Alex Zhurakovskyi's Blog

Best Books I Have Read in 2000-2015

I like reading. On average, I go through 20-30 books per year (and about 50 in 2016 alone). In 2000-2016, I have read over 200 books worth of notes in my diary (in Russian). My current "to-read" list is over 100 titles long (gosh!) The topics vary from general science, critical thinking and autobiographies to PPE, management and history (chemistry has a separate list). Many of those volumes yield just a couple of quotations but some were truly mind blowing.

Below is my top-20 from 2000-2015. The one for 2016 will come later (it's been a productive one!) Some books are not mentioned because they will appear inevitably among the related titles by Amazon or Goodreads.


(I believe this is the best kind of biography.)

  • Richard Feynmann, Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman! and What Do You Care What Other People Think? Simply the two best biographies ever written. Feyman was a genius.
  • Benjamin Franklin, The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin. A great narrative with lots of motivational and practical advice.
  • Henry Ford, My life and work. Fordism explained by its author in plain language.


  • John Mearsheimer, Why Leaders Lie. A good introduction into the world of real politics. For a much longer treatise, see The Tragedy of Great Power Politics by the same author.
  • Gene Sharp, From Dictatorship to Democracy. A highly controversial book describing the concept and practice of non-violent protests.
  • Michael Voslensky, Nomenklatura. An excellent narrative on the emergence of the Soviet ruling class. (The second edition is available only in Russian.)
  • Oleg Matveychev, Dmitry Gusev, Rinat Hazeev, Sergey Chernakov, Ears Wagging the Donkey: Modern Social Programming (in Russian). A treatise on political propaganda written by its practitioners.

Management and Cultural Differences

  • Hofstede, Hofstede and Minkov, Cultures and Organizations: Software of the Mind. A great book on cultural differences: social values, heroes, behaviour modes, hierachy, etc. Lots of numerical data and real-life examples. Explains why modern managerial, political and economial theories – written from the "Anglo-Saxon" point of view – perform poorly in Europe and Asia.
  • Lynn Visson, Where Russians Go Wrong in Spoken English. The book explains that Americans do not simply speak a different language (from Russians) but also have a completely different culture. Lots of examples.
  • Alexander Prokhorov, The Russian Model of Management (in Russian). An attempt to explain how management works in Russia and how the Soviet Union managed to achieve greatness despite its persistent organizational chaos.

Self-Development and Critical Thinking

  • David Allen, Getting Things Done. The bible of time-management.
  • Thomas Gilovich, How We Know What Isn't So. An outstanding introduction to critical thinking in everyday life.
  • Malcolm Gladwell, Outliers. One of the many books from Gladwell on what distinguishes success from failure.


  • Robert Cialdini, The Psychology of Persuasion. A great introduction to the topic of human motivation (and self-deception).
  • Gavin Kennedy, Everything Is Negotiable. A primer on negotiations that aims at long-term relationships rather than a single sale.
  • Jonathan Herring, How to Argue. Simple and practical book on arguments covering both the logic and human aspects.
  • Jay Heinrichs, Thank You for Arguing. A comprehensive guide to arguments, negotiations and public speaking. Examples from political speeches and everyday life.

There are many other great books not mentioned here. Share your favourites in comments!

Upd 21:42, 16.10.2016. Added Heinrichs'es Thank You for Arguing.