Some books I read this year

Brian Armstrong
3 min readDec 13, 2016


At the beginning of 2016 I set a goal to read at least one book a month. I was able to accomplish this (and more) largely by listening to audio books while exercising or driving.

Below I’ve listed the books I read, with those in bold being the ones I liked best.

  1. Made To Stick
    How to make your message memorable so it will spread.
  2. Ready Player One
    A compelling picture of how VR might play out. People will spend more and more time in the meta-verse (side note: and likely end up using digital currency).
  3. The Outsiders
    Stories about eight CEOs and how they mastered capital allocation.
  4. The Wright Brothers
    An inspiring biography. It was incredible to hear about the determination, constraints, willingness to endure ridicule, disbelief, etc that the two brothers endured on their journey to invent the airplane. A worthwhile read for all builders.
  5. The 15 Commitments Of Conscious Leadership
    This book discusses a way of approaching work where you are curious, eager to learn, and open, instead of focusing on blame, criticism, and commitment to being right. I found it to be quite helpful.
  6. How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk
    Ostensibly, a book about parenting. But it is really about how to communicate with all people. I found this book quite helpful and it changed how I communicate.
  7. High Output Management
    Andy Grove’s classic book on management. Surprisingly, I found I was already using many of the management ideas in this book (1:1, OKRs, etc) which is a testament to just how influential this book is.
  8. The Economics of Microfinance (partial)
    Much of this book was too dense, but it describes what works (and doesn’t work) when giving small loans to people in developing countries.
  9. Strengths Based Leadership
    Find what you’re good at, and focus there. I didn’t find this book particularly helpful.
  10. Humans Need Not Apply
    This book is about how AI will take people’s jobs. I don’t think it argued that successfully. Instead it seemed to take this as a given, and then speculate about some potential outcomes in a non-technical way.
  11. The Pleasure Of Finding Things Out
    A collection of stories from physicist Richard Feynman. I really liked Surely You’re Joking, so I thought I might like this book, but it didn’t live up to its predecessor.
  12. The Alliance
    How to hire and retain great employees. I found the central concept to be pretty helpful, and it changed how we approach a few things at Coinbase.
  13. Learning To Love Yourself
    This book was a bit out there. It had some interesting exercises to try (contemplating your own death, etc), but I didn’t end up getting much from it overall.
  14. The One Minute Manager
    This book is a parable about management. It was entertaining and easy to read, but I’m struggling to recall many of the lessons from it, which says something.
  15. Turn The Ship Around
    A book about enabling leaders in your organization written by the former U.S. Navy Captain of a nuclear submarine.
  16. The Selfish Gene (partial)
    Richard Dawkin’s famous book about how our bodies are vehicles to replicate our genes (even though we occasionally defy them). It was interesting but I found I had already heard many of the ideas in this book, which (again) speaks to how influential it is.
  17. The Four Obsessions Of An Extraordinary Executive
    Another book about building teams, creating clarity in organizations, etc.
  18. Becoming Steve Jobs
    A biography of the famous Apple CEO. I read the Walter Isaacson biography last year, but found this one slightly better.
  19. Eisenhower in War and Peace (partial)
    Biography about the general who led the European allied forces in World War II (arguably, saving the free world) who later became president of the United States. Was interesting, but a bit too long — couldn’t get through it all.
  20. The Female Brain
    This book was recommended to me by a female executive who suggested all male CEOs read it. It was quite good.
  21. The Pilot’s Handbook Of Aeronautical Knowledge
    I’m reading this is as part of getting my private pilot’s license.
  22. Lying
    How life with radical honesty.
  23. Shoe Dog
    Memoir by the Nike founder and CEO, Phil Knight.

I’m looking forward to reading more in 2017 (and continuing to learn in various ways).

What are your favorite ways to keep learning?



Brian Armstrong

Co-Founder and CEO at @Coinbase. Increasing economic freedom in the world. Join us: