My Bookshelf

The Autodidact’s Library and the Infovore’s Dilemma

Anthony Bardaro
Mar 12 · 11 min read
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What follows is my virtual bookshelf, which keeps a tally of all the books I’ve read during my enlightenment 😏 and ranks them in order of the impact they’ve had upon me personally. This is a living, breathing document that’s sure to grow and evolve as long as I myself remain a living, breathing organism who’s growing and evolving. In other words, I’ll revisit this page and make additions/edits as I finish new titles. But first, a few notes…

Back on January 1, 2011, my New Year’s Resolution was to read 100 books in 5 years. 61 months later, I achieved just that: In 2016, I celebrated my century club achievement. Long term goals are hard to reach. So much had (and has) changed in my life over those years, so I feel really accomplished, having clung to the self-motivation needed to stay committed to learning and growing. More importantly, I don’t think the time-commitment has come at the expense of real living or relationships — even in the years since that milestone, throughout which I’ve kept chugging. Rather, it’s been an enriching experience that’s both catalyzed new relationships and breathed new life into old.

Obviously, the measure by which I’ve ranked these titles, “impact”, is highly qualitative. For me, it conveys a combination of enjoyment and ROI, inspiration and motivation. That’s all dependent on the highly idiosyncratic conditions of my professional life cycle and personal development — a fuzzy kind of formula that weighs each book’s effect on me at the time of my reading it and, to a lesser extent, its resonance unto me up through the present.

In some way, this represents half the discipline of my post-academic self-administered education. (The other half is largely the digital content I consume, which I’ve saved and annotated with Annotote.) If business and writing are the outlets of my intellectual curiosity, then consumption and reading are the inputs. From the time these efforts expend of my days and nights, they yield multiples in professional and personal self-improvement.

Learning today is less and less confined to physical classrooms, yet we still limit the quantification of individuals’ qualifications to formal academic settings and accreditations, because heuristics. It seems like cognitive dissonance to continue ignoring the knowledge that individuals consume outside of the classroom and throughout their lives. Technology’s proliferation of free, accessible knowledge has incited opportunities around self-education today — much like the printing press in the 15th century. Since our education is increasingly derived from these informal channels, the intellectually curious deserve credit for their true quantum of knowledge. From “What If We Quantified Knowledge”:

…the reason potential energy matters in physics is because it may predicate kinetic energy, future action, economic value. Just like a stretched elastic stores potential energy, a critical mass of “information” accumulated by an individual stores economic value.

As an input, this quantum merely represents potential energy, which wholly lacks its own scoreboard — unlike its output, the kinetic energy, which is not only prominently manifest in real economic value, but also accounted for in real financial capital. Given the present system’s compounding flaws, which increasingly reward the arbitrageurs of academia’s structural inefficiencies and misincentives, a codification of this grey market for knowledge is increasingly necessary as a complement, supplement, and/or replacement of the status quo. (Likely more of the former two and less of the latter one, but it’d at least be useful to have some objective data with which we can study the broader corpus of knowledge and learning — to improve the precision of human capital, capital allocation, and education.)

That all said, my growing wish list might be the best indicator of my ambition; I’m perhaps more proud of what I haven’t read, than what I have. From Nassim Taleb in The Black Swan:

…a private library is not an ego-boosting appendage but a research tool. Read books are far less valuable than unread ones. The library should contain as much of what you don’t know as your financial means, mortgage rates and the currently tight real-estate market allows you to put there. You will accumulate more knowledge and more books as you grow older, and the growing number of unread books on the shelves will look at you menacingly. Indeed, the more you know, the larger the rows of unread books. Let us call this collection of unread books an antilibrary.

As you’ll notice below, my content diet is relatively balanced. Albeit skewed toward non-fiction, it’s a decidedly liberal arts mix of history, philosophy, psychology, technology, physics, and business. These broad categories lay at the intersection of my aptitude and my interest.

Enjoy, and please respond with an inventory of your own bookshelves. Regardless of the medium — text, audio, video — please share your own recommended curriculum from the past, present, and future.

