100 books like Startup

By Jerry Kaplan,

Here are 100 books that Startup fans have personally recommended if you like Startup. Shepherd is a community of 11,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of The Mythical Man-Month: Essays on Software Engineering

Paolo Perrotta Author Of Programming Machine Learning: From Coding to Deep Learning

From my list on classic software that are still worth reading.

Why am I passionate about this?

You know what ages like milk? Programming books. I always cringe when someone glances at my programming bookshelf. Some of those books are so dated, they make me appear out of touch by association. Sometimes, I feel compelled to justify myself. “Yes, that's the first edition of Thinking in Java I keep it for nostalgic reasons, you know!” Yesterday’s software book is today’s fish and chip wrapper. However, there are exceptions. A few classics stay relevant for years, or even decades. This is a shortlist of software books that might be older than you, but are still very much worth reading.

Paolo's book list on classic software that are still worth reading

Paolo Perrotta Why did Paolo love this book?

In my consulting gigs, I come across plenty of clueless remarks. Here's a classic one: “We're falling behind schedule, so let's hire more coders.” Or a more recent gem: “We'll be ten times more productive if we generate code with AI.”

When I encounter such nonsense, I don't facepalm or cringe. Instead, I put on my poker face and drop a quote from The Mythical Man-Month.

In an industry where last year’s book is already outdated, Fred Brooks' collection of essays has been a guiding light for nearly half a century. His aphorisms have become legendary. “The bearing of a child takes nine months, no matter how many women are assigned.” “Adding manpower to a late software project makes it later.” “There is no silver bullet.” The list goes on and on.

John Carmack, one of the greatest programmers of our times, used to revisit this book every year or…

By Frederick P. Brooks Jr,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked The Mythical Man-Month as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Few books on software project management have been as influential and timeless as The Mythical Man-Month. With a blend of software engineering facts and thought-provoking opinions, Fred Brooks offers insight for anyone managing complex projects. These essays draw from his experience as project manager for the IBM System/360 computer family and then for OS/360, its massive software system. Now, 20 years after the initial publication of his book, Brooks has revisited his original ideas and added new thoughts and advice, both for readers already familiar with his work and for readers discovering it for the first time.



The added chapters…


Book cover of Dealers of Lightning: Xerox Parc and the Dawn of the Computer Age

G. Pascal Zachary Author Of Showstopper! The Breakneck Race to Create Windows NT and the Next Generation at Microsoft

From my list on the human dimension of writing computer code.

Why am I passionate about this?

The author was the chief Silicon Valley writer for The Wall Street Journal during the first of the 1990s. He went on to become an acclaimed scholar in the history of science, engineering, and innovation. At the peak of his journalism career, the Boston Globe described Zachary as the most talented reporter on the Journal's staff. Zachary went on to write technology and innovation columns for The New York Times, Technology Review, and Spectrum magazineZachary has also taught courses on science and technology studies at Stanford University, UC Berkeley, and Arizona State University, where he was a professor from 2010-2020. He lives in northern California. 

G.'s book list on the human dimension of writing computer code

G. Pascal Zachary Why did G. love this book?

The software interface for Apple’s innovative Macintosh was largely (and legally) modeled on system software designed at the Palo Alto < California research center of Xerox, an East Coast photocopy company whose stodgy executives failed to realize the value of the coding breakthroughs they had funded and nurtured in the heart of northern California’s computer cauldron. Before anyone at the top of Xerox realized the enormity of their errors, the company had licensed to Steve Jobs and Apple key software technologies that animated the Macintosh revolution in the 1980s. Hiltzik’s richly detailed and readable history, based on scores of interviews, is the best account of the epic failure of an American corporate icon. Apple and Jobs went on to achieve glory while Xerox ultimately became a zombie company, having missed the greatest industrial wave of the past 75 years. 

By Michael A. Hiltzik,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Dealers of Lightning as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

During the 1970s and 1980s, a number of brilliant computer eccentrics were thrown together by Xerox at the Xerox PARC centre in Palo Alto, California. These people created inventions such as the first personal computer, the graphic user interface, the mouse and one of the precursors of the Internet. However, the bosses at Xerox never really appreciated these men or their innovations, and accused them of just fooling around. Then along came the outsiders, such as Steve Jobs of Apple Computing, who left the PARC with ideas that they would later exploit and make vast fortunes on, propelling them to…


Book cover of Recoding Gender: Women's Changing Participation in Computing

G. Pascal Zachary Author Of Showstopper! The Breakneck Race to Create Windows NT and the Next Generation at Microsoft

From my list on the human dimension of writing computer code.

Why am I passionate about this?

