Book Notes

Here you’ll find notes from a selection books I’ve read. I read 20 books this year and hope to read at least 50 next year. Completely inspired by Derek Sivers’ book notes, I started this habit primarily after getting so much value and reading list recommendations from his notes. It also helps me reduce the number of physical books I lug around the world as a digital nomad. Now, when I read a book, I’ll highlight my favourite bits, scribble notes in the margins, transcribe them into Evernote (check out ‘How the Most Successful Creatives Read’), and give the book to a friend who I feel might benefit from it. Though I wrote these notes for my own reference, I’d like to share what I learn from the many pages I’ve read.

Please bookmark this page if you like what you read as I’ll be adding new notes regularly.


Superhubs – Sandra Navidi

ISBN: 1473669944
Read: March 2018
Rating: 7/10

Amazon page for more details and review (affiliate link)

A valuable primer on network theory. Sandra Navidi pairs concepts with real life examples, a lot of which is based on her experiences and career as a consultant and attorney. The book includes fascinating anecdotes involving some of the world’s most powerful figures from Ray Dalio to George Soros.

Becoming Beyoncé – J. Randy Tarborrelli

ISBN: 1455516724
Read: April 2017
Rating: 6/10

Amazon page for more details and reviews. I’m as fascinated by Beyonce’s creativity, hustle and business skills as I am by her artistry. This book is an unauthorised biography by J Randy Taraborrelli, and is mostly makes for quite mediocre reading compared to his bios on Diana Ross and Michael Jackson. Still, I was able to extract quite a bit about the early days of Destiny’s Child and the “business strategy” behind the group, Beyonce’s work ethic and creative process, and the challenges and opportunities of building her own management company, Parkwood Entertainment.

On Writing – Stephen King


ISBN: 1439156816
Read: November 2016
Rating: 9/10

Amazon page for more details and reviews.

I loved reading every page of this book. Extremely interesting, insightful, useful, and funny read as I dive into the world of writing fiction. Part autobiography, part instructional guide to writing. I found his personal journey into writing as well as his terrible accident and recovery quite inspiring.

Michael Jackson Inc – Zack O’Malley


ISBN: 1476706379
Read: December 2016
Rating: 7/10

Amazon page for more details and reviews.

A fascinating look at the business of Michael Jackson, his best and worst creative and professional decisions, and how he was able to earn as much after death as he did throughout his life.

The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing – Al Ries & Jack Trout

The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing by Al Ries and Jack Trout

ISBN: 0887306667
Read: October 2015
Rating: 7/10

Amazon page for more details and reviews.

Within the incredibly simple and easy reading lies timeless wisdom about marketing. I also loved the case studies from the early 90s, when this book was published (Coke, Apple, IBM, GM, etc). It was fascinating to connect the dots on companies that were around then and still around now using the 22 laws as a reference. Equally interesting were the Donald Trump stories sprinkled throughout the book. Turns out he was as controversial then as he is now.

Growth Hacker Marketing – Ryan Holiday


ISBN: 1591847389
Read: November 2015
Rating: 7/10

I found this book fairly interesting, particularly the case studies about a few well known apps and companies whose origins and ways of growth hacking surprised me. Main takeaways are that growth hacking is a mindset, not a toolkit, and that growth hackers about creating testable, trackable, and scalable ways to create a loyal early-adopter base, using them to create a marketing machine, and refining and optimising to ensure you create lifelong, highly profitable customers.

Abundance – Peter Diamandis and Steven Kotler


ISBN: 145161683X
Read: September 2015
Rating: 7/10

I love the subtitle of this book – “The Future is Better Than You Think”. Space entrepreneur and X-Prize founder Peter Diamandis and science writer Steven Kotler share a fantastic starting point to discover technologies that could help humans thrive without destroying everything else on the planet. The authors suggest that the ideas outlined in the book should be achievable within 25 years, with noticeable change possible within the next decade. Though there are gaps in reasoning and logic in many parts of the book as well as a chapter that reads like an X-Prize informercial, what I was most interested in were the solutions themselves, which fuel a sense of great possibility for “a world of nine billion people with clean water, nutritious food, affordable housing, personalised education, top-tier medical care, and nonpolluting, ubiquitous energy”.

Think Like a Freak – Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner


ISBN: 0062218344
Read: March 2015
Rating: 7/10

An entertaining read about thinking differently about success, thinking like a child, quitting, and more. I loved the case-studies and trademark irreverence of the authors.

The Big Ideas of Lee Kuan Yew  – Shashi Jayakumar and Rahul Sagar


ISBN: 9814342793
Read: January 2015
Rating: 8/10

A valuable collection of essays by people who worked closely with Singapore’s first Prime Minister, shedding light on his views on a number of topics, including law and politics, society and economics, and governance and foreign affairs. I’m in awe with the fact that Singapore lacks corruption and has no natural resources, yet it managed to go from developing nation to developed in just one generation. Lee Kuan Yew and his team designed the Singapore of today, and I loved reading about the mindset, components, and challenges faced since independence from British rule in the 50s.

Secrets of the Millionaire Mind – T Harv Eker


ISBN: 0060763280
Read: July 2015
Rating: 6/10

A simple book that can be read on a flight from Singapore to Sydney, reminding me that you become what you believe. I’ve read several books with similar themes including “The Magic of Thinking Big” and Napoleon Hill’s “Think and Grow Rich”, but I had fun reminding myself that “I create my life” and not the other way around.