The best Steve Jobs books

1 authors have picked their favorite books about Steve Jobs and why they recommend each book.

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Creative Selection

By Ken Kocienda,

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

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.


Who am I?

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.


I wrote...

Empowered: Ordinary People, Extraordinary Products

By Marty Cagan,

Book cover of Empowered: Ordinary People, Extraordinary Products

What is my book about?

What is it about the top tech product companies such as Amazon, Apple, Google, Netflix, and Tesla that enables their record of consistent innovation?  

Most people think it’s because these companies are somehow able to find and attract a level of talent that makes this innovation possible. But the real advantage these companies have is not so much who they hire, but rather how they enable their people to work together to solve hard problems and create extraordinary products. 

As legendary Silicon Valley coach--and coach to the founders of several of today’s leading tech companies--Bill Campbell said, “Leadership is about recognizing that there's a greatness in everyone, and your job is to create an environment where that greatness can emerge.” The goal of EMPOWERED is to provide leaders of product management, product design, or engineering, with everything they need to create just such an environment. 

Original Whole Earth Catalog

By Stewart Brand (editor), Peter Warshall (editor),

Book cover of Original Whole Earth Catalog

The Whole Earth Catalog has been inspiring people (including us) to build their own small dwellings since the 60s. Among other things, it’s a how-to manual of construction techniques and a life guide with readers’ recommendations and opinions. Brand coined the term ‘personal computer’ and signed off the final edition of The Whole Earth Catalog in 1974 with “Stay hungry, stay foolish” (famously quoted by Steve Jobs in a commencement speech at Stanford over 30 years later).

Who are we?

We have written 27 “how-to” books on building outdoor projects, including cabins, sheds, and treehouses. David does the illustrations and I do the descriptive writing. Our goal is to make the instructions clear to both right and left brain readers – and to make the two elements complement each other. Our readers often tell us that a computer drawing does not have the same appeal and clarity as hand drawing. We are able to ‘talk’ a reader through the process of building something with our drawings. People often send us photographs of their completed projects – it’s a big part of the satisfaction we get from writing our books.


I wrote...

Cabins: A Guide to Building Your Own Nature Retreat

By Jeanie Stiles, David Stiles,

Book cover of Cabins: A Guide to Building Your Own Nature Retreat

What is our book about?

We wrote this as a cabin-building manual to include everything you need to know about building your own getaway. Color photographs help you choose from a variety of cabins to suit your lifestyle, circumstances, and preference. Over 400 detailed illustrations including designs, floor plans, and architectural details complement the text to take you through the entire building process from construction basics to completion. Learn how to select the right site, build your foundation, install a water supply system, heating, and electricity. A chapter on outfitting includes rustic furniture, cooking gear, wood-burning stoves, and lanterns, and a list of sources makes it easy to find suppliers.

Whether you are building a cabin in the wilderness or in your backyard, this book has something for you.

Steve Jobs

By Walter Isaacson,

Book cover of Steve Jobs

This is the authorized Steve Jobs biography, which came out shortly after his death in 2011. There’s a reason that it is one of the most widely read business biographies of all time. It is comprehensive, but not all reviewers felt Isaacson fully grasped all of Steve Jobs's accomplishments sufficiently, nor truly captured his character. However, it still tells the general story of Steve Jobs's life well.


Who am I?

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.


I wrote...

Classic Computer Science Problems in Java

By David Kopec,

Book cover of Classic Computer Science Problems in Java

What is my book about?

Sharpen your coding skills by exploring established computer science problems! Classic Computer Science Problems in Java challenges you with time-tested scenarios and algorithms. You’ll work through a series of exercises based on computer science fundamentals that are designed to improve your software development abilities, improve your understanding of artificial intelligence, and even prepare you to ace an interview. As you work through examples in search, clustering, graphs, and more, you'll remember important things you've forgotten and discover classic solutions to your "new" problems!

Return to the Little Kingdom

By Michael Moritz,

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

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.


Who am I?

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.


I wrote...

Classic Computer Science Problems in Java

By David Kopec,

Book cover of Classic Computer Science Problems in Java

What is my book about?

Sharpen your coding skills by exploring established computer science problems! Classic Computer Science Problems in Java challenges you with time-tested scenarios and algorithms. You’ll work through a series of exercises based on computer science fundamentals that are designed to improve your software development abilities, improve your understanding of artificial intelligence, and even prepare you to ace an interview. As you work through examples in search, clustering, graphs, and more, you'll remember important things you've forgotten and discover classic solutions to your "new" problems!

