Creator of @thepracticaldev and building @forem with @jessleenyc, @peterkimfrank and our great team. Coder, buddhist, feminist, Batman. He/Him.
20+ Book Recommendations by Ben Halpern
QuestloveNAMED A MOST ANTICIPATED BOOK OF 2018 BY Esquire • PopSugar • The Huffington Post • Buzzfeed • Publishers Weekly A unique new guide to creativity from Questlove—inspirations, stories, and lessons on how to live your best creative life Questlove—musician, bandleader, designer, producer, culinary entrepreneur, professor, and all-around cultural omnivore—shares his wisdom on the topics of inspiration and originality in a one-of-a-kind guide to living your best creative life. In Creative Quest, Questlove synthesizes all the creative philosophies, lessons, and stories he’s heard from the many creators and collaborators in his life, and reflects on his own experience, to advise readers and fans on how to consider creativity and where to find it. He addresses many topics—what it means to be creative, how to find a mentor and serve as an apprentice, the wisdom of maintaining a creative network, coping with critics and the foibles of success, and the specific pitfalls of contemporary culture—all in the service of guiding admirers who have followed his career and newcomers not yet acquainted with his story. Whether discussing his own life or channeling the lessons he’s learned from forefathers such as George Clinton, collaborators like D’Angelo, or like-minded artists including Ava DuVernay, David Byrne, Björk, and others, Questlove speaks with the candor and enthusiasm that fans have come to expect. Creative Quest is many things—above all, a wise and wide-ranging conversation around the eternal mystery of creativity.
Empires of Light
Jill JonnesA riveting chronicle of scientific history recounts the race among three great titans of the Gilded Age--inventor Thomas Alva Edison, creator of the incandescent light bulb; eccentric genius Nikola Tesla; and George Westinghouse, a tough entrepreneur and powerful empire builder--to bring electricity to the world. Reader's Guide available. Reprint. 17,500 first printing.
Jeff BenedictSoon to be an HBO documentary from Academy Award–winning producer Alex Gibney The #1 New York Times bestseller based on years of reporting and interviews with more than 250 people from every corner of Tiger Woods’s life—this “comprehensive, propulsive…and unsparing” (The New Yorker) biography is “an ambitious 360-degree portrait of golf’s most scrutinized figure…brimming with revealing details” (Golf Digest). In 2009, Tiger Woods was the most famous athlete on the planet, a transcendent star of almost unfathomable fame and fortune living what appeared to be the perfect life. But it turned out he had been living a double life for years—one that exploded in the aftermath of a Thanksgiving night crash that exposed his serial infidelity and sent his personal and professional lives over a cliff. In this “searing biography of golf’s most blazing talent” (GOLF magazine), Jeff Benedict and Armen Keteyian dig deep behind the headlines to produce a richly reported answer to the question that has mystified millions of sports fans for nearly a decade: who is Tiger Woods, really? Drawing on more than four hundred interviews with people from every corner of Woods’s life—many of whom have never spoken about him on the record before—Benedict and Keteyian construct a captivating psychological profile of a mixed race child programmed by an attention-grabbing father and the original Tiger Mom to be the “chosen one,” to change not just the game of golf, but the world as well. But at what cost? Benedict and Keteyian provide the starling answers in this definitive biography that is destined to linger in the minds of readers for years to come. “Irresistible…Immensely readable…Benedict and Keteyian bring us along for the ride in a whirlwind of a biography that reads honest and true” (The Wall Street Journal). Ultimately, Tiger Woods is “a big American story…exhilarating, depressing, tawdry, and moving in almost equal measure” (The New York Times).
