What books do Latvian startup people read?

19 Latvian startupers share their favorite books. Take this as a list of last-minute gift ideas or just as something to add to your Goodreads reading challenge for 2016. December is cold, dark and ripe on holidays - perfect time to read something of value. 

"The Financier" by Theodore Dreiser

Recommended by Nikita Halavins, board member of, co-founder of YaKlass and

"The main character of this book is very clever on the one side, but had a very impudent personality on the other side. It is quite astonishing how such destructive behavior can arise so much respect and adoration from weaker society. It seems like people tend to support the ones they blame, because they are afraid of and feel jealous about their power."

-Nikita Halavins

Get the book here

"The Twelve Chairs" by Ilya Ilf and Evgeny Petrov

favourite book of Rudolfs Krese, partner at ZGI Capital and Nikolai Adamovitch, founder of Commercialization Reactor, member of Amber Sea Business Angels Club 
"A funny tale of adventures and misadventures. Must read classics."
-Rudolfs Krese


Get the book here.

"The Golden Calf" by Ilya Ilf and Evgeny Petrov

"Both of these books by Ilf and Petrov are very fun, yet  very real guidebooks towards relationships between people in everyday life. I can still juxtapose EACH cool business case with the situation of Ostap Ibrahimich. Sincerely wish everyone to read this at least five times!"

-Nikolai Adamovitch


Get the book here.

 "Hatching Twitter: A True Story of Money, Power, Friendship, and Betrayal" by Nick Bilton

Recommended by Andrejs Strods, founder of Blue Bridge Technologies
"This is a great taster of many things that make startup world so exciting, thrilling and addictive. The book is an absolutely fast thriller and provides a real peek behind the curtains of a number of well-known companies. Be careful: your view of how things are in Silicon valley might be seriously challenged. You will never tweet the same again!
I have a paper copy of the book but I haven’t seen it for long as it is permanently changing hands being read by many Latvian entrepreneurs and venture capitalists."
-Andrejs Strods
Get the book here.  

"The Fish That Ate the Whale: The Life and Times of America's Banana King" by Rich Cohen

Recommended by Andrejs Strods, founder of Blue Bridge Technologies
"An incredible story of a Jewish immigrant from Russia (Bessarabia) to a self-made entrepreneur with global power. I was really amazed how many points of world history he has managed to touch (and influence) during his life. Fantastic read! A breathtaking story with lots to think about."
 -Andrejs Strods
Get the book here.

 "The Tales of the North" by Jack London

Recommended by Nikolai Adamovitch, founder of Commercialization Reactor, member of Amber Sea Business Angels Club

"In fact, all of Jack London's work is vital for startupers to understand how one should act in difficult circumstances. "The Tales of the North" are literally a roadmap and guidebook for a young person inclined towards risky adventures (in a good sense), a collection of life values that help survive in the most severe circumstances, and answers to the eternal questions of what is good and what is bad. What is it, if not the life of  a startuper? Yes, it does not have blood and you do not literally fight for survival. However, the character traits, code of honor and values required in the environment of pioneers and pathfinders are the same for startupers.

All of Jack London's work is full of examples of how one SHOULD act in the hardest situations, as well as rich on tales about character traits, values and choices that lead to unfortunate end. These stories are about honor and dignity in a capitalistic society (yes, they exist!), about weakness and betrayal, about excellent and disastrous business plans. And all of that is projected on life and death of a person, not merely a company, which makes the message more vividly applicable to startup life. 

I will start re-reading this story again tomorrow, for another countless time."

-Nikolai Adamovitch


Get the book here.

"Power vs Force" by David R. Hawkins M.D. Ph.D

Recommended by Matiss Ansviesulis, co-founder of CreamFinance

"It is a book worth reading for the ones interested in self-growth.  The book provides a very good guideline into understanding consciousness/awareness of people. It is simply packed with valuable advice on how to stay in a good mental shape and how to advance from the current standpoint. It's definitely one of the most interesting self-help type psychological books I have ever read."

-Matiss Ansviesulis

Get the book here.

"Four Steps to the Epiphany" by Steve Blank

Recommended by Andris K. Berzins, co-founder and board member of TechHub Riga

"This is the original Bible for the lean startup movement and explains how to think about customer development and building a business around the real first users of your product"

-Andris K. Berzins

Get the book here.

"The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers" by Ben Horowitz

Recommended by Martins Sulte, founder of Mintos

"This is probably one of the best books any aspiring startuper will ever read. Ben Horowitz, one of the most prominent venture capitalists, talks straight about some of the toughest problems in entrepreneurship and being CEO. As a recent graduate I can only assure that these are the things that are not taught in the business school. Filled with plenty of advice about managing a company and people this is a book I refer to regularly."

-Martins Sulte


Get the book here

For startup handbooks, see below. 

"L’empire des anges" by Bernard Werber

 Recommended by Alexander Parfinovich, co-founder of Naco Technologies
"This book as well as other related books of Bernard Werber provides an interesting alternative view on life and after-life. It is smart, ironical and positive. One of those books that is difficult, if not impossible, to put on the screen. So personal imagination needs to be involved."
-Alexander Parfinovich
Get the book here.

"The Power of Habit" by Charles Duhigg

 Recommended by Ernests Stals, founder of and co-founder of TechHub Riga
"The book gives practical use cases about habits, how they shape business environment and influence our lives. It is a useful handbook to build productive habits into one's everyday life."
-Ernests Stals
Get the book here.

