Every Book On My Bookshelf

There’s too many books out there, and too little time.

This page shows every book on my bookshelf, along with single sentence summaries, ratings, and any commentary.

Hope this helps you quickly discover what you might want to read next.

Blue means I’ve read it. Grey means it’s sitting on my shelf but haven’t read yet. Images are shown for books rated 4.5/5 and above. 

For a more visual view, check out my annual single sentence summary lists: 2020, 2019, 2018.

12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos, Jordan Peterson, 2018: There are subtle truths about the human psyche to be learned from narratives, even mythological and religious ones. (4/5) 

The 4 Disciplines of Execution, Chris McChesney and Sean Covey, 2012: Whether it’s a personal or business goal; focus on the wildly important, set lead not just lag metrics, use a compelling scorecard, and ensure a cadence of accountability. An excellent read – probably one of the best on productivity and project management, rich with practical ideas and examples. (4/5)

The 4 Hour Workweek, Tim Ferris, 2006: The point of being rich is to be able to do interesting things, rather than own enviable things. A classic for the “new rich” seeking to build an enriching life powered by passive income, and even for those that aren’t it’s nonetheless entertaining to read. (4/5)

The 48 Laws of Power, Robert Greene, 2000: While you don’t have to employ dirty tricks, it’s still worth knowing so that you can better handle situations when others try to manipulate you. A bit depressing reading the author’s dark views of human nature, but there’s ill-intending people out there so worth reading to be able to protect yourself from manipulation. (3.5/5)

50 Economics Classics, Tom Butler-Bowdon, 2017: Deeply rooted economic ideologies are difficult to dislodge even with compelling data. Since I don’t have time to read all of the economics classics directly, I’ve found summaries like this helpful for: quickly grasping key ideas, as well as how those key ideas have been received and evolved over time. (4/5)

50 Philosophy Classics, Tom Butler-Bowdon, 2013: Human inquiry into the ultimate truth should extend beyond what’s provable by the scientific method. Similar to above, reading this is an efficient way to quickly grasp key ideas from the classical texts that influenced history. (4/5)

50 Politics Classics, Tom Butler-Bowdon, 2015:  Throughout history people have wanted similar things (freedom, security etc) – the challenge is finding the right balance for the right place at the right time. (4/5)

50 Psychology Classics, Tom Butler-Bowdon, 2007: Research results on how we can think, act, interact, and live better are clear; one just needs to have the initiative to read up on them. Value you get from book is more on seeing how our understanding of psychology has changed over time – how various psychologists influenced others and society at the time – rather than getting the latest practical insights. (3.5/5)

The 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey, 1989: Be proactive, work backwards, focus, think win-win, seek to understand others, synergise, and sharpen the saw. Such a classic that you’ve probably already come across most of the ideas – in that case just read the chapters most relevant to you. (4/5)

Africa’s Business Revolution, Acma Leke et al, 2018: While riddled with its unique regional challenges, business opportunities in Africa are underrated. Neatly written and very well structured presentation of compelling evidence, as expected from a book authored by McKinsey partners. When I read this I was convinced that Africa now is like Asia 50 years ago – rich in raw materials, high population growth etc. Now I realize it’s not that simple, and the reality of the African content is very different to Asia’s. (4/5)

Against the Gods: The Remarkable Story of Risk, Peter Bernstein, 1998: Although dull on the surface, modern insurance and financial markets much better appreciated after learning about how we got here: from Fibonacci introducing the Hindu-Arabic numbering system to Europe in the 1200s, to Bernoulli’s notion of utility, and Gauss on distributions and errors in the 1700s. (4/5)

The Age of Revolution: 1789 – 1848, Eric Hobsbawm, 1962: There’s a pattern in political revolutions: a moderate middle class mobilizes the masses, some of the masses become extreme, some of the original moderates split off into conservative group. (4.5/5)

The Age of Capital: 1848 – 1875, Eric Hobsbawm, 1975 

The Age of Empire: 1875 – 1914, Eric Hobsbawm, 1987

The Age of Extremes: 1914 – 1991, Eric Hobsbawm, 1994 

AI Superpowers, Kai-Fu Lee, 2018: Among the many reasons why China is poised to lead the world in AI implementation, one is the vast pool of quality tech entrepreneurs. Despite the author’s obvious pro-China bias, was eye-opening to get a glimpse of Chinese entrepreneurship environment and its stark contrast to Silicon Valley. (4/5) 

The Alchemy of Growth, Mehrdad Baghai and Stephen Coley and David White, 1999: Companies need to nurture a healthy pipeline of ‘Horizon 2’ emerging businesses and ‘Horizon 3’ pilots to sustain growth over longer time periods. A classic that still holds relevance today, but as with most business books, reading just the article should suffice for most roles. Worthwhile reading the book if you’re a management consultant or in a strategy role though. (3.5/5)

Algorithms to Live By, Brian Christian and Tom Griffiths, 2015: From time complexity to game theory, familiarity with basic computer science concepts can help us immensely in work and life. I’m surprised that this book hasn’t reached more people – it’s added incredibly powerful mental tools into my arsenal. (4.5/5) 

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll, 1865: Carroll’s work and ideas frequently referenced in philosophy and metaphysics so I intend to read this original…one day… 

American Kingpin: The Epic Hunt for the Criminal Mastermind Behind the Silk Road, Nick Bilton, 2017 

And The Weak Suffer What They Must? Europe’s Crisis and America’s Economic Future, Yanis Varoufakis, 2016

Antifragile, Nassim Taleb, 2012: The opposite is fragile is not robust, but antifragile; and antifragile systems thrive in volatility. To date, it’s the book that most influenced the way I think. (5/5) (my book notes

The Art of Success, James Melouney, 2016: Leverage the many lessons and nuggets of wisdom from the brilliant minds of the past to help lead you to success. A good collection of quotes from famous figures of the past, but wish it was a bit more organized. (3/5)