Sam Anderson"A lively and introspective look into Oklahoma City, where colorful city officials business leaders, artists, and sports fans have turned an unassuming Southwestern city into a thriving metropolis with a dazzling basketball team"--
Eric BergerThe dramatic inside story of the first four historic flights that launched SpaceX--and Elon Musk--from a shaky startup into the world's leading edge rocket company. In 2006, SpaceX--a brand-new venture with fewer than 200 employees--rolled its first, single-engine rocket onto a launch pad at Kwajalein Atoll. After a groundbreaking launch from the middle of the Pacific Ocean, the Falcon 1 rocket designed by Elon Musk's engineers rose in the air for approximately thirty seconds. Then, its engine flamed out, and the rocket crashed back into the ocean. In 2007, SpaceX undertook a second launch. This time, the rocket rose far into space, but just before reaching orbit it spun out of control. Confident of success in 2008, Musk and his team launched their third rocket with several paying customers. The first stage executed perfectly, but instead of falling away, it thudded into the second stage. Another failure. Elon Musk had only budgeted for three attempts when he founded SpaceX. Out of money and with a single Falcon 1 rocket left in its factory, SpaceX decided to try one last, dramatic launch. Over eight weeks, engineers worked furiously to prepare this final rocket. The fate of Musk's venture mirrored the trajectory of this slender, single-engine rocket aimed toward the skies. If it crashed and burned, so would SpaceX. In September 2008, SpaceX's last chance for success lifted off . . . and accelerated like a dream, soaring into orbit flawlessly. That success would launch a miraculous decade for the company, in which SpaceX grew from building a single-engine rocket to one with a staggering 27 engines; created two different spacecraft, and mastered reusable-rocket descents using mobile drone ships on the open seas. It marked a level of production and achievement that has not been seen since the space race of the 1960s. But these achievements would not have been possible without SpaceX's first four flight tests. Drawing on unparalleled access and exclusive interviews with dozens of former and current employees--engineers, designers, mechanics, and executives, including Elon Musk--Eric Berger tells the complete story of this foundational generation that transformed SpaceX into the world's leading space company. Liftoff includes more than a dozen photographs.
A Promised Land
Barack ObamaIn this anticipated first volume of his presidential memoirs, Barack Obama tells the story of his improbable odyssey from young man searching for his identity to leader of the free world, describing in personal detail both his political education and the landmark moments of the first term of his historic presidency--a time of dramatic transformation and turmoil.
Sarah FrierAward-winning reporter Sarah Frier reveals an inside, never-before-told, behind-the-scenes look at how Instagram defied the odds to become one of the most culturally defining apps of the decade. Since its creation in 2010, Instagram’s fun and simple interface has captured our collective imagination, swiftly becoming a way of life. In No Filter: The Inside Story of Instagram, technology reporter Sarah Frier explains how Instagram’s founders married art and technology to overcome skeptics and to hook the public on visual storytelling. At first, Instagram initially attracted artisans, but then the platform exploded in popularity among the masses, creating an entire industry of digital influencers that’s now worth tens of billions of dollars. Eighteen months after Instagram’s launch and explosive growth, the founders—Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger—made the gut-wrenching decision to sell the company to Facebook. For most companies, that would be the end of the story; but for Instagram, it was only the beginning. Instagram borrowed some lessons from Facebook and rejected others, until eventually its success stirred tension with Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg, just as Facebook became embroiled in a string of public crises. Frier unearths the details that led to the cofounders’ departure, bringing to light dramatic moments unknown to the public until now. At its heart, No Filter draws on unprecedented exclusive access—from the founders of Instagram, as well as employees, executives, and competitors; hedge fund billionaire Ray Dalio; Anna Wintour of Vogue; Kris Jenner of the Kardashian-Jenner empire; and a plethora of influencers, from fashionistas with millions of followers to owners of famous dogs worldwide—to show how Instagram has fundamentally changed the way we communicate, shop, eat, and travel. The book brings readers inside users’ strategies to craft their personal image and fame, explaining how the company’s product decisions have affected the structure of our society. From teenagers to the pope, No Filter tells the captivating story of how Instagram not only created a new industry but also changed our lives.
Michelle ObamaNow in paperback--the intimate, powerful, and inspiring memoir by the former First Lady of the United States, featuring a new introduction by Michelle Obama, a letter from the author to her younger self, and a book club guide with 20 discussion questions and a 5-question Q&A nbsp; #1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER * WATCH THE EMMY-NOMINATED NETFLIX ORIGINAL DOCUMENTARY * OPRAH'S BOOK CLUB PICK * NAACP IMAGE AWARD WINNER * ONE OF ESSENCE'S 50 MOST IMPACTFUL BLACK BOOKS OF THE PAST 50 YEARS In a life filled with meaning and accomplishment, Michelle Obama has emerged as one of the most iconic and compelling women of our era. As First Lady of the United States of America--the first African American to serve in that role--she helped create the most welcoming and inclusive White House in history, while also establishing herself as a powerful advocate for women and girls in the U.S. and around the world, dramatically changing the ways that families pursue healthier and more active lives, and standing with her husband as he led America through some of its most harrowing moments. Along the way, she showed us a few dance moves, crushed Carpool Karaoke, and raised two down-to-earth daughters under an unforgiving media glare. In her memoir, a work of deep reflection and mesmerizing storytelling, Michelle Obama invites readers into her world, chronicling the experiences that have shaped her--from her childhood on the South Side of Chicago to her years as an executive balancing the demands of motherhood and work, to her time spent at the world's most famous address. With unerring honesty and lively wit, she describes her triumphs and her disappointments, both public and private, telling her full story as she has lived it--in her own words and on her own terms. Warm, wise, and revelatory, Becoming is the deeply personal reckoning of a woman of soul and substance who has steadily defied expectations--and whose story inspires us to do the same.
