What MeetMe is reading this month…


jobsSteve Jobs

by Walter Isaacson (available on Audible)

“Steve Jobs is an incredible genius, more influential than I’d imagined any technologist could be. The author was specifically commissioned by Jobs to do this biography, but pulls no punches. Sure, Jobs was an enigmatic, arrogant, billionaire hippy jerk visionary, but his biography is also a lesson in what you, as a human, can actually do. I like watching video game speed runs, because, over the years, people master the routine parts and find glitches that they exploit to shave off time. Steve’s life is a speed run in human achievement. He’s able to spot holes in industries, vulnerabilities in personalities, the core aspects of design and desire, and shortcuts in shaping technology and building teams. The story also has an amazing supporting cast of Bill Gates, Bono, Larry Ellison, and John Lasseter, to name of few of Steve’s friends, and the main character has enough quirks to feel fictional. I didn’t expect to get many takeaways from this biography, but there are a lot of lessons about building quality products and meaningful coworker relationships.”

Brian Herbert



dockerThe Docker Book: Containerization is the new virtualization [Kindle Edition]

“Deep dive into Docker and how to configure it. Gives great examples on how to get started as well as techniques and suggestions for best practices.”

Jeremy Stinson


startwithwhyStart With Why

by Simon Sinek (available on Audible)

“Start With Why is about the importance of focusing your vision, and connecting with your customers, on a much deeper level than just what your final product does.  The book suggests that the “why” of your business: why you do what you do and why your customers should care, are much more important than just providing your customers with a laundry list of features.

Most businesses start with what they do and how it sets them apart, then some go further to explain how they do what they do, and finally some go further to the why of it all.  Simon Sinek suggests that this is backward, and the most successful companies start with the latter.  Using Apple as an example (very, very frequently throughout the book), Sinek posits that they are successful because they have a clearly defined mission of “challenging the status quo” and that all of their decisions originate from that mission.  Because Apple has relentlessly and successfully upheld this vision their customers (who also desire to challenge the status quo) feel a strong loyalty to Apple and its products.

Overall, I like the theory set forth by the book, but it tends to get repetitive after a while.  Sinek’s TED talk is a better place to start before jumping into the book: http://www.ted.com/talks/simon_sinek_how_great_leaders_inspire_action

Matt Kemmerer


All Tomorrow’s Partiestomorrow

by William Gibson (available on Audible)

“The final book in the Bridge trilogy (including Virtual Light and Idoru), ATP wraps up Gibson’s series about the commoditization of counterculture and exploration of interstitial communities.  While the Bridge trilogy isn’t quite as famous or beloved as his other works, ATP is considered the best out of the trilogy as Gibson wraps up the plotlines and ideas presented in the previous two books.  Though written in 1999, the world is more of an alternate future rather than a possible future since the way Big Data, emergent AI, and 3D printing are presented makes it sound like it could be something that would happen if our recent past had proceeded differently.”

John Spivak

onesummerOne Summer: America, 1927

by Bill Bryson (available on Audible)

“When I read Bill Bryson, I feel like all my history classes were broken. He’s able to zoom in on these interesting vignettes, giving the real people their real foibles and eccentricities, then zoom out on the broad landscape of history and show where you just were as a patchwork in a complex quilt of events. I always disliked history books, with their lists of names and numbers, one dimensional characters, episodes with little context, and, above all, the ability to make even the craziest wars incredibly boring affairs. One Summer focuses somewhat on Charles Lindbergh, but also seamlessly weaves in the stories of Al Capone, Babe Ruth, the emergence of “talkies”, the foundations of the stock market crash, Herbert Hoover’s ruthless work ethic, and a hundred other relevant bits of history, rendered with entertaining context, full of hilarity and interesting facts that force you to go find someone and read the passage to them. It gets a tad long-winded, particularly when discussing the New York Yankees, but read this, even if you don’t like historical books. Especially if you don’t like historical books.”

