Books I read in 2023

Each year I write a list of books I read during the year. This is the 2023 list:

  1. Go Big: Make Your Shot Count in the Connected World. Each year I read at least one book on selling and marketing because it's always good to learn how to sell and market yourself and your products. This year's book was Go Big which is written by one of the "dudes" from the YouTube channel Dude Perfect. They currently have 60 million subscribers and their content is basically trick shots. It turned out the book was more of a biography on Dude Perfect and the few advices it includes can be summarized in a single page, such as "get excited," "have fun," "think long-term," "own the idea." They are also religious so they attribute a lot of their success to God: "We do it because God has given us a platform, and we want to leverage it to help others." But I could pick up some new ideas so it was still worth the read.  
  2. Leonardo da Vinci. Written by the same author who wrote the famous biography on Steve Jobs, this book is about the guy who painted Mona Lisa. It was the second time I read this book - some books you have to read multiple times to really understand them. 
  3. Engineers of Victory: The Problem Solvers Who Turned The Tide in the Second World War. A chapter is about how the air war in Europe was won. The author argues it was in part because of the P-51 long-range fighter. But out of the chapter's 130 pages just 3 pages describes how the P-51 was designed and developed. So if you want technical details you shouldn't read this book - but it works as a history book of ww2, and I learned many new details.
  4. In Pursuit of the Unknown: 17 Equations That Changed the World. Goes thought 17 equations, like the Navier-Stokes and Normal distribution. Each chapter presents a historical background and some applications.     
  5. The Making of the Atomic Bomb. This book is a lot of book: 2000 pages on my iPad. Not only is it describing the making of the bomb itself - it is also mini biography on all the people (roughly 1000 men and 3 women) who came up with the theory behind the atom itself, including the physics experiments. The book could have used a few more pictures describing these experiments to make them easier to understand. It is also talking about attempts by other countries than US to develop the bomb: Russia, Germany, Japan, and UK. 
  6. Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products. Will try to teach you how to convince people to use services similar to Twitter and Instagram, but it's also talking a little about games, such as Farmville (the book is that "old").
  7. Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of Nike. I have used many Nike products in my life, and I recall I was really happy when I visited Nike town in New York many years ago, but I knew zero about the company until I read this book. I even googled the co-founder who also wrote this book and I don't think I ever saw a photo of him. Anyway, this book tells the story of Nike from the 1960s to the 1980s, and the last chapter talks about what happened after 1980, including an answer to the controversy to outsource manufacturing of the shoes to low-cost countries.
  8. No Logo: No Space, No Choice, No Jobs. The first part of the book talks about how brands are taking over our lives - how kids want expensive Nike shoes while their parents can barely afford food. The second part of the book discusses efforts to prevent this from happening. Nike is often discussed in this book so you should read it together with "Shoe Dog."
  9. Fluid Simulation for Computer Graphics. The Navier-Stokes equations describes how a fluid behaves. This book summarizes papers on how you can simulate them in real-time (but maybe not in a 100 percent realistic way). If you read this book you get an overview of an area that can be overwhelming if you read the papers by themselves.
  10. The Right Stuff. Tells the story of the very first American astronauts (including Ham the monkey). Neither of them landed on the moon - they were the first Americans in space and to orbit the earth. You also get to read about their pilot careers and the culture of having the "right stuff." It is very well written and it was the second time I read it.
  11. Skunk Works. The author Ben Rich worked at the Lockheed's "secret" R&D section called Skunk Works. He worked there from 1954 to 1991, so the book covers projects during these years, such as the first stealth aircraft the F-117. But it also includes some general history of Skunk Works.
  12. Seinfeldia. Is a book about the television show Seinfeld.
  13. The art of acting. Is a book how to become an actor. Although you have no ambitions to become a movie star you will most likely find the book useful anyway. We all need to act now and then...
  14. The 48 laws of power. Not surprisingly this book consists of 48 chapters where each chapter describes a way for you to get more power. To prove that each law works, the author provides several historical examples, from the ancient Spartans to modern filmmaker Ingmar Bergman. The book has got criticism for cherry picking - just because a law of power worked for some French king in 1578, it doesn't mean it will work for you. But these historical examples are interesting to read about, so you can always read the book as any history book. It has also got criticism because some laws contradict each other - you can for example not both recruit your enemies and kill them. But you should see this book as a cook book - you don't always need to apply all laws - you have to go with the flow.  
  15. The Catcher in the Rye. This book is supposed to be "one of the best novels of the twentieth century," but I'm not fully convince. The story is kinda dull but it is very well written so the book is a joy to read, but I will not read it again.  
  16. Damascus Station. Written by an actual CIA officer, this book is about a CIA officer and his adventures in Syria during the beginning of their latest civil war. Because it is written by someone with practical experience, it's filled with anecdotes such as if you book a room it should be above the fourth floor (to keep you away from car bombs) and below the tenth floor (so the fire truck ladders can reach you) making the book more believable. 
  17. Wings of War. Tells the story of the P-51 "Mustang" World War 2 fighter. The book starts with the design, continues with the struggles to convince the US Air Force to use it, and ends with a summary of the missions it took part in. There are some inaccuracies in the book. In the beginning the author claims Sweden was overrun by Hitler, and later the book says "while Sweden was technically a neutral country, it was occupied by Nazi Germany." I have no idea where the author got that from. It is true Sweden sold iron ore to Germany and allowed a few troop trains to roll through the country, but Sweden was never occupied.  
  18. Artificial Intelligence: A Guide for Thinking Humans. Written in like 2019 by someone who works in the field the book gives you a summary of the current state of AI. It begins with the history of AI and continues with a summary of the current algorithms used in AI which are Neural Networks in various shapes and forms. The book ends with a chapter on "common sense" which is what the author believes is missing from the current state of AI.  
  19. Sandworm: A New Era of Cyberwar and the Hunt for the Kremlin's Most Dangerous Hackers. Sandworm was a hacker group responsible for hacking mostly Ukrainian infrastructure, but also the Maersk container shipping company. 
  20. The Artist's Way - A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity. This is a book you should read if you are (or trying to be) a creative person . I've been a creative person for many years and I had never heard of this book until it popped up on TikTok. I guess TikTok is not a completely waste of time after all because this book was really good. It discusses everything from procrastination, art block, and failure.      
  21. Creativity, Inc. Written by one of the co-founders of Pixar, Ed Catmull, I originally thought this was a biography on Pixar. But it turned out it's a management book on how to organize a company like Pixar from a creativity-point-of-view, so I was a little disappointed. The problem with management literature is that you can often summarize them in an A4 and so can this book. In fact the author is summarizing the book in the last chapter. I wish he had written a biography on Pixar and kept that last chapter to summarize the management part of the book. But the stories from when Ed Catmull co-invented 3d graphics and the stories from Pixar he actually talks about were interesting to read about! I think what I learned most from the book is that you shouldn't ask role-models what they would have done in your situation. "What would Steve Jobs have done?" He doesn't live in your industry in your current environment, so you will get stuck in the past instead of inventing the future!
  22. Walt Disney: The Triumph of the American Imagination. Tells the story of Mickey Mouse's creator. This book is very long (1600 pages on my iPad) and sometimes it felt the author included too many details not necessarily needed to tell the stor of Walt Disney.