The Art of Travel, Alain de Botton, 2002

The Art of War, Sun Tzu, 5th century BC: If you know yourself, your enemy, and the terrain; the battle is already won before it is even fought. I’ve always been fascinated by military strategy as I’m convinced that is game theory being played at the highest stakes and pressure. The trick is knowing when and how to apply the metaphors from this classic into everyday life and work. (4.5/5) 

Ascent of Money: A Financial History of the World, Niall Ferguson, 2008:  (4/5)

Atomic Habits, James Clear, 2018: Build better habits with 4 simple steps: make it obvious (cue), attractive (craving), easy (response), and satisfying (reward). Not only is this hands down the best book on habits, it’s probably the best self-help book I’ve ever read. The guy was a blogger so he writes with impeccable clarity too. (5/5) 

Autonomy: Quest to Build Driverless Car and How It Will Reshape Our World, Lawrence Burns, 2018

Bad Blood, John Carreyrou, 2018: Employees: quit if you have a psychopathic boss, not worth it; investors: conduct proper due diligence; future villains: learn how to charm people to contain a lie for a terrifying long time. The Theranos story will continue to be told over the next few decades and this book captured it pretty well. (3.5/5)

Baghdad: City of Peace, City of Blood – A History in Thirteen Centuries, Justin Marozzi, 2014 

Barbarians at the Gate: The Fall of RJR Nabisco, Bryan Burrough and John Helyar, 2005 

The Barefoot Investor, Scott Pape, 2016: Intend to skim over this and see if there’s any novel personal finance worth knowing. 

Barking Up the Wrong Tree: The Surprising Science Behind Why Everything You Know About Success Is (Mostly) Wrong, Eric Barker, 2017 

Becoming Wise: An Inquiry into the Mystery and Art of Living, Krista Tippett, 2016

The Bed of Procrustes, Nassim Taleb, 2010: Think for yourself because a lot of the conventional wisdom out there is just wrong. Written in the typical angry Taleb tone, some unconventional nuggets of wisdom in here, as well as plenty others I don’t agree with – either way, a worthwhile read. (3.5/5)

Behave, Robert Sapolsky, 2017:  Human behaviour is incredibly complex: much of our decisions are influenced by what was going on seconds, minutes, hours, days, months, years, and even generations before the event. A bit technical in some sections, but worth pushing through as it’s like 30 psychology books packed into one and more. (4.5/5) 

Being Mortal, Atal Gawande, 2014: Modern healthcare has steered too heavily on seeking treatment that merely prolongs life, even if it makes the reminder of one’s life miserable. Really makes you re-think about what the whole point of living is. (4/5)

Big Debt Crises, Ray Dalio, 2020: Deleveragings of a bubble become beautiful when stimulative (prining money and currency devaluation) and deflationary (austerity and defaults) levers are moved in a balanced way. (4/5) 

The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine, Michael Lewis, 2010 

Billion Dollar Whale, Tom Wright & Bradley Hope, 2018: Craving fame and respect, financial crime mastermind Jho Low steals billions from Malaysia’s sovereign wealth fund. It’s like Asian Wolf of Wall Street, but in the scale of billions (not just tens of millions) – entertaining, sickening, and fascinating going through how he pulled it off. (3.5/5)

The Biology of Belief, Bruce Lipton, 2005: Given we’ve moved on from the dogma of genetic determinism and towards recognising gene-environment interactions, it’s now important to realise that our own mindset is one of these environmental factors. (3.5/5)

The Black Swan, Nassim Taleb, 2007: People repeatedly underestimate the likelihood and impact of extreme events (black swans). (4.5/5) 

Blitzscaling, Reid Hoffman, 2018: Oftentimes, taking calculated risks to prioritise speed over efficiency sets up a business for sustainable expansion. (4/5)

Blood and Sand, Frank Gardner, 2006

Book of Dead Philosophers, Simon Critchley, 2008  

A Brief History of Time, Stephen Hawking, 1991: Scientists working on what the universe is (quantum theory of gravity) are too preoccupied to ask why it exists, while philosophers that ask why have not been able to keep up with the latest scientific developments. (4/5) 

Brotopia, Emily Chang, 2018: Toxic sexism in tech companies is more prevalent than we hear as it’s terrifying for women to speak up; both men and women must stand up to it when we see it. (4/5)

Business Adventures, John Brooks, 1969: The common practices and legal frameworks in which businesses and markets operate in today can be better understood by studying business case precedents. Despite being Warren Buffet and Bill Gates’ all-time favourite business books, I found it so-so… maybe because the stories are from such old companies I’m not familiar with… will probably give it another go later in life. (3.5/5)

Business Model Generation, Alexander Osterwalder and Yves Pigneur, 2010: The right half of Osterwalder’s popular BM canvas (value prop, relationships, channels, segments, rev) are about value, while the left half (value prop, activities, resources, partnerships, cost) are about efficiency. (4/5)

Can We Avoid Another Financial Crisis? (The Future of Capitalism), Steve Keen, 2017 

Capital in the Twenty-First Century, Thomas Piketty, 2013: Once the rate of return of capital (r) exceeds the rate of output and income growth (g), capitalism produces unsustainable inequalities. Liked that the charts go back much further in time than what I’ve typically seen (1800s), but too many pages were on the methodology, and describing charts rather than highlighting insights, so I discontinued halfway. (3/5)

Capitalism Without Capital: The Rise of the Intangible Economy, Jonathan Haskel and Stian Westlake, 2017: Intangibles, the “dark matter of investment”, are all too often neglected in valuations and in measuring progress. (4/5)

The Challenger Sale, Matthew Dixon and Brent Adamson, 2011: The most effective salespeople focus on teaching their customers something new and reframe the problem they have, while the least effective salespeople just focus on building the relationship. I owe this book credit for helping me close some key deals in my sales and customer success roles at tech start-up I’m at – a must read if you’re in any client-facing role! (4/5)