That Will Never Work
Marc Randolph'Engaging and insightful.' Reed Hastings, CEO of Netflix 'Charming, fascinating and very funny. Marc Randolph demystifies the world of Silicon Valley start-ups, and makes you laugh a lot along the way.' Decca Aitkenhead, The Sunday Times 'A charming first-person account of the early days of one of the most successful tech start-ups ever.' The Washington Post Once upon a time, brick-and-mortar video stores were king. Late fees were ubiquitous, video-streaming unheard of, and DVD adoption seemed as imminent as flying cars. These were the widely accepted laws of the land in 1997 when Marc Randolph had an idea. It was a simple thought - leveraging the internet to rent movies - and was just one of many more proposals, like personalised baseball bats, that Randolph would pitch to his business partner, Reed Hastings. But Hastings was intrigued, and the pair - with Hastings as the primary investor and Randolph as the CEO - founded a company. Now with over 150 million subscribers, Netflix's triumph feels inevitable but the twenty-first century's most disruptive start-up began with few believers and calamity at every turn. Marc Randolph's transformational journey exemplifies how anyone with grit and determination can change the world - even with an idea that many think will never work. What emerges, however, isn't just the inside story of one of the world's most iconic companies. Full of counter-intuitive concepts and written in binge-worthy prose, it answers some of our most fundamental questions about taking that leap of faith in life: How do you begin? How do you weather disappointment and failure? What is success? From idea generation to team building to knowing when to let go, That Will Never Work is one of the most dramatic and insightful entrepreneurial stories of our time.
The Ride of a Lifetime
Robert IgerRobert Iger became CEO of The Walt Disney Company in 2005, during a difficult time. Competition was more intense than ever and technology was changing faster than at any time in the company’s history. His vision came down to three clear ideas: Recommit to the concept that quality matters, embrace technology instead of fighting it, and think bigger—think global—and turn Disney into a stronger brand in international markets. Twelve years later, Disney is the largest, most respected media company in the world, counting Pixar, Marvel, Lucasfilm, and 21st Century Fox among its properties. Its value is nearly five times what it was when Iger took over, and he is recognized as one of the most innovative and successful CEOs of our era. In "The ride of a lifetime," Robert Iger shares the lessons he’s learned while running Disney and leading its 200,000 employees, and he explores the principles that are necessary for true leadership.
The Smartest Guys in the Room
Bethany McLeanPresents an account of the rise and fall of Enron, drawing on a wide range of sources while revealing the contributions of lesser-known participants in the scandal.
Billion Dollar Whale
Bradley HopeNamed a Best Book of 2018 by the Financial Times and Fortune, this New York Times bestseller about the 1MDB scandal exposes how a "modern Gatsby" swindled over $5 billion with the aid of Goldman Sachs in "the heist of the century" (Axios). Now a #1 international bestseller, BILLION DOLLAR WHALE is "an epic tale of white-collar crime on a global scale" (Publishers Weekly, starred review), revealing how a young social climber from Malaysia pulled off one of the biggest heists in history. In 2009, a chubby, mild-mannered graduate of the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School of Business named Jho Low set in motion a fraud of unprecedented gall and magnitude--one that would come to symbolize the next great threat to the global financial system. Over a decade, Low, with the aid of Goldman Sachs and others, siphoned billions of dollars from an investment fund--right under the nose of global financial industry watchdogs. Low used the money to finance elections, purchase luxury real estate, throw champagne-drenched parties, and even to finance Hollywood films like The Wolf of Wall Street. By early 2019, with his yacht and private jet reportedly seized by authorities and facing criminal charges in Malaysia and in the United States, Low had become an international fugitive, even as the U.S. Department of Justice continued its investigation. BILLION DOLLAR WHALE has joined the ranks of Liar's Poker, Den of Thieves, and Bad Blood as a classic harrowing parable of hubris and greed in the financial world.
