Book Notes

A collection of rough, unedited book notes.

Magic Words

Jonah Berger
This book has some useful pointers to help us speak more confidently and persuasively. Like a lot of business books, most of the good stuff is in the first couple of chapters.


Scott Young
In Ultralearning, Scott Young breaks down a set of thoroughly researched principles and tactics you can use to ramp up your own skill acquisition.
Like Marcus Aurelius's Meditations, this is a book chock full of daily philosophical exercises. It covers the importance of non-attachment, why we should contemplate death (memento mori), the stoic virtues, and the value of friendships. It's one of those books you can chew on for the rest of your life.

Anything You Want

Derek Sivers
A memoir about Sivers' experience building and selling CD Baby for $22m. There's some pretty unconventional startup advice in here – a lot of it worth considering.
Read this one pretty quick, since I agree with most of it already. If you're tired of the "stay positive" self-help nonsense that permeates our culture and looking for an alternative perspective, I'd recommend checking it out.
This book is designed to push you to raise your standards and question limiting beliefs. Even applying 10% of the ideas in this book would make it a worthwhile read.

Laws of UX

Jon Yablonski
If you design websites or apps, there's no excuse not to be familiar with the psychological principles covered in this book.
It's a bit hyperbolic and the DeMarco's brash style might rub some people the wrong way, but overall this is a pretty solid book about entrepreneurship. I especially liked the ideas around building money systems and leveraging your time to create passive income.

Working Backwards

Colin Bryar & Bill Carr
A solid breakdown of Amazon's operating principles. Pretty high signal-to-noise ratio compared to most business books. It's not the most balanced analysis – if you're expecting any criticism of Bezos or Amazon, you won't find it here. But there's a ton of value in the lessons that can apply to companies at any stage.

Obviously Awesome

April Dunford
Positioning is not a sexy topic, but it's insanely important. Good positioning helps customers quickly understand what your product is all about and why they should care about it. This book teaches you how to do that in a succinct and easy-to-follow way.

Made to Stick

Chip Heath, Dan Heath
A great read for anyone who wants to become a more persuasive communicator. Even if you skim it, you'll learn some valuable stuff.
A collection of valuable insights gleaned from Naval's tweets, blog posts, and podcasts. I'm really trying to grok his principles of wealth creation – accountability, leverage, specific knowledge, and good judgement.
This 1940s classic is the ultimate guide to being a more demanding reader. The book is excellent, but not perfect. It's fairly long, has an old school style, and the authors vision for how to read might feel unrealistic for our hyper-distracted society. But if you struggle with retention and want to read at a higher level, this

Atomic Habits

James Clear
If you're looking for a book to help you develop better habits, look no further. Very well written, with zero filler. Nuff said.


Daniel Kahneman, Olivier Sibony, Cass R. Sunstein
This book is not exactly a page turner. After all, how exciting can a book about a statistical concept be? But reading it did give me a better understanding of decision making errors, and how to reduce them.


Richard H. Thaler, Cass R. Sunstein
You know how the preset restaurant tip set to 20%? That's because higher defaults reliably lead to higher average tips. This book will teach you more than you ever wanted to know about using such "nudges" to influence human behavior (hopefully for the better).
© 2023 Mike Fiorillo
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