Yurij Mikhalevich
January 15, 2023

My 2022 in Books

Hi. I will keep this post simple and stick to the last year’s format.

The books I read in 2022

Let’s proceed with the reviews.

Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future by Peter Thiel and Blake Masters

This was the first book I read in the year 2022, and, to be honest with you, my memory of it has faded somewhat already, but I will do my best to give you an idea of what to expect from this book. This book talks about how hard and crucial it is to obtain the skill of getting the project from an idea (nothing, zero) to something useful (one).

Great things I remember / lessons learned:

  1. Talk to your customers. A lot. Really understand their problems.
  2. Focus on making the product accessible to the customer. If they can’t use it, it doesn’t matter how well it works and how hard of a problem it solves.
  3. Act. Exercise bias for action. Cut corners, but know where to cut them. Without this, it’s impossible to go from zero to one fast enough to succeed.
  4. Do not copy; build genuinely new things.
  5. To succeed within the market, strive to be a monopoly. This point is very controversially interesting. Check out the book if you want to understand the author’s position more.

I enjoyed reading the author’s outlook on monopolies and economies, and I can definitely recommend the book; it’s a worthwhile read, though the author’s writing style may be off-putting to some readers.

The Indisputable Existence of Santa Claus: The Mathematics of Christmas by Hannah Fry and Thomas Oléron Evans

A friend of mine got this book for me for New Year’s, and it was the perfect addition to my holiday reading list. It’s a great collection of fun Christmas-related tidbits, with some of them, like a system for organizing a perfect Secret Santa event or the algorithm for fairly cutting a cake*, actually being handy. It’s a nice, light, and entertaining read.

*This algorithm becomes less useful when the number of people involved is more than three (-:

MAKE: Bootstrapper’s Handbook by Pieter Levels

MAKE is another startup builder’s book on this list. This one was written by Pieter Levels, who — from the vibe I get after reading the book — has mastered the art of lean startup. The main ideas that I liked are:

  1. Release early and often.
  2. Build minimal.
  3. Try lots of ideas.

I love how many thoughts presented in this book overlap with what I learned from the “Zero to One” book:

Zero to One → MAKE

  1. Talk to customers and understand their problems → solve your own problems, be your own customers because you are the expert in your own problems.
  2. Become a monopoly → “Win” a micro-niche first, then expand.
  3. Do not copy others → Do not clone what others are doing.

The list goes on.

Each book presents these ideas from very different perspectives despite the list above not making it obvious.

I also loved how the author suggested making idea generation an exercise — three project ideas daily.

I recommend reading this book to every developer and startup builder.

The Science-based Playbook of Pricing & Promotions by Thomas McKinlay

The book is written by Thomas McKinlay, author of Ariyh — a marketing newsletter where they share research-based practical insights. This is the shortest book I read that year, but it is the one I will talk about the most because I feel that the book and the newsletter don’t receive the attention they deserve. 15k+ subscribers? More people should know about it! I have been reading Ariyh for a few years and can confidently say it is a gem. Before (and after) finding Ariyh, I tried out a few marketing newsletters but couldn’t stand them because they constantly wanted to sell me something and were too opinionated. Ariyh, on the contrary, is a very objective newsletter; each issue of the newsletter is dedicated to a single practical marketing insight backed by one or more research papers linked in the newsletter. Each issue is concise and is written and structured in an easy-to-digest way. Every insight is actionable; even more, every issue explicitly outlines what you should do to apply the insight to your endeavor. The playbook is a collection of pricing- and promotions-related marketing insights, some of which you can find in the newsletter and some that only exist in the book.

If you are interested in marketing, this newsletter is one of the best resources to stay up-to-date with recent marketing research. And this book is excellent for everyone building or selling products. I especially loved the step-by-step guide to finding your most profitable price point, which is present only in the book.

Because I praise the book and the newsletter a lot, I feel I should say that I am in no way affiliated with Ariyh, and this is not a sponsored post. I praise it because it’s good; I’ve been reading the newsletter for a few years already, watched it grow, and it isn’t growing fast enough. There are few things of such high quality as Ariyh out there. Ariyh should be more well-known.

Inside Apple by Adam Lashinsky

It’s a worthwhile educational book about how Apple works. This book has its own blog post. I recommend you read it if you want to learn more about my impressions of it.

That’s all for the books of 2022. I am already excited about my 2023!

Builds the future at Lightning AI, creator of the Move Fast and Break Things community of software engineers, DeepLearning.AI mentor, creator of rclip, writes about tech, software engineering, books, what to watch, and beyond, practices creative writing and captures moments through photography
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