My personal 12 books of 2018: What I learned from reading one book a month

Alexander Hipp
Jan 19 · 6 min read

This is a very personal list of the books that I have read during last year. The selection consists of books from entrepreneurship over data science to self-improvements.

Creativity, Inc.

Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration
by Ed Catmull

My opinion

This was definitely my most favourite book in 2018. Ed Catmull’s autobiography is a great mix between his personal learnings of becoming CEO very early in his career, his personal relationship to Steve Jobs, the development of the animation studio Pixar and the pursuit of making the first full-length computer-animated film: Toy Story. The most interesting piece of advice for me was the explanation of Braintrust. A key management tool which has helped the animation powerhouse score 14 box office hits in a row.

368 pages, Bantam Press 2014

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Elon Musk

Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future
by Ashlee Vance

My opinion

Undoubtedly, Elon Musk is one of the most powerful and influential businessmen and inventors of our time. In this book, you will get to know a completely different side about him. He grew up in South Africa as a shy child who devoured books, became part of the Paypal Mafia in Silicon Valley and is currently trying to get the first human onto mars.

416 pages, Ecco 2017

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The Tyranny of the Butterfly

by Frank Schätzing

My opinion

In this new thriller by the German author Frank Schätzing, he outlines the scenario of a technology that will radically change our lives, with the potential to dramatically improve it — or destroy us all: artificial intelligence.

736 pages, Kiepenheuer & Witsch 2018

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The Upstarts

How Uber, Airbnb, and the Killer Companies of the New Silicon Valley Are Changing the World
by Brad Stone

My opinion

The Upstarts is the definitive story of two new titans of business and a dawning age of tenacity, conflict and wealth. The book shows the upcoming of the most radical companies in Silicon Valley, you discover how it all happened and what it took to change the world. The founding and early years are explained very well and detailed. Unfortunately, the book drifts more into the direction of listing all hurdles and conflicts rather than providing more insights about the products or companies itself.

384 pages, Little, Brown and Company 2017

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The Story of Ideas That Fly
by Bernadette Jiwa

My opinion

As a product manager, this book gave me great ideas and a concrete tool on how to build an impactful product vision. Jiwa accompanies her ideas with real examples from companies like Khan Academy, the GoPro camera, the Dyson vacuum cleaner and Kickstarter. A great read for any product leader, entrepreneur or marketer.

“The most important book for your boss to read this year.
Buy it, share it, make it real.”

176 pages, Perceptive Press 2015

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Product Leadership

How Top Product Managers Launch Awesome Products and Build Successful Teams
by Richard Banfield, Martin Eriksson & Nate Walkingshaw

My opinion

There was a lot of buzz in the community around this book when it came out in 2017. After reading the book, I have to admit that it was justified. Product Leadership gave me a great overview of what product managers do, how they launch great products and build successful product teams. Since the book has only 248 pages it sadly lacks depth in more specific topics that would be interesting to more senior product leaders.

248 pages, O’Reilly Media 2017

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The Laws of Simplicity

Simplicity: Design, Technology, Business, Life
by John Maeda

My opinion

Since I’m a very big fan of simplicity and I’d like to focus on everything I do, this book really struck a chord with me. You can find the rules of Maeda in the structure and length of the book itself: Ten laws of simplicity for business, technology, and design that teach us how to need less but get more.

117 pages, The MIT Press 2006

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More material about Simplicity and John Maeda

Data Science for Business

What you need to know about data mining and data-analytic thinking
by Foster Provost & Tom Fawcett

My opinion

This book has helped me a lot with my transition into a new data-related team at work and my pursuit to get the “Data Science” Nanodegree at Udacity. It gives a great overview of the capabilities and techniques of Data Science for non-technical but also technical people.

413 pages, O’Reilly and Associates 2013

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More information regarding the “Data Science”-Nanodegree at Udacity


How to solve big problems and test new ideas in just five days
by Jake Knapp, John Zeratsky & Braden Kowitz

My opinion

This book about the very hyped technique of design sprints acts perfectly as a guide for everyone who wants to run their own sprints. I used it heavily as a great addition to the courses of the Udacity course “Design Sprint Foundations”.

288 pages, Simon & Schuster 2016

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More information regarding the “Design Sprint Foundations”-Nanodegree at Udacity

Lean In

Women, Work, and the Will to Lead
by Sheryl Sandberg

Why read?

I believe that it doesn’t matter where you are coming from or what gender you are to be a great entrepreneur or product leader. The only things that matter are who you are and if you have drive. Facebook’s COO Sheryl Sandberg proves this successfully in her #1 international bestseller. A must-read for everyone.

240 pages, Knopf 2013

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What They Don’t Teach You At Harvard Business School

by Mark McCormack

My opinion

I bought this book at Heathrow Airport and fortunately, my flight was delayed because I was really surprised by this book from page one. The story of how McCormack founded one of the greatest sports marketing agencies in the world and the rules of his negotiation strategy were inspiring and insightful.

238 pages, Profile Books 2014

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How to Raise Your Profile, Manage Your Reputation and Get Noticed
by Warren Cass

My opinion

I recommend this book to everyone who wants to learn how to manage to become more visible in their work and community environment, without losing their authenticity and accountability.

270, Capstone 2017

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Thanks to Lena Haydt.

Alexander Hipp

Written by

Product Owner at N26, Creator of The PM Library and, Co-Organizer of Product Tank Hamburg

The PM Library

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