Sheelah KolhatkarNEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER - "An essential expos of our times--a work that reveals the deep rot in our financial system . . . Everyone should read this book."--David Grann, author of Killers of the Flower Moon ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR--The New York Times and The Economist - Finalist for the New York Public Library's Helen Bernstein Book Award for Excellence in Journalism The hedge fund industry changed Wall Street. Its pioneers didn't lay railroads, build factories, or invent new technologies. Rather, they made their billions through financial speculation, by placing bets in the market that turned out to be right more often than not. In hedge fund circles, Steven A. Cohen was revered as one of the greatest traders who ever lived. But that image was shattered when his fund, SAC Capital, became the target of a seven-year government investigation. Prosecutors labeled SAC a "magnet for market cheaters" whose culture encouraged the relentless pursuit of "edge"--and even "black edge," which is inside information--and the firm was ultimately indicted and pleaded guilty to charges related to a vast insider trading scheme. Cohen, himself, however, was never charged. Black Edge is a riveting legal thriller that raises urgent questions about the power and wealth of those who sit at the pinnacle of high finance and how they have reshaped the economy. Longlisted for the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Nonfiction and the Financial Times and McKinsey Business Book of the Year Award "A modern version of Moby-Dick, with wiretaps rather than harpoons."--Jennifer Senior, The New York Times "If you liked James B. Stewart's Den of Thieves, Sheelah Kolhatkar's thrilling Black Edge should be next on your reading list."--The Wall Street Journal "Excellent."--The Economist "A true-life thriller with Shakespearian stakes . . . Her chilling account of a blighted industry is as mesmerizing as a human story as it is as a financial one."--Fortune "A tour de force of groundbreaking reporting and brilliant storytelling."--Jeffrey Toobin, New York Times bestselling author of American Heiress
Walter Isaacson"Following his blockbuster biography of Steve Jobs, The Innovators is Walter Isaacson's revealing story of the people who created the computer and the Internet. It is destined to be the standard history of the digital revolution and an indispensable guide to how innovation really happens. What were the talents that allowed certain inventors and entrepreneurs to turn their visionary ideas into disruptive realities? What led to their creative leaps? Why did some succeed and others fail? In his masterly saga, Isaacson begins with Ada Lovelace, Lord Byron's daughter, who pioneered computer programming in the 1840s. He explores the fascinating personalities that cr eated our current digital revolution, such as Vannevar Bush, Alan Turing, John von Neumann, J.C.R. Licklider, Doug Engelbart, Robert Noyce, Bill Gates, Steve Wozniak, Steve Jobs, Tim Berners-Lee, and Larry Page. This is the story of how their minds worked and what made them so inventive. It's also a narrative of how their ability to collaborate and master the art of teamwork made them even more creative. For an era that seeks to foster innovation, creativity, and teamwork, The Innovators shows how they happen"--
Masters of Doom
David Kushner“To my taste, the greatest American myth of cosmogenesis features the maladjusted, antisocial, genius teenage boy who, in the insular laboratory of his own bedroom, invents the universe from scratch. Masters of Doom is a particularly inspired rendition. Dave Kushner chronicles the saga of video game virtuosi Carmack and Romero with terrific brio. This is a page-turning, mythopoeic cyber-soap opera about two glamorous geek geniuses—and it should be read while scarfing down pepperoni pizza and swilling Diet Coke, with Queens of the Stone Age cranked up all the way.” —Mark Leyner, author of I Smell Esther Williams Masters of Doom is the amazing true story of the Lennon and McCartney of video games: John Carmack and John Romero. Together, they ruled big business. They transformed popular culture. And they provoked a national controversy. More than anything, they lived a unique and rollicking American Dream, escaping the broken homes of their youth to co-create the most notoriously successful game franchises in history—Doom and Quake—until the games they made tore them apart. Americans spend more money on video games than on movie tickets. Masters of Doom is the first book to chronicle this industry’s greatest story, written by one of the medium’s leading observers. David Kushner takes readers inside the rags-to-riches adventure of two rebellious entrepreneurs who came of age to shape a generation. The vivid portrait reveals why their games are so violent and why their immersion in their brilliantly designed fantasy worlds offered them solace. And it shows how they channeled their fury and imagination into products that are a formative influence on our culture, from MTV to the Internet to Columbine. This is a story of friendship and betrayal, commerce and artistry—a powerful and compassionate account of what it’s like to be young, driven, and wildly creative. From the Hardcover edition.
