Deep Books

Supported by Greenhaven Road Capital, finding value off the beaten path.

I saw this:

And thought, that’s interesting let’s see what people suggested. Hmm, let me write some of these down. Huh I wonder if there are any patterns here. Here are three observations from looking at the 152 replies to the tweet above.

Book success follows a power law distribution.

chart (3).png
Number of Amazon reviews for the suggested books, n=152

In the Increasing Returns Economy post/podcast, we looked at Brian Arthur’s work and one of his major points was that managers need to recognize their economic ecosystem, optimization or innovation. Beach trips require different acts, steps, and plans than ski trips. Innovation, Arthur wrote, requires commando units to move fast and break things. Optimization requires hierarchy and efficiency.

Tren Griffin has written similar things about books, advising for only missionaries to write them. Much like DIY investing, unless there’s something extra in it for you, you’re likely better off spending your time on something else.

There was also a recency bias towards books.

chart (4).png

One-third of the suggestions were books published since 2016. It could be the case that the best “deep’ instead of ‘broad’ book(s) have been published in the last two years. But it could also be the recency bias. This mental shortcut is something Sam Hinkie, Marc Andreessen, Gina Martin Adams, Barry Ritholtz, and Micahel Mauboussin all caution against.

In compiling this data and drafting this post I got my own dose of the sunk cost tendency. First I listed the books, then I thought the number of reviews might indicate a good place to start, then I thought if I’ve done this much work let’s turn it into a post.

If you’re looking for something to read, here are some suggestions. These are all Amazon Affiliate links.

Most Amazon Reviews. How to Win Friends and Influence People, When Breath Becomes AirBeing Mortal, Devil in the White CityZealot, and, The Untethered Soul.

Hidden Gems. These I calculated; years since publication/number of reviews. So something a few years old but with many reviews would rank higher here. The top ones not yet mentioned were, Dark Money, The Undoing Project, Shoe Dog Evicted, and Brain on Fire.

Oldest. Some deadlifters advocate for older books, preferring books that weather the test of time. Those oldies but goodies were Modern Man in Search of a Soul, Children of the Ashes, The Arms of Krupp, and The Structure of Scientific Revolutions.

You may have missed. These are books a few years old but with a healthy quantity of reviews. Class, Empire of Cotton, TheTao of Physics, The Beginning of Infinity, and Debt.

Patrick’s reviews.

Empire of Cotton. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Ficciones ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
The Luxury Strategy ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Dream Big ⭐️⭐️1/2

Happy reading, see the full list here.

5 thoughts on “Deep Books”

  1. Some of the book listings contain errors. For example, Essence of Decision by Allison was published in 1971, not 1999.


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