The author was the chief Silicon Valley writer for The Wall Street Journal during the first of the 1990s. He went on to become an acclaimed scholar in the history of science, engineering, and innovation. At the peak of his journalism career, the Boston Globe described Zachary as the most talented reporter on the Journal's staff. Zachary went on to write technology and innovation columns for The New York Times, Technology Review, and Spectrum magazineZachary has also taught courses on science and technology studies at Stanford University, UC Berkeley, and Arizona State University, where he was a professor from 2010-2020. He lives in northern California. 

G.'s book list on the human dimension of writing computer code

G. Pascal Zachary Why did G. love this book?

The first software programmers, or coders for computers, were women. Abbate, a professor at Virginia Tech and author of Inventing the Internet, recaptures the vital role of women programmers at the dawn of digital computing, when in the 1940s and 1950s women often handled what was then viewed as an anonymous task of creating the coding for computers to carry out operations.

“Employed as technical experts from the very beginnings of digital computing,” Abbate writes in her penetrating study, “women were inventing careers and professional identities at the same time that the field took shape.” By the 1960s, when computing spread, men began supplanting women as frontline programmers, a trend that resulted in the software becoming male-dominated by the end of the 20th century. Because women now flock to code writing, and are becoming once more central players in the creation of software, Abbate’s history illuminates a neglected…

By Janet Abbate,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Recoding Gender as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The untold history of women and computing: how pioneering women succeeded in a field shaped by gender biases.

Today, women earn a relatively low percentage of computer science degrees and hold proportionately few technical computing jobs. Meanwhile, the stereotype of the male “computer geek” seems to be everywhere in popular culture. Few people know that women were a significant presence in the early decades of computing in both the United States and Britain. Indeed, programming in postwar years was considered woman's work (perhaps in contrast to the more manly task of building the computers themselves). In Recoding Gender, Janet Abbate…


Book cover of Hatching Twitter: A True Story of Money, Power, Friendship, and Betrayal

G. Pascal Zachary Author Of Showstopper! The Breakneck Race to Create Windows NT and the Next Generation at Microsoft

From my list on the human dimension of writing computer code.

Why am I passionate about this?

The author was the chief Silicon Valley writer for The Wall Street Journal during the first of the 1990s. He went on to become an acclaimed scholar in the history of science, engineering, and innovation. At the peak of his journalism career, the Boston Globe described Zachary as the most talented reporter on the Journal's staff. Zachary went on to write technology and innovation columns for The New York Times, Technology Review, and Spectrum magazineZachary has also taught courses on science and technology studies at Stanford University, UC Berkeley, and Arizona State University, where he was a professor from 2010-2020. He lives in northern California. 

G.'s book list on the human dimension of writing computer code

G. Pascal Zachary Why did G. love this book?

Software runs the digital world. While Facebook, Amazon, and Google may look like services, they are run by code. The same for Twitter is essentially a networked program that enables mass communication in multiple directions. Bilton deftly follows four coders – Ev Williams, Jack Dorsey, Biz Stone, and Noah Glass – who stun the software world with the dramatic impact of their software creation. While Bilton’s narrative emphasizes the quirky men who made Twitter, and falls short of explaining the coding achievements of this benighted quartet, Hatching Twitter provides a vivid reminder that success in software often doesn’t go with the sharpest understanding of how software works, and what programs deliver.

By Nick Bilton,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Hatching Twitter as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'A tale of Machiavellian plots and coups d'etat, it's just all so gripping' Chris Evans, BBC Radio 2

THE ULTIMATE 21ST CENTURY BUSINESS STORY

Since 2006, Twitter has grown from the accidental side project of a failing internet start-up, to a global icon that by 2013 had become an $11.5bn business. But the full story of Twitter's hatching has never been told before.

In his revelatory new book, New York Times journalist Nick Bilton takes readers behind the scenes of Twitter as it grew at exponential speeds, and inside the heads of the four hackers who created it: ambitious millionaire…


Book cover of Creative Selection: Inside Apple's Design Process During the Golden Age of Steve Jobs

Marty Cagan Author Of Empowered: Ordinary People, Extraordinary Products

From my list on building a strong technology organization.

Why am I passionate about this?

Marty Cagan has been working on and with technology-powered empowered product teams for his entire career. Before founding the Silicon Valley Product Group to pursue his interests in helping others create successful products through his writing, speaking, advising, and coaching, Marty Cagan served as an executive responsible for defining and building products for some of the most successful companies in the world, including Hewlett-Packard, Netscape Communications, and eBay. As part of his work with SVPG, Marty is an invited speaker at major conferences and top companies across the globe. Marty is the author of INSPIRED: How To Create Tech Products Customers Love, and EMPOWERED: Ordinary People, Extraordinary Products.

Marty's book list on building a strong technology organization

Marty Cagan Why did Marty love this book?

