Ev Williams: TOP TEN BOOKS


Courtesy of Tim Knox

Internet entrepreneur and computer programmer Ev Williams is the cofounder of Twitter, Blogger, and founder of Medium, three digital publishing websites that have collectively changed the way in which we consume and share information. Of his sites, first came the blogging platform Blogger, which Williams created alongside two friends after learning to code — in the process unleashing the now ubiquitous term “blogger” on the world. Next up was Twitter, the board of which he still sits on, though his current focus is Medium, which founded in 2012 — in part as a counterbalance to Twitter. “Medium doesn’t need to be the thing you check all day, every day,” he told The Guardian earlier this year. “We’re not looking for addiction, we’re just looking to give people one or two of what they think are the most important things on a daily basis. Things that they care about, things that change how they think about the world.”

Below are Ev Williams’s favorite books, available to purchase as a set or individually.


Thinking Fast and Slow

Daniel Kahneman
I love surprising scientific findings, as well as information about how our brains work. This is a treasure trove of both. Turns out, our brains are constantly misleading us. It’s not clear that learning how that’s the case reduces the chances of it happening, but it’s fascinating nonetheless.
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Reinventing Fire

Amory Lovins
I’ve read a lot about climate change. Mostly it’s depressing—which isn’t a good reason to not understand it. But this book from Amory Lovins and his Rocky Mountain Institute is an antidote for doom and gloom. It offers a thoroughly researched set of options for engineering our way out of the crisis.
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Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

Robert M. Pirsig
One of the few novels I’ve ever read twice (though it’s been about 20 years, so it might be time for a re-read). A philosophy book in the form of a novel that has very little to do with motorcycle maintenance. Instead, it has a lot to do with the elusive aspects of “quality,” and the importance of attitude in your approach to life.
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The Effective Executive: The Definitive Guide to Getting the Right Things Done

Peter F. Drucker
Though the parts on computers feel a little dated, this slim 1969 guide to managing yourself and others in the knowledge economy is otherwise incredibly on point. Drucker writes about first principles and makes things seem obvious—once he explains them in his straightforward way.
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Jonathan Livingston Seagull

Richard Bach
My cousin from Kansas City gave me this book when I was a lonely teenager growing up on the farm. His message was that there is a bigger world out there, and that I didn’t need to conform to those around me. It was an important and enduring lesson.
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The Martian

Andy Weir
If I was really stranded on a desert island, this novel would be good to have. The movie is also good, but the book would help to pass more time. Both make surviving on a desert island seem like a walk in the park. What’s great about this adventure—which I find rare in pop culture—is the celebration of the mind, invention, and science.
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Mindset: The New Psychology of Success

Carol Dweck
It’s one of those ideas that is obvious only once you know it—that praising kids for their abilities (as opposed to their efforts) can actually be detrimental. Dweck’s research is among the most important for parents to know. Her book goes far beyond the implications for children and has lessons for all in work and personal life.
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Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-free Productivity

David Allen
Still the best advice on getting your life in order and freeing up your brain to be creative. I need frequent reminders on the approach laid out in this book, as I fall off the “GTD” wagon often. But every time I get back on I instantly feel happier and more in control. (If you’re familiar with GTD but need a reminder, check out Allen’s newer Making it All Work.)
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Antifragile: Things That Gain from Disorder

Nassim Nicholas Taleb
Few books have made me think more than this one over the last decade. A meandering philosophical treatise that explores how all types of systems—your body, nature, the economy, your company—get stronger or weaker with stress. Some don’t like Taleb’s writing style, but his ideas are compelling.
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Mindfulness for Beginners

Jon Kabat-Zinn
Meditation has become more mainstream in the last few years, thanks to scientific findings and general awareness of the benefits it brings. For me, mindfulness meditation is the most important habit I’ve taken up in my adult life. For those curious about it, Kabat-Zinn, one of the original mindfulness gurus of the West, breaks it down in simple and beneficial terms.
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