What I Read (and Tried to Read) in 2017: Jan-Apr
Managed to finish my 10th book of the calendar year today, and wanted to quickly sum up and share my thoughts. Included also at the bottom are books I started reading but couldn’t manage to finish (for a variety of reasons) — let’s see if they’re still there in a few months!
What I loved:
- Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion: You’d think that after years of being exposed to Ariely stuff, I’d find this book more of the same — nope, informative and entertaining as heck.
- The Art of Strategy: A Game Theorist’s Guide to Success in Business and Life: (Pleasantly) surprised at the level of depth the book goes into without (but treading incredibly close to) being overly academic.
- How Not to Be Wrong: The Power of Mathematical Thinking: Again — pleasantly surprised at the level of depth some chapters go into, and was quite happy with how the book introduced new ideas based off of old concepts.
- Narconomics: How to Run a Drug Cartel: Ever since Freakonomics was published, there have been quite a few books published which seek to mask their mediocrity by simply appending the -nomics suffix. This book is not one of them. On the contrary, lots of fascinating and useful insights, and a very breezy read.
What I liked:
- Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind: Good overall. Some of the narratives presented seem pretty intuitive though. Or maybe it’s a result of good writing. I’m actually not sure — might have to reread again sometime.
- Black Edge: Inside Information, Dirty Money, and the Quest to Bring Down the Most Wanted Man on Wall Street: Fascinating read. Even better if you watch the show Billions concurrently.
- A Man for All Markets: Again, fascinating read. Reads like a Feynman narrative, although could’ve been more solid if the author did away with the couple chapters on random musings and boasts.
- The Unwinding: An Inner History of the New America: Overly detailed at times, but perhaps that’s what it takes for the reader to fully empathize with the characters depicted and to reflect upon the implications of the financial crisis. Good read.
What I didn’t mind:
- 腾讯传 (“The Story of Tencent”): Informative, but the writing (and the author’s ability to deliver original and insightful perspectives) is at least half a tier below the good biographers/journalists. Still, a must-read though, as it is likely better than any of the other Tencent narratives out there.
- Dueling with Kings: High Stakes, Killer Sharks, and the Get-Rich Promise of Daily Fantasy Sports: Informative and entertaining, and not much more — but that’s pretty much what I expected going in.
What I started but didn’t finish (some of which I intend to pick up again though):
- The Attention Merchants: The Epic Scramble to Get Inside Our Heads
- Barbarians at the Gate: The Fall of RJR Nabisco
- On Writing Well: The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction
- Postwar: A History of Europe Since 1945
- The Revenge of Analog: Real Things and Why They Matter
- The Signals Are Talking: Why Today’s Fringe Is Tomorrow’s Mainstream
- White Trash: The 400-Year Untold History of Class in America
- Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity, and Poverty
That sums up the first 4 months of the year! Let’s see where we are in a few months.