YC's 2017 Summer Reading List

by Y Combinator8/3/2017

The Man Who Knew: The Life and Times of Alan Greenspan

man who knew

“I thought Greenspan was bad but this book paints a positive image. Seb Mallaby is an awesome author so makes for an easy read.” – Daniel Gross

Powerhouse: The Untold Story of Hollywood’s Creative Artists Agency


“Business-strategy-meets-Entourage. Interesting points in particular about the mailroom model and packaging deals.” – Daniel Gross

Before the Trumpet: Young Franklin Roosevelt, 1882-1905

before the trumpet

“An amazing look at FDR’S early life and his ancestors. The writing was fantastic and the history thoughtfully organized. The book covers young FDR from 1882 (his birth) until his marriage to Eleanor Roosevelt in 1905. A fun read for those interested in the history of our (respectable) presidents.” – Nicole Imhof

The Nix


“This book was one of the most enjoyable novels I’ve read in ages. It’s heartbreaking, hilarious, and somehow too short at 640 pages. Hill’s humanity and heart come through in scene after scene, whether he’s dissecting our political world, our relationships with our family or our obsession with media and technology. I can’t wait to read his next book!” – Fred Benenson

Casey Accidental


“I love this blog by Casey Winters.” – Gustaf Alstromer

The Nexus Series


“Neuromancer meets Jason Bourne. Written by a futurist who worked at MS, Ramez Naam. What if you could run code on your brain? Explores moral, political, military scene in a near future world that seems pretty plausible.” – Eric Migicovsky

Mastermind: How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes


“Drawing on twenty-first-century neuroscience and psychology, Mastermind explores Holmes’s unique methods of ever-present mindfulness, astute observation, and logical deduction. In doing so, it shows how each of us, with some self-awareness and a little practice, can employ these same methods to sharpen our perceptions, solve difficult problems, and enhance our creative powers. Very upbeat, bright and easy read. Truly enjoying it!” – Tatyana Veremyova

Behave: The Biology of Humans at Our Best and Worst


“A great synthesis of psychology and neurobiology, integrating the latest research. It may make you understand your own mind better.” – Jared Friedman

Homo Deus

homo deus

“Harari continues his masterful exploration of the human story he began in ‘Sapiens’ and continues it to its logical next steps. The book makes you rethink what it is and will be to be a human being.” – Geoff Ralston

Warnings: Finding Cassandras to Stop Catastrophes


“It is shocking how so many of our recent catastrophes from Katrina to the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster were predicted and avoidable if only… This great book explores what happened in 7 such disasters and gives clues as to how to pay attention to the warnings we so often get, but mostly ignore.” – Geoff Ralston

I Am Not I

I am not I

“Great for self-awareness and self-knowledge. It is not an easy book but it’s really approachable and pretty short. This poem at the intro of the book sums it up.” – Ramon Recuero

I am not I.
I am this one
walking beside me whom I do not see,
whom at times I manage to visit,
and whom at other times I forget;
who remains calm and silent while I talk,
and forgives, gently, when I hate,
who walks where I am not,
who will remain standing when I die.

Man’s Search for Meaning


“A psychiatrist and concentration camp survivor explains how finding and pursuing meaning is our primary driver in life.” – Rick Morrison

Caverns Measureless to Man


“One of the pioneers of underwater cave exploration describes his adventures where there is no room for error in extremely tight and dangerous situations.” – Rick Morrison

Sapiens and Homo Deus


“Frames human perceptions of reality over the course of our development with sufficient abstraction to compare religions, economic systems, corporations and humanism in similar terms. Proposes a new value system to replace humanism: dataism.” – Joe Betts-Lacroix

The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion

righteous mind

“Parameterizes the difference between liberal and conservative value systems in a 6-variable space, making it easier to understand why people have a hard time understanding each other, and now to bridge those gaps. Overall, I like books that help me question and deepen by values :)” – Joe Betts-Lacroix

Technological Revolutions and Financial Capital: The Dynamics of Bubbles and Golden Ages

tech revolutions

“An insightful read on how bubbles form and how they mature (or don’t mature) into impactful trends. I found the framework helpful given the many newer contexts since publication, e.g. artificial intelligence, blockchain, etc.” – Adora Cheung

Einstein’s Dreams

einsteins dreams

“This book taught me how to imagine what time could be in nonlinear forms. Also, rarely does fiction move, much less teach me––some of the most beautiful text I’ve ever read.” – Adora Cheung

Healing Back Pain: The Mind-Body Connection

healing back pain

“The various health disciplines interested in the back have succeeded in creating an army of the partially disabled in this country with their medieval concepts of structural damage and injury as the basis of back pain.” – John Sarno, MD

“Dr Sarno’s work and insights are invaluable. Despite the horrible pain, it turns out there is nothing wrong with my back — my brain just needed a software update.” – Paul Buchheit

Six Not-So-Easy Pieces: Einstein’s Relativity, Symmetry, and Space-Time

six pieces

“Currently jumping between several physics books. Feynman does an excellent job conveying complicated concepts without making you feel there was a lot left out in his compression.” – Craig Cannon




  • 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