Mike Ashley

2018 End of Year Booklist

December 25, 2018

2018 was my biggest year reading in several years because I made time for it. Judging by linklog posts, I spent about the same about of time as 2017 in reading online. I spent less time on hobbies. I used reading as buffer that I could dial up or down depending on workload and family commitments, both of which I rightly figured would be unpredictable this year. As usual, I’m only including the books I read that I recommend. I dropped just a few; it was a fortunate year reading.

I was busy in fourth quarter with work-related reading. I began managing a second development center at work, and I need to scale up my management. The book High Output Management was easily the most relevant book I read this year. I came to it after reading Measure What Matters and then, on a whim, rereading the The Hard Thing About Hard Things by Ben Horowitz. I first read Horowitz’s book in 2014. I was surprised to see I was down on it, but a couple of years experience in higher management has changed my perspective. Both books pointed me at High Output Management, and I highly recommend it to senior managers.

Also related to work, I recommend The Phoenix Project to any technical manager who is trying to sell cloud-based services in an organization whose business model is based on designing, building, and shipping physical things. The book is grounded in lean production principles (from which we all know Agile is derived), so it will give you vocabulary and metaphors which are meaningful to your colleagues.

The rest of my nonfiction list is all over the place. Click on a few links and see what you like. On Grand Strategy is academic and a difficult read but worth the energy at least for the first half of the book.

For fiction, Cloud Atlas was also a difficult read but worth the effort. The Remains of the Day is beautiful and poetic. I’m in awe of the mood that Ishiguro can evoke between the sentences and paragraphs of his writing. It is writing at the opposite extreme of Grove. Where Grove teaches KPIs and MBOs and management discipline, Ishiguro teaches humanity in a life of compounding mistakes and individual discipline. I do not think I could have appreciated this book at 30 years old or even 40 years old.