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Hi, I’m Brad Feld, a managing director at the Foundry Group who lives in Boulder, Colorado. I invest in software and Internet companies around the US, run marathons and read a lot.

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My Week of Books

Comments (7)

Both Amy and I love to read.  Normally, I read a book or two a week; when we are up in Alaska I usually get through four to eight per week.  If you are a regular reader of this blog, you know I review a lot of books (or at least comment on them.)  Rather than torture you with lots of posts, I figured I’d do a weekly summary of what I covered.

Amy and I are both determined to lose some weight this summer (marathons are tougher when you are dragging an extra 20 pounds around.)  For inspiration, I started the week with 8 Weeks to Optimum Health and The Raw Food Detox Diet.  Neither of these had much impact on my weight (ok – I had some fried halibut at Boardwalk Fish and Chips) – 8 Weeks to Optimum Health was useful if you are overweight and have never really thought about healthy eating / healthy living and The Raw Food Detox Diet has way too many exclamation points in it for my taste (although it has some good recipes.)  I did drop a pound this week, but I attribute that to the mileage I covered, not the change in diet.

A blog reader introduced me to the writing of Dennis Lehane (I can’t remember who you were – can you leave me a comment here so I can publicly send you the equivalent of a dozen roses.)  His books are amazing, intense, complex, scary as shit, deep, extremely well written.  I got through the first four (of five) this week: A Drink Before The War, Darkness Take My Hand, Sacred, and Gone, Baby, Gone.  Like all good murder mystery PI crime books, the characters are complicated, get built up over time, and their past plays into their future.  Lehane feels like a cross between Robert Parker (set in Boston, a pair of PIs) and Harlan Coben (deep, sick, twisted bad guys), but more sinister, more sexy, and more violent.  Yum.  I finished each of them late at night and had trouble going downstairs alone.  If you like these kinds of books, these are must read mental floss. 

My pile of unread business books continues to grow faster than I read them (hmmm) so I tackled three of them this week.  The first one I read – So You Built It And The Didn’t Come, Now What? – was disappointing.  The author – Jackie Bassett – was an early employee of NetScreen and someone recommended this to me.  I thought it was poorly edited, lightweight, and weak on examples (lots of examples, but very few of them were impactful.)  There were a few good chapters on sales and sales management – the book is probably worth buying and skimming just for this if you are struggling to figure out how to effectively build and manage your sales organization.

Compassionate Capitalism is a book co-written by Marc Benioff – the CEO of Salesforce.com.  Salesforce.com and Benioff have been outspoken about the value of corporate philanthropy and the Salesforce.com Foundation is a great demonstration of Benioff’s philosophy in action.  The book is well organized, full of examples, and though provoking.  Every CEO should read this book, even if you don’t think you value corporate philanthropy.  As a special bonus, in addition to philosophizing and giving examples, it has lots of practical suggestions about how to approach corporate philanthropy.

Fire Someone Today was written by Bob Pritchett, the co-founder and CEO of Logos Research Systems.  It turns out that Bob is a Seattle YEOer and friends with some of my Seattle friends such as Andy Sack and Richard Rhodes.  I really enjoyed this book – Bob’s full of practical advice and experience.  It’s an easy and quick read – perfect for a CEO or entrepreneur that wants to brush of some of the mental cobwebs, or someone who is thinking about starting a business.

Every week deserves a good nerd book – this week was Growing Your Business With Google written by local Boulderite Dave Taylor.  Dave is an energetic writer and this book is in “The Complete Idiot’s Guide” series of books.  It’s definitely “a beginner’s guide to Google, blogging, and making money with your website”, but it’s well written, covers plenty of ground, and is easy to get through. 

Somewhere in the middle of the week I read 24-Karat Kids.  Again – someone recommended it (I can’t remember who – if it was you, please post a comment).  This was good, lighthearted mental floss.  Amy kept looking at me and asking “why are you reading that book?” but it was fun, entertaining, and a Nanny Diaries-like book that I could sort of relate to.

Overall, it was a great week for books in my world.  If I had to chose a few, I’d definitely do all the Lehane books, Compassionate Capitalism, and Fire Someone Today.  Time for a two hour run (and another two hours of Atlas Shrugged on tape) to see if I can knock a little more weight off.

  • http://roman-rytov.typepad.com/miles/ Roman Rytov

    Hi Brad,
    8 books a week even being isolated from the external world is a lot! Can you share with us your secrets of fast-reading books?

  • Craig

    Have you read any of Vince Flynn’s novels? Vince is a friend of mine and a best selling author. He has also been a contributor for 24 so you may like his novels if you haven’t already devoured them.

  • http://www.feld.com Brad Feld

    Roman – the trick is (a) no TV, (b) no kids, (c) four to six hours a night of reading, and (d) the willingness / ability to skim when things are dull.

    Craig – Amy assures me that I’ve read some Vince Flynn novels. Thanks for the recommendation.

  • Greg Lems

    Brad,

    An excellent “weight loss for nerds” site is The Hacker’s Diet

    Greg Lems

  • http://entrepreneurevolution.com Adam C. Dudley

    Brad,

    I read about 80% of what you recommend.

    Thank you for continuing to supply my neverending entrepreneurial thirst for knowledge about business.

    And of course the fiction is awesome too…especially Rain!

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