The top books that will make you smarter.

Author: bookcelerator

YC’s 2017 Summer Reading List

Great reading list from Y Combinator.

What language-agnostic programming books should I read?

Check out this great message thread on great language-agnostic programming book reading lists.

A Stanford researcher is pioneering a dramatic shift in how we treat depression — and you can try her new tool right now

Depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide, and it can kill. But scientists know surprisingly little about it.

We do know, however, that talking seems to help — especially under the guidance of a licensed mental health professional. But therapy is expensive, inconvenient, and often hard to approach. A recent estimate suggests that of the roughly one in five Americans who have a mental illness, close to two-thirds have gone at least a year without treatment.

Several Silicon Valley-style approaches to the problem have emerged: There are apps that replace the traditional psychiatry office with texting, and chat rooms where you can discuss your problems anonymously online.

Behind the Scenes at Bookcelerator: How do we read 35+ books a month? It’s all about the Summary!

Behind the Scenes at Bookcelerator: How do we read 35+ books a month? It’s all about the Summary!

Crafting a book summary is one of the most common writing tasks you might be asked to complete. Summaries serve several purposes: for the writer they serve as notes and memory-refreshers, for the reader they save time by sharing the most important concepts from the book while leaving out some of the details.

Writing a book summary means balancing those important concepts with omitting details where possible. This is the summary writer’s biggest challenge. Culling details from another author’s hard work is never easy, but making the decision of what stays and what goes is the summary writer’s most important job.

What follows are some basic suggestions for writing summaries of books. Following these suggestions should help make your summaries more effective, easier to produce, and plugged-into their purpose.

Breaking Down The Big Ideas

The first step in writing a book summary is understanding that you’ll need to break down the big ideas. Most non-fiction books have one really big idea (this is the book’s argument, or its thesis). The big idea is usually presented very early in the book. You might find it in the book’s introduction, and the thesis is surely stated in the book’s first chapter.

Many non-fiction books present their big idea through one or a series of stories or examples. Your job as a summary writer is to wade through all of that and cut to the chase. Instead of recounting those stories, your summary should only include the lessons learned from those stories.

That means your summary will lose a lot of the emotional impact of the original book. While this is a shame—and a good example of why we should always eventually read the original material—your summary has a different purpose than the original book. A summary’s reader doesn’t expect the frills or the style of the original material to appear in the summary.

Once your summary has explained the original book’s big idea, you can move into explaining the smaller ideas. These smaller ideas will almost always support the big idea in some way. As you go through the book’s chapters, unpack the ways each chapter contributes to the book’s overall thesis. In your summary, don’t be afraid to circle back and re-establish the connections between the chapters and the book’s thesis.

Fiction books might take a little longer for their big ideas to unfold. Most don’t give away the whole purpose of the story like the first paragraph of To Kill A Mockingbird does:

When he was nearly thirteen, my brother Jem got his arm badly broken at the elbow.

The rest of To Kill A Mockingbird is the story of how Jem gets his arm broken, an event that actually happens in the novel’s last few pages.

Of course, To Kill A Mockingbird is REALLY about a whole collection of much bigger ideas. That’s what makes the book so great. But these ideas aren’t as obvious in the book’s first few pages or chapters.

Writing a summary of a non-fiction book can probably happen as you sit to read it the first time through. A work of fiction, though, requires you to complete the reading so you can see the bigger picture from a little bit of a distance. That probably means note-taking while you read a piece of fiction is in order, unless you plan to read the book a second time or have a great memory.

Pay particular attention to context clues. Chapter titles often point to their main ideas, and words or phrases that use different fonts are being stressed for a reason. These are easily identifiable big ideas that should appear in your summary.

Putting It Into Your Own Words

One aspect of a summary is that the summary writer places the original’s ideas in their own words. This accomplishes two things.

First, putting ideas into your own words cements the concepts in your mind. Have you ever gotten driving directions from someone, and immediately repeated the directions back to them? Repetition is one way we learn. That makes summary writing a great study tool.

Second, putting things into our own words keeps us out of trouble. Plagiarism is a big deal. Plagiarizing gets people fired, sued, and kicked out of school. Most educational and professional settings, especially those in the United States and in other Western traditions, consider plagiarism to be unethical.

Avoid plagiarism by writing in a new voice, using new organization and grammatical constructions. Don’t just find synonyms for everything.

Re-stating ideas in the context of a summary is not plagiarism. It’s an expectation of the genre, and since you’re being honest about where the ideas come from, you won’t get into trouble.

Summarizing gets tricky, though, when you absolutely can’t use different words. Some terms are too technical or specific, and some phrases are too important to the original material to put into different words.

When these instances happen, you can use quotation marks to show you’re using the specific language from the original. From the example of To Kill A Mockingbird, there’s just no way to avoid including “it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird” in any good summary. That’s ok. Just be obvious about where it comes from, and why you’ve chosen to include it.

Specific important phrases that are only a few words long probably don’t need quotation marks every time you use them in your summary. Be clear where the phrase comes from, especially the first time you use it.

Remember Your Purpose

The summary isn’t really a substitute for the original material. The summary is something different altogether, and while the ideas of a summary should accurately reflect the ideas from the original, you will never be able to capture its flair and style.

That’s all right. You aren’t expected to.

Make your summary clear and honest. Don’t evaluate or judge the original’s ideas (that’s a different kind of writing).

Follow these guidelines, and your summary will be a clear representation of the main points included in the original work.

Bookcelerator is Back! Something FREE for the next few days to celebrate!

Hey Bookcelerator Fan!

We know it has been a while since you may have heard from us and we apologize for this.  We recently purchased Bookcelerator from the old owner and we have some big plans coming soon…we will keep you posted.

Normally we provide full summaries to our Premium Members but as a special thank-you for being a fan of Bookcelerator and as a grand re-opening, you get a bonus for the next few days….the full summary of Hacking Growth!

We have about 50 open slots to become a Premium Member if you like which costs $45/year.  We are changing the price soon with some upcoming big updates so get grandfathered in at this price!

We review over 35+ books (this keeps growing) per year which cost at least $600 total plus the time you save reading the entire book (you can always buy it if you want)!

If you are interested let us know by emailing and we can get you signed up.

Upcoming Premium Book Summaries (if you join you will get these…)

The $100 Startup: Reinvent the Way You Make a Living, Do What You Love, and Create a New Future

Captivate: The Science of Succeeding with People


Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, Revised Edition

The Miracle Morning: The Not-So-Obvious Secret Guaranteed to Transform Your Life (Before 8AM)

Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy

Start Something That Matters

Please let us know (by emailing if you have any books you would like summarized or how we can improve Bookcelerator.


Hacking Growth

Introduction and Chapter One: Building Growth Teams

While the specifics might vary from business to business, the core elements of “growth hacking” are: 1) the creation of one or several cross-functional teams; 2) the use of research and data analysis to understand user behavior and preferences; 3) the rapid generation and testing of ideas and the analysis and action-upon the results of that testing.

The main focus of growth teams is to squeeze every possible bit of growth from every possible location through continuous tweaks and analysis. Every company should have a growth team in place that compliments the work other teams are doing within the company. Growth hacking can be tailored for each company and each potential situation and has many possible advantages and rewards.

Growth hacking makes it easier for companies to survive disruptions. Growth hacking also allows for agility, especially important when quick decisions are necessary. It allows for good use of consumer data to make business decisions. Growth hacking allows companies to efficiently navigate the rising costs—and diminishing returns—of traditional marketing strategies. Finally, growth hacking allows companies to quickly take advantage of new technologies.

There are some myths to growth hacking that need to be dispelled. It’s not a “silver bullet” that will immediately save a struggling company. It’s not the responsibility of just one person in the company. It’s not just about bending—or breaking—rules. In the end, it’s not all just about finding new customers.

Companies get too constrained by their silos—personnel stuck in areas of the business that don’t communicate with people in other areas. Knocking down the silos, and focusing on data analysis, can promote growth. Growth teams should draw on multiple silos, and consist of people with a deep understanding of the business and the ability to analyze the consumer data. The Growth Lead should choose the focus areas and objectives for the team, run team meetings, and actively participate in idea generation and direction. The Product Manager is “CEO of the product.” For tech products, the growth team should include software engineers with the training to make necessary programming changes. Someone in the team should be a Marketing Specialist, and another should be a Date Analyst. Finally, a Growth Team should include a Product Designer.