Change By Design, Tim Brown, 2009: Design thinking brings a harmonious balance of feasibility, viability, and desirability into the heart of the most impactful projects and products. Love design thinking, but the book was just so so. (3.5/5)

Changing World Order: Why Nations Succeed or Fail, Ray Dalio, 2021. Studying the archetypical rise and fall of empires provides us an insight into broader patterns that unfold over several generations. (4.5/5)

Chaos, James Gleick, 1989: Just as the discipline-specific language once challenged scientists from conceptualising chaos theory, the practical challenge now is being able to see chaos in daily life when it is there. (4.5/5) 

The Code of the Extraordinary Mind, Vishen Lakhiani, 2016: Much of our beliefs are outdated, and much like a computer, we need to continually rewrite our models of reality (hardware) and ways of living (software). (4/5)

Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed, Jared Diamond, 2006

The Communist Manifesto, Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, 1848: While it’s well known that Marx argued that worker exploitation will persist so long as class structure persists, perhaps it’s less known that Marx never really specified how a socialist economy should work. Read this classic because many economic/ politics books were contradicting each other about what Marx said so I wanted to see for myself… there’s not much in here… probably need to read the much thicker Das Kapital to get better grasp on Marxist ideas. (3/5)

Complexity, Melanie Mitchell, 2011: Once one learns the basics about the complexity – emergence, self-organising, chaos, non-linearity, entropy, computation, networks, scaling etc – it becomes apparent that it is one of the most powerful mental models to help make sense of the world. (4.5/5) 

Constants of Nature: The Numbers That Encode the Deepest Secrets of the Universe, John Barrow, 2002 

Copernicus Complex: Our Cosmic Significance in a Universe of Planets and Probabilities, Caleb Scharf, 2014

The Courage To Be Disliked: The Japanese Phenomenon That Shows You How to Change Your Life and Achieve Real Happiness, Ichiro Kishimi and Fumitake Koga, 2019

Creativity Inc, Ed Catmull, 2013: Maintaining a culture of creativity requires the art of delicately balancing becoming the project you’re working on while maintaining a higher level perspective. (3.5/5)

Culture Map: Breaking Through the Invisible Boundaries of Global Business, Erin Meyer, 2014

Currency Wars: The Making of the Next Global Crisis, James Rickard, 2011

Customer Success, Nick Mehta et al, 2016: In the recurring revenue SaaS world, customer loyalty built on relationships alone is insufficient – customer health needs to be relentlessly monitored and value needs to be proactively added. Very useful and relevant in my customer success role… worthwhile read to anyone that wants to better understand SaaS. (3.5/5)

Daily Stoic, Ryan Holiday, 2016: Wisdom is predicated on how see things, make decisions, and deal with what’s out of our control. (4/5)

Dear Ijeawele, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, 2017: Simple adjustments to the way we think and act in everyday life, will make the world our daughters grow up in so much better. (4/5)

Death and Life of Great American Cities, Jane Jacobs, 2002

Debt, David Graeber, 2014: Eurasian history cycles between periods of credit and money (gold/silver): Agrarian Age credit (3500BC-800BC), Axial Age money (military-coinage-slavery complex) (800BC-600AD), Middle Age credit (600-1450), Capitalist Age money (1450-1971), and now (1971-present) the petro-US-dollar credit system. (4.5/5) (summary HERE)

Deep Medicine: How Artificial Intelligence Can Make Healthcare Human Again, Eric Topol, 2019

Deep Work, Carl Newport, 2016: Learning complex things or producing craft requires distraction-free concentration – and this takes conscious effort to master. (3.5/5)

Deng Xiaoping, Ezra Vogel, 2011: Open up to the world, trade goods and ideas, but also recognise that not everything that worked in the West will necessarily work in China. Deng Xiaoping was the leader of China in the 80s, and he’s the one that opened China up to the world. So studying his biography was an excellent way to understanding modern China. (4.5/5)

Descartes’ Error: Emotion, Reason, and the Human Brain, Antonio Damasio, 1994 

The Design of Everyday Things, Don Norman, 1988

Destiny Disrupted: A History of the World Through Islamic Eyes, Tamim Ansary, 2010: It’s important to learn both versions of world history: the unfamiliar narrative based on what Muslims think happened, and the familiar narrative told by the post-industrialized Western domain. (5/5)

Devil Take the Hindmost: A History of Financial Speculation, Edward Chancellor, 1996: Tells the stories behind historical bubbles, including: the South Sea Bubble of 1720, Railway Mania of 1845, The Crash of 1929, the Japanese Bubble Economy of the 1980s, and more. The structure, sequence, and features of speculative euphorias have always been the same. (4/5)

Disciplined Entrepreneurship, Bill Aulet, 2013: Select a target market, define problem, iterate solution with customers, design business model, map out customer acquisition process, identify and and test key assumptions. (4/5)

Dispensable Nation: American Foreign Policy in Retreat, Vali Nasr, 2013

Domesticated: Evolution In A Man-Made World, Richard Francis, 2016: Understanding the by-products of domestication in animals reveals the sociological by-products in our own self-domestication of Homo sapiens. (4/5) 

Doughnut Economics, Kate Raworth, 2018: The assumptions behind the neoliberal economic framework has been ignored by too many, too often, for too long, and it’s about time we popularize models that better integrates sustainability. (4.5/5) 

Drunk Tank Pink: The Subconscious Forces that Shape How We Think, Feel, and Behave, Adam Alter, 2010  

Economics: The User’s Guide, Ha Joon Chang, 2014: Withholding author’s blatant bias towards certain economic schools, it’s still a good book on understanding the similarities and differences in different economic schools of thought. (4/5) 