Apple is the most secretive commercial company I know.  Most books that have been written about them are about their colorful co-founder Steve Jobs, and much less about the inner workings.  My favorite book on how the actual work of product is done at Apple is Creative Selection by former engineering lead Ken Kocienda. Ken worked on some of the company’s most important products and technologies, during what I’d consider the peak innovation period for the company (so far).  Because Ken is an engineer, this book provides the engineering perspective, but the book is loaded with useful observations, learnings and insights.

By Ken Kocienda,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Creative Selection as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Hundreds of millions of people use Apple products every day; a few thousand work on Apple's campus in California; but only a handful sit at the drawing board. Creative Selection recounts the life of one of the few behind the scenes, a highly-respected software engineer who worked in the final years the Steve Jobs era.

Ken Kocienda offers an inside look at Apple's creative process. For fifteen years, he was on the ground floor of the company as a specialist, responsible for experimenting with novel user interface concepts and writing software for products including the iPhone, the iPad, and the…


Book cover of Return to the Little Kingdom: Steve Jobs and the Creation of Apple

David Kopec Author Of Classic Computer Science Problems in Java

From my list on Steve Jobs and the history of Apple Inc..

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a programming book author, software developer, podcaster, and computer science professor at a teaching college. But I’ve also always been a devoted fan of Apple Inc. and deeply interested in its history. I’ve read more than two dozen books about Apple so you can just read the best ones. If five books are not enough for you, and you want to dig deeper into books about Apple and Steve Jobs, you can check out my blog post on my website.

David's book list on Steve Jobs and the history of Apple Inc.

David Kopec Why did David love this book?

I read this book after I had read many others about Apple, but if I could do it over again, I would start here. This is the single best book about Apple’s early history from its founding in 1976 until the release of the Macintosh in 1984. When I’m learning something, I always find it valuable to start from the beginning. You’ll need more than just this book though because the material in it covering post-1984 Apple is cursory at best.

By Michael Moritz,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Return to the Little Kingdom as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In 1984, The Little Kingdom: The Private Story of Apple Computer told the story of Apple's first decade alongside the histories of Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak. Now, completely revised and expanded, Return to the Little Kingdom is the definitive biography of Apple and its founders from the very beginning. Moritz brings readers inside the childhood homes of Jobs and Wozniak and records how they dropped out of college and founded Apple in 1976. He follows the fortunes of the company through the mid-1980s, and in new material, tracks the development of Apple to the present and offers an insider?s…


Book cover of What the Dormouse Said: How the Sixties Counterculture Shaped the Personal Computer Industry

Alex Wright Author Of Informatica: Mastering Information through the Ages

From my list on forgotten pioneers of the Internet.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a researcher, writer, and designer who has spent most of the past twenty-five years working in the technology industry, following an earlier career as a journalist and academic librarian. I've developed an abiding interest in the history of knowledge networks. I've written two books on the history of the information age, as well as a number of newspaper and magazine articles on new and emerging technologies. While the technology industry often seems to have little use for its own history, I have found the history of networked systems to be a rich source of inspiration, full of sources of inspiration that can help us start to envision a wide range of possible futures.

Alex's book list on forgotten pioneers of the Internet

Alex Wright Why did Alex love this book?

Longtime technology journalist John Markoff explores the origins of the Silicon Valley mythos in this engaging and insightful history of the early personal computer industry.

The book explores how the modern personal computer took shape amid the counterculture of the San Francisco Bay Area in the late 1960s and 1970s, where an eccentric cast of technology visionaries, hackers, and misfits began pushing the boundaries of human consciousness: embracing utopian ideals, experimenting with mind-expanding drugs, and exploring the still-uncharted possibilities of personal computing.

Markoff does a masterful job of connecting the dots between the Sixties counterculture and the revolutionary ethos that undergirded the early personal computing industry, making a convincing case that our present-day technology culture is deeply rooted in this transformative period in American culture. An entertaining and inspiring read.

By John Markoff,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked What the Dormouse Said as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"This makes entertaining reading. Many accounts of the birth of personal computing have been written, but this is the first close look at the drug habits of the earliest pioneers." -New York Times

Most histories of the personal computer industry focus on technology or business. John Markoff's landmark book is about the culture and consciousness behind the first PCs-the culture being counter- and the consciousness expanded, sometimes chemically. It's a brilliant evocation of Stanford, California, in the 1960s and '70s, where a group of visionaries set out to turn computers into a means for freeing minds and information. In these…


Book cover of Unix for the Beginning Mage

Jeremy Kepner Author Of Mathematics of Big Data: Spreadsheets, Databases, Matrices, and Graphs

From my list on the foundations of computing technology.

Why am I passionate about this?

