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My favourite books 2021

Here are the 5 books I most enjoyed reading this year - in reverse order:

  1. “Lincoln”, by David Herbert Donald.

    An incredible life and a well researched and wide-ranging biography.

  2. “Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World”, by David Epstein.

    Good book, I reviewed it here.

  3. “Undaunted: My Fight Against America’s Enemies, at Home and Abroad”, by John O. Brennan.

    Brennan tells the story of his career in the CIA and the White House. There’s obviously a lot he cannot tell, but I found the organizational aspects of the intelligence work interesting. It reminded me of my work in management consulting, preparing documents for cascades of meetings. He also explains how the CIA’s organization was restructured, from two silos of analysis and operations to “mission centers” combining both, focused on regions or topics.

    I think the field of organization is quite underrated, but getting it right is fundamental to firms’ or institutions’ effectiveness and employee happiness.

  4. “Inspired: How to create tech products customers love”, by Marty Cagan.

    The book covers the topic of “Product Management”.

    It’s a strange subject, because the terminology of product management (“MVP”, “to ship a product”, …) has seeped into every day business lingo. Cagan is very precise in his vocabulary and sheds light on terms that are often used interchangeably.

    Cagan covers product disvovery and delivery, defines an “empowered product team” and is full of pieces of wisdom. His blog is also good.

  5. “Project Hail Mary”, by Andy Weir.

    Problem solving porn.

    Weir’s wrote “The Martian” before which has also been made into a movie. I liked this new book even better, it’s broader and made me think more.