The 14 Best Business Books I’ve Read in 2014

By Chris Fralic, Partner

@chrisfralic | LinkedIn | First Round

I read as much as I can, and most of the time, I read business books. Actually, I usually listen to them as audio books. Between a fairly long commute and long runs training for a marathon earlier this year, I had a lot of time to finish a lot of books — and I thought I’d share the best, the Top 14 business books I’ve read in 2014.

The Hard Thing About Hard Things — Ben Horowitz
The single best book I’ve read on being a CEO, especially the part about building things and getting through tough times; 90% of the insights and stories are pure gold.

The Innovators—Walter Isaacson
The history and the connections of technology and computers, from the 1800’s to the first computers that emerged around World War II to the PC and the Internet. Exceptionally well-told.

Zero to One — Peter Thiel with Blake Masters
If you want a book to challenge you to think bigger than you thought you possibly could, Zero to One delivers.

Traction, A Startup Guide to Getting Customers — Gabriel Weinberg & Justin Mares
A very thorough and understandable overview of the key areas that drive a startups’s success, from marketing to PR to sales and business development.

(I was one of the industry execs interviewed for that last section and talked about what we did with BD at and

How To Get Rich — Felix Dennis
Felix died this year and was wildly eccentric on many levels, but here he humorously tells his version of the the truth about building, spending and saving money, perhaps as honestly as its ever been told by anyone with that degree of wealth.

Thinking Fast and Slow — Daniel Kahneman
Unpacks how we make decisions and why, and the types of mistakes we often make. This book had a big impact on how we make investment decisions at First Round.

Future Babble — Dan Gardner
An excellent history and reminder of how badly we forecast the future, especially the “experts.”

Jony Ive — Leander Kahney
An unauthorized biography that did an exceptional job of talking about the design influences and history of Apple and Jony Ive. If you’re interested in design, you have to read it.

The Everything Store
Brad Stone
An unauthorized history of Amazon, this drew some fire from the Bezos family. It follows one of the best companies in the world. If you read and understand it, nothing Amazon does today or in the future will surprise you.

Startup Life — Brad Feld &
Amy Batchelor
The best book I’ve ever read on the personal side of startups and business, especially when one partner is “in the business” and one isn’t. Brad is always thoughtful and always brutally honest.

Flash Boys — Michael Lewis
Lewis is my favorite author overall, and his most recent book about flash trading in financial markets is well-told. It got me wondering if similar things are happening in online advertising.

The Lean Startup — Eric Ries
Yes, I’m late to the game here, but it’s really worth reading. Marc Andreessen says this is one of 3 books every startup CEO should read (along with The Hard Things and Zero to One).

Without Their Permission — Alexis Ohanian
A fun read, this is the one book I’d give to young people today to show them the right attitude to bring into work and startup life.

Predictable Revenue
Aaron Ross
I heard about this one from several of the companies I work with. It’s an excellent primer on SAAS selling strategies and mindsets.

Thanks, and happy reading!

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