Dr. Jeremy Kepner is head and founder of the MIT Lincoln Laboratory Supercomputing Center (LLSC), and also a Founder of the MIT-Air Force AI Accelerator. Lincoln Laboratory is a 4000-person National Laboratory whose mission is to create defensive technologies to protect our Nation and the freedoms enshrined in the Constitution of the United States. Dr. Kepner is one of five Lincoln Laboratory Fellows, a position that "recognizes the Laboratory's strongest technical talent for outstanding contributions to Laboratory programs over many years." Dr. Kepner is recognized as one of nine MIT Fellows of the Society of Industrial Applied Mathematics (SIAM), for "contributions to interactive parallel computing, matrix-based graph algorithms, green supercomputing, and big data." 

Jeremy's book list on the foundations of computing technology

Jeremy Kepner Why did Jeremy love this book?

Unix/Linux has emerged as the most common operating system in the world. Found on almost every server, smartphone, and network-enabled device, Unix plays a critical role in all aspects of computing. Unix for the Beginning Mage is a fun introduction to Unix for the novice who may be intimidated by other texts.

By Joe Topjian,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Unix for the Beginning Mage as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.


Book cover of Chaos Monkeys: Obscene Fortune and Random Failure in Silicon Valley

Rick Umali Author Of Learn GIT in a Month of Lunches

From my list on working in the computer industry.

Why am I passionate about this?

My curiosity and enthusiasm for computers and what they can do has not faded since I first encountered them in grade school (with the Commodore VIC-20). At this stage in my life, I’m thrilled that I can still get paid to play with them and make them do things. The computer industry is both my daily grind and my playground. You can come at this field casually, or intensely, but as long as you can interact with the computer, the computer will welcome you. The five books in this list paint the possibilities of work in this challenging but rewarding industry: failure, success, immortality, and everything in between. Enjoy!

Rick's book list on working in the computer industry

Rick Umali Why did Rick love this book?

Most of my work experiences have been with startups, but that statement is a bit misleading. To be more accurate, I worked at early-stage companies, since the smallest company I worked for was already 35 people. Chaos Monkeys conveys both the excitement and drudgery of founding a real start-up (Antonio starts with two other co-founders).

Antonio’s book takes us from his cushy job on Wall Street to making the leap to running his own venture. Antonio’s flavorful style is the perfect voice as he takes you into those meetings at which money is exchanged, contracts are signed, and options are handed out. His company’s exit and his summation of what was gained and lost are the bread and butter conversations of anyone who’s ever worked in a high-tech startup. This is an illuminating and insightful book.

By Antonio Garcia Martinez,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Chaos Monkeys as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

An adrenaline-fuelled expose of life inside the tech bubble, Chaos Monkeys lays bare the secrets, power plays and lifestyle excesses of the visionaries, grunts, sociopaths, opportunists and money cowboys who are revolutionising our world. Written by startup CEO and industry provocateur Antonio Garcia Martinez, this is Liar's Poker meets The Social Network.

Computer engineers use 'chaos monkey' software to wreak havoc and test system robustness. Similarly, tech entrepreneurs like Antonio Garcia Martinez are society's chaos monkeys - their innovations disrupt every aspect of our lives, from transportation (Uber) and holidays (Airbnb) to television (Netflix) and dating…


Book cover of Apple Confidential 2.0: The Definitive History of the World's Most Colorful Company

David Kopec Author Of Classic Computer Science Problems in Java

From my list on Steve Jobs and the history of Apple Inc..

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a programming book author, software developer, podcaster, and computer science professor at a teaching college. But I’ve also always been a devoted fan of Apple Inc. and deeply interested in its history. I’ve read more than two dozen books about Apple so you can just read the best ones. If five books are not enough for you, and you want to dig deeper into books about Apple and Steve Jobs, you can check out my blog post on my website.

David's book list on Steve Jobs and the history of Apple Inc.

David Kopec Why did David love this book?

This was one of the first Apple history books that I read when I was a teenager. It primarily covers vignettes from the early years and the non-Jobs era of Apple (1985–1997). I read the first edition, which came out in 1999. It’s valuable because most Apple books tend to concentrate on the Jobs era. I have not read the newer, 2004 edition.

By Owen W. Linzmayer,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Apple Confidential 2.0 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Apple Confidential examines the tumultuous history of America's best-known Silicon Valley start-up from its legendary founding almost 30 years ago, through a series of disastrous executive decisions, to its return to profitability, and including Apple's recent move into the music business. Linzmayer digs into forgotten archives and interviews the key players to give readers the real story of Apple Computer, Inc. This updated and expanded edition includes tons of new photos, timelines, and charts, as well as coverage of new lawsuit battles, updates on former Apple executives, and new chapters on Steve Wozniak and Pixar.


5 book lists we think you will like!

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