Timur Badretdinov, Founder of Longcaller, Speaks of the Uniqueness and Value of Books

Timur Badretdinov is the founder of Longcaller, a project with human-readable cryptocurrency reviews, without bullsh*t. The idea behind Longcaller is to provide educational pieces on the topics of blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies, that Timur`s been actively researching. It started as a standalone website, and it`s now expending on Medium. I met Timur thanks to the IndieHackers community, where he talked about his launch on Producthunt back in March and why it didn`t work out. Keep on reading and you`ll find out more about Timur`s favorite books, what he learned from them, and his system for choosing what books to read next.

What’s your favorite book and why? Business and non-business, if possible.

I would like to make an introduction by stating the reason why I love books. You see, there are lots of forms of content, and in the era of the Internet it’s even more: blog posts, Youtube videos, even Twitter threads. Of course, each one of them has its own advantages. But the reason I love books is that they are thorough and fundamental. They give you the big picture and make you really think about a topic. Every piece of content is great, but most of it lacks depth. And books in that manner are unique and truly valuable. This question is really tough. Looking at my Goodreads profile, I see a handful of 5-stars. I would say my favorite book is Freakonomics. I like it for two reasons. First, this book is full of interesting facts, and that makes it exciting. Second, the whole book is a paradigm shift. After you read, you’ll look at the world around you differently. I guess that one goes as non-business. As for the business book, I can recommend Getting Real, especially if you want to make a web app. The book is easy to read. The best way to read it is to start an application and try to apply as much as you can do. I guarantee you that you learn a lot from it.

Was there a moment, specifically, when something you read in a book helped you? Can you tell me about it?

I think that’s the case with Lean Startup. The whole idea of the book is that you have to run A/B tests for your products. Now, when I add some change to the site, I think about how to A/B test that. If someone asks on the forum “Should I do this feature? Will people pay me for it?”, all I want to say is “Just test it!”. Of course, with the low user base, it is usually impossible to run the tests. But when you grow bigger, A/B tests is a must-have.

What books had the biggest impact on you? (perhaps changed the way you see things, dramatically changed your career path)

Great question. For me, it definitely My Life and Work by Henry Ford. I even wrote a blog post about it. Henry Ford tells his story in a simple and enjoyable manner. Its filled with clear insights. If you want to start a company or just interested in entrepreneurial mindset, I totally recommend it to you.

What five books would you recommend to youngsters interested in your professional path? Why? (no number limit here)

I wish I could define my career path, huh. Honestly, I am still searching my path, but I can recommend great books for two careers, programming and writing, as I spend a lot of time doing both, as a hobby and as a profession. As for programming, I’d recommend The Passionate Programmer. As for language-specific books, I’d recommend not to read them. They are usually boring and outdated. I’d suggest enrolling in a coding course or just googling things. I wrote a blog post about learning programming. As for writing, there are writing fiction and writing non-fiction. I was surprised that most of the books about writing are all about writing fiction. Another thing that strikes me that all these books contain the same information. Anyway, I’d recommend reading the classics — On Writing Well by William Zinsser.

I’m interested in finding out more about your reading habits. How often do you read? In what format?

I am definitely not a systematic reader. Usually, I quickly read a book or two, and then drop it entirely for months. I read most of the books on my ebook reader. I think it’s amazing: its slim, can hold thousands of books, and keeps the charging for weeks or months. I don’t “read” audiobooks, and I don’t listen to podcasts either. It’s just me personally can’t grasp the information by audio.

How do you make time for reading?

Finding time is the hardest challenge for me. Articles are easy because they are short and can be consumed in little time slots. Books are much harder. They are lengthy and require long sessions of concentrated reading. I know there are people who manage to read books in quick sessions, but I am definitely not one of them. That’s why the only way for me to read books is during a commute. It’s hard to do anything else, and no one distracts you. I also try to read before bedtime but have varying success with it.

Do you take notes or have any other technique for conquering the torrent of information?

I am a very lazy person. I know that taking notes makes the reading much more efficient, but I almost never do so. I naively rely on my memory and the ability of my brain to quickly retrieve information in the right context. Sometimes it works, and sometimes, well, it doesn’t.

How do you choose what books to read next?

From most important to the least: signals from influencers, peer advice, and recommendation systems. First, I pay close attention to what influencers recommend. Honestly, I don’t like the word “influencers”. Let’s call them industry leaders. One of such leaders is Vitalik Buterin, creator of Ethereum. From what he writes and makes, I am sure he knows his stuff. If he recommends some book in one of his blog posts, I’ll likely read it. Second, I note recommendations from my friends. They are similar to me, usually interested in the same things, so I like what they like. I don’t pay much attention to recommendation systems. In my opinion, recommending a book is too hard for AI, but I think that will change in the future. Computers become smarter, after all. Also, one thing that is very important to me is how often the book is mentioned. If I hear about the book from three friends, I’d rather read it that the one that was recommended by the blogger once.

Do you prioritize the books recommended by certain people? Is there anyone that you consider a book-recommendations guru?

As I said earlier, I really look for recommendations from certain people. As for book-recommendations guru, honestly, I don’t like that. People should recommend books specific to their domain, otherwise, they just optimize for pleasing as many people as possible. That is just my opinion, of course.

Last question: what book are you currently reading and what are you expecting to gain from it?

I’m reading the book that was published only in Russian. The title can be translated as Number One: How to become the best at what you do. It’s written by famous Russian marketer Igor Mann. I expect to get his framework of becoming the best in one’s niche. I hope to apply it to my own path.
Links where you can follow Timur Badretdinov or find out more about his projects:
  • Longcaller
  • Follow Timur`s blog
  • Connect with Timur on Twitter
  • Timur`s IndieHackers article: `How to launch on Product Hunt and drown in the sea of products`

  • All books mentioned by Timur Badretdinov in this interview: