Steve Jobs, by Walter Isaacson. I don’t think I’ve ever read a biography that simultaneously made me feel so much admiration and loathing for one person. Steve Jobs asked Walter Isaacson to write his biography (which, given Isaacson’s previous subjects, was itself an act of hubris). And usually, when someone is given permission to write an all-access, fully authorized biography, the result is a hagiography. But despite Isaacson’s close connection to Jobs, the overall impression we get of the man is that of a brilliant, ambitious jerk. From refusing to acknowledge his own child’s existence to refusing to grant any Apple stock options to his best friend from college who had helped him from the beginning, Steve Jobs was ruthless in business and in life. But, as with all of Isaacson’s books, the storytelling around the man’s life is fantastic and to be revered, even if the protagonist isn’t.
Steve Jobs isn’t someone to idolize. I worry that young entrepreneurs might believe that brutish and inhumane treatment of friends and colleagues is a precondition to success. But the story of Jobs’ life is what he made it, and Isaacson tells it well.
Antifragile: Things that Gain from Disorder, Nassim Taleb. I loved Fooled by Randomness. I think Taleb is unquestionably brilliant in a non-linear way. When I read Fooled by Randomness, I found myself agreeing with him on almost everything he said. I thought Black Swan was fairly redundant. And, at least this time around, I didn’t finish Antifragile. His writing tends toward the self indulgent, which grates on me after a while.
I stopped reading about the time he started writing about how much he can deadlift.
Creativity: Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention, by Mihaly Csikzentmihalyi. See here. Didn’t love this, but enjoyed it well enough. The author’s theories aren’t that interesting, but the book features great anecdotes from great thinkers, and that’s what made it worthwhile to me.