What We're Reading at Hero

28 Aug 2017, Owen Frivold

A stack of books in front of a whiteboard and plant

We’re a curious bunch here at Hero.  And perhaps nowhere do our diverse and eclectic interests emerge more than in our monthly reading lists. The most serendipitous type of book discovery often bubbles to the surface during passing moments in the kitchens, waiting for coffee to brew, or sharing lunch (and occasionally a drink or two) in our common areas. This occurs so often, in fact, it seemed unfortunate not to capture our growing lists in some way for everyone to share. A huge shout out to Steven W. for running this survey and keeping it fun and engaging!

Our list this August delivers yet another fascinating and fun mix, replete with old novels and new, creative thinking and anthropology, history and astrophysics, science fiction — and even a children’s book. It reflects the varied passions and interests of our staff of voracious readers — simply too fun not to share beyond our walls.


All the Light we Cannot See
All the Light We Cannot See — Anthony Doerr

Summary: “From the highly acclaimed, multiple award-winning Anthony Doerr, the beautiful, stunningly ambitious instant New York Times bestseller about a blind French girl and a German boy whose paths collide in occupied France as both try to survive the devastation of World War II.”

1Q84 — Haruki Murakami

Summary: “A love story, a mystery, a fantasy, a novel of self-discovery, a dystopia to rival George Orwell’s—1Q84 is Haruki Murakami’s most ambitious undertaking yet: an instant best seller in his native Japan, and a tremendous feat of imagination from one of our most revered contemporary writers.”

Astrophysics for people in a Hurry
Astrophysics for People in a Hurry — Neil deGrasse Tyson

Summary: “While you wait for your morning coffee to brew, for the bus, the train, or a plane to arrive, Astrophysics for People in a Hurry will reveal just what you need to be fluent and ready for the next cosmic headlines: from the Big Bang to black holes, from quarks to quantum mechanics, and from the search for planets to the search for life in the universe.”

Creativity, Inc.
Creativity, Inc. — Ed Catmull and Amy Wallace

Summary: “Creativity, Inc. is a book for managers who want to lead their employees to new heights, a manual for anyone who strives for originality, and the first-ever, all-access trip into the nerve center of Pixar Animation—into the meetings, postmortems, and ‘Braintrust’ sessions where some of the most successful films in history are made. It is, at heart, a book about how to build a creative culture—but it is also, as Pixar co-founder and president Ed Catmull writes, ‘an expression of the ideas that I believe make the best in us possible.’”

Lonesome Dove: A Novel
Lonesome Dove: A Novel — Larry McMurtry

Summary: “A love story, an adventure, and an epic of the frontier, Larry McMurtry’s Pulitzer Prize-winning classic, Lonesome Dove, the third book in the Lonesome Dove tetralogy, is the grandest novel ever written about the last defiant wilderness of America.”

A Game of Thrones: Song of Ice and Fire
A Game of Thrones: Song of Ice and Fire — George R.R. Martin

Summary: “From a master of contemporary fantasy comes the first novel of a landmark series unlike any you’ve ever read before. With A Game of Thrones, George R. R. Martin has launched a genuine masterpiece, bringing together the best the genre has to offer. Mystery, intrigue, romance, and adventure fill the pages of this magnificent saga, the first volume in an epic series sure to delight fantasy fans everywhere.”

A Life in Parts
A Life in Parts — Bryan Cranston

Summary: “Nothing short of riveting…an engrossing first-person account by one of our finest actors” (Huffington Post) –— both a coming-of-age story and a meditation on creativity, devotion, and craft — Bryan Cranston, beloved and acclaimed star of one of history’s most successful TV shows, Breaking Bad.”

Make it New: The History of Silicon Valley Design
Make it New: The History of Silicon Valley Design — Barry M. Katz

Summary: “Offering a thoroughly original view of the subject, Katz tells how design helped transform Silicon Valley into the most powerful engine of innovation in the world. From Hewlett-Packard and Ampex in the 1950s to Google and Facebook today, design has provided the bridge between research and development, art and engineering, technical performance and human behavior. Katz traces the origins of all of the leading consultancies — including IDEO, frog, and Lunar — and shows the process by which some of the world’s most influential companies came to place design at the center of their business strategies.”

Stories of Your Life and Others
Stories of Your Life and Others — Ted Chiang

Summary: “Stories of Your Life and Others delivers dual delights of the very, very strange and the heartbreakingly familiar, often presenting characters who must confront sudden change—the inevitable rise of automatons or the appearance of aliens—with some sense of normalcy. With sharp intelligence and humor, Chiang examines what it means to be alive in a world marked by uncertainty, but also by beauty and wonder. An award-winning collection from one of today’s most lauded writers, Stories of Your Life and Others is a contemporary classic.”

The Sixth Extinction
The Sixth Extinction — Elizabeth Kolbert

Summary: “Over the last half-billion years, there have been Five mass extinctions, when the diversity of life on earth suddenly and dramatically contracted. Scientists around the world are currently monitoring the sixth extinction, predicted to be the most devastating extinction event since the asteroid impact that wiped out the dinosaurs. This time around, the cataclysm is us.”

The Operators
The Operators — Michael Hastings

Summary: “From the author of The Last Magazine, a shocking behind-the-scenes portrait of our military commanders, their high-stake maneuvers, and the political firestorm that shook the United States.”

Station Eleven
Station Eleven — Emily St. John Mandel

Summary: “Kirsten Raymonde will never forget the night Arthur Leander, the famous Hollywood actor, had a heart attack on stage during a production of King Lear. That was the night when a devastating flu pandemic arrived in the city, and within weeks, civilization as we know it came to an end.”

Sinatra: The Chairman
Sinatra: The Chairman — James Kaplan

Summary: “Like Peter Guralnick on Elvis, Kaplan goes behind the legend to give us the man in full, in his many guises and aspects: peerless singer, (sometimes) accomplished actor, business mogul, tireless lover, and associate of the powerful and infamous.”

The Very Hungry Caterpillar
The Very Hungry Caterpillar — Eric Carle

Summary: “In the light of the moon a little egg lay on a leaf.” So begins Eric Carle’s modern classic, The Very Hungry Caterpillar. More than 12 million copies of this book have been sold in its original, full-sized edition, and the beloved tale of science and gluttony has been translated into 20 languages.”

What Customers Crave
What Customers Crave — Nicholas J. Webb

Summary: “What Customers Crave examines how the hyper-connected economy is radically changing consumer expectations, and reveals what companies need to do to stay on top. The solution rests on two simple questions: What do your customers love? What do they hate? Find the answers, and you’re well on your way to success.”

All the Birds in the Sky
All The Birds in the Sky — Charlie Jane Anders

Summary: “From the former editor-in-chief of, a stunning Nebula Award-winning and Hugo-shortlisted novel about the end of the world―and the beginning of our future.
An ancient society of witches and a hipster technological startup go to war world in order to prevent the world from tearing itself. To further complicate things, each of the groups’ most promising followers (Patricia, a brilliant witch and Laurence, an engineering “wunderkind”) may just be in love with each other.”

The Subtle Art of not Giving a F*ck
The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck — Mark Manson

Summary:” In this generation-defining self-help guide, a superstar blogger cuts through the crap to show us how to stop trying to be “positive” all the time so that we can truly become better, happier people.”

The Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O
The Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O: A Novel — Neal Stephenson and Nicole Galland

Summary: “From bestselling author Neal Stephenson and critically acclaimed novelist Nicole Galland comes a captivating and complex near-future thriller combining history, science, magic, mystery, intrigue, and adventure that questions the very foundations of the modern world.”