Brian Herbert

Waking Up: A Guide To Spirituality Without Religion

by Sam Harris (available on Audible)

“I found it to be an interesting book. A point brought up early is what does spirituality really mean? It’s something people say but there doesn’t seem to be a clear definition for it. Harris’ position falls in line with more Eastern philosophies that the goal in spirituality is to dispel the illusion that the self is separate from everything else. Another question is “who are you?” The argument in the book is that you are not the sum of your thoughts; thoughts and feelings are something you have rather than something that defines you. You can watch your thoughts passively and not be ruled by them. To do this in a deliberate way is meditation. In a meditative state where your mind is still, you become more aware and have the opportunity for direct spiritual insights. Whatever it is that is “behind” the thoughts, the person that is observing the thoughts, that’s the “real you”.

Most people move through life chasing pleasure and avoiding pain, but the teachings embraced in this book are that nothing is permanent and any pleasure will end and no pain can be avoided forever. Therefore real happiness is achieved by embracing the present moment, for its goods and its bads, and changing your perception rather than constantly changing the external forces around you and pinning your happiness to that.”

Bobby Fiorentino






by Dale Carnegie (available on Audible)

This is a classic for a reason. Really changes the way you perceive daily interactions with others. I think no one wants to admit to loving hearing their name spoken or enjoying the sound of their own voice, but it is a fundamental part of human nature. Basically, everyone wants to feel important. If you can genuinely make someone feel that way, you will have lots of friends.”

Diana Shkolnikov

What MeetMe is reading this month…

The lost post for September…



The Golem and the Jinni (Google eBook)

by Helene Wecker

“This is a beautifully-written debut novel by Helene Wecker set in New York City of 1899.  It features a great mix of richly-developed characters, a vividly rendered turn-of-the-century setting, a plot that is both well-imagined and well-executed, with just the right amount of mysticism, action, and humor mixed in.  This is one of those rare books that is welcome in literary circles that was also nominated for a Nebula Award (from the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America).”

Drew DeNardo

by Christian Rudder (available on Audible)
“This was the first book I ever pre-ordered. Working in a social media company, Christian Rudder’s okCupid blog posts (all 3 of them) are relevant, surprising, and interesting to read, so I was eager to get more. I tried really hard to love the book, but ended up barely liking it. The author just cannot decide if he wants to be an academic data analyst, a social scientist full of entertaining trivium for dinner parties, or that professor who is profane and mocking just so students think he’s cool. From the blog posts, Christian manages to come across as a colorful scientist informed by rigorous study; in the book, he jumps between interesting demographic stats (what common phrases white guys tweet, men think 21 is the ideal age for a woman, aesthetically), then spends twice as much time explaining that he’s not racist or sexist or ageist or a mathematical hack. And on the Kindle, the book ends at 57%. A whopping 43% of the book is notes and references! Christian tries to be clinical with his whimsical observations, then occasionally tries to point them in the direction of social statements (why are black men less desirable to black women than they should be on okCupid), but in the same breath takes jabs at low IQ demographics. He makes a mess for himself by creating charts that could be presented neutrally, but he also wants to be a witty and cutting guy, so now the charts look like flamebait. So he has to explain his motives at every step, and then he explains himself again for the last half of the book. If you’re in the social media business, or if you want fuel for conversations that are incredibly dicey and questionably helpful, slog through it. As a side note, Christian writes with exactly the same style and obtuseness as Tycho (Jerry Holkins) from Penny-Arcade.”
Brian Herbert


A History of the World in 6 Glasses

by Tom Standage  (available on Audible)

“A History of the World in 6 Glasses takes a reader through the history of 6 of the world’s favorite beverages: beer, wine, spirits, coffee, tea, and Coca Cola.  This makes for both an interesting history lesson in the drinks themselves, and also an interesting dive into the lives of people of the times.  The story of each drink not only details the history of the drink, but also its importance and influence on people of the times — such as beer being used as a form of payment in BC times.  Even if you have no strong interest in the drinks’ histories, you may still find the book compelling for the larger insights into past civilizations and their stories.”
Matt Kemmerer


The Maze Runner: Maze Runner, Book 1

by James Dashner (available on Audible)

“It’s young adult fiction, akin to the Hunger Games.  Since the movie is coming out, I figured I’d give the series a shot.  It’s an enjoyable book.  It is young adult, and you can tell but the phrasing and points of view, but it’s also an easy listen.  If you are looking for something a bit different, and are on a “young adult dystopian future” kick, check it out.”
Jason Lotito