"A brief history of time" by Stephen Hawking 

 Recommended by Arturs Bunins, co-founder of QFer
"This book takes you away from focusing on everyday tasks and lets you think on a different level, understand the theories on how the Universe works. After reading you feel that your mind is cleared from daily stress and some great ideas may come to you."
-Arturs Burnins
Get the book here.

Generation «П» by Victor Pelevin

 Recommended by Deniss Belajevs, co-founder of Startup Latvia
 "I feel how this book cures me every time I feel flu sick and releases everyday stress."
-Deniss Belajevs
Get the book here
For startup handbooks, check below.

"Antifragile: Things that gain from disorder" by Nassim Nicholas Taleb

Recommended by Jean Mauris, co-founder and board member of BranchTrack, MyM Smart wand and business incubator eegloo  
"There are books that reveal a new perspective. There are books that affect some part of your life. There are books that fascinate you, make you re-think things. And there is Antifragile - a book that changes everything."
-Jean Mauris
Get the book here.

 "Twilight" by Aleksandrs Jakovlevs

Recommended by Girts Kalnins, co-founder of Monea
"It shows the history of 20th century Russia/Soviet Union in true, unclouded fashion, written after the author was granted the access to secret archives of Russia/Soviet Union by President Yelcin in early 90's and it portrays the whole tragedy of Russia as well as  many nations, including Latvians, which were brought under the oppressing power and tyrany."
-Girts Kalnins
Get the book here

"The Ultimate Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" by Douglas Adams

 Recommended by Anna Andersone, founder of FROONT, and The Mill
"It combines my favorite genres: comedy and science fiction, creating images out of this world in my head at the same time being very relatable to the real life and our world. It makes you smile, think, understand and feel, all at the same time."
-Anna Andersone
Get the book here.

Peter Thiel’s Stanford CS183: Startup by Matt Sherman

Recommended by Eldars Loginovs, founder of Fabula
"Famed investor Peter Thiel is teaching a startup class in the computer science department at Stanford University. Practical learnings from world-famous startups worth over $1 billion that can be taken further within our companies."
-Eldars Loginovs
Get the book here (free in Fabula app). 

Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future by Peter Thiel

Recommended by Jekaterina Zaiceva, project director at Labs of LatviaMartins Sulte, founder of MintosDeniss Belajevs, co-founder of Startup Latvia.
"Personally, it was incredibly exciting to understand the thinking of PayPal founder throughout the building of this payment giant. It is a tale about risk, about seeing the bigger picture, about seeing a profit opportunity when the whole economy is changing.
Professionally, this book was another reminder for me about the great importance of supporting the first successful startup generation. After PayPal, the "PayPal Mafia" is building SpaceX, Tesla, LinkedIn, YouTube, Yammer, Palantir and Yelp. I also believe that it is important to teach the concept of creating new markets with innovation alongside the traditional education focused on developing competitive strategy for existing markets." 
-Jekaterina Zaiceva
Get the book here.

"Demian" by Hermann Hesse,  "1984" by George Orwell and  "Think of These Things" by Jiddu Krishnamurti

 Recommended by Ilja Terebin, co-founder of
"It is always a great pleasure to meet kindred spirits. These books enable me to do so."
-Ilja Terebin
Links to get the books:

"The China Study" by T.Colin Campbell 

  Recommended by Ilja Terebin, co-founder of
"This book should be read by everyone who cares about their own health and the health of other people."
-Ilja Terebin
Get the book here.

"The Magic Skin" by Honore de Balzac

 Recommended by Marija Odineca, editor at Labs of Latvia, Baltic startup scene journalist at ArcticStartup
"This book gives a vivid metaphor for a powerful idea to keep in one's mind when making important decisions.  The limits of what one can achieve are relative to the limits of what one is ready to give for it. The main character felt that he was a failure in all aspects, so he decided to pay for obtaining what he considered valuable with the length of his life. Every wish was fulfilled by reducing the time he had left to live.
This is not just the empty capitalistic "time is money". This is the paralyzing and real "time is life".  Among other things, this is a useful question to  ask before founding/joining/investing in a startup. "Can I allocate some of my time to do this?" yields much less careful results than "Can I allocate some of my life to do this?""
-Marija Odineca 
Get the book here.

"Startup Rising" by Christopher M. Schroeder

Recommended by Marija Odineca, editor at Labs of Latvia, Baltic startup scene journalist at ArcticStartup
"This is a boots-on-the-ground report on startup activity in the Middle East, breaking many stereotypes about the region. These countries speak the same language, as opposed to the EU. These countries share the same religion of Islam, with the Quran directly encouraging founding a business as preferred source of income. And, one of the many surprising ones: male and female proportion in applications for startup competitions is almost the same. A useful read for both startups and investors, challenging the conventional negative attitude to the region, while bluntly stating the actual challenges.  Also includes key names to google up."
-Marija Odineca
Get the book here

Startup handbooks

By Martins Sulte, founder of Mintos:
By Deniss Belajevs, co-founder of Startup Latvia:
I would recommend " my table TOP5":
When Startup becomes Corporation I recommend a book on strategy and tactics: The Art of War by Sun Tzu.
This is my usual on duty late night book "before to sleep".
Do you have anything to add to this list? Feel free to share in comments: