Thanks to my Sony ebook reader I've been reading a lot lately. I've been fortunate to have been recommended great books, so now I'll pass along the favor and recommend them to you.
Gang Leader for a Day
I first heard of Sudhir Venkatesh's work when I read Freakonomics. The gist of it is that he decided to study gangs, so he headed to Chicago's most dangerous projects and wandered through them. The gang members caught him, held him overnight, and rather than killing him, allowed him to tag along for SIX YEARS while he studied them.
This book is his firsthand account of his time with the gang, the hustlers of the projects, and the crooked cops that come by to shake the residents down.It's an absolutely fascinating read which gives a clear look at life inside a gang.
(Side note: if you are in a gang and will let me come check it out, please email me. Seriously.)
In his recent video with Kevin Rose, Tim Ferriss recommended a bunch of books. I got a few of them that I hadn't read yet, including this one. It's written by the guys from 37 Signals, authors of web apps that people rave over, about how to build web apps.
As Tim says in the video, it's amazing if you're in the process of building a web app, but still great even if you're not. They push the less is more philosophy for software writing, but it also extends to other areas.
The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing
This book just made it on to my "must read before starting a business" list. I have a genius marketing/businessman friend who has been giving me advice for years, including urging me to read this book. Now I see why. Using a bunch of real life examples it talks about things like the importance of being first in a category (or creating a new category if you can't be first).
Made in Japan
Made in Japan, written by Sony's founder, Akio Morita, is an interesting and thorough account of basically everything Sony ever did up until the book was written in 1986. That makes it extremely dated, but the silver lining to its age is that you can see how Sony has veered from the course he set and is now failing to dominate certain markets (like the cell phone market).
Akio is a very informal writer, which makes you feel as though you know and care about him by the end. His embedded coverage of Japanese culture and a history are interesting as well.