The Economics Book, DK, 2012: Economic theories have always been contentious and difficult to prove, so it is essential to appreciate the contextual conditions under which each theory developed, and consider economics as life-long learning. Flow charts and visuals makes this a useful, digestible introduction to economic ideas that influenced history… great to quickly know what you don’t know, allowing you to move onto richer more detailed sources elsewhere to continue learning. (3.5/5)

Economyths: How the Science of Complex Systems is Transforming Economic Thought, David Orell, 2010

Ego Is The Enemy, Ryan Holiday, 2016: Get over yourself and you’ll be happier and will get a better vision of the truth. (4/5)

Education of an Idealist, Samantha Power, 2020: The world is filled with broken places, and you can use your position of power to pick your battles and go win some. (4/5)

Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future, Ashlee Vance, 2015 

Emotional Intelligence 2.0, Travis Bradberry and Jean Greaves, 2009 

The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer, Siddhartha Mukherjee, 2010

The End of History and the Last Man, Francis Fukuyama, 1992 

End of Poverty: Economic Possibilities for Our Time, Jeffrey Sachs, 2005 

Endless Forms Most Beautiful: The New Science of Evo Devo, Sean B Carroll, 2006 

Energy and Civilization, Vaclav Smil, 2017: Much of humanity’s progress can be directly attributed to the phenomenal strides in the return multiple of energy out versus energy in. (4/5)

Enlightenment Now, Steven Pinker, 2018: Reason, science and human qualities has led us to the best time to be alive in human history, so let’s preserve these 3 things to make tomorrow even better. (4.5/5) 

Essays in Love, Alain de Botton, 1993: What makes intimate romantic relationships so difficult are the same challenges we face becoming mature: honest self-reflection about your deepest insecurities, forgiving others etc. (4.5/5) 

Euro: How a Common Currency Threatens the Future of Europe, Joseph Stiglitz, 2016: Despite its good intentions, the singular Euro currency undermines European integration. (4/5)

The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon, Brad Stone, 2013 

Evolution of Desire, David Buss, 1998: Our failure to understand the paradoxical nature of human mating is costly (both scientifically and socially) and so, we must go back into our evolutionary past to understand our mating strategies through the context of survival. (4/5) 

The Fabric of the Cosmos: Space, Time, and the Texture of Reality, Brian Greene, 2004

Factfulness, Hans Rosling, 2018: Yes, there are still many terrible things in the world, but let’s acknowledge how far we’ve come, and be conscious of the common mistakes we make when looking at data. I can see why Bill Gates offered a copy of this book to every US college graduate in 2018… eye-opening insights on the world, lessons on interpreting data, supported by highly relevant personal experiences from the author to tie it all together… this is the book I’ve recommend most often to friends. (5/5) 

My fav read of 2018

Fascism: A Warning, Madeleine Albright, 2018

Fate of Food: What We’ll Eat in the Bigger, Hotter, Smarter World, Amanda Little, 2019 

Fifty Inventions That Shaped The Modern Economy, 2017: The breakthroughs that had substantial flow-on effects originated in all sorts of places, caught on due to all sorts of reasons, and all created winners and losers along the way. (4/5)

Figuring, Maria Popova, 2020: Beauty – from poetry to stories to art – is often more effective at capturing and transmitting scientific truths than facts and numbers. (4/5) 

Financial Markets, Glen Arnold, 2012: A basic grasp of the role financial institutions, financial markets, and recent history (e.g. deregulation in 80s saw emergence of new types of derivatives) brings us one step closer to understanding how the world works. It’s a textbook… which is exactly what I was looking for as my lack of a formal commerce/business/economics/finance tertiary education always made me feel like I don’t know enough about the topic matter… I got what I wanted from the book. (3.5/5)

Fingerprints of the Gods: The Evidence of Earth’s Lost Civilization, Graham Hancock, 1996: We should remain open-minded about the possibility of an advanced civilization that existed that much earlier than the established historical consensus. (3/5)

Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House, Michael Wolff, 2018 

Firms of Endearment: How World-Class Companies Profit from Passion and Purpose, Raj Sjodia et al, 2003 

The First and Last Freedom, J. Krishnamurti, 1975: When the mind seeks truth, caution must be taken not to celebrate merely re-discovering self-projected ‘truths’. Some incredibly deep insights that I’ve never read anywhere else before, but a tad too spiritual and difficult to follow along… the hardcore-scientific-rational type would probably dislike this. (3.5/5)

Fooled By Randomness, Nassim Taleb, 2011: Intelligence is not about seeing patterns, rather, being able to recognise false patterns. (4/5)

A Force For Good: The Dalai Lama’s Vision for Our World, Daniel Goleman, 2015: Imagine what the world would be like if everyone was just that little bit more compassionate towards each other. Agree with the key message, however nothing new or particularly interesting. (3/5)

The Forgotten Continent: A History of the New Latin America, Michael Reid, 2017

Foundation Series – Foundation, Isaac Asimov, 1951: I’m convinced that the intimate dance between politics, science, economics, and society transcends the boundaries of fiction. (4/5)

Foundation Series – Foundation And Empire, Isaac Asimov, 1952 

Foundation Series – Foundation And Empire, Isaac Asimov, 1952 

Foundation Series – Second Foundation, Isaac Asimov, 1953 

Foundation Series – Foundation’s Edge, Isaac Asimov, 1982 

Foundation Series – Foundation And Earth, Isaac Asimov, 198

Foundation Series – Prelude To Foundation, Isaac Asimov, 1988 

Foundation Series – Forward The Foundation, Isaac Asimov, 1993 

The Four: The Hidden DNA of Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google, Scott Galloway, 2018 

Four-Dimensional Human: Ways of Being in the Digital World, Laurence Scott, 2015 

Freakonomics, Steven Levitt, 2005: When we look at how incentives drive human behaviour, we can see that many big effects have unexpectedly subtle causes. One of the most entertaining reads to date, and boosted my interest in transdisciplinarity and psychology. (4.5/5) 

