Steve Jobs (February 24, 1955 – October 5, 2011) was an entrepreneur, businessman, inventor, and industrial designer. He was the co-founder, chairman, and chief executive officer (CEO) of Apple Inc.; CEO and majority shareholder of Pixar; a member of The Walt Disney Company’s board of directors following its acquisition of Pixar; and founder, chairman, and CEO of NeXT. Steve Jobs and Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak are widely recognized as pioneers of the microcomputer revolution of the 1970s and 1980s.
These are some of the books recommended and favoured by him.
1. 1984, by George Orwell
Summary: 1984: A Novel, unleashes a unique plot as per which No One is Safe or Free. No place is safe to run or even hide from a dominating party leader, Big Brother, who is considered equal to God. This is a situation where everything is owned by the State. The world was seeing the ruins of World War II. Leaders such as Hitler, Stalin and Mussolini prevailed during this phase. Big Brother is always watching your actions. He even controls everyone’s feelings of love, to live and to discover. The basic plot of this historic novel revolves around the concept that no person has freedom to live life on his or her own terms. The present day is 1984.
The whole world is gradually changing. The nations which enjoy freedom, have distorted into unpleasant and degraded places, in turn creating a powerful cartel known as Oceania. This is the world where the Big Brother controls everything. There is another character Winston Smith, who is leading a normal layman life under these harsh circumstances, though hating all of this. He works on writing the old newspaper articles in order to make history or past relevant to today’s party line.
He is efficient enough in spite of hating his bosses. Julia, a young girl who is morally very rigid comes into the fore. She too hates the system as much as Winston does. Gradually, they get into an affair but have to conceal their feelings for each other, as it will not be acceptable by Big Brother. In Big Brother’s bad world, freedom is slavery and ignorance is strength.
Quote: “Doublethink means the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one’s mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them.”
2. Atlas Shrugged, by Ayn Rand
Summary: Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged is set in the United States in an unspecified time in the future. Dagny Taggart is the vice president and responsible for the operations for the Taggart Transcontinental Railroad. She seeks to rebuild the deteriorating track located on the Rio Norte Line that helps service Ellis Wyatt’s oil fields, as well as the striving industrial sectors of Colorado. The entire country is undergoing a serious economic meltdown.The remaining countries around the globe have adopted a socialist approach and are destitute. Wyatt has invented an innovative way to extract oil from shale and as a result, Colorado has become the greatest and largest industrial center in the world. Dagny intends to provide Wyatt and Colorado with the railway service it needs, but is faced with a gruelling obstacle.
Who is John Galt? The world is occupied with finding out who he really is. in the midst of this mystery, a number of productive minds are disappearing without any traces. John Galt does seem like a likely suspect as a shrewd and mysterious figure. Unperturbed by this, Hank and Dagny have other concerns. A romantic relationship has blossomed between the two and they set off on a new quest – to found out who is behind the abandoned high-tech motor that could help in transforming the world.
The plot of the book is structured as a mystery story with binding elements of science fiction and romance and is stamped with Rand’s trademark philosophical beliefs. A book of two mysteries, with the stories closely related, readers follow the journey of a steel magnate and railroad executive, as they attempt to solve both the mysteries in the collapse of an increasingly collectivist and irrational world.
Trivia: One of the last movies Steve Jobs saw was Atlas Shrugged
Quote: “Do not let your fire go out, spark by irreplaceable spark, in the hopeless swamps of the not-quite, the not-yet, and the not-at-all. Do not let the hero in your soul perish in lonely frustration for the life you deserved and have never been able to reach. The world you desire can be won. It exists … it is real … it is possible … it’s yours.”
3. Autobiography of a Yogi, by Paramahansa Yogananda
Summary: Named one of the 100 Best Spiritual Books of the Twentieth Century, Paramahansa Yogananda’s remarkable life story takes you on an unforgettable exploration of the world of saints and yogis, science and miracles, death and resurrection. With soul-satisfying wisdom and endearing wit, he illuminates the deepest secrets of life and the universe — opening our hearts and minds to the joy, beauty, and unlimited spiritual potentials that exist in the lives of every human being.
Trivia: This was the only e-book found on Steve Jobs’s iPad.
