Our summer book recommendations

As many Dorm Room Fund readers continue summer vacations — or, in the case of ongoing coronavirus cases, binge movies — we asked our HQ team to recommend some good reads. Their picks included fiction, biographies and venture capital stories. In other words, the perfect summer reads for hitting the beach or staying in. Scroll down to pick your next literary escape.

For the aspiring entrepreneur

Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World

By David Epstein

For so long, experts argued that starting early, specializing soon and racking up long hours led to success. Range argues the opposite. Epstein shows that quitting, taking detours and starting as a generalist breeds excellence. Through storytelling and data, Range challenges the meaning of achievement and the benefits of being a jack of all trades.

From Melissa Li, head of community

The Slight Edge

By Jeff Olsson

Tired of self-help books? Here’s one worth your time. Olsson brings you a simple-to-read book filled with core advice. The read subtly shifts the reader’s thinking and advocates micro actions that create macro effects. Challenge yourself to realistically live the dream life.

From Melissa Li, head of community

Ultralearning: Master Hard Skills, Outsmart the Competition, and Accelerate Your Career

By Scott H Young

If you crave structure after a year upended by the pandemic, follow nine steps to find new talents, reinvent yourself and adapt to workplace challenges. With new principles, jump back into a post-pandemic job with ways to learn ultrafast.

From Ansh Nanda, head of operations

Chaos Monkeys: Obscene Fortune and Random Failure in Silicon Valley

By Antonio Martinez

American tech entrepreneur Antonio Martinez ****gives you a quick dive into the way Silicon Valley works. As a former product manager of Facebook, he provides insights into how Facebook makes key decisions that drove its revenue. In a crazy tech world that exposes the animal spirits, get an insider’s view into the world of valley startups.

From Ansh Nanda, head of operations

When Coffee and Kale Compete

By Alan Klement

JTBD. Huh? Jobs-to-be-done framework, as Klement says. Beyond theories, the book offers practical ways you can create products that people want to buy. If you want a light read that can boost your workplace, try the concise and simple tactics recommended in the book.

From Rahul Bathija, head of growth

Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future

By Peter Thiel and Blake Masters

Peter Thiel, co-founder of PayPal and Silicon Valley investor, distills lessons from his class at Stanford and coins the catchphrase, “going from zero to one,” to denote the need to start companies in uncompetitive markets. The primary theme of the book, as the name implies, is that ambitious founders create progress by developing new things.

From Anne Wen, head of content

For casual reads

The Space Between

By Michelle Andrews & Zara McDonald

Michelle Andrews and Zara McDonald, creators of the award-winning pop culture podcast Shameless, try to make sense of their twenties. Through a collection of short essays and conversations, they discuss love, ambition, voice and their mind and body. Packed with wit, humor and relatable content, unpack this weird gap in life called your twentysomethings with two Melbourne-based journalists.

From Melissa Li, head of community

I Hold a Wolf by the Ears: Stories

By Laura van den Berg

NPR called the book “exquisite” for tiny stories that wove broken women and mysteries. Toggle between horror and fiction, drama and critique, pleasure and fear. Start this haunted, but spiky humor book with its first line: “I want to tell you about the night I got hit by a train and died.” Then follow 11 stories that confront misogyny, violence and economics.

From Ansh Nanda, head of operations

When Breath Becomes Air

By Paul Kalanithi

The book is gripping from the start. But the autobiography tugs your heart even more as Dr. Kalanithi sketches life’s arc from birth to death, and shares his reflections on illness and medicine. If you want a gasping and desperate book, read this gripping story and learn what dying can teach you about living.

From Anne Wen, head of content

American Kingpin: The Epic Hunt for the Criminal Mastermind Behind the Silk Road

By Nick Bilton

In 2011, programmer Ross Ulbricht launched a Dark Web where anyone could trade anything, free from the government’s authority. Based on a true story, the book chronicles the government’s manhunt of a 26-year-old who built a billion-dollar drug empire from his bedroom. Almost — just almost, the man got away.

From Rahul Bathija, head of growth

One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest

By Ken Kesey

Set in an Oregon psychiatric hospital, the story covers a mental ward and patients in the 1960s. A nurse rules her mental health facility strictly until a trickster opposes her rules. Mixed with madness and sanity, the narrative led to the production of a 1975 film, widely considered one of the greatest movies all time.

From Tina Teng, head of design

Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind

By Yuval Noah Harari

From pre-anatomical humans to the modern time, learn about the entire human history, condensed into a book. Harari sweeps through human history with a fun, engaging look at our violent and accomplished species.

From Tina Teng, head of design


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