Some books we’re reading (and games we’re playing) this summer 2023

a16z crypto editorial

Here are some books (and games) that a16z crypto team members are reading, playing, and recommending. The list covers everything from ancient Rome to bit twiddling — and quite a few vacation-worthy fantasy reads in between.

For more picks, check our winter ‘22 and summer ‘22 reading lists, as well as these lists from seasons past: 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016). There are always old favorites and repeat recommendations on these lists, both within and across time; but it’s fun to see which books appear or re-appear in the zeitgeist at a particular moment in time… Repeats this time around were Peter Attia’s frameworks for longer living Outlive; Susanna Clarke’s magical-realist wizarding tome Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell; and Gabrielle Zevin’s novel on gaming and friendship Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow.

Finally, be sure to sign up for updates or advance-order Andreessen Horowitz general partner & a16z crypto founding partner, entrepreneur, and longtime writer Chris Dixon’s new book, Read Write Own: Building the Future of the Internet (Random House, March 2024). It’s a must-read for anyone – whether business leader, artist, creator, entrepreneur, internet user, or just the tech-curious – seeking to understand where we’ve been, and where we’re going… from crypto to the future of business and beyond.  

…from Brittney Burrows, events team

Red Rising Trilogy by Pierce Brown READ
“Every reader will resonate with the unwitting and resistant underdog hero. This is a fast read full of betrayal, hope, friendship and loss. Each book in this trilogy is better than the last and will keep you guessing until the final page of the final book.”

Tress of the Emerald Sea by Brandon Sanderson READ  
“As always, Brandon Sanderson’s world building is fantastic. The imagery is both beautiful and terrifying in this new book. Set in the Cosmere universe, this story is centered around love but turns into so much more as a young, seemingly unimportant girl sets out to change her world. Fast, stand-alone read great for fantasy lovers.”


Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell: A Novel by Susanna Clark READ
“Although slower than others in the genre, this fantasy book had me feeling nostalgic long after I finished the last page. An interesting blend between the worlds of Harry Potter and Pride and Prejudice, this book is a comforting classic.”

Nights with a Cat by Kyuryu Z READ
“If you own a cat this is a must read! This speedy graphic novel is full of hilarious moments that all cat owners experience on a daily basis. It will make you laugh out loud and nod along as the main character struggles to understand his new feline and her antics.”


…from Sonal Chokshi, editorial team

The Creative Act: A Way of Being by Rick Rubin READ
Yes, many people are talking about this book – and there’s a reason why: it’s for anyone and everyone. Most books on creativity treat it like some rarefied act; reduce the hard work into clever little hacks; or read like overly self-indulgent little self-help treatises that belong on the White Lotus or something! But I like this book of the self/ inspiration-genre because it opens with the premise that *everyone* is a creator; that creativity isn’t some calling, but a ‘fundamental aspect of being human’; and that ‘we are all living as artists’ – whether or not you’re formally making art. The book shares mindsets for anyone bringing something into existence, big or small; and while some of it may feel obvious, in practice, it’s really not. Rubin’s musings on the abundance (vs. scarcity) mindset, on sincerity as a goal, and on the realities of popularity are especially fitting ones for our times. But honestly there’s so much in this easy-to-read book about just navigating life!”

Fourth Wing (The Empyrian Book 1) by Rebecca Yarros READ
“It’s been a while since I’ve read, and enjoyed, a good dragon-lore fantasy book – and this one has everything you want: a competitive school for dragon riders, an establishment that mistakenly believes one thing/ ignores other realities, and a punches-above-her-weight protagonist who everyone (including her) underestimates yet rises to the top. I couldn’t put it down! And am eagerly awaiting book two, which comes out later this year.” 

The Royal We by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan READ
“I heard about these books on a podcast, and was skeptical about a good royal romance inspired by William and Kate… good for magazines but a book? really?! However this book is a fun (and addictive) read. Which is not surprising, as the authors are the writers of one of the internet’s longest-standing and most popular fashion blogs. (I immediately followed this book with the sequel The Heir Affair, which completes the story.)” 

…from Sagar Dhawan, engineering

Circuit Superstars from Original Fire Games PLAY
“Gaming is my sanctuary where I unwind, declutter my thoughts, and bond with friends. I’m drawn to games that share a common thread: they are deceptively simple, but their gameplay loops offer endless entertainment with dizzyingly high skill ceilings. Circuit Superstars hides an exciting pursuit of perfection under straightforward racing mechanics, transforming every moment on the track into a thrilling chase for world records.”