Ghost in the Wires
Kevin MitnickKevin Mitnick was the most elusive computer break-in artist in history. He accessed computers and networks at the world's biggest companies--and however fast the authorities were, Mitnick was faster, sprinting through phone switches, computer systems, and cellular networks. He spent years skipping through cyberspace, always three steps ahead and labeled unstoppable. But for Kevin, hacking wasn't just about technological feats-it was an old fashioned confidence game that required guile and deception to trick the unwitting out of valuable information. Driven by a powerful urge to accomplish the impossible, Mitnick bypassed security systems and blazed into major organizations including Motorola, Sun Microsystems, and Pacific Bell. But as the FBI's net began to tighten, Kevin went on the run, engaging in an increasingly sophisticated cat and mouse game that led through false identities, a host of cities, plenty of close shaves, and an ultimate showdown with the Feds, who would stop at nothing to bring him down. Ghost in the Wires is a thrilling true story of intrigue, suspense, and unbelievable escape, and a portrait of a visionary whose creativity, skills, and persistence forced the authorities to rethink the way they pursued him, inspiring ripples that brought permanent changes in the way people and companies protect their most sensitive information.
Michael LewisArgues that post-crisis Wall Street continues to be controlled by large banks and explains how a small, diverse group of Wall Street men have banded together to reform the financial markets.
Mike IsaacIsaac delivers a gripping account of Uber's rapid rise, its pitched battles with taxi unions and drivers, the company's toxic internal culture, and the bare-knuckle tactics it devised to overcome obstacles in its quest for dominance.
- From New York Times-bestselling author Nick Bilton comes a true-life thriller about the rise and fall of Ross Ulbricht, aka the Dread Pirate Roberts, the founder of the online black market Silk Road.
Evan RatliffThe incredible true story of the decade-long quest to bring down Paul Le Roux--the creator of a frighteningly powerful Internet-enabled cartel who merged the ruthlessness of a drug lord with the technological savvy of a Silicon Valley entrepreneur. "A tour de force of shoe-leather reporting--undertaken, amid threats and menacing, at considerable personal risk."--Los Angeles Times NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY The New York Times Book Review * NPR * Evening Standard * Kirkus Reviews It all started as an online prescription drug network, supplying hundreds of millions of dollars' worth of painkillers to American customers. It would not stop there. Before long, the business had turned into a sprawling multinational conglomerate engaged in almost every conceivable aspect of criminal mayhem. Yachts carrying $100 million in cocaine. Safe houses in Hong Kong filled with gold bars. Shipments of methamphetamine from North Korea. Weapons deals with Iran. Mercenary armies in Somalia. Teams of hit men in the Philippines. Encryption programs so advanced that the government could not break them. The man behind it all, pulling the strings from a laptop in Manila, was Paul Calder Le Roux--a reclusive programmer turned criminal genius who could only exist in the networked world of the twenty-first century, and the kind of self-made crime boss that American law enforcement had never imagined. For half a decade, DEA agents played a global game of cat-and-mouse with Le Roux as he left terror and chaos in his wake. Each time they came close, he would slip away. It would take relentless investigative work, and a shocking betrayal from within his organization, to catch him. And when he was finally caught, the story turned again, as Le Roux struck a deal to bring down his own organization and the people he had once employed. Award-winning investigative journalist Evan Ratliff spent four years piecing together this intricate puzzle, chasing Le Roux's empire and his shadowy henchmen around the world, conducting hundreds of interviews and uncovering thousands of documents. The result is a riveting, unprecedented account of a crime boss built by and for the digital age. Praise for The Mastermind "The Mastermind is true crime at its most stark and vivid depiction. Evan Ratliff's work is well done from beginning to end, paralleling his investigative work with the work of the many federal agents developing the case against LeRoux."--San Francisco Book Review (five stars) "A wholly engrossing story that joins the worlds of El Chapo and Edward Snowden; both disturbing and memorable."--Kirkus Reviews (starred review)