YC's 2015 Reading List

by Y Combinator12/18/2015

The end of the year is a great time to catch up on reading.

Here is a roundup of some of the best books we at Y Combinator read in 2015 — some of them happened to be published this year, but many of them were not. A big hat-tip to Bill Gates, whose legendary reading lists inspired us to make one of our own.

“This book will bring you up to date on cutting-edge battery research. The radical improvements we have seen in batteries in the last decade have opened up new markets from electric vehicles to the internet of things, and their continuing development is one of the most important forces in technology.” –Jared Friedman

“Like it or not, making predictions about the future is part of our jobs. Tetlock has rigorously analyzed the accuracy of predictions for two decades. His research into what makes some people consistently good at predicting the future has actionable lessons we can learn from.” –Jared Friedman

“I bought this book after reading David Brook’s The Moral Bucket List in the New York Times. A meaningful life takes work and it’s the kind I most want to live–one that is selfless and honest and humble. I’ve noticed that my favorite founders exhibit these qualities and I optimize my search for adding more of them to our community.” –Kevin Hale

“Thanks to GPS, the part of my brain responsible for spatial awareness has atrophied to a tiny codependent nub. I read this book to exercise it again and ended up appreciating the amazing ingenuity of humanity. I’m also much better prepared for the zombie apocalypse.” –Kevin Hale

“These two books give you a complete history of the oil industry from minute 1 to today.” –Michael Seibel

“This will inspire you to think about solving big world changing problems.” –Michael Seibel

“Because effective communication is critical to successful relationships with cofounders, customers, employees, etc.” –Paul Buchheit

“This is a free online e-book that’s a great starting point for understanding Deep Learning. It was initially recommended to me by OpenAI CTO Greg Brockman.” –Matt Krisiloff

“A great look into the music industry and how it produces hits. Gives a lot of insight into how music has been professionalized in the past 30 years. Smart, entrepreneurial readers will apply these lessons to other industries.” –Justin Kan

“The P.G. Wodehouse Starter Kit. I don’t read much these days (especially business books!) but these are my recommendations for relaxing with the best books ever. I think it’s important for startuppy people to relax and not always be thinking about work.” –Jessica Livingston

“Cheryl Strayed was an advice columnist called Dear Sugar, and this collection of her essays is a guide to finding inner strength through tenderness. She masterfully links the problems of her readers to her own painful experiences, and the result will cling to you with its vulnerability, sweetness, and intimacy. I’ve been in love with this book all fall.” –Amy Buechler

“These two books, in that order. Hope that humanity can ‘science the shit out of’ any situation, and a double-dose of references to space cannibalism.” –Luke Iseman

“A story of a parallel Silicon Valley in the Midwest, filled with all the same archetypes, plus the fascinating figure of Cray. Short on technical detail though.” –Daniel Gackle

“Also known by the much better title ‘Nand to Tetris.’ If you’re a programmer who doesn’t know about the lowest levels of hardware and software, but yearns to, this book can change your life. The Coursera videos are good too.” –Daniel Gackle

“This book was one of the few books I’ve read that altered the way I regarded humanity. Like Richard Dawkins’ ‘The Selfish Gene,’ Sapiens forced me to reevaluate the basic fabric of human society, ethics, and history.” –Geoff Ralston

“Too Big to Fail was great. An incredible illustration of how interconnected systems work, and how they can fail colossally even when everyone thinks they’re strong. Super important when thinking about risk.” –Aaron Harris

The Macro will take a break from publishing until the New Year. We will see you in January!




  • Y Combinator

    Y Combinator created a new model for funding early stage startups. Twice a year we invest a small amount of money ($150k) in a large number of startups (recently 200). The startups move to Silicon