The most recommended books about Silicon Valley

Who picked these books? Meet our 35 experts.

35 authors created a book list connected to Silicon Valley, and here are their favorite Silicon Valley books.
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Book cover of Engineering Communism: How Two Americans Spied for Stalin and Founded the Soviet Silicon Valley

Harvey Klehr Author Of Spies: The Rise and Fall of the KGB in America

From my list on Soviet espionage.

Why am I passionate about this?

For more than fifty years I have been fascinated by the relationship between the Communist Party of the United States and the Soviet Union. When Russian archives were opened to Western scholars after the collapse of the USSR, I was the first American to work in a previously closed archive where I discovered evidence that American communists had spied for the Soviets. Our understanding of twentieth-century history has been transformed by the revelations about the extent to which Soviet spies had infiltrated American institutions. Excavating long-buried secrets is a historian's dream!

Harvey's book list on Soviet espionage

Harvey Klehr Why did Harvey love this book?

In addition to facilitating atomic espionage, Julius Rosenberg supervised several engineers who stole vital technical secrets dealing with radar, sonar, and aviation.  Usdin tells the fascinating story of two of them, Joel Barr and Alfred Sarant, who defected to the Soviet Union after the Rosenbergs were arrested and helped build the Soviet Silicon Valley.

By Steven T. Usdin,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Engineering Communism is the fascinating story of Joel Barr and Alfred Sarant, dedicated Communists and members of the Rosenberg spy ring, who stole information from the United States during World War II that proved crucial to building the first advanced weapons systems in the USSR. On the brink of arrest, they escaped with KGB's help and eluded American intelligence for decades.

Drawing on extensive interviews with Barr and new archival evidence, Steve Usdin explains why Barr and Sarant became spies, how they obtained military secrets, and how FBI blunders led to their escape. He chronicles their pioneering role in the…


Book cover of Work Pause Thrive: How to Pause for Parenthood Without Killing Your Career

Daina Middleton Author Of Grace Meets Grit

From my list on ambitious women embracing their authentic selves.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been passionate about personally and professionally lifting women up throughout my career. Today, it is how I spend my time and energy – in a way that makes a difference to those individuals and the greater world. Books have always filled my insatiable desire to continuously learn and explore mysterious, unknown worlds. As a writer, I read books to expand my understanding and push my comfort zones. I also read them so that I can share with others what I have learned in the hopes they will have a positive impact on them – a pay-it-forward of sorts. I hope you enjoy the books on this list as much as I have!

Daina's book list on ambitious women embracing their authentic selves

Daina Middleton Why did Daina love this book?

The myth that family can’t come first or that taking a break kills your career unfortunately is alive and well today.

Yet, this is flawed thinking and doesn’t reflect the true stories of successful women who have paused their careers and gone on to do great things. Lisen names the myth and reveals the stories of trailblazing women who have disrupted the traditional career paradigm to be successful at building a career and family.

By Lisen Stromberg,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Work Pause Thrive as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

We worry putting our family first means we'll be forced to abandon our careers. We're afraid if we pause our careers, we'll be forever off-track. This thinking is outdated—forget what you've heard about how pauses are career limiting, about how those who pause lack ambition, or that if you do pause you won't be able to re-enter the paid workforce. That's a flawed reality, one that doesn't reflect the truth of the careers of some of the most successful women in this country.

Author Lisen Stromberg knows this success firsthand. After the birth of her second child, she did something…


Book cover of VC: An American History

William H. Janeway Author Of Doing Capitalism in the Innovation Economy: Reconfiguring the Three-Player Game between Markets, Speculators and the State

From my list on venture capital and the economics of innovation.

Why am I passionate about this?

After receiving my doctorate in Economics at Cambridge University, I embarked on a 35-year sabbatical as a venture capitalist focused on information technology. I learned about the critical role that the American state had played by sponsoring the computer industry. When the "Dotcom Bubble" of the late 1990s grossly overpriced my companies, because I had written my PhD thesis on 1929-1931 when the Bubble of the Roaring Twenties exploded, I had seen the movie before and knew how it ended. I returned to Cambridge determined to tell this saga of innovation at the frontier and the strategic roles played by financial speculation and the state in funding economic transformation."

William's book list on venture capital and the economics of innovation

William H. Janeway Why did William love this book?