“You may control a mad elephant;
You may shut the mouth of the bear and the tiger;
Ride the lion and play with the cobra;
By alchemy you may learn your livelihood;
You may wander through the universe incognito;
Make vassals of the gods; be ever youthful;
You may walk in water and live in fire;
But control of the mind is better and more difficult.”
4. Be Here Now, by Baba Ram Dass
Summary: Be Here Now by Ram Dass discusses elaborately about the basic themes and philosophies of spirituality, meditation, and yoga. The book is divided into four sections and it is narrated from the transformation of Dr Richard Alpert, PhD, up to the painted cakes section, which recommends other books that is related with the same subject.
Dr Richard after years of teaching in Harvard, realised that there is more to psychology than mere theories and justifications. Hence for learning that underlying truth, he travelled to India. He has presented the book in a very creative manner. It has no page numbers, also the text and the pages are mostly in blue, brown, and white colour. The contents are actually a summary of the practical experiments and realisations of spiritualism that he learned from his guru.
Quote: “The cosmic humor is that if you desire to move mountains and you continue to purify yourself, ultimately you will arrive at the place where you are able to move mountains. But in order to arrive at this position of power, you will have had to give up being he-who-wanted-to-move-mountains so that you can be he-who-put-the-mountain-there-in-the-first-place. The humor is that finally when you have the power to move the mountain, you are the person who placed it there–so there the mountain stays.”
5. Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism, by Chögyam Trungpa
Summary: In this modern spiritual classic, the Tibetan meditation master Chögyam Trungpa highlights the commonest pitfall to which every aspirant on the spiritual path falls prey: what he calls spiritual materialism. The universal tendency, he shows, is to see spirituality as a process of self-improvement—the impulse to develop and refine the ego when the ego is, by nature, essentially empty. “The problem is that ego can convert anything to its own use,” he said, “even spirituality.” His incisive, compassionate teachings serve to wake us up from this trick we all play on ourselves, and to offer us a far brighter reality: the true and joyous liberation that inevitably involves letting go of the self rather than working to improve it. It is a message that has resonated with students for nearly thirty years, and remains fresh as ever today.
Quote: “If you are a warrior, decency means that you are not cheating anybody at all. You are not even about to cheat anybody. There is a sense of straightforwardness and simplicity. With setting-sun vision, or vision based on cowardice, straightforwardness is always a problem. If people have some story or news to tell somebody else, first of all they are either excited or disappointed. Then they begin to figure out how to tell their news. They develop a plan, which leads them completely away from simply telling it. By the time a person hears the news, it is not news at all, but opinion. It becomes a message of some kind, rather than fresh, straightforward news. Decency is the absence of strategy. It is of utmost importance to realize that the warrior’s approach should be simple-minded sometimes, very simple and straightforward. That makes it very beautiful: You having nothing up your sleeve; therefore a sense of genuineness comes through. That is decency.”
6. Diet for a Small Planet, by Frances Moore Lappe
Summary: An extraordinary bestselling book that taught America the social and personal significance of a new way of eating– one that remains a complete guide for eating well in the 90s. Featuring: simple rules for a healthy diet; a streamlined, easy-to-use format; delicious food combinations of protein-rich meals without meat; hundreds of wonderful recipes, and much more.
Trivia: It is said that Steve Jobs became a vegetarian after reading this book.
Quote: “For freedom is not the capacity to do whatever we please; freedom is the capacity to make intelligent choices.”
7. Inside the Tornado, by Geoffrey A. Moore
Summary: Inside the Tornado teaches a startling lesson. As markets change, the very skills that you′ve just perfected become your biggest liabilities, and if you can′t put them aside to acquire new ones you′re in for tough times. This is a challenging lesson to apply but Geoffrey Moore uses inspiring examples from market–leading firms to illuminate every dimension of managing a market–focused business strategy.
Quote: “After the better part of a century being content with letters, telegrams, and telephones, we have in the past 30 years adopted touchtone phones, direct-dial long distance, Federal Express, answering machines, fax machines, voice mail, email, and now internet addresses. In every case, until a certain mass was reached, we didn’t really need to convert. But as soon as it was, it became unacceptable not to participate. As members of a market, our behavior is invariable: We move as a herd, we mill and mill and mill around, and then all of a sudden we stampede.”
8. Moby Dick, by Herman Melville
Summary: Moby Dick is based on the life experiences of Herman Melville, that he had while whaling. The book is largely based on his sea-life incidents. The story is about Captain Ahab who sets out in search of Moby Dick, a white whale which injured him on his earlier voyage, leaving him handicapped.
His mission to go on this voyage is to seek vengeance from Moby Dick. He wants to kill it. His crew is supporting him. They are after the whale to extract the whale oil. This adventurer’s tale will make you ponder over the questions of good and evil, justice and vengeance, and life and death.
Quote: “Towards thee I roll, thou all-destroying but unconquering whale; to the last I grapple with thee; from hell’s heart I stab at thee; for hate’s sake I spit my last breath at thee.”
9. Only the Paranoid Survive, by Andrew S. Grove
Summary: Under Andy Grove’s leadership, Intel has become the world’s largest chip maker and one of the most admired companies in the world. In Only the Paranoid Survive, Grove reveals his strategy of focusing on a new way of measuring the nightmare moment every leader dreads–when massive change occurs and a company must, virtually overnight, adapt or fall by the wayside.
Grove calls such a moment a Strategic Inflection Point, which can be set off by almost anything: mega-competition, a change in regulations, or a seemingly modest change in technology. When a Strategic Inflection Point hits, the ordinary rules of business go out the window. Yet, managed right, a Strategic Inflection Point can be an opportunity to win in the marketplace and emerge stronger than ever.
Quote: “The sad news is, nobody owes you a career. Your career is literally your own business. You own it as a sole proprietor. You have one employee: yourself. You are in competition with millions of similar businesses: millions of other employees all over the world. You need to accept ownership of your career, your skills, and the timing of your moves. It is your responsibility to protect this personal business of yours from harm and to position it to benefit from changes in the environment. Nobody else can do that for you.”
Find the book on Amazon
10. The Innovator’s Dilemma, by Clayton Christensen
Summary: Innovation expert Clayton Christensen shows how even the most outstanding companies can do everything right–yet still lose market leadership. Christensen explains why most companies miss out on new waves of innovation. No matter the industry, he says, a successful company with established products will get pushed aside unless managers know how and when to abandon traditional business practices. Offering both successes and failures from leading companies as a guide, The Innovator’s Dilemma gives you a set of rules for capitalizing on the phenomenon of disruptive innovation. Sharp, cogent, and provocative–and consistently noted as one of the most valuable business ideas of all time–The Innovator’s Dilemma is the book no manager, leader, or entrepreneur should be without.
Trivia: Clayton believed that the iPad and the iPhone, were ripe for disruption.
Quote: “When faced with a disruptive technology, people and processes in a mainstream organization cannot be expected to allocate freely the critical financial and human resources needed to carve out a strong position in the small, emerging market. It is very difficult for a company whose cost structure is tailored to compete in high-end markets to be profitable in low-end markets as well. Creating an independent organization, with a cost structure honed to achieve profitability at the low margins characteristic of most disruptive technologies, is the only viable way for established firms to harness this principle.”
11. The Tao of Programming, by Geoffrey James
Summary: The Tao of Programming is a book written in 1987 by Geoffrey James. Written in a tongue-in-cheek style spoof of classic Taoist texts such as the Tao Te Ching and Zhuangzi which belies its serious message, it consists of a series of short anecdotes divided into nine “books”:
“A manager went to the master programmer and showed him the requirements document for a new application. The manager asked the master: “How long will it take to design this system if I assign five programmers to it?”
“It will take one year,” said the master promptly.
“But we need this system immediately or even sooner! How long will it take if I assign 10 programmers to it?”
The master programmer frowned. “In that case, it will take two years.”
“And what if I assign a hundred programmers to it?”
The master programmer shrugged. “Then the design will never be completed.”
Find the book on Amazon
Portions of the book can be read here: MIT
12. Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind, by Shunryu Suzuki
Trivia: This book helped popularize Zen Buddhism in United States.
Quote: “Even though you try to put people under control, it is impossible. You cannot do it. The best way to control people is to encourage them to be mischievous. Then they will be in control in a wider sense. To give your sheep or cow a large spacious meadow is the way to control him. So it is with people: First let them do what they want, and watch them. This is the best policy. To ignore them is not good. That is the worst policy. The second worst is trying to control them. The best one is to watch them, just to watch them, without trying to control them.”