← Home

Book notes

I enjoy reading books, but it's hard for me to remember all the golden nuggets that I'd love to keep with me forever. I can usually recall several key pieces, but I wish I didn't have to re-read the entire book to refresh my memory.

I started using Highlighted by Damir Stuhec to capture the most interesting bits as I read. This has been helping me tremendously and I wish I had started doing this long time ago. Then I thought, why not put those notes up online on my website?

I borrowed the idea and format of this page from Derek Sivers' website, who I am a big fan of. Derek, I hope you don't mind!

So here are the notes from the books I've read, along with a short comment on each one. I've only started doing this recently and it's not a list of everything I've read, but it's a start. I think I'll enjoy going back and browsing this page in the future a lot.

Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup
Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup
John Carreyrou • Rating: 8 / 10

Elizabeth Holmes has set out to revolutionize health care and create a device that would take a few drops of blood and perform all kind of tests on it, fully remotely, through a portable device you could place in your home.

This seemed groundbreaking and naturally, Silicon Valley and other big players have jumped onto the opportunity to invest. Theranos eventually grew to 800 employees and was valued at 9 billion dollars. A true unicorn story.

The thing is, it was never true. That device never worked and the most brilliant minds in the industry couldn’t have made it happen. Despite that, somehow, Elizabeth made it real in the eyes of the most powerful people in the country.

This book uncovers a story of a few people who didn’t buy into the bullshit and decided to put an end to this.

I think the book could’ve been shorter though. It’d be just as interesting without the extra context inside each chapter, that’s dedicated to every person who’s crossed paths with Theranos. Overall, a great read that I can recommend.

Talking to Strangers
Talking to Strangers
Malcolm Gladwell • Rating: 10 / 10

My initial gut reaction to seeing a title like “Talking to Strangers” was that it’s some kind of another boring “best seller” on how to meet people or whatever. Fortunately, it has nothing in common with this book.

”Talking to Strangers” explores the fundamental mistakes in our perception of others through fascinating real-life stories. It shows how much we can misinterpret human behavior because of our default settings and the tragic consequences this can cause.

Why did Chamberlain completely misread Hitler’s character and mistakenly thought that he successfully prevented a World War II? How a Cuban double agent has infiltrated Defense Intelligence Agency (sister organization to CIA) for years, without a grain of suspicion? And finally, how could a routine traffic stop lead to the arrested driver commiting suicide shortly after?

These are just several thought-provoking stories out of many more that are deconstructed in “Talking to Strangers”.

I’ve long been looking for a book like this and I couldn’t be happier to have read it. 10 out of 10.

Do the Work
Do the Work
Steven Pressfield • Rating: 10 / 10

I picked up “Do the Work” the next day I finished “Turning Pro” and wow, what a delight. “Do the Work” is a third part of “The War of Art” series. Now that we met the Resistance, we need to learn how to beat it.

This book has a laser-sharp focus on what it takes to get your shit together and take your work from start to finish. It’s full of kick-in-the-butts you need through every stage of the project.

”Do the Work” has no detours. Page one, it gets straight to the point. I love that.

An absolute must-read and one more item on my yearly reading list.

Turning Pro
Turning Pro
Steven Pressfield • Rating: 7 / 10

“The War of Art” by Steven Pressfield is one of the best books I’ve ever read. It introduces the concept of the Resistance - the invisible inner force that doesn’t want us to change, be creative, courageous and achieve things.

Through that book, Steven mentions what does it mean to be amateur or professional. “Turning Pro” is a new book dedicated to diving into this concept more and explaining the difference more thoroughly.

This book certainly has interesting insights, but I didn’t feel like I was getting a lot of value out of it. I guess “The War of Art” set the bar too high and I was expecting way too much.

It’s still a good book, but I don’t think I’ll be reading it again, like I do with “The War of Art”.

Catch Me If You Can
Catch Me If You Can
Frank Abagnale and Stan Redding • Rating: 10 / 10

The movie “Catch Me If You Can” is among those that I rewatch at least once a year. Naturally, I snatched the book when I saw it at a local bookstore.

I thought it would mostly match the movie and to be honest, I initially bought it just to have it on my shelf with no immediate intent to pick it up. However, the book turned out to be a fascinating read.

I’m not going to give any spoilers here, but if you loved the movie, you’ll love the book even more, because there are many more stories and details that movie couldn’t capture.

Even if you didn’t watch the movie, but reading a short book about a kid who fooled the airlines, banks, police and even FBI sounds fun, go grab a copy.

There aren’t many notes in this one, because I put down the phone and just enjoyed the book.

The War of Art
The War of Art
Steven Pressfield • Rating: 10 / 10

One of the best books I’ve ever read. In fact, I re-read it once or twice a year. It’s that good.

The War of Art speaks to every human out there aspiring to something, anything really. The Resistance, as Steven calls it, is an invisible force inside that has very much visible effect on us. It’s there to prevent you from building a project, writing a book, learning how to play a piano. Anything that would make you a happier, more fulfilled person.

The Resistance never sleeps. It’s working 24/7 to stop you and it has a lot of effective tricks up its sleeve. It’s on us to shine a light on these evil deeds, put an end to them and go where we want to go.

I didn’t capture a ton of quotes from this book. Not because there aren’t many, believe me there are. But only because I got so into it that I put down my phone, knowing this is one of those books I’ll read many times again.

A must-read.

101 Essays That Will Change the Way You Think
101 Essays That Will Change the Way You Think
Brianna Wiest • Rating: 9 / 10

I don’t remember how I found this book, but I expected it to be a collection of real life stories, where each one leads to some sort of key realization or logical conclusion to teach me something.

This book isn’t that. It’s better.

It’s an encyclopedia of human’s thoughts and a guide on how to decipher them. It walks you through various experiences we run into daily and offers an alternative view on what they actually mean. Whether it’s love, relationships, anxieties, work, success or failure - this book has it covered.

”100 Essays That Will Change the Way You Think” is like a dictionary of emotions. I can feel or think about something, find the relevant chapter and dive into a treasure trove of insights to understand myself better.

I enjoyed reading Brianna’s creation thoroughly and can certainly recommend you to pick up a copy. The reason I gave it a 9 is because it’s so freaking packed with interesting information, I had to constantly stop reading and capture quotes from almost every page! Good thing I saved them all here, otherwise I’d never be able to remember everything this book was trying to teach me.