What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions

by Randall Munroe  (available on Audible)

“If you already read XKCD, or Randall’s “What If” posts, then this book contains exactly what you would expect. For those who do not, the subtitle gives it away. This collection of questions and answers explores some imaginative ideas, while attempting to stay grounded in what we know from science. Each is short and fun enough to enjoy sharing with your children, though the reality of some may be a bit gruesome, so it may be best to read ahead first.”
Bryan Emmanuel


The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable

by Patrick Lencioni  (available on Audible)

“I wish this book had a different name, since reading it is like an indictment on my workplace. This is a short lesson on teamwork best-practices delivered in a story. At first I thought it was kind of silly to author a play rather than just lay out the dysfunctions, but late in the book, the author switches from a narrative to a lecture, and it was way harder for me to pay attention. So the first thing I got out of this book was that the power of story telling applies to me, at least with an audiobook. The rest of it felt like common sense, but a couple good lessons that stuck out were the need to have open, productive debates and the importance of identifying and leveraging strengths and weaknesses on a team. I’m just not sure how to go about making debates more mainstream without endangering my job. A lot of the practical advice, and even the story, is targeted at top leaders.”
Brian Herbert



The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon

by Brad Stone (Audible)

“I listened to this book after Brian gave it a favorable review last month.  As an Amazon junkie, I found the book incredibly interesting and insightful.  It’s amazing to consider the breadth of Amazon’s endeavors and the often cut-throat approaches it takes to help achieve its vision.  The audiobook weighs in at 13 hours, which is probably a few hours longer than the average book I listen to, but the story remained fresh and engaging throughout.”
Matt Kemmerer


“The Amazon story gave a teaser into Zappos’ origins, so I took the bait. Tony Hsieh, the CEO of Zappos, narrates the book and shows his brilliance even in leveraging the audio format. There are several sections of the book that defer to the experience of other employees, and many quoted emails. For those sections, the actual author or authority on the subject reads the passage. It creates a very sincere, engaging effect. Like many stories about the rise of a company, this one contains some great nuggets of advice on being humble, focusing on the customer, etc., but the overpowering lesson on Zappos’ success is that Tony Hsieh is a superfreak genius with the additional powers of extreme emotional intelligence and business daring. His ACM (programming competition) team at Harvard took 1st place in the world in ’93, a fact that he doesn’t even plainly state. I was inspired by the incredible focus on company culture and disregard for industry status quo, but the real first step to fast-tracking a billion dollar startup is to be Tony. There were some great stories on the ups and downs of Zappos and Tony’s earlier business adventures, and pep talks on reaching for the stars. There’s also a strong spiritual theme. By the final chapters, there were so many new agey references and discussions of oneness and ultimate happiness that I couldn’t help but think of Siddhartha, and that comparison was brought home when the book ended with a quote from Buddha. In all, it was a very fun read, and provided a ton of practical advice for businesses. I just think Tony’s attempt to stay humble and personable detracts from role his anomalous intellect plays in Zappos’ business success.”
Brian Herbert

What MeetMe is reading this month…


Traction: A Startup Guide to Getting Customers

by Gabriel Weinberg and Justine Mares

“Real actionable advice on how to get the one thing every product needs: traction.  It’s filled with lots of good information, succinctly put by people who have done it.  It presents you with repeatable examples and real world advice.  It’s by Gabriel Weinberg and Justine Mares, both people who are in the startup game.  Gabriel Weinberg is actually a the guy behind the search engine DuckDuckGo.”

Jason Lotito

bookCreateAMindHow To Create A Mind: The Secret of Human Thought Revealed

by Ray Kurzweil (Audible)

“This book provides interesting insight into the current theories as to how the brain works, and does a fairly good job of describing the current state and methods of AI.  It does this without resorting to overly complex technical jargon or needing to dive into technical algorithms.  If you’re looking for a more algorithmic description of AI, you’d be better off looking for neural network implementations across the internet.  But if you’re looking for a history, and description, delivered in a more approachable prose, then this may be what you’re looking for.  In some of the more in-depth sections, it was easy to lose focus on the audiobook, but despite that, it’s still a worthwhile read.”

bookSuperMarioSuper Mario: How Nintendo Conquered America

by Jeff Ryan (Audible)

“In this book, Jeff Ryan details Nintendo’s story from its origins as a trading card company, through its mega-successes in the early arcades and with NES, through more current times.  At times it seemed like some of the information might not be 100% accurate.  There was a time or two where it seemed to contradict itself, or where I found conflicting information on Wikipedia.  However, the book offers much in the way of nostalgia for anyone growing up with the early Nintendo systems.”

