies.”

Laozi: Tao Te Ching

The truth is within you!

Alex Hutchinson: Endurance: Mind, Body, and the Surprisingly Elastic Limits of Human Performance

“I’ve been reading a lot of books lately that explore perseverance and endurance. I particularly enjoyed the author’s behind-the-scenes interviews during Nike’s 2-hour marathon project and the chapter on pain, which features cyclists Jens Voight and Eddy Merckx.”

Matt Fitzgerald: How Hard Do You Want to Fight?: Mastering the Mind Over the Muscles

“A diverse collection of epic race stories, featuring insightful interviews with elite athletes about what goes on in their minds and bodies during their most challenging races.”

David Oks: Modern diet is a threat to biosecurity

An entertaining and useful analysis of how and why our modern diet is killing us.

Haruki Murakami: What I Talk About When I Talk About Running

Murakamis fascinating memoir includes reflections on running and writing, their intersection, and their impact on his life.

Des Linden: Choosing to Run

“I recommend this memoir. Boston Marathon champion Des Linden is a treasure and the embodiment of perseverance.”

Hugh Wilford: The CIA: An Imperial History

It tells a new story about the institution through the actions of key individuals.

Frank Conroy: Stopping Time: A Memoir

Its a coming-of-age story and a look back at rebellious youth, and although its true, it fascinated me more than JD Salingers novel.

David Perkins: φ, π, e, and i

“It’s fun to read in order, but it’s even more fun to flip through. You never know when you’ll discover your new favorite formula that encompasses some of the most famous numbers in mathematics. (For example, check out pages 89-91!)”

Annie Jacobsen: Nuclear War

“Annie Jacobsen uses top sources to outline the nuclear capabilities and policies of nations around the world, placed in the context of a hypothetical attack on the United States. It is thought-provoking in many ways, including one that will keep you up at night.”

Robert Kurson: Shadow Divers: The True Story of Two Americans Adventures in Solving the Final Mystery of World War II

“This is a super fascinating (true!) story – I recommend not reading the back cover (or learning anything about the book ahead of time) because its much more fun as the mystery unfolds for you and the characters at the same time.”

David Grann: The Wager

The Wager tells a riveting true story about survival at sea and human nature during the Age of Exploration.

Ray Vukcevich: The Grinch

“What’s that, in the sky—a bird? A plane? No, it’s The Grinch—the most Grinchy science fiction short story ever!”

Denis Johnson: Smoky Trees

This riveting Vietnam War spy thriller deftly interweaves the stories of a rookie CIA agent, a lost Marine, and a missionary Canadian nurse while also serving as a meditation on American history, mythology, and more.

RF Kuang: Babel

“This is one of the most beautiful books I have read since The Name of the Wind. It mixes some elements of Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell, with a dash of The Chronicle of Killing Kings and Harry Potter, and the deadly beauty of The Song of Achilles. It is a heartbreaking story that broke me down and brought me to tears, but I still highly recommend it.”

Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson: Bright Memories (The Wheel of Time series #14)

“Around page 500, I began to actively avoid reading, fearing the inevitable ending and feeling sad about the end of a series that had stuck with me for five years. The slow build-up and tension to the final battle was excruciating, and I don’t recommend reading this series if you’re not ready for hundreds of pages of desert treks and troll battles. Sanderson (who took over the series after Jordan’s unexpected death) builds tension on multiple fronts and unravels the final battle until it finally explodes in an epic finale.

Jinsaka Toshisuke: The Cat That Saved Books

“This heartwarming read is both heart-wrenching and heart-warming. Filled with wise observations and sage advice, it felt like a safe haven from reality while the shop owner escaped his own labyrinth. Anyone who loves books will find reflections of themselves in these pages.

Percival Everett: James

“I picked up Everett’s new novel, James, after seeing the movie American Novel (adapted from his earlier novel Erased). I was not disappointed. James is a work of spirit. Everett’s style is full of irony, sympathy and energy, a perfect tribute to Mark Twain and inspired by The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.”

Dennis Lehane: Small Mercies

Great for beach reading – Dennis Lehane at his best.

Akimitsu Takagi: The Noh-men Murder Case

“A suspenseful novel with a multi-layered author-narrator-detective structure that is as innovative and unique as Agatha Christie’s seminal novel, The Murder of Roger Ackroyd. As with other hard-boiled mysteries, the solution relies on logic—all the evidence is in the book. Yet, even so, the reader is left perplexed as the story builds to an almost poetic climax in complexity.”

Mick Herron: Slow Horse

What happens to those MI5 spies who cant be fired but no longer fit in with the A-Team? These misfits are sent to Slough House, where they do the worst spy work – until they quit or retire. In this inventive, clever and funny spy novel, these so-called slow horses find themselves back in the spotlight when a kidnapping turns deadly.

Joanna Faber and Julie King: How to Keep a Child Observable: A Survival Guide for Children Ages 2-7

“I am a proponent of mental models in web3. However, when I looked for equivalent mental models for parenting, I was at a loss as to where to start. This book provides several frameworks and tactical tools for resolving conflict, handling emotions, and my favorite part was how to move kids from one activity to another in a timely and non-stressful manner.”

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