YC's Summer Reading

by Y Combinator7/27/2016

Ready Player One: A Novel


“Beautiful and terrifying visions of our possible futures. Think Pokémon Go on steroids, for better and worse :)” –Luke Iseman

How Buildings Learn: What Happens After They’re Built


“Stewart Brand lovingly describes how and why buildings can get better with time. Bonus points: he wrote it from inside a shipping container!” –Luke Iseman

Find Me Unafraid: Love, Loss, and Hope in an African Slum


“Incredibly inspirational story of Kennedy Odede and Jessica Posner – the founders of a world class non-profit operating in some of the poorest slums in the world. In their lives they have encountered the best and worst of humanity, and their story is a testament to the power of perseverance. (Full disclosure: I became a contributor and board member of SHOFCO, in part because of this book!)” –Robby Walker

Hadrian’s Wall


“Hadrian’s Wall begins with a preliminary chapter on Roman history. I expected this to be boring; preliminary chapters almost always are. But this one was remarkably insightful. So I’m hoping the rest of the book will be equally surprising.” –Paul Graham

The Magicians Trilogy


“The Magicians is kind of like Harry Potter but for adults. Sadly there are only 3 books instead of 7. Great story with vivid imagery and twisty plot.” –Finbarr Taylor

The Expanse Collection


“The Expanse Collection is real space opera with a deep, long-running storyline about a lost civilization.” –Finbarr Taylor

End of Cycle?

End of Cycle?

]7 End of Cycle?

“In this piece, Elad Gil asks whether we are at the end of an economic cycle for tech. He points out patterns he’s seen emerge recently that are reminiscent of the investing patterns that cropped up at the end of the last cycle (2000-2001). While that might sound somewhat gloomy, his take has an optimistic bent and left me excited for what will come next.” –Kat Mañalac

Our Mathematical Universe: My Quest for the Ultimate Nature of Reality


“Tegmark’s book is one of those few mind-altering books that give you a completely different way of looking at the world. It is a wonderfully readable combination of profound thoughts about the nature of reality combined with an explanation of what physicists and cosmologists know today.”–Geoff Ralston

The Beginning of Infinity: Explanations That Transform the World


“Deutsch is another physicist who succeeds in causing us to rethink what we know about history and humanity’s place in the universe. He centers his conversation around ‘explanations’ which he claims are far more fundamental than you might otherwise think.” –Geoff Ralston

Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln


“Team of Rivals was great. Too many reasons.” –Aaron Harris

Algorithms to Live By: The Computer Science of Human Decisions


“People make decisions all day with limited time and information. These constraints are familiar to programmers, and many of the principles of computer science can be applied to understand why we make decisions the way we do. Modern neuroscience is revealing more and more about the way people make decisions, which helps us understand why some decisions are harder to make correctly than others. This is an accessible book summarizing a mountain of recent fundamental research.”–Trevor Blackwell

Moral Tribes: Emotion, Reason, and the Gap Between Us and Them


“People’s intuitive sense of what is ethical often differs from what a utilitarian philosopher would say is the greatest good for the greatest number. Through carefully digging into the corner cases of what people say is right or wrong and correlating with brain activity, Greene reveals a great deal about the underlying mental mechanisms.” –Trevor Blackwell

Work Rules!: Insights from Inside Google That Will Transform How You Live and Lead


“This book is full of interesting ideas and observations. It’s particularly valuable to companies trying to scale their workforce up past the first 150 people, where ad-hoc methods really start to break down. While my experience doesn’t always jibe with the ideas in the book and some of the insights seem somewhat specific to Google, it’s still really worth reading if you’re a leader in any organization.” –Emmett Shear

The Intelligent Investor: The Definitive Book on Value Investing


“I was told to handle these ideas with caution because early stage investing is so different than public markets but it’s been a wonderful and insightful read. I’m sure this will become one of the best books I read this year.” –Qasar Younis

Where Vultures Feast: Shell, Human Rights and Oil


“I’m re-reading this book since I last picked it up a little over 10 years ago. In our culture where corporations are held up at high esteem, this book had a tremendous impact on me in highlighting the blind spots created by markets. Also it provides insight into the history of oil on the Niger Delta which in itself is pretty interesting.” –Qasar Younis

Seeing Is Forgetting the Name of the Thing One Sees


“Irwin has me rethinking how I listen and ask questions. In his words, ‘Questions are more profound than answers because when you finally get an answer, they immediately ask another question.'” –Craig Cannon

Thoughts Without a Thinker


“Reading this book felt like a meditation on psychoanalytic psychology, which I guess is the point. Epstein marries two historically different vantage points on the tangle of human psychology and explains why it’s beneficial to keep both in mind as you think about your relationship to your self…if such a ‘self’ were to exist ;).'” –Amy Buechler



“This issue is worth slowly digesting one article at a time, especially the piece about what slash says about female sexuality (slash is a genre of fan fiction that imagines straight male heroes getting together), and how Trump’s presidential bid is a death knell for the well-tailored suit.'”–Amy Buechler




  • 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