15 books to give you the cynical edge in startups.

15 books to give you the cynical edge in startups.

by John Kershaw, 22nd February 2016

John-BristlrI’m John, hello. I founded Bristlr, and M14 Industries. The former is best described as the “Tinder for beards” and the latter is the technology which allows anyone to build their own dating app (spoiler: Koob is built on M14).

I live in proper start-up cliché world; hoodies, stress, graphs which go up and to the right etc., and I love reading. Books about startups tend to be helpful, self-help, or seemingly unrelated. All are helpful.

I’ve compiled a list of the books I like and recommend, all of which have taught me valuable lessons which have fed into how I run Bristlr and M14. This list is far from a general reading list for startups; it’s a window into my own process, and what works for me.

  1. The Lean Startup (Eric Ries) – How to start a company without wasting so much time the whole thing sucks.
  2. The Circle (Dave Eggers) – Fiction. 1984 meets Facebook.
  3. Purple Cow (Seth Godin) – Good marketing is all about being different.
  4. Zero to One (Peter Thiel) – Thinking about things better.
  5. The Mom Test (Rob Fitzpatrick) – How to get the information you want when you talk to people.
  6. Lean Out (Elissa Shevinsky) – We need to fix Tech & start-up culture’s terrible issue with women and gender inequality.
  7. Traction (Gabriel Weinberg and Justin Mares) – A breakdown of every major customer acquisition channel.
  8. Hooked (Nir Eyal) – Make your product addictive.
  9. Bold (Peter Diamandis and Steven Kotler) – Capitalism is awesome. Here, drink the Kool-Aid and think big. No, BIGGER.
  10. Don’t Make Me Think (Steve Krug) – How to approach UI.
  11. Freakonomics (Stephen Dubner and Steven Levitt) – Data doesn’t lie.
  12. Theory of Fun for Game Design (Raph Koster) – How brains think when solving problems.
  13. Work (Crimethic ex-workers’ collective) – Capitalism is fucking rubbish. See also..
  14. Capitalist Realism (Mark Fisher) if you’d like to be angry about this fact.
  15. Slaughter House Five (Kurt Vonnegut) – Fiction. We all die anyway. So it goes.

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