From Silk to Silicon: The Story of Globalization Through Ten Extraordinary Lives, Jeffrey Garten, 2016

From Third World to First: The Singapore Story: 1965-2000, Lee Kuan Yew, 2000: Singapore survived, emerged, and flourished from barely nothing by skillfully navigating the dynamics of domestic and international dipolicy. (4.5/5) 

The Future Is Asian, Parag Khanna, 2018: Just as Western powers recede into isolationist policies, the East is accelerating its global reach and influence. It’s like 100 articles rich in socioeconomic stats packed into one book, so very useful for getting an update on what’s happening in Asia, regardless of whether you agree with the author’s conclusions or not. (4/5)

The Future of Humanity, Michio Kaku, 2018: Intelligent life will continue to do incredible things, and perhaps even be able to outsmart the inevitable death of the universe itself. (4/5)

The Gene, Siddhartha Mukherjee, 2010: An old sin of biology is to confuse the definition of a feature with the feature itself. (4/5)

Give People Money, Annie Lowrey, 2018: Upcoming technologies will further escalate the wealth inequality problem and there is some data in favour of a universal basic income to alleviate this. Was expecting detailed case studies supporting universal basic income as I am still in process of drawing a conclusion on it, but lacked the rigor and substance… not worth reading at all. (2/5)

The Goal, Eliyahu Goldratt, 1984: The goal is throughput (sales) not output (production); also keep an eye on inventory and operational expenses; and optimize for global not local bottlenecks. Book is actually written like a novel and surprisingly entertaining… a worthy classic for wrapping your head around key concepts in operations. (4/5)

The God Delusion, Richard Dawkins, 2006

Godel Escher Bach, Douglas Hofstadter, 1979: Mental caution must be taken when one questions the logic of logic – mathematical paradoxes, circularity, self-referencing, infinite loops, nested logic, recursive functions etc – for they are dangerously fascinating, and cognitively infinite. (5/5)

Good to Great, Jim Collins, 2001: Disciplined people, thoughts and actions builds up a flywheel (momentum) that leads to breakthroughs. (4/5)

The Granularity of Growth: How to Identify the Sources of Growth and Drive Enduring Company Performance, Patrick Viguerie et al, 2007 

The Great Game: On Secret Service in High Asia, Peter Hopkirk, 1993: Anglo-Russian rivalry in late 19th century Central Asia was driven by mutual paranoia over their colonial territories. An excellent read for understanding the broader context of the recent US withdrawal from Afghanistan. (5/5)

Growth, Vaclav Smil, 2018: Whether we’re concerned with the spread of pandemics or economic growth, it’s important to understand the scientific first principles governing growth trajectories. (4/5)

Guns Germs & Steel, Jared Diamond, 1997: Looking beyond proximate factors such as technology, initial geographic advantages is likely the most upstream explanation for Eurasians conquering American and African natives rather than the reverse. (4.5/5) 

The Hard Thing About Hard Things, Ben Horowitz, 2014: Entrepreneurship and leadership is not for everyone so “if you’re going to eat shit, don’t nibble”. (4.5/5) 

High Output Management, Andy Grove, 1983: Training your team is not a waste of time – it’s one of the highest managerial leverage yielding activities. Perfect for those just entering middle management and leading a team for the first time. (4/5)

The History of the World, Frank Welsh, 2011: Revising mainstream Western-centric history helps answer two questions: what stories are being told wholesale, and why is this the case. Wasn’t expecting it to be mind-blowing, and it wasn’t, but I got exactly what I wanted from it. (3/5)

A History War in 100 Battles, Richard Overy, 2014: The elements of military strategy – leadership, technological innovation, speed, deception – transcend context and time. (3/5)

Homo Deus, Yuval Harari, 2015: If humans don’t actually have free will the technological and social megatrends coming our way will spur unprecedented changes. (4.5/5) 

How Asia Works, Joe Studwell, 2013: Asian tiger formula: first agriculture (especially land reforms), then manufacturing (to build export discipline), then financial sector interventions that focus capital on productive sectors with high future profits (not just high immediate profits). (4.5/5) 

How Google Works, Eric Schmidt, 2014 

How Money Works: The Facts Visually Explained (How Things Work), DK, 2017 

How Proust Can Change Your Life, Alain de Botton, 1997

How the World Works, Noam Chomsky, 2011: So many world events – including supporting the most horrible dictators – were intentionally driven by US political and business interests. Most of the book is Chomsky revealing the atrocities of US, so a bit of a downer to read. Despite this, I’m still convinced that the US is the least evil superpower the world has ever seen. (4/5)

How to Avoid a Climate Disaster: The Solutions We Have and the Breakthroughs We Need, Bill Gates, 2021: Most climate conversations focus on sustainable electricity generation (accounts for 27% of greenhouse gases), but a more holistic view incorporating industrial production (31%), agriculture (10%), transport (16%), heating & cooling (7%), is necessary to move forward. (4.5/5)

How To Change Your Mind, Michael Pollan, 2018: Understanding the science and shifting cultural norms about certain psychedelics sheds new light on how the mind works, and how to get even more from it. Altered states of consciousness are notoriously difficult to articulate with the limitations of language. As an investigative journalist, Pollan nails it. The book also does an excellent job of revealing the recent history of psychedelics – the subcultures and counter-cultures – to the facts and myths on what effects these substances really have on the brain. (4.5/5)

How To Win Friends And Influence People, Dale Carnegie, 1936: Humans are extremely emotional creatures; learn how to account for this to be more influential. I’m incredibly grateful I read this in my early 20s as I credit it for playing an indispensable role in building an incredible network of genuine friendships. Even though the book was written some time ago, there is a reason why it continues to be read by so many today. Human nature is rather persistent. (4/5)