Without further ado, my list…




  1. Lords of Finance: The Bankers Who Broke the World (Liaquat Ahamed)
  2. When Genius Failed: The Rise and Fall of Long-Term Capital Management (Roger Lowenstein)
  3. Fooled by Randomness (Nassim Taleb)
  4. The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine (Michael Lewis)
  5. Chaos and Order in the Capital Markets (Edgar Peters)
  6. The Hard Thing about Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers (Ben Horowitz)
  7. More Money Than God: Hedge Funds and the Making of a New Elite (Sebastian Mallaby)
  8. Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future (Peter Thiel)
  9. The Ascent of Money: A Financial History of the World (Niall Ferguson)
  10. Paris 1919: Six Months That Changed the World (Margaret MacMillan)
  11. Antifragile: Things That Gain from Disorder (Nassim Taleb)
  12. The Art of Racing in the Rain (Garth Stein)
  13. eBoys: The First Inside Account of Venture Capitalists at Work (Randall Stross)
  14. Fool’s Gold: How the Bold Dream of a Small Tribe at J.P. Morgan Was Corrupted by Wall Street Greed and Unleashed a Catastrophe (Gillian Tett)
  15. Steve Jobs (Walter Isaacson)
  16. The Last Days of Night [Edison/Westinghouse/Tesla] (Graham Moore)
  17. The House of Morgan: An American Banking Dynasty and the Rise of Modern Finance (Ron Chernow)
  18. Market Wizards: Interviews with Top Traders (Jack Schwager)
  19. The Match King: Ivar Kreuger (Frank Partnoy)
  20. The Dead Hand: The Untold Story of the Cold War Arms Race and Its Dangerous Legacy (David Hoffman)
  21. The pmarca Blog Archives [select posts, 2007–09] (Marc Andreessen)
  22. Margin of Safety (Seth Klarman)
  23. In The Plex: How Google Thinks, Works, and Shapes Our Lives (Steven Levy)
  24. The Innovator’s Dilemma (Clayton Christensen)
  25. Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan, and Bin Laden, from the Soviet Invasion to 9/11/2001 (Steve Coll)
  26. The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos & the Age of Amazon (Brad Stone)
  27. Thinking, Fast and Slow (Daniel Kahneman)
  28. The Master Switch: The Rise and Fall of Information Empires (Tim Wu)
  29. The Myth of the Rational Market (Justin Fox)
  30. Choose Yourself (James Altucher)
  31. Hedge Fund Market Wizards (Jack Schwager)
  32. The Lean Startup (Eric Ries)
  33. Drive: The Surprising Truth about What Motivates Us (Daniel Pink)
  34. Hardcore History: The Wrath of the Khans [Parts I-V] (Dan Carlin)
  35. Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of Nike (Phil Knight)
  36. The Accidental Superpower: The Next Generation of American Preeminence and the Coming Global Disorder (Peter Zeihan)
  37. The Three-Body Problem [Remembrance of Earth’s Past, Book I] (Cixin Liu)
  38. Alexander Hamilton (Ron Chernow)
  39. Dark Pools: High-Speed Traders, A.I. Bandits, and the Threat to the Global Financial System (Scott Patterson)
  40. American Kingpin: The Epic Hunt for the Criminal Mastermind Behind the Silk Road (Nick Bilton)
  41. The Panic of 1907: Lessons Learned from the Market’s Perfect Storm (Robert Bruner and Sean Carr)
  42. Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup [Elizabeth Holmes and Theranos] (John Carreyrou)
  43. Bold: How to Go Big, Create Wealth & Impact the World (Peter Diamandis)
  44. Liar’s Poker (Michael Lewis)
  45. Contagious: Why Things Catch On (Jonah Berger)
  46. The Innovators: How a Group of Hackers, Geniuses, and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution (Walter Isaacson)
  47. Never Lost Again: The Google Mapping Revolution That Sparked New Industries and Augmented Our Reality (Bill Kilday)
  48. The Black Swan (Nassim Taleb)
  49. The Upstarts: How Uber, Airbnb, and the Killer Companies of the New Silicon Valley Are Changing the World (Brad Stone)
  50. Why Does the World Exist? An Existential Detective Story (Jim Holt)
  51. The End of Wall Street (Roger Lowenstein)
  52. The Alpha Masters (Maneet Ahuja)