Growth Hacking is comprised of four steps that continuously cycle through: Data Analysis, Idea Generation, Experiment Prioritization, Running the Experiments.

Growth cannot be a side project. It’s important that Growth Teams has oversight from and support of company executives.

There are two models for Growth Team reporting: the Product-Led model who report to a product management executive and the Independent-Led model who report to an executive or CEO directly.

Though starting growth hacking seems challenging, a small team with a narrow focus can find success and inspire naysayers to join the changes. Nothing makes a better argument than success.

Like what you are reading? Get the full summary by email ing

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Fun Facts About Books


Books are among the first things you hold as a child. And in a lifetime, you might be able to read around 3,000 books (now that’s a lot of reading) if you’re really into it. But a chosen few will only have the chance to encounter these fascinating books. This list covers the smallest, the largest, the oldest, the most expensive, and a whole lot of other fun facts about books. Here’s a collection of some of the most amazing books we found:



Leonardo da Vinci’s Codex Photo: Wikipedia

Reading can be an expensive hobby but try owning Leonardo da Vinci’s The Codex Leicester. This is da Vinci’s handwritten journal that covers his own theories on how things work – from astronomy to mechanics and fossil formation and a whole lot of other stuff. Since it is basically a collection of da Vinci’s own two cents on things, it made it valuable, and hence, expensive. It sold for over $30 million in an auction in 1994, by another great mind – none other than Microsoft’s Bill Gates.



Possibly the smallest book in the world, no larger than a needle eye. Photo: AFP

Big things come in small packages – this statement is true for the world’s smallest printed book. Japan nabs the world record for printing the smallest book in the world – the pages are just 0.75 millimeters in size and the print is just 0.01 millimeter wide. This book even has illustrations! The book, titled Shiki no Kusabana, meaning Flowers of Seasons, talks about Japanese flowers. The book can be seen in a display in Tokyo, at Toppan’s Printing Museum.


According to Guinness Book of World Records, the world’s largest book is made in Dubai, UAE. The book, titled “This the Prophet Mohamed” stands at 16.40 feet by 26.44 feet, and weighs a massive 3,306 pounds! The book needed more than fifty people to assemble and was presented to the public on February 27, 2012.


basicNowadays, there are a lot of best-selling programming books out there, but the first million-selling book about programming was written by Dave Ahl, titled BASIC Computer GamesIt featured the most popular home-computer games at the time, such as Chomp, Hexapawn, Hamurabi, Nim, Super Star Trek.





A page from one of the few remaining copies of the Gutenberg Bible
Photo: Wikipedia

The first book to be printed mechanically was the Gutenberg Bible. It was printed in Mainz, Germany in 1455 by, you guessed it, Johannes Gutenberg, the man who introduced mechanical printing. Bonus Fact: The Bible remains the most popular book in the entire world.





The title page of the 1605 edition
Photo: Wikipedia

Apart from the Bible (which sold more than a billion copies, by the way), the most copies sold of a single-volume book goes to Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra’s Don Quixote. It sold more than 500 million copies world wide. Clearly, the insane, yet hilarious adventures of Don Quixote de la Mancha and his trusty squire, Sancho Panza, did the work. Don Quixote is also a regular contender for lists of greatest literary works of all time.





World’s Largest Comic Book
Photo: Guinness World Records

To all comic book fans out there, perhaps here’s one for your collection. The largest published comic book was created by Omar Morales and titled CruZader™: Agent of the Vatican. It is 2 ft by 3 ft in size, and 28-pages long, all pages are in full-color. There were 105 copies printed that sold for $200 in the United States ($300 internationally).



The British Library
Photo: Wikipedia

Book fans will rejoice when they step into the world’s largest library. In terms of cataloged size, the British Library is the world’s largest, beating the United States Library of Congress. The British Library has more than 170 million cataloged items, 12 million more than the declared items of the Library of Congress. It is the national library of the United Kingdom and houses a collection of countless items in many formats and languages. A real bookworm heaven!

Big or small, expensive or free, we surely love books! They enrich our minds, inspire us, motivate us, fuel our imagination, and entertain us in so many ways. Books will take you on adventures without taking you out of the room, teach you a lot without going into a classroom, and introduce you to new ideas that will help you be a better you. Get to reading, y’all!

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