2020 Book Recommendations

For a few years now, a former colleague — a celebrated author and known book-hoarder — has suggested insisted I post an end-of-year reading re-cap. I promised to do so this year.

Here are the books I read in 2019, in the order I started them:

Here are a few 2020 book recommendations from this list:

The Tangled Tree – David Quammen

Most people are probably not familiar with Horizontal Gene Transfer (HGT) and, accordingly, may possess a slightly outmoded understanding of evolution. The Tangled Tree is a good introduction to HGT. David Quammen is one of my favorite nature writers, and I would recommenced his other books as well. (Quammen’s short story collection, The Boilerplate Rhino, is a good place to start.) The academic history of evolutionary thinking is quite interesting. The near future of biology — inevitably to impacted by the operationalization of genetic editing via CRISPR — is sure to be even more so.

No One Is Too Small To Make A Difference – Great Thunburg

She was on the cover of Time Magazine. She was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize. I was walking though San Francisco last week and saw her face 40-feet tall on the side of a building. Worldwide, people know the name “Greta,” and they didn’t last year. This short collection of her speeches is worth reading because it is perfectly of-the-time.

To better understand the facts, assumptions, and projections tied to the oft-referenced 1.5°C warming threshold, I suggest also reading the 20-page “Summary for Policymakers” section of the “IPCC Special Report on Climate Change”, which has set the tone for the broader discussion on climate change.

The Patch – John McPhee

John McPhee is one of my favorite non-fiction writers (and even tops the aforementioned David Quammen as one my favorite nature writers). What I love about this collection of previously unpublished snippets from McPhee is what I love about reading shorter bits by EB White. McPhee, known for his sprawling essays, is just as compelling in unpolished bits and bites. If you’re new to McPhee, I would recommend starting by first sampling a collection like The John McPhee Reader, or a single notable essay like “Atachafalya,” then eventually working you way back to The Patch, but The Patch was probably the book I enjoyed reading most in 2019.

The Metropolitan Man – Alexander Wales

People think I’m joking when I say that Harry Potter rationalist fan fiction is more enjoyable than the original. They also typically don’t take me up on reading recommendations a hundred thousand words longer than War and Peace. I tell the I-don’t-like-reading-on-a-screen crowd that their issue can be solved for as well, but it doesn’t seem to matter. For those who don’t want to commit several dozen hours to reading Yudkowsky — or reading at all, for that matter — The Metropolitan Man audio is now available for free via The Methods of Rationality podcast. It’s similarly entertaining and thought-provoking, clocking in at only 7 hours long.

Journal Of A Trapper – Osbourne Russell

Russell is a name you’ll hear less than Coulter, Lewis, Clark, or Jackson, but his first person account of 8 years as a trapper in frontier Yellowstone-country is as compelling as any other account. The edition I read was shaped like a giant floppy workbook with tiny print which added some additional novelty value to the read.

The post 2020 Book Recommendations first appeared on williamwickey.com.

Open Office Hours

I’ve had a handful of recent requests to have ‘office hours’ to discuss startup and marketing-related questions.

I blocked off some Tuesday afternoons PST where you can book a short call. These office hours are open to anyone.

If you’re in one of the groups I’m working with in either the StEP Entrepreneurship Program or HaaS MBA Growth Hacking class at UC Berkeley, just email me directly.

I will keep this window open as long as my schedule allows. (I may shift the time, in which case you’ll see the updated times on Calendly. If no times are available, they have been booked.)

I’ll keep this time open for as long as practical. My hope is that the format works out, and I can keep the window open for some time.

Thanks! I look forward to chatting.

You can book open office hours here.

The post Open Office Hours first appeared on williamwickey.com.

An Album A Day (Year 2)

Last March, I began listening to a different album every day. Here are a few thoughts on the exercise and along with my favorite albums from year two.


When I discussed with people that I was listening to a new album a day, the most common question was, not ‘why’ but rather ‘how do you pick them?’ Most everyone seemed to readily see value in the exercise, though I don't know if everyone would agree on what actually makes something like this worthwhile.

Here's how I chose albums to listen to.

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