Hades from Supergiant Games PLAY
“Hades is a deep and diverse adventure where every gameplay hour unfolds a unique narrative and a distinct run-through, making it an endless journey into a captivating world. Hades 2 should be out this year.”

Rocket League from Psyonix PLAY
“Rocket League merges simplicity with complexity: it’s car soccer with brief, five-minute matches, yet the skill ceiling is astronomically high, constantly challenging players and offering limitless room for growth.”

…from Shari Doherty, marketing team

Outlive: The Science and Art of Longevity by Peter Attia, MD READ
“For my summer reading, I’m shifting gears from web 3.0 to medicine 3.0, and working my way through Peter Attia’s thought-provoking and actionable read on living longer and healthier.”

…from Jay Drain, Jr, deal team

Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin READ
“Gabrielle Zevin’s tale of gaming, love, friendship, tragedy, early adulthood, and the ups and downs of building an industry-defining company. The author somehow depicts designing game engines and personal relationships with the same level of remarkable detail. I couldn’t put this one down and recommended it to nine people (including a couple folks on our team!)… EVERY single person loved it.”

…from Angel Gehr, editorial team

Outlive: The Science and Art of Longevity by Peter Attia, MD READ
“An incredibly well-written explainer on how to live longer, better. The book breaks down the ways that we’ve failed to make progress against major diseases, explains why exercise is the most important pro-longevity option out there, and offers actionable tips for approaching aging well with ease.”

…Emily Graff, Crypto Startup School operations team

Killers of the Flower Moon by David Grann READ
“An account of the murders of wealthy Osage Native Americans in the 1920s. The author exposes a deep and sickening conspiracy that lasted much longer than the FBI previously thought. I read it in two days; I couldn’t put it down.”

…from Robert Hackett, editorial team

SPQR: A History of Ancient Rome by Mary Beard READ
“A guided tour through the intricate evolution of Roman civilization. Spanning nearly a thousand years from Rome’s mythic origins to its foundational monarchy, through the tumultuous republic era, and into the age of emperors, Beard vividly portrays the struggles for power and systemic changes that marked a world-defining time. There’s murder, intrigue, politics, revolutions – an especially compelling read for anyone interested in building or experimenting with new systems of governance.”


The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom from Nintendo PLAY
“I’ve been playing the Zelda series since I was a kid. The franchise never disappoints. Tears of the Kingdom is no exception. Nintendo somehow managed to create a perfect – and I mean perfect – sequel to Breath of the Wild.”

…from Liz Harkavy, investing team

When we cease to understand the world by Benjamín Labatut READ
“A work of fiction based on real events that explores the intersection of science, philosophy, and the human psyche. The narrative delves into the lives of several prominent scientists and mathematicians, presenting a complex tapestry of human aspiration, discovery, and its often unintended consequences. It showcases how groundbreaking scientific discoveries have driven some of the brightest minds to the brink of madness as they grapple with the implications of their work – and the anxieties that emerge when technology advances beyond human understanding.”

…from karmacoma, engineering team

Hacker’s Delight, Second Edition by Henry Warren, Jr. READ
“This book offers a truly delightful collection of bit twiddling techniques. While a lot of the techniques may seem esoteric, they are in fact more applicable than ever to smart contract optimization.”

TIS-100 from Zachtronics PLAY
Like most Zachtronics games, TIS-100 is designed to be crack for engineers. This one stands out in particular because of the use of mock assembly, the retro design and the engaging programming problems.”

…from Brett Kim, engineering team

Chainsaw Man by Tatsuki Fujimoto READ
“Genuinely a brilliant coming-of-age story, chock-full of breathtaking battles and complex, imperfect, ever-evolving characters that will keep you on the edge of your seat the entire way.”

Rimworld from Ludeon Studios PLAY
“An AI storyteller plunges you into a Sci-Fi Old West half-colony sim, half-“The Sims” style survival game with new twists and turns each time.”

…from Scott Duke Kominers, research team:

The Honjin Murders by Seishi Yokomizo READ
“This Seishi Yokomizo mystery novel unwinds like clockwork, with a structure so perfect that it’s puzzling right up until the final note. Particularly appropriate for fans of classic “Golden Age” mystery writers – especially John Dickson Carr and Gaston Leroux.”

Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke READ
“Susanna Clarke’s debut novel is a brilliant magical-realist fantasy about the interplay between theory and practice. Relevant for anyone who’s ever dreamed of studying or doing real-world magic.”

Working by Robert Caro // Draft No. 4: On the Writing Process by John McPhee READ
“Two extraordinary and highly complementary collections of essays about the philosophy and process of writing. In Working, Robert Caro teaches us how he researches and composes ultra-detailed histories over decades. Draft No. 4, meanwhile, presents John McPhee’s strategies for crafting creative nonfiction and overcoming writer’s block.”

The Structure of Scientific Revolutions by Thomas Kuhn READ
“This 1962 classic led to a paradigm shift in our understanding of the scientific process, and has shaped our thinking for more than half a century. Essential reading for anyone hoping to understand – and potentially challenge – the sources of the intellectual status quo.”

…from Ross Shuel, networking operations team

Until The End of Time: Mind, Matter, and Our Search for Meaning in an Evolving Universe by Brian Greene READ
Until The End of Time weaves together astrophysics and philosophy into a stunningly profound narrative. It tells the story of the Cosmos from its conception to its eventual conclusion, while wrestling with fundamental questions of human meaning and free will along the way.”

…Helen Stoddard, events team

Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth READ
“Both engaging in its storytelling examples, and very detailed in its actions and path to have more grit – the book is both a great read and a great learning tool.”


…Porter Smith, deal and networking operations teams

The Making of the Atomic Bomb by Richard Rhodes READ
“A kaleidoscopic, winding narrative of the progression of nuclear physics at the beginning of the 20th century through its ultimate application concluding WWII. Rhodes illuminates the elegant creativity physicists supplied in exploring the structure of the atom, a journey that unfolds in unexpected ways against the backdrop of looming hostilities in Europe. From the discovery of the atomic nucleus to the little known story of Italian marble’s place in unlocking fission, Rhodes intricately fits the pieces of the atomic puzzle together through the experiences of the cadre of Nobel Prize-winning scientists – often emigres fleeing persecution in Nazi Germany – who foresaw the dawn of a new era.”

…from Sam Gelt, deal team

Wavelength from Asmodee PLAY
“This game is a great way to break the ice and get some very interesting and obscure (but heated) debates going. It’s easy to play, and works great for couples or large groups. I definitely recommend it for your next date night or dinner party!”

…from Tim Sullivan, editorial team

What We Owe to Each Other by T.M. Scanlon READ
“I finally read Tim Scanlon’s magnum opus this year. (It was published in 1998.) It’s well worth your time, laying out the basis for Scanlon’s theory of contractualism: the proposition that to act morally is to abide by principles that no one could reasonably reject. Scanlon explores the question: What are the duties we have toward one another? And if the book gets too heavy and technical at some points – as it did for me! – then you can just binge the TV comedy The Good Place, for which Scanlon’s philosophy served as the guiding light.”

Transformative Experience by L.A. Paul READ
“Paul, an academic philosopher (yes I was on a kick this year), makes a startling proposition: our usual mode of making decisions about the future – rationally choosing based on our preferences – is deeply flawed, especially when it comes to some of life’s biggest choices. Those choices – from the decision to have children to what job to pursue – will transform who we are and what we might want, inherently changing our preferences. What to do then? Paul argues that “authentic” living involves relishing experiences in light of the choices we make.”

…from Stephanie Zinn, editorial team

Please Kill Me: The Uncensored Oral History of Punk by Legs McNeil and Gillian McCain READ
“Not exactly a hidden gem, but this book – originally released in 1996 and again in 2016 – is the origin story of a genre-defining group of musicians. The authors collected hundreds of interviews with the likes of Joey Ramone, Lou Reed, and Iggy Pop – which can be noisy, messy, grim, and moving. Just like the music. A tip: assemble a playlist as you go, and be sure to include any influences mentioned, from Elvis to the Doors.”

The One Ring from Fria Ligan PLAY
“A tabletop RPG set in Tolkien’s universe. Think Dungeons and Dragons – but Gandalf is a non-player character and “Fool of a Took!” is the most powerful insult at your disposal. There are also some interesting resources and mechanics, like the encroaching shadow, which can corrupt your character over time if left unchecked. Watch all the films (or read the books if you’re feeling ambitious) to brush up on your lore before playing with friends.”