If you're thinking of starting a business or are working for a startup, there are worse things you could do than read those books. Instead of reviewing each individually, I thought I would round them up and review them right here.
The Lean Startup: How Today's Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses
If you have one book to read about building or working for a startup, this is it.
It started the whole lean movement It introduced the Lean philosophy to the world of startups (Wikipedia) and advocates using actual data instead of relying on pseudo-science to decide what to do. It also demonstrates how a quick development cycle with short iterations is the best way to build something that needs to be validated with real users and real data.
In other words, we need the scientific method. In the Lean Startup model, every product, every feature, every marketing campaign — everything a startup does — is understood to be an experiment designed to achieve validated learning.
Lean Analytics: Use Data to Build a Better Startup Faster
From The Lean Series, this book tells you on what metrics to focus to build your startup. It feels more like a reference book than something you can just casually read. Nevertheless, if you're building something and want to make it big, this book provides all the information you need to keep you on the right track whether you're building a social network, a marketplace (either one-sided or two-sided), a media site or even a mobile app. It's mostly about software but the lessons can apply to other projects.
Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose
If you have time for a second book, Delivering Happiness is a great book by the founder of Zappos. It reads a lot like an auto-biography of how Zappos got up to the point of being acquired by Amazon for $1 billion. It's a wonderful book that shows the importance of culture and how Customer Service can be an incredible marketing machine instead of a loss leader as a lot of big software companies see it.
The Innovator's Dilemma: When New Technologies Cause Great Firms to Fail
This book talks is all about how big compagnies failed to keep up with the competition even when they had much more resources available. The author shows how even companies who managed to outperform "the big guys" got bested once they became "the big guys" themselves. He suggests that companies failed to compete, not because of bad management, but because of good management. The executives were making the right decisions to improve technology at a steady pace but failed to view how a seemingly downgrade could prove to be the next big thing. If you think about SSDs (solid-state drives), you can see how being much more expensive and carrying much less capacity still let them take a bigger and bigger portion of the market now because they're really good at one thing (and they eventually catch-up to a point where the consumer is happy enough with the drawbacks).
I wouldn't say this is an important book to read, but it is very interesting.
Anything You Want
By the founder of CD Baby, Derek Sivers talks about how he started CD Baby, what he learned and how things happened up to the sell of CD Baby. It's a very quick read (~1 hour) and shows how solving the right problem doesn't require complex solutions.
The Bootstrapper's Bible
In this manifesto, Seth Godin shares some tips about what you should do, how you should think when bootstrapping a business and mistakes to avoid. I'm not bootstraping anything at the moment myself, but I thought it was interesting nonetheless.
It's so easy to extrapolate from our own experience and multiply it by 250,000,000. Don't.