MERU's 2019 Holiday Reading List


With the holiday season upon us, we are excited to share with you our third annual Holiday Reading List. Whether you need a last minute gift or are looking for a good way to spend holiday time off, we hope you can find something from our list that tickles your fancy. Please enjoy these books as much as we have!

If you have a good book, podcast, or article that we should know about, send us an email with your personal favorites. As always, we would love to hear from you.

Wishing you a happy holiday and fantastic new year!
- The MERU team

The Hard Thing About Hard Things by Ben Horowitz

There’s no recipe for building a high-tech company; there’s no recipe for leading a group of people out of trouble; there’s no recipe for playing NFL quarterback; there’s no recipe for running for president; and there’s no recipe for motivating teams when your business has turned to crap. That’s the hard thing about hard things—there is no formula for dealing with them. Nonetheless, there are many bits of advice and experiences that can help with the hard things. In this book, Horowitz addresses all of the major screw-ups that occurred during his time leading billion-dollar corporations, and how his team made decisions to turn things around or screw things up further. - Mihai

AI Superpowers: China, Silcon Valley, and the New World Order by Kai-Fu Lee

The first few pages of this book changed my understanding of artificial intelligence. Lee, an AI industry expert, provides a unique perspective on why China is going to become the dominant force in this arena, and he outlines the ways that AI capabilities will both disrupt and enhance the workforce...sooner than expected. This book is enlightening. - Ian




The Goal by Eliyahu M. Goldratt and Jeff Cox

First published in 1984, this narrative chronicles the management decisions faced by Alex Rogo, a manager of a struggling manufacturing plant, and outlines Goldratt's theory of constraints. A quick read in spite of the subject matter, the story is filled with insights into optimizing processes, whether in a plant or in everyday life. A book that is as relevant today as it ever was. - Austin



Strategy Beyond the Hockey Stick by Chris Bradley, Martin Hirt, and Sven Smit

Not only does this book discuss the pitfalls of failed strategy, but it highlights the importance (and need) of making big moves to outpace the competition. - Nick




The Art of Learning by Josh Waitzkin

Waitzkin tells his story of moving from a chess prodigy as a child (the subject of the book Searching for Bobby Fischer) to martial arts champion, outlining his process to edge out the competition. I would recommend this book for anyone looking to become their best self. - Ryan




Hardwiring Excellence by Quint Studer

Don't allow the simplicity or archaic cover fool you - this book is packed with tools & methodologies that can help anyone at any age become a better change agent. Quint Studer writes about the conceptual parallels between leadership and lean principles. People often tend to over-complicate the problem-solving process, or even worse... forget to connect the change journey to the hearts and minds of the stakeholders. Process improvement coupled with leadership matters, especially if you're looking to hardwire change! - Sean


The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson

Mark Manson is a young blogger-turned-writer. He has a casual writing style, but makes important points about how to set the right priorities in life. We are often are overwhelmed with the upcoming meeting, the upcoming project, the upcoming deal, but never take time to step back and identify what truly matters in the end. Manson guides the reader on how to use the limited number of “f*cks” we are given. - Samiksha



Permanent Record by Edward Snowden

Permanent Record is an autobiography exploring the topic of global surveillance from the eyes of controversial figure Edward Snowden. The book quickly became a bestseller after the US government filed suit against Snowden on the book's release, alleging violations of non-disclosure agreements with both the NSA and CIA. Whether or not you agree with his decisions, Snowden’s account is worthwhile reading as it highlights the importance of maintaining personal privacy in the digital age. - John


Talking to Strangers by Malcolm Gladwell

Gladwell has a reputation for flipping ideas on their head and Talking to Strangers is no different. This time he challenges us to rethink the assumptions we make and interactions we have with strangers. With case studies ranging from Chamberlain's failed assessment of Hitler to the facial expressions witnessed in the sitcom Friends, this book is an interesting and thought-provoking read which is guaranteed to provide plenty of conversation starters for all of your holiday events. - Alissia


Bad Blood by John Carreyrou

Bad Blood recounts the fascinating rise and fall of the talented, and relentlessly driven Stanford drop-out, Elizabeth Holmes, as she sets out to revolutionize medical blood testing. Along the way, Holmes was mentored by luminaries such as Larry Ellison, and was surrounded by a star-studded board of directors that included former Secretaries of State, U.S. Senators and military leaders, among others. The story of how Holmes's Theranos pulled the wool over so many of Silicon Valley’s elite investors and major corporations, makes Bad Blood both an entertaining holiday read and a cautionary tale of how the “fake it til you make it” mentality can have devastating consequences when applied to the Biotech world. - Brian

On Desperate Ground by Hampton Sides

Hampton Sides tells the incredible story of the Battle of Chosin Reservoir, the greatest battle of the Korean war and one of the most courageous and heroic military operations in American history. Sides’ writing is captivating and this book is a must-read for history buffs. - Tanner




Thirst by Scott Harrison

"A Story of Redemption, Compassion, and a Mission to Bring Clean Water to the World" is the riveting personal tale of a 28 year old New York City nightclub promoter who became desperately unhappy with the moral bankruptcy of the life he led. Scott Harrison recounts how he decided to turn his life around and use his ability to draw a crowd and raise money to build Charity Water, a non-profit that has raised over $300 million to bring clean drinking water to more than 8 million people around the globe. - Samir

The Undoing Project by Michael Lewis

I’ve been fascinated with behavioral economics since my days studying under Charles Holt at UVA, so I enjoyed this account of the rise of Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky when I finally got around to reading it this summer. As much as I enjoyed learning about the countless experiments they conducted to illustrate how and when the model of humans as rational actors breaks down, the detailed biographies of their early days (including their exploits in the Israeli army) brought to life the genesis of their research interests. The basketball nerd in me also enjoyed the Daryl Morey chapter detailing why he banned interracial player comparisons and even giving nicknames to draft prospects, due to the bias both practices introduced. Read this if you missed it the first time around. - Kyle