I value this book as a comprehensive history of high-risk investing in America, from the Whaling Industry to Silicon Valley. 

Nicholas reveals the extraordinary skew and persistence in investment returns: a small number of investors are responsible for a disproportionate amount of the gains, and this holds true across widely varying institutional structures and technological domains.

And he explores the intimate relationship between the rise of the IT and Biotech industries and support from the U.S, Government. 

By Tom Nicholas,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A major exploration of venture financing, from its origins in the whaling industry to Silicon Valley, that shows how venture capital created an epicenter for the development of high-tech innovation.

VC tells the riveting story of how the industry arose from the United States' long-running orientation toward entrepreneurship. Venture capital has been driven from the start by the pull of outsized returns through a skewed distribution of payoffs-a faith in low-probability but substantial financial rewards that rarely materialize. Whether the gamble is a whaling voyage setting sail from New Bedford or the newest startup in Silicon Valley, VC is not…


Book cover of High Output Management

Ronny Kohavi Author Of Trustworthy Online Controlled Experiments: A Practical Guide to A/B Testing

From my list on data-driven enthusiasts, and believers in Twyman’s Law.

Why am I passionate about this?

I had an epiphany at Amazon, when we ran A/B tests at scale and observed the low success rate: we learned to adjust our intuitions. I recall the denial at Microsoft when I proposed to evaluate features with A/B tests “because over 50% of them failed to improve key metrics at Amazon.”  The typical response? We have better program managers. When we started to evaluate ideas at Microsoft, over 2/3 of them failed to improve key metrics, and at Bing, the rate was about 80%. By 2019, most large products at Microsoft were making data-driven decisions with over 100 A/B test treatments launched every workday. I currently teach an A/B Testing class.

Ronny's book list on data-driven enthusiasts, and believers in Twyman’s Law

Ronny Kohavi Why did Ronny love this book?

This great management book was written by an engineer who clearly explains the rationale for his recommendations.

Andy Grove, former chairman and CEO of Intel, is credited with driving the growth phase of Silicon Valley, was named Time’s Man of the Year, and is credited as the “Father of OKRs.” One example that I love: a new hire does poor work. His manager says: “He has to make his own mistakes…that’s how he learns!”

Grove writes: “absolutely wrong…the tuition is paid by his customers…[instead of by the manager].” Another gem: “Review rough drafts [you delegated]; don't wait until your subordinates have spent time polishing them into final form before you find out that you have a basic problem with the contents.”

By Andrew S Grove,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked High Output Management as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The president of Silicon Valley's Intel Corporation sets forth the three basic ideas of his management philosophy and details numerous specific techniques to increase productivity in the manager's work and that of his colleagues and subordinates


Book cover of Small Fry: A Memoir

Margie Haack Author Of The Exact Place: A Search for Father

From my list on memoirs on missing a father’s love.

Why am I passionate about this?

The Exact Place began as a collection of stories about growing up on a small farm in a large family. Many were unusual and funny. An editor who critiqued my manuscript said: “You’ve found your voice and write well, but why have you left out the role of your stepfather and your faith which became an important part of who you are? If you want more than just an entertaining story, take it to a deeper level.” I was afraid revealing such things would ostracize me from my family, but I understood the wisdom of his advice. I kept the stories and rewrote the book determined to be vulnerable and honest. 

Margie's book list on memoirs on missing a father’s love

Margie Haack Why did Margie love this book?

Lisa Brennan-Jobs is the daughter of Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple, and one of the wealthiest men in the world. This didn’t make him an attentive, loving father. Lisa was regularly ignored, and deliberately left out of his new family (he never married her mother). Her determination to win his love failed, and she blamed herself for his lack of acceptance. She longed for reassurance that never materialized. Lisa had to face the unwanted reality: “He doesn’t love me.” When Jobs was dying from pancreatic cancer, with tears, he owned that none of this was her fault. In spite of the sadness of her story, she didn’t allow his rejection and late confession to consume her with bitterness. She writes honestly and kindly about growing up with a famous father. For those of us who have searched and never gained our father’s love or acceptance, this story reminds us that…

By Lisa Brennan-Jobs,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Vogue's Best Books of the Year, 2018
Sunday Times' Best Memoirs of the Year, 2018
A New York Times Book of the Year
New Yorker Book of the Year

A frank, smart and captivating memoir by the daughter of Apple founder Steve Jobs.