Hue 1968: A Turning Point of the American War in Vietnam, 2017, Mark Bowden

Hundred-Year Marathon: China’s Secret Strategy to Replace America As the Global Superpower, Michael Pillsbury, 2015

I Am A Strange Loop, Douglas Hofstadter, 2007

I Am Malala: How One Girl Stood Up for Education and Changed the World, Malala Yousafzai, 2013

Immortality Key: Uncovering the Secret History of the Religion with No Name, Brian Muraresku, 2020: Psychedelics played a key role in Greco-Roman religious ceremonies before they were suppressed by the Roman Christians. (4/5)

Infinite Powers: How Calculus Reveals the Secrets of the Universe, Steven Strogatz, 2019 

Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, Robert Cialdini, 2006

The Information, James Gleick, 2011: From spoken language to the Mesopotamian cuneiform, telegraph to telephone, Turing to Shannon; as our way of thinking about information changes, our thinking about many other fields also change. (5/5)

Best read of 2020

Innovator’s Dilemma, Clayton Christensen, 1997: Disruptive technologies often gain traction in low-margin niches, a zone where market-leading incumbents stay away from – this is why so few companies manage to disrupt themselves before it is forced on them by emerging players. (3.5/5)

Inspired, Marty Cagan, 2018: Coordinate people through proven processes to discover and address value, usability, feasibility and business viability risks. Some say it’s like the product manager’s bible and I probably agree – must read for anyone working in or close to product management. (4/5)

Inside Private Equity, James Kocis, 2009: It pays to understand the distinguishing details behind performance measurements, in the world of private equity, particularly so with IRR. Was curious about private equity, and its increasing influence in global finance in recent decades, so a textbook like this helped me wrap my head around the industry. Mostly helping me get to know what I don’t know. (4/5)

Introduction to the Theory of Complex Systems, Peter Kilmek, 2018. It’s a textbook so quite technical. But I intend to do a deep dive on the detailed math behind complex systems over the next few years. 

Iron Curtain: The Crushing of Eastern Europe 1944-1956, Anne Applebaum, 2012

Islam: A Short History, Karen Armstrong, 2000

Jack Ma & Alibaba: A Business And Life Biography, Yan Qicheng, 2017

Just Cool It!: The Climate Crisis and What We Can Do – A Post-Paris Agreement Game Plan, David Suzuki, 2017 

Killing Us Softly: The Sense and Nonsense of Alternative Medicine, Paul Offit, 2013: The placebo effect from alternative medicines is undeniable, but most alternatives generally do more harm than good. (4/5)

King of Capital: The Remarkable Rise, Fall, and Rise Again of Steve Schwarzman and Blackstone, David Carey and John Morris, 2010

Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don’t, Simon Sinek, 2014 

Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead, Sheryl Sandberg, 2013: Gender inequality unfortunately persists and probably will continue to for a while; there’s lots that both men and women can do to minimise it in the mean time. Understandably many mixed responses from this book – hardcore feminists accuse it for not asking men to do/change more… however, once you read it and understand the unfortunate reality of how difficult systematic changes are, Sandberg’s approach seems pretty sensible. (4/5)

The Lean Startup, Eric Ries, 2006: Any effort incurred that does not provide benefit to the customer is a waste. (4/5)

Lessons Of History, Will Durant, 1968: While history smiles at all attempts to force post-hoc theoretical patterns, there is still much to learn from its reoccurring rhymes. Incredible read if you already have some (4/5)

Letters From A Stoic, Seneca, 64AD  

Letters From Burma, Aung San Suu Kyi, 1997 

Liar’s Poker: Rising Through the Wreckage on Wall Street, Michael Lewis, 1989 

Life 3.0: Being Human in the Age of Artificial Intelligence, Max Tegmark, 2017: Given the way intelligence works, it’s clear that general artificial intelligence will eventually arrive; for better or worse, we need to prepare and have these important discussions now. (4.5/5)

The Like Switch: An Ex-FBI Agent’s Guide to Influencing, Attracting, and Winning People Over, Jack Schafer and Marvin Karlins, 2015

Linchpin: Are You Indispensable?, Seth Godin, 2010 

Long Walk To Freedom, Nelson Mandela, 1995: A stubbornly persistent non-violent approach is so effective because it shames the oppressors. (4/5)

Lords of Finance: The Bankers Who Broke the World, Liaquat Ahamed, 2009

MacArthur’s War: The Flawed Genius Who Challenged The American Political System, Bevin Alexander, 2013 

Makers: The New Industrial Revolution, Chris Anderson, 2012 

Making the Modern World: Materials and Dematerialization, Vaclav Smil, 2013: While relative dematerialisation has been a global trend, we’ll continue to rely on key materials for the foreseeable future: concrete, metals, plastics, and fertilisers. More of a fact dump – steel productions numbers etc – and less of a book with insights… some useful things in here but laboriously dry to read. (3/5)

Man And His Symbols, Carl Jung, 1968: Living a good life requires truly understanding yourself, and truly understanding yourself requires bridging the gap between the personal conscious, personal unconscious, as well as the collective unconscious. (4.5/5)

The Man Who Solved the Market: How Jim Simons Launched the Quant Revolution, Gregory Zuckerman, 2019

Man’s Search for Meaning, Victor Frankl, 1946: “Suffering is an ineradicable part of life, without it, human life cannot be complete.” (5/5) (summary HERE)

A Manual For Cleaning Women: Selected Stories, Lucia Berlin, 2015

Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media, Noam Chomsky, 1988

Mastery, Robert Greene, 2012

The McKinsey Way, Ethan Rasiel, 1999: Complex problems can be broken into smaller parts, analysed, then reassembled (synthesised) into actionable insights. Oh god don’t read this… forinsights on how management consultants think just google ‘McKinsey 7 steps problem solving.’ (1/5)

