This year was full with good books.
I got to some books by mistake (e.g. Girl with a pearl earring during a trip to Zion national park) and others after getting a warm recommendation. Here is the list of the ones that I like most. There were at least ~12 other books that I didn’t like and stopped in the middle, but I guess, it’s part of life.
One of the best papers I read this year (again) was “Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System”. The paper is quite short (only 8 pages without the references) but every word there counts and it’s giving a total picture of this powerful invention. It’s much bigger than ‘just’ cash system and in the future we will see this technology breakthrough changing many industries.
OK, let’s jump to the books.
I read this book many years ago and after talking with a friend about how wide was its influence, I decided to read it again.
The trigger for our conversation was the quote that WhatsApp used to in as an answer to ‘Why aren’t you using ads in WhatsApp?’:
“Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy shit we don’t need.”
Some cool history stuff.
The book contains a lot of great ideas like:
- “It’s only after we’ve lost everything that we’re free to do anything.”
- “I don’t want to die without any scars.”
- “The things you used to own, now they own you.”
Bottom line, I recommend it with or without the movie.
I am an old friend of Amos Decker. So it was fun to read a little bit more about him. Amos is an interesting fellow and Baldacci is revealing more about him in each book. The fix is a good one, an easy read with enough twists and turns to keep you finishing it quickly and with a smile.
Not an easy book but full of good ideas.
Reflecting the emperor’s own self-sacrificing code of conduct, this work draws the tradition of Stoicism, which stressed the search for inner peace and ethical certainty in an apparently chaotic world.
As Taleb said, always try to read books that are really old as you gain the quality filtering of history. This one is from A.D. 121–180 so it’s the oldest for this year. One of the great quote I got from it was in a middle of 22 mile run: “The happiness of your life depends upon the quality of your thoughts.”
A Man for All Markets
A great book on trading and math. The ‘hero’ is the genius mathematician Edward O. Thorp. He was the one who invented blackjack card counting. His remarkable success, forced casinos to altered the rules of the game to thwart him. More importantly and impressive (IMHO) is that fact that he is the father of quantitative finance. In this book, he tells the story of what he did, how he did it and what made him passion about it. It’s the curiosity that has always driven him to disregard conventional wisdom and devise game-changing solutions to ‘insoluble’ problems. It was also fun to learn that he was the first person to design and build a ‘wearable’ computer that helped him beat the roulette game.
Born A Crime
Trevor Noah is a true genius with an amazing life story. I read the book over a (long) weekend and got the chance to tell my kids lots of stories from this wonderful work. It is a story about his life and the hard aspects he faced during crazy times. He got a brilliant sense of humor so even in the darkest times he found the funny moments and makes you laugh. A lot. His personal story about shitting in his grandmother kitchen is something that will take an Oscar if it will be on the big screen.
One of the best quotes from this book is “We spend so much time being afraid of failure, afraid of rejection. But regret is the thing we should fear most. Failure is an answer. Rejection is an answer. Regret is an eternal question you will never have the answer to”. It’s a specially true for entrepreneurs who wish to start something new.
I knew Ray Dalio from 2009-2010. My brother and I started to think about hedge funds and we did our research. Quite quickly we learn about the ‘rockstars’ of this industry (e.g. Simons, Icahn, Soros, Paulson) but one that we admire most was Ray. His openness in an industry that keep everything a secret was astonishing. You can read more about my thought on the book in this post.
It’s a real (unbelievable) personal story of Pino Lella. A young Italian teenager who wants nothing to do with the war or the Nazis. He started the war by joining the underground where he helped Jews escape over the Alps to Switzerland. From one step to another he become the personal driver of Hans Layers which is reporting to Hitler. The story tells how is manage to spy for the allies and his relationships with Hans, Anna (his love) and his family. During the book, you keep thinking it can’t be a real story. But it is all happen in Europe only 60 years ago.
Another book that I came into it with low expectations but it was a really nice surprise.
The master of biographies Walter Isaacson wrote this book based on the newly released personal letters of Albert Einstein. It is a long one but worth it. I liked the parts where he shows Einstein’s life as a regular person that is dealing with challenges we all know.
The Subtle Art Of Not Giving A F*ck
I didn’t thought I’ll read this one but after a conversation with a friend (over a good wine), I decided to give it a try. Mark Manson (THE blogger) cuts through the crap to show how to stop trying to be “positive” all the time so that you can truly become better and happier. Manson makes the argument, backed by academic research and old jokes, that improving our lives is not about our ability to turn lemons into lemonade, but by learning to handle lemons better. Learn to deal with the ‘special’ taste and don’t try to cover it with ton of sugar.
Bottom line, there are only very few things we can care about, so we need to figure out which ones really matter. Focus only on these.
“True wealth is about experience”. I can’t agree more.
Hell Divers I & II
This two books containing a good story that I shared with my kids as a starter to some good conversations. It’s this type of science fiction, that you can relate and see how it’s one option in the future. It’s a story about friendship. A good one.