Priceless

By William Poundstone,

Book cover of Priceless: The Myth of Fair Value

Would you guess that the average daily temperature in San Francisco is above or below 558 degrees Fahrenheit?

I'm going to assume you guessed "below", because that's the right answer and absolutely everybody gets it right.

Now---what would you guess is the actual average daily temperature in San Francisco? If you are like just about everybody, your guess right now is quite a bit higher than the guess you’d have made a minute ago, before you saw my first (entirely ludicrous) question. This well-documented effect persists even when subjects are told about it and warned not to fall prey to it.

Perhaps I’m overestimating, but I believe this book contains about 14 billion equally fascinating and weird facts about how human minds process information. But although these facts are quirky, they are not quirks --- they are central to the working of the human mind, not just little mistakes we…


Who am I?

As far back as I can remember, I’ve spent a lot of time worrying about things like why there is something instead of nothing, why we can remember the past but not the future, and how consciousness arises. Although I’m a professor of economics, I take such things seriously enough to have published some papers in philosophy journals, and even a whole book about philosophy called The Big Questions. These are some of the books that sharpened my thinking, inspired me to think more deeply, and convinced me that good writing can render deep ideas both accessible and fun.


I wrote...

Can You Outsmart an Economist?

By Steven E. Landsburg,

Book cover of Can You Outsmart an Economist?

What is my book about?

Can you outsmart an economist? Steven Landsburg, an acclaimed author and professor of economics, dares you to try. In this whip-smart, entertaining, and entirely unconventional economics primer, he brings together over one hundred puzzles and brain teasers that illustrate the subject’s key concepts and pitfalls. From warm-up exercises to get your brain working, to logic and probability problems, to puzzles covering more complex topics like inferences, strategy, and irrationality, Can You Outsmart an Economist? will show you how to do just that by expanding the way you think about decision-making and problem-solving. Let the games begin!

Becoming Steve Jobs

By Brent Schlender, Rick Tetzeli,

Book cover of Becoming Steve Jobs: The Evolution of a Reckless Upstart Into a Visionary Leader

This biography was almost written as a “response” to the Isaacson book. It better covers the NeXT and Pixar years. In fact, it makes the case that those years in Steve Jobs's life were critical for his later success after returning to Apple. This book should probably be read after the Isaacson book because it’s not as comprehensive as the Isaacson book and provides a different perspective.


Who am I?

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.


I wrote...

Classic Computer Science Problems in Java

By David Kopec,

Book cover of Classic Computer Science Problems in Java

What is my book about?

Sharpen your coding skills by exploring established computer science problems! Classic Computer Science Problems in Java challenges you with time-tested scenarios and algorithms. You’ll work through a series of exercises based on computer science fundamentals that are designed to improve your software development abilities, improve your understanding of artificial intelligence, and even prepare you to ace an interview. As you work through examples in search, clustering, graphs, and more, you'll remember important things you've forgotten and discover classic solutions to your "new" problems!

How Will You Measure Your Life?

By Clayton M. Christensen, James Allworth, Karen Dillon

Book cover of How Will You Measure Your Life?

I’m sometimes guilty of comparing my success to that of others without stopping to remind myself that their values system might be different than mine. This book challenged me to formally and decisively answer the question, “How do I want my life to be measured?” I now have greater peace about my career and life choices because they are being made in better alignment with my values. 


Who am I?

Way back in 1994 I decided to build my career on the mission of helping people make better choices with their time. And my goal has always been to keep the solutions simple. I believe we have way too much in our lives that is complex and hard. While my primary work is as a keynote speaker, I have chosen to devote a significant amount of my professional hours to being a coach. I love helping people develop a plan for improvement that is aligned with their values and goals, and then walking with them through their season of change.


I wrote...

Juggling Elephants: An Easier Way to Get Your Most Important Things Done—Now!

By Jones Loflin, Todd Musig,

Book cover of Juggling Elephants: An Easier Way to Get Your Most Important Things Done—Now!

What is my book about?

Juggling Elephants tells a simple but profound story about one man with a universal problem. Mark has too much to do, too many priorities, too much stress, and too little time.

As he struggles to balance his many responsibilities without cracking under the pressure, Mark takes a break to attend the circus with his family. There he has a surprising conversation with a wise ringmaster. He leaves with a simple but powerful lesson: Trying to get everything done is like juggling elephants—impossible. So Mark begins to think about his work, family, and personal life the way a ringmaster thinks about the many acts in a three-ring circus. He discovers that managing his various acts can be fun and easy once he changes his attitude and follows his new friend's ongoing guidance. 

The Innovators

By Walter Isaacson,

Book cover of The Innovators

In this treatise, Isaacson answers the question “How did we get here?” with fascinating detailed storytelling about the most important contributions and contributors to computer science. It is a definitive reference work—-if you want information about someone or something related to computer science, you can use the index to this book as the springboard to an engaging and interesting story.

The book opens with an illustrated timeline that neatly summarizes what is to come. It really is worth reading the book cover to cover to get full context on how the digital revolution really happened (admittedly, there are plenty of details that can be safely skimmed). Particularly fascinating are the ways in which these people connected with and influenced each other. From Turing to Steve Jobs, the story is a seamless web.

This book is nothing short of a masterpiece.


Who am I?

A lot of people have learned to write computer code, but computer science is something much more. I like to define it as the quest for knowledge about phenomena surrounding computation and the application of that knowledge in the real world. I was lucky to get in on the ground floor in the 1960s and know the impact computer science has had on the modern world. I believe that everyone needs to know something about computer science, so I have spent the last several decades working to teach the fundamentals to as many people as possible. Ironically, embracing technology in this effort has enabled me to reach millions of people.


I wrote...

Computer Science: An Interdisciplinary Approach

By Robert Sedgewick, Kevin Wayne,

Book cover of Computer Science: An Interdisciplinary Approach

What is my book about?

It is unusual to recommend a textbook to a general audience, but our book is pitched at such an audience. We cover the fundamentals, including: learning to write programs in a modern style (with type checking, modularity, and data abstraction); studying classic data structures and algorithms and their performance in practical situations; appreciating fundamental concepts in the theory of computation: (universality, computability, and intractability) and the contributions of Turing, von Neumann, Boole, Shannon, and other giants; gaining insight into how modern computer processors are built (including complete design of a simple processor) in order to understand the strong relationships between computers and the natural world.

The book is written in a conversational style and is more accessible than familiar standard textbooks in other subjects.

Start With Why

By Simon Sinek,

Book cover of Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action

When preparing for a keynote with a corporation I will ask their executive team who was their speaker last year? More times than not the answer is Simon Sinek. 

So often when I speak with companies, they can easily articulate what they do and how they plan to execute their goals. But as Simon Sinek points out in Start with Why, many companies overlook the why. Sinek showcases a multitude of examples to highlight, not only why it’s important to know and understand your purpose but, to begin with your purpose. Today’s most successful and influential companies are not marketing their products, but their purpose. This is a concept I revisit daily in my own business; goal setting and project planning always begin with our Why.


Who am I?

I’ve been in the digital space for 30 years and my breakthrough book was Socialnomics. In this book, I encouraged individuals and organizations to lean into social media and digital, both personally and professionally; emphasizing that this shift wasn’t just for teenagers, that it would change the world more than anything in our lifetime. That it would become a powerful force around business, politics, gaming, and beyond. And, unfortunately, it did. It was even more powerful than I could have imagined. What I didn’t comprehend was that we would lean in too much. I realized I needed to give the anti-venom to Socialnomics. We needed as a society to return to focusing on what matters most.


I wrote...

The Focus Project: The Not So Simple Art of Doing Less

By Erik Qualman,

Book cover of The Focus Project: The Not So Simple Art of Doing Less

What is my book about?

Whether you’re a programmer, mother, executive, teacher, or entrepreneur, this book is for you if… 1. You feel like you need 5 more hours in your day. 2. You are being pulled in a million directions with no end in sight. 3. Your life is busy instead of big.

Welcome to The Focus Project, a book designed to provide answers and solutions to the challenges of focusing in an unfocused world. Combining street science and institutional research alongside his own personal focus project, Qualman delivers practical advice on thinking big versus busy. The following is a guide to doing less, better. This enables us to achieve more–both personally and professionally.

Apple Confidential 2.0

By Owen W. Linzmayer,

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

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.


Who am I?

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.


I wrote...

Classic Computer Science Problems in Java

By David Kopec,

Book cover of Classic Computer Science Problems in Java

What is my book about?

Sharpen your coding skills by exploring established computer science problems! Classic Computer Science Problems in Java challenges you with time-tested scenarios and algorithms. You’ll work through a series of exercises based on computer science fundamentals that are designed to improve your software development abilities, improve your understanding of artificial intelligence, and even prepare you to ace an interview. As you work through examples in search, clustering, graphs, and more, you'll remember important things you've forgotten and discover classic solutions to your "new" problems!

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