2018 Books

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

The (hindsight) theme for this year was continuing education. In years past I might read one book and bounce to another like Tigger the tiger might move through the Hundred Acre Wood. This year I was more like Pooh, childlike and curious. 

Current economies. Though not a book, Brian Arthur’s paper was insightful and Modern Monopolies was a framework with examples. The Gorilla Game though dated is still helpful. Breaking Smart is page-for-digital-page the best book I read this year. Videocracy is the choice for wrapping your head around YouTube.

Single stories. A Truck Full of Money is the story of Kayak, but even better, it’s written by Tracy Kidder. Made in America is the story of Walmart. Springfield Confidential is the (partial) story of The Simpsons. Reacher Said Nothing is the (academic) story of Jack Reacher. At Work is a collection of Annie Leibovitz pictures and stories. To Pixar and Beyond is the (CFA) story of Pixar. Creativity Inc. is the (CEO) story of Pixar. The Long Haul is the story of America from a trucker’s perspective. Buffett by Lowenstein was better than expected, and I probably should have read sooner.

Marketing. Take your pick of a David Ogilvy book, my favorite is Ogilvy on Advertising. I also recommend Rory Sutherland on YouTube and Terry O’Reilly on the podcast Under the Influence. Win Bigly is ‘persuasion in a world where facts don’t matter.’ Hit Makers for the subjectivity of popularity. Hidden in Plain Sight by Jan Chipchase for finding thick data because “The best way to understand how a culture adopts (or doesn’t adopt) an innovation is to go there and see it for yourself.”

History. The Worldly Philosophers filled in a gap I’d had about Malthus, Mill, Veblen, and Keynes and their economic ideas. Ditto for Churchill and Orwell, a snappy set of stories about each. For only Churchill check out Hero of the Empire, about the Boer War. Chasing the Scream is a how we got to now story of addiction.

Misc. Mastermind by Maria Konnikova is what you’d expect if you enjoy her New Yorker articles and Sherlock Holmes (I do!). Best State Ever if you want to laugh at, and with, Floridians. Thinking in Bets for decision making from a poker perspetive.

Fiction. City of Thieves is written by David Benioff of Game of Thrones, advocated by Brian Koppelman and read by Ron Pearlman – I loved it. The Midnight Line – or any Jack Reacher book. Norse Mythology, Gaiman and the old stories.

The movie was better than the book. Factfullness was championed by Bill Gates but Hans Rosling’s enthusiasm sparkles in video. Gridiron Genius was good but Lombardi’s podcast is better. The Good Neighbor is the story of Mr. Rogers, and though I haven’t seen the movie I probably have in most of the alternative histories.

Thanks for reading.

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