Matt Kemmerer



 The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon

by Brad Stone (Audible)

“The story of Bezos and Amazon’s rise was way more captivating than I’d imagined, but I suspect that was due to my personal interests. I didn’t even realize how many digital book questions I had stored in the back of my mind until they were answered here, like, what was the deal with e-books price fixing, how did they manage a free data connection on the Kindle, whatever happened to the e-books formats I used on my old Palm Pilot, why did the built-in Kindle dictionary disappear for a while. And from a broader perspective, understanding Bezos really help connect Amazons strange dots between Amazons seemingly disparate ventures, and explains their constant attempts to break ground, like with the Fire Phone, set-top boxes, and AWS. Brad Stone has a long, if intermittent, history with Bezos, allowing him to turn an already brilliantly written biography into an emotionally engaging story with a detailed arc. The author even dares to encroach on his subject’s personal life by tracking down Bezos’ long-estranged father and revealing his son’s identity for the first time. But that doesn’t keep Stone from pulling any punches; he is as likely to dig up skeletons from Amazons closet as he is homilies, particularly where business practices are concerned. There are scores of entertaining anecdotes from current and former employees, all tied together with recent historical context and broadly-painted corporate politicking. Amazon’s corporate culture and business tactics sound, to me, repulsive, but its vision, persistence, consistency, and patience are enthralling.”

Brian Herbert



bookHaltHalt and Catch Fire

” A show on AMC that is pretty darn good. Brief synopsis:  A small company enters the home PC race and takes on IBM in the process.  I turned [coworker] Joe Hansche on to this show.”

Justin Bruno


Code: The Hidden Language of Computer Hardware and Software book cover

What MeetMe is reading this month…





Code: The Hidden Language of Computer Hardware and Software

by Charles Petzold

“The book is really about communication. It bounces between history, mathematics, and the physical mechanics of the communication devices we’ve used throughout history leading up to the microcomputer. The author does more than explain how a basic telegraph works, by tracing the evolution and the faults in each version of the technology. Halfway through the book the focus abstracts out to logic gates, then it abstracts out again to performing addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division using only these gates, then to memory structure, then to microprocessors and their instruction sets, and finally to higher level programming languages. I think the very best thing about this book is that it touches on concepts we’re all very familiar with, but it connects them better than just about any other material I’ve ever read on the subject.”Michael Smalley


The Happiness Advantage: The Seven Principles of Positive Psychology That Fuel Success and Performance at Work

by Shawn Achor (available on Audible)

“Happiness is important.  Ask people about their short term or long term goals and they may vary widely from person to person, but at the core of each goal is the hope and desire that it will make that person happier.  This book explores ideas and methods for helping to increase overall happiness and have a better outlook on life.  Further, it challenges the common notion that first we become successful, and then happiness follows.  The book argues that the converse is actually true: if we’re happy to begin with, then we’re more likely to be successful across all aspects of life.”

Matt Kemmerer


The Elements of Computing Systems: Building a Modern Computer from First Principles

by Noam Nisan“It’s really a unique book in that with some time investment you can actually learn to build a working virtual machine called ‘Hack’.”