  53. The Last Tycoons: The Secret History of Lazard Freres (William Cohan)
  54. Marissa Mayer and the Fight to Save Yahoo! (Nicholas Carlson)
  55. Chaos Monkeys: Obscene Fortune and Random Failure in Silicon Valley (Antonio Garcia Martinez)
  56. The Dark Forest [Remembrance of Earth’s Past, Book II] (Cixin Liu)
  57. Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption (Laura Hillenbrand)
  58. Who Owns the Future? (Jaron Lanier)
  59. The Quants (Scott Patterson)
  60. The Alchemy of Finance (George Soros)
  61. McMafia (Misha Glenny)
  62. Alibaba: The House That Jack Ma Built (Duncan Clark)
  63. Growth Hacker Marketing: A Primer on the future of PR, Marketing, and Advertising (Ryan Holiday)
  64. Hatching Twitter (Nick Bilton)
  65. Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind (Yuval Noah Harari)
  66. Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future (Ashlee Vance)
  67. The New Market Wizards: Conversations with America’s Top Traders (Jack Schwager)
  68. Confessions of a Street Addict (Jim Cramer)
  69. Traction: A Startup Guide to Getting Customers [Duck, Duck, Go] (Justin Mares and Gabriel Weinberg)
  70. Console Wars: Sega, Nintendo, and the Battle that Defined a Generation (Blake Harris)
  71. The Soul of a New Machine [Data General] (Tracy Kidder)
  72. Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis (J.D. Vance)
  73. WTF?: What’s the Future and Why It’s Up to Us (Tim O’Reilly)
  74. Reminiscences of a Stock Operator (Edwin Lefevre)
  75. All the Devils Are Here: The Hidden History of the Financial Crisis (Bethany McLean and Joe Nocera)
  76. Poor Economics: A Radical Rethinking of the Way to Fight Global Poverty (Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo)
  77. Creative Selection: Inside Apple’s Design Process During the Golden Age of Steve Jobs (Ken Kocienda)
  78. The Futures: The Rise of the Speculator and the Origins of the World’s Biggest Markets (Emily Lambert)
  79. Too Big to Fail (Andrew Ross Sorkin)
  80. The Little Book That Still Beats the Market (Joel Greenblatt)
  81. Freakonomics (Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner)
  82. Den of Thieves (James Stewart)
  83. Red Notice (Bill Browder)
  84. Grand Pursuit: The Story of Economic Genius (Sylvia Nasar)
  85. The Smartest Guys in the Room: The Amazing Rise and Scandalous Fall of Enron (Bethany McLean)
  86. The Alchemist: A Fable about Following Your Dream (Paulo Coelho)
  87. Abraham: A Journey to the Heart of Three Faiths (Bruce Feiler)
  88. Lords of Strategy: The Secret Intellectual History of the New Corporate World (Walter Kiechel)
  89. Inside the Black Box: A Simple Guide to Quantitative and High Frequency Trading (Rishi Narang)
  90. The First Tycoon: The Epic Life of Cornelius Vanderbilt (T.J. Stiles)
  91. Exponential Organizations (Salim Ismail)
  92. The Tiger: A True Story of Vengeance and Survival (John Valliant)
  93. The Idea Factory: Bell Labs and the Great Age of American Innovation (John Gertner)
  94. The Signal and the Noise (Nate Silver)
  95. The Launch Pad: Inside Y Combinator (Randall Stross)
  96. The New New Thing: A Silicon Valley Story [Jim Clark’s Silicon Graphics/Netscape/Healtheon] (Michael Lewis)
  97. Hardcore History: The Blueprint for Armageddon [Parts I-VI, World War I] (Dan Carlin)
  98. Mogul: The Life & Death of Chris Lightly [legendary hip-hop manager] (Gimlet Media)
  99. Powerhouse: The Untold Story of Hollywood’s Creative Artists Agency [CAA] (James Andrew Miller)
  100. The Fifth Risk [The Trump Administration’s transition and the attack on the US federal government by ignorance and neglect] (Michael Lewis)
  101. Writing My Wrongs: Life, Death, and Redemption in an American Prison (Shaka Senghor)
  102. The Last Hunger Season: A Year in an African Farm Community on the Brink of Change (Roger Thurow)
  103. Losing the Signal: The Untold Story Behind the Extraordinary Rise and Spectacular Fall of BlackBerry (Jacqui McNish and Sean Silcoff)