Measure What Matters, John Doerr, 2018: OKRs (objectives and key results) helps bring focus, alignment, and commitment on the goals that truly matter. (4/5)

Meditations, Marcus Aurelius, 180AD

Megachange: The World in 2050, The Economist, Daniel Franklin, 2012: Of the forecasted megatrends, the second-order effects of population ageing in rich countries seems to most underestimated. (2/5)

Megatech: Technology in 2050, The Economist, Daniel Franklin, 2018: Entertaining speculations on future tech never hurts, but it’s more accurate when grounded by knowledge in physics (4 fundamental forces, relativity, gauge invariance, quantum mechanics etc). (4/5)

Merchants of Truth: Inside the News Revolution, Jill Abramson, 2019 

Metaphors We Live By, George Lakoff, 2002: Inspecting and questioning the metaphors that pervade our language, can improve our thoughts, actions, and therefore outcomes. (3.5/5)

The Misbehavior of Markets: A Fractal View of Financial Turbulence, Benoit Mandelbrot, 2006: From Modern Portfolio Theory to Capital Asset Pricing Model to Black-Scholes, much of modern financial orthodoxy is seriously flawed. If you loved Taleb’s Antifragile or Black Swan, you’ll love this. Mandelbrot, one of the greatest polyglots of our times dives into the origins of modern financial orthodoxy, and presents data on why they are flawed. Helps to have at least a basic understanding of financial markets and fractal geometry before reading the book.(4.5/5) (summary HERE)

Money, Master The Game: 7 Simple Steps to Financial Freedom, Tony Robbins, 2014: Price your dreams, create a smart asset allocation, and know the rules before you get in the game. Actually a very good personal finance book as it embeds wisdom world-class figures like Ray Dalio… only thing I found mildly irritating was it could have been half the length if the typical Tony Robbins sales pitch stuff were taken out – “what you’re about to read will change your life… this is secret from billionaires… this will change your life”- I’m thinking “Tony, I’ve already bought the book, no need to keep selling to me, just get to the point.” (4/5)

The Moral Animal: Why We Are, the Way We Are – The New Science of Evolutionary Psychology, Robert Wright, 1995

Never Split the Difference: Negotiating As If Your Life Depended on It, Chris Voss, 2016: Label people’s pains, mirror them, create the illusion of control and practice mental patience. (5/5) (summary HERE)

This Book Helped Me Get a $33K Pay Rise

New Confessions of an Economic Hitman: How America Really Took Over The World, John Perkins, 2016

New Power, Jeremy Heimans and Henry Timms, 2018: Old Power is centraliesd, exclusive, and specialised, while New Power is distributed, collaborative, and generalised – this doesn’t necessarily mean New Power is always better though. (4/5)

The New Science of Cities, Michael Batty, 2002: Viewing cities as networked systems of actions and interactions, rather than merely physically rooted spaces and places, unfolds insights that could help cities thrive socially and economically. Some astute insights, but overall way too academic for the general, non-technical reader. (3/5)

The New Silk Roads, Peter Frankopan, 2018: As China’s Belt and Road initiative revitalises the old silk roads and paves new ones into Europe and Africa, central Eurasia’s geographical importance will rise once again. Loved Frankopan’s 2015 Silk Roads, but this sequel could have been an article. Maybe my expectation was too high but pretty disappointed overall. (3/5)

No Logo, Naomi Klein, 2002 

Nonzero: The Logic of Human Destiny, Robert Wright, 1999: The universe (organisms and societal structures) seems to be trending towards ever larger and more intricate non-zero sum games. (4.5/5) 

Numbers Don’t Lie: 71 Things You Need to Know About the World, Vaclav Smil, 2021:  To understand what’s really going on in our world, facts must be grounded in numbers, and numbers need to be grounded in context (historical and international). (4/5)

The Obesity Code: Unlocking the Secrets of Weight Loss, Jason, Fung, 2016 

Oligarchs: Wealth and Power in the New Russia, David Hoffman, 2002

The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals, Michael Pollan, 2006: The food industry has become more mechanized, monocultured, and misleading than ever before. (4/5)

On Intelligence: How a New Understanding of the Brain Will Lead to the Creation of Truly Intelligent Machines, Jeff Hawkins, 2004 

On This Day In History, Dan Snow, 2005: There are countless fascinating events and stories in history that never made it to the mainstream. A perfect late night entertainment when your too tired to read anything else. (3.5/5)

The Opposable Mind: How Successful Leaders Win Through Integrative Thinking, Roger Martin, 2007: When faced with an either-or binary choice, successful leaders always manage to find alternatives. While the HBR article packs the key idea, this is one of those concepts that is easy to understand but extremely difficult to implement… so reading the full book to actually get better at implementing it is more than worthwhile… the returns on improved decisions your life and work are monumental. (4/5) (summary HERE)

Origin Story: A Big History of Everything, David Christian, 2018: The universe had to overcome several critical thresholds against entropy to get to where we are now. (4/5)

The Origins of Political Order: From Prehuman Times to the French Revolution, Francis Fukuyama, 2011: The conditions and sequence in which the 3 political institutions – rule of law, modern state, accountable government – developed explains much of a nation’s political characteristics. While Fukuyama is better known for his canonical End of History, this book had everything I could ask for in a book: well structured, compelling and diverse examples, and really makes you think deeply… It’s the first of a two-part series… the second book (Political Order and Political Decay, Francis Fukuyama, 2014) was just as good. (5/5)

Best read of 2019

Outliers: The Story of Success, Malcolm Gladwell, 2008: Successful people were lucky to have had opportunities early on, getting a head start on the “10,000 hours”, snowballing into a world-class advantage. (4/5)

Pachinko, Min Jin Lee, 2017 

Panama Papers: Breaking the Story of How the Rich and Powerful Hide Their Money, Bastian Obermayer and Frederik Obermaier, 2016

Pandemic: Tracking Contagions, from Cholera to Ebola and Beyond, Sonia Shah, 2006: A pathogen that is too deadly won’t lead to a pandemic as infected hosts die too quickly – pandemics unfold when it is just deadly enough. (3.5/5)

The Path to Power: Years of Lyndon Johnson, Robert Caro, 1981

Pax Romana: War, Peace and Conquest in the Roman World, Adrian Goldsworthy, 2016

Peace Is Every Step: The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life, Thich Nhat Hanh, 1992: When we observe our own emotions as they are, without judgement, and with acceptance, we can be at peace. (3.5/5)

The Philosophy Book, DK, 2011: While many of our ideas on being, metaphysics, epistemology and morality, have changed, many more have not and perhaps never will. (4/5)

The Plot to Destroy Democracy: How Putin and His Spies Are Undermining America and Dismantling the West, Malcolm Nance, 2018

Political Order and Political Decay, Francis Fukuyama, 2014: History has shown us that even the most politically advanced nations are subject to political decay: when political development struggles to keep up with other dimensions of development. (5/5) 

Poor Charlie’s Almanack, Charlie Munger, 2006: To become a better thinker, learn and regularly use the big ideas in big disciplines (i.e. transdisciplinary mental models). (4.5/5) 

Poor Economics: A Radical Rethinking of the Way to Fight Global Poverty, Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo, 2011

The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do, and How to Change, Charles Duhigg, 2012: Once we understand the cue-routine-reward loop, we can stop bad habits and start new ones effectively. Very interesting if you’re not familiar with the cue-routine-reward loop, but Atomic Habits by James Clear was much better in every regard. (3.5/5)

The Power of Moments, Chip Heath and Dan Heath, 2017: We don’t have to wait for life defining moments, we can create them. (4.5/5) 

The Power Paradox: How We Gain and Lose Influence, Dacher Keltner, 2016: Many exercise attractive qualities when rising to power but get corrupted and discard those qualities when in power. (3.5/5)

Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces that Shape Our Decisions, Dan Ariely, 2008: It’s hard to overcome the cognitive biases that affect our decision making, but it certain helps to know about them. (4/5)

Principles, Ray Dalio, 2017: Have clear goals, approach them iteratively and systematically, document what worked and what didn’t, and eventually you’ll get there. Very well structured and rich in wisdom… I enjoyed reading the autobiographical section most. (4/5)

Prisoners of Geography: Ten Maps That Tell You Everything You Need To Know About Global Politics, Tim Marshall, 2015: As geography evidently enables or constraints development, states have and will continue to fight over strategic geographic positions. (4.5/5) (summary HERE

The Prize: The Epic Quest for Oil, Money, and Power, Daniel Yergin, 1993: (4/5)

Product Roadmaps Relaunched: How to Set Direction while Embracing Uncertainty, C. Todd Lombardo et al, 2017 

The Psychology of Money: Timeless lessons on wealth, greed, and happiness, Morgan Housel, 2020: “People tend to want wealth to signal to others that they should be liked and admired… But in reality those other people often bypass admiring you, not because they don’t think wealth is admirable, but because they use your wealth as a benchmark for their own desire to be liked and admired.” (4.5/5) (quotes and notes HERE)

Profit First: Transform Your Business from a Cash-Eating Monster to a Money-Making Machine, Mike Michalowicz, 2014 

The Pyramid Principle, Barbara Minto, 1978: While deductive communication is good for telling everyday stories, inductive structures are better suited for business contexts. A classic for management consultants… not only does this concept help you become a better business communicator, it also makes you a better thinker… however the book itself is ironically not written in Pyramid Principle… just read an article about it, no need to read whole book. (3/5)

Quantum Economics: The New Science of Money, David Orrell, 2018: There are ample similarities between economics and various quantum physics concepts. (3.5/5)

Rage For Order: Middle East in Turmoil, from Tahrir Square to ISIS, Robert Worth, 2015

Range: How Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World, David Epstein, 2018: Rather than obsessively focusing on a narrow discipline, creative achievers tend to have broad interests, which often supports insights that cannot be attributed to domain-specific expertise alone. (4.5/5)

Red Queen: Sex and the Evolution of Human Nature, Matt Ridley, 2010 

Red Teaming: How Your Business Can Conquer the Competition by Challenging Everything, Bryce Hoffman, 2017 

Rich Dad Poor Dad: What the Rich Teach their Kids About Money, Robert Kiyosaki, 2000: Many things that people consider as assets (puts money into pocket) are actually liabilities (takes money out of pocket). (4/5)

The Richest Man in Babylon, George Clason, 1926

Ride of a Lifetime: Lessons in Creative Leadership from 15 Years as CEO of the Walt Disney, Robert Iger, 2020: Much of Disney’s success in recent decades is driven by well-executed acquisitions, and integral to this was consciously preserving the creative culture of the companies they were buying. (4/5)

The Rift: A New Africa Breaks Free, Alex Perry, 2015: Despite its dark past, the new Africa is coloured by a new sense of bottom-up self-assertion, with Africans solving African problems rather than getting muddled in ineffective old Africa foreign aid. (4/5)

Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided By Politics And Religion, Jonathan Haidt, 2012: While people like to think that morality and social conventions are separate things, more recent evidence shows that this distinction is a cultural artifact. (5/5)

The Road to Serfdom, F. A. Hayek, 1944: Not only are planned economies ineffective, they are also likely to turn totalitarian. (4/5)

Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind, Yuval Harari, 2011: Homo sapiens got this far thanks to being able to collaborate in much larger numbers, and such grand-scale collaboration was enabled by having shared myths (religion, ideas, etc). (5/5)

Savage Inequalities: Children in America’s Schools, Jonathan Kozol, 1991 

Scale: The Universal Laws of Life, Growth, and Death in Organisms, Cities, and Companies, Geoffrey West, 2017: There are so many