Michael Smalley

“This book was surprising. I originally picked it up as a guide to succeeding in business, however, the book offers that in a very ‘spiritual’ way.  The author focuses on the tremendous effect our thoughts have on our lives and describes how he has applied his recommended three steps throughout his personal and professional journey to achieve his goals. His life story is inspirational and the three steps he outlines are in fact simple, which makes it feel like anyone can do it.”Diana Shkolnikov

Book 3: The Republic of Thieves

“This series is all about thieves.  And boy, do we love our thieves.  It’s a mix of mystery who-done-it.  It’s the planning of capers, the plotting to escape, and the twists and turns along the way.  I love the series because the characters are unique and colorful, the crimes the commit are interesting and fun, and the relationships are dynamic and diverse. 
The most interesting thing I find is how they are able to get out of the corners they find themselves in.  They are inventive with their crimes, and it’s delightfully fun to see what happens next.”Jason Lotito


The Art of Learning

by Josh Waitzkin (available on Audible)

“The Art of Learning is Josh Waitzkin’s story.  Josh is both a National Champion at chess and a World Champion at Tai Chi Chuan — two very diverse fields.  However, he says that his best skill is neither chess nor Tai Chi, but learning.  Josh details his mental process for learning, and shares insights to performing at a high level.  The audio version, which is read by Josh, remains engaging throughout and is both interesting and inspirational.”

Matt Kemmerer



Hackers: Heroes of the Computer Revolution
“I read Hackers based on David Slabonik’s featured recommendation. It was a screen-swiper to the end; I could not put this book down, but it probably appeals to a narrow demographic. As a developer, my theory of programmers as a class of people grows incrementally every day — there are subcategories of programmers based on motives, ideals and styles. Reading this book took my mental picture of hackers from a rough crayon drawing of a house to a satellite photograph. It was fascinating from a historical perspective, connecting my jumbled dots of computer knowledge on the origins of punchcards, games, digital music, and different programming languages. There are entertaining cameos from Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, and the founders of Sierra games, all written before the subjects grew to immense fame. The effects of politics, salaries, and education are smoothly interwoven. Even the origins of nerd culture are explored, from hygiene and bizarre sleep schedules to the penchant for sci-fi/fantasy and lack of female interaction. But what really gripped me was the array of personalities that has shaped software engineering. Certain vignettes of historical programmers spoke deeply to me, confirming that my mental wiring has precedent among engineers, and other biographies gave me insights into the dispositions of my fellow coders. It was like reading a Meyers-Briggs chart for the first time, finding myself, finding my friends, and then seeing how we complement each other and where points of contention lie. Not only did Hackers give me continual jolts of inspiration for the kind of coder I want to be, it gave me a more honest look at the technical tasks I’m not well suited to. Make sure to get the 25th Anniversary edition for the epilogue follow-ups with influential hackers.”Brian Herbert
The Idea Factory: Bell Labs and the Great Age of American Innovation, Book Cover

What MeetMe is reading this month…

 We bring you another installment of What MeetMe is reading this month…  Yet again, an eclectic mix. You’ll find writing that will inspire you to exercise your imagination and create, communicate more effectively, consider the pursuit of  happiness and simplicity, and of course, a little something to make you go WAH?!?!?




“An incomplete list of things invented at Bell Labs during its heyday: lasers, fiberoptic cables, satellite communications, cell phones, the C programming language, solar panels.

My favorite story in here: John Bardeen and Walter Brattain plug away for years to find the right materials to create the first functioning transistor.  Their boss William Shockley, who had laid some of the theoretical framework for their achievement, gets angry about not receiving enough credit.  So he stays up all night in a hotel room on New Year’s Eve writing out 30 pages of notes describing a better approach, and is able to prove out the concept in a few months.  His version becomes the standard.

The book will get you thinking about innovation and the circumstances that lead to it.  Much is a reinforcement of the now-fashionable idea that all invention is iteration, not the solitary genius model you might have learned in school.  But that new dogma is also challenged, or at least tempered.  Consider Claude Shannon, who showed up for work whenever, spent much of his time creating electromechanical mice and riding around the office on a unicycle, and knocked out the whole foundation of Information Theory in between games of chess.”

Roger Taylor



 “There’s one main theme to Essentialism: prioritizing the important things and throwing away the rest.  While this sounds simple in concept, whether in a professional or personal context, we tend to often prioritize incorrectly or choose to include non-important tasks due to outside pressures.  The audiobook weighs in at over 6 hours for this central topic, so it definitely gets repetitive, but the overall message is a good one.”


Logic and Design, Revised: In Art, Science, and Mathematics

by Krome Barratt

Joe Szymanski

Rich Friedman