  104. Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood (Trevor Noah)
  105. Atlas Shrugged (Ayn Rand)
  106. The Alchemists: Three Central Bankers and a World on Fire (Neil Irwin)
  107. The Attention Merchants (Tim Wu)
  108. The Immortal Irishman: The Irish Revolutionary Who Became an American Hero (Tim Egan)
  109. Masters of Doom (David Kushner)
  110. Who Is Michael Ovitz? [Autobiography of Creative Artists Agency/CAA] (Michael Ovitz)
  111. Creativity, Inc. [Pixar] (Ed Catmull)
  112. The Spider Network [LIBOR rigging scandal] (David Enrich)
  113. The Pentagon’s Brain: An Uncensored History of DARPA (Annie Jacobson)
  114. 3 Kings: Diddy, Dr. Dre, Jay-Z, and Hip-Hop’s Multibillion-Dollar Rise (Zack O’Malley Greenburg)
  115. Street Smarts (Jim Rogers)
  116. SuperFreakonomics (Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner)
  117. Diary of a Hedge Fund Manager (Keith McCullough and Richard Blake)
  118. Abundance: The Future Is Better Than You Think (Peter Diamandis)
  119. My Life as a Quant: Reflections on Physics and Finance (Emanuel Derman)
  120. The Last Lecture (Randy Pausch)
  121. What’s Mine Is Yours: The Rise of Collaborative Consumption (Rachel Botsman and Roo Rogers)
  122. Flash Boys (Michael Lewis)
  123. Modern Monopolies: What It Takes to Dominate in the 21st Century Economy [tech platforms] (Alex Moazed and Nicholas Johnson)
  124. The Jersey Brothers: A Missing Naval Officer in the Pacific and His Family’s Quest to Bring Him Home (Sally Mott Freeman)
  125. Behind the Cloud [] (Marc Benioff)
  126. The War of Art (Steven Pressfield)
  127. Barbarians at the Gate (Bryan Burrough)
  128. The End of Big: How the Internet Makes David the New Goliath (Nicco Mele)
  129. Good to Great (Jim Collins)
  130. The Revolt of the Public and the Crisis of Authority in the New Millennium (Martin Gurri)
  131. Hit Refresh: The Quest to Rediscover Microsoft’s Soul and Imagine a Better Future for Everyone (Satya Nadella)
  132. A Hedge Fund Tale of Reach and Grasp (Barton Biggs)
  133. Platform Revolution: How Networked Markets Are Transforming the Economy (Geoffrey Parker)
  134. A Tale of the Vienna Woods: Eine Geschichte Aus Dem Wienerwald (Anthony Arena)
  135. Little Black Stretchy Pants [lululemon] (Chip Wilson)
  136. Life After Google: The Fall of Big Data and the Rise of the Blockchain Economy (George Gilder)
  137. Tao Te Ching [Dao De Jing] (Laozi)
  138. Manias, Panics, and Crashes: A History of Financial Crises (Charles Kindleberger)
  139. My Life in Advertising (Claude Hopkins)
  140. Boomerang: Travels in the New Third World (Michael Lewis)
  141. Startupland: How Three Guys Risked Everything to Turn an Idea into a Global Business [Denmark’s Zendesk] (Mikkel Svane)
  142. One Up On Wall Street (Peter Lynch)
  143. Built to Last (Jim Collins)
  144. The World Is Flat (Thomas Friedman)
  145. Leap First: Creating Work That Matters (Seth Godin)
  146. The Most Important Thing (Howard Marks)
  147. Wealth, War & Wisdom (Barton Biggs)
  148. Trillion Dollar Coach: The Leadership Playbook of Silicon Valley’s Bill Campbell [CEO whisperer] (Eric Schmidt, Jonathan Rosenberg, and Alan Eagle)
  149. The Startup of You (Reid Hoffman and Ben Casnocha)
  150. Meditations (Marcus Aurelius)
  151. The $100 Startup (Chris Guillebeau)
  152. Principles: Life and Work [Bridgewater] (Ray Dalio)
  153. Manuscript Found in Accra (Paulo Coelho)
  154. Business Adventures (John Brooks)

Your digital library

Don’t waste everything you read, watch, or listen to — and definitely don’t waste your time. There’s a network that gives you highlights of everything you need to read and lets you annotate anything you want for yourself. For the content worth keeping, check out Annotote:

All signal. No noise. Annotote.

Thrive Global

More than living. Thriving.

Anthony Bardaro

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“Perfection is achieved not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away...” 👉

Thrive Global

More than living. Thriving.