Born on a farm and named in a field by her parents - artist Chrisann Brennan and Steve Jobs - Lisa Brennan-Jobs's childhood unfolded in a rapidly changing Silicon Valley. When she was young, Lisa's father was a mythical figure who was rarely present in her life. As she grew older, her father took an interest in…


Book cover of The Value of Everything: Making and Taking in the Global Economy

Dietrich Vollrath Author Of Fully Grown: Why a Stagnant Economy Is a Sign of Success

From my list on the economic challenges of the 2020s.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a professor of economics at the University of Houston, with a focus on long-run growth and development rather than things like quarterly stock returns. I write a blog on growth economics where I try hard to boil down technical topics to their core intuition, and I’m the co-author of a popular textbook on economic growth.

Dietrich's book list on the economic challenges of the 2020s

Dietrich Vollrath Why did Dietrich love this book?

I like this book because it takes a giant step back and asks what “the economy” means. What we measure, and what we choose to classify as “economic activity”, is a choice, not a given. By opting to classify some things as true economic activity (e.g. finance) but others as not (e.g. raising kids) we implicitly make choices about economic policy, as it can only deal with what it can count. It opens up the idea that we could stop and think about what should matter to the economy, and what may not.

By Mariana Mazzucato,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Value of Everything as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Modern economies reward activities that extract value rather than create it. This must change to ensure a capitalism that works for us all.

Shortlisted for the FT & McKinsey Business Book of the Year Award

A scathing indictment of our current global financial system, The Value of Everything rigorously scrutinizes the way in which economic value has been accounted and reveals how economic theory has failed to clearly delineate the difference between value creation and value extraction. Mariana Mazzucato argues that the increasingly blurry distinction between the two categories has allowed certain actors in the economy to portray themselves as…


Book cover of Ten Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now

Joseph D'Agnese Author Of Sorceress Kringle: The Woman Who Became Santa Claus

From Joseph's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Novelist Ghostwriter Stationery geek Creative obsessive

Joseph's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Joseph D'Agnese Why did Joseph love this book?

I had begun to worry about my social media consumption when I came across this book.

As a science journalist, I had interviewed Lanier in the past. So I knew his work, and I knew he always had something profound to say about technology. You can tell that this is a personal book for him. Many times he refers to his children, and he worries about how social media impacts them.

He enumerates several reasons why social media is destroying our minds, our attention spans, our self-esteem, and our decency. Lanier has consulted with most of the major firms that have foisted social media on us, so he knows the players and he knows how much better the technology can be, if only its creators did not capitulate to greed.

I recommend pairing this book with a viewing of the documentaries, The Social Dilemma and Fake Famous. After seeing those…

By Jaron Lanier,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Ten Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'A blisteringly good, urgent, essential read' ZADIE SMITH

Jaron Lanier, the world-famous Silicon Valley scientist-pioneer and 'high-tech genius' (Sunday Times) who first alerted us to the dangers of social media, explains why its toxic effects are at the heart of its design, and explains in ten simple arguments why liberating yourself from its hold will transform your life and the world for the better.

Social media is making us sadder, angrier, less empathetic, more fearful, more isolated and more tribal. In recent months it has become horribly clear that social media is not bringing us together - it is tearing…


Book cover of Embrace the Power of You: Owning Your Identity at Work

Daina Middleton Author Of Grace Meets Grit

From my list on ambitious women embracing their authentic selves.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been passionate about personally and professionally lifting women up throughout my career. Today, it is how I spend my time and energy – in a way that makes a difference to those individuals and the greater world. Books have always filled my insatiable desire to continuously learn and explore mysterious, unknown worlds. As a writer, I read books to expand my understanding and push my comfort zones. I also read them so that I can share with others what I have learned in the hopes they will have a positive impact on them – a pay-it-forward of sorts. I hope you enjoy the books on this list as much as I have!

Daina's book list on ambitious women embracing their authentic selves

Daina Middleton Why did Daina love this book?

Authenticity is the key to success in the workplace.

I love how Tricia tackles head on how she overcame her fear and shame to embrace her authentic self in the workplace resulting in personal and professional success.

Her book provides a step-by-step approach that enables embracing authenticity achievable for everyone, even those who feel workplace stereotypes prevent them from doing so and understand fear is inhibiting them from doing so.

By Tricia Montalvo Timm,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Embrace the Power of You as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Embrace the Power of You

In the competitive world of Silicon Valley, corporate lawyer Tricia Montalvo Timm knew that talent and drive weren't enough to succeed. She had to belong. Timm took a cue from her days as a child actor, when she had to change her name to get auditions. As an adult, she downplayed her Latino heritage and her life as a mother to fit in. And it worked: at the height of her success, she sold software company Looker to Google for $2.6 billion. But when a LinkedIn post about her roots went viral, she knew she…


Book cover of A Gift of Time

Ibrahim Moustafa Author Of RetroActive

From my list on to be stuck in a time loop with.

Why am I passionate about this?

I love time travel stories. And I especially love a good time-loop story, ever since first seeing Groundhog Day on cable as a kid one winter break. As a graphic novelist, I wanted to do something that's not really been done much before in the medium: use the visual language of comics to tell an exciting and compelling story of someone trapped in a repeating day, that really explores what the visual language of a comic book page can do with respect to time, and it's circular nature. With my book RetroActive (colored by Brad Simpson and lettered by Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou), I feel the team and I did just that.

Ibrahim's book list on to be stuck in a time loop with

Ibrahim Moustafa Why did Ibrahim love this book?

What would you do if you could go back and inhabit your 10-year-old-self with your adult mind? What would you do differently? What would you try to keep the same? Who would you save? In a more finite version of living-life-over-again, Micajah Fenton goes from being a suicidal octogenarian, to a time-traveler with the aid of an otherworldly spacecraft that lands on his property.

This book is full of rich and beautiful character moments in the bayou of mid-century Louisiana, and the Silicon Valley of the 1980s, that juxtaposes nicely against the hard sci-fi premise of UFOs and AI holograms. A Gift of Time was just that; a gift, one that brought a tear to my eye on more than one page.

By Jerry Merritt,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Gift of Time as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

When Micajah Fenton discovers a crater in his front yard with a broken time glider in the bottom and a naked, virtual woman on his lawn, he delays his plans to kill himself. While helping repair the marooned time traveler’s glider, Cager realizes it can return him to his past to correct a mistake that had haunted him his entire life. As payment for his help, the virtual creature living in the circuitry of the marooned glider, sends Cager back in time as his ten-year-old self, knowing everything he’d known at eighty and gives him access to advanced equations of…


Book cover of Uncanny Valley

David Buckmaster Author Of Fair Pay: How to Get a Raise, Close the Wage Gap, and Build Stronger Businesses

From my list on the importance of expecting less from your workplace.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve worked with business leaders on pay projects all over the world, at companies like Nike and Starbucks, in places like Brazil, Mexico, Vietnam, Singapore, the UAE, and all over Europe. While many business books are written from a theoretical or academic perspective, I bring an operator’s perspective. I get to work out the ideas in my book, Fair Pay, on a daily basis, and so I wrote the book to be a realistic and practical guide for understanding the perspectives of business leaders, human resources, and the typical employee. 

David's book list on the importance of expecting less from your workplace

David Buckmaster Why did David love this book?

Changing careers from publishing to tech is a path not often traveled. Wiener made this jump from a world legendary for its light pay compensated by romanticism, to an industry best known for generous “perks that landed somewhere between the collegiate and the feudal.” Wiener’s experience makes for one of the most entertaining books I’ve read in years—she is a gifted writer and unafraid to call out the over-seriousness of the tech bro mentality as an ultimately “dreary” worldview. 

By Anna Wiener,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Uncanny Valley as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER. ONE OF THE NEW YORK TIMES'S 10 BEST BOOKS OF 2020.

Named one of the Best Books of 2020 by The Washington Post, The Atlantic, NPR, the Los Angeles Times, ELLE, Esquire, Parade, Teen Vogue, The Boston Globe, Forbes, The Times (UK), Fortune, Chicago Tribune, Glamour, The A.V. Club, Vox, Jezebel, Town & Country, OneZero, Apartment Therapy, Good Housekeeping, PopMatters, Electric Literature, Self, The Week (UK) and BookPage.A New York Times Book Review Editors' Choice and a January 2020 IndieNext Pick.

"A definitive document of a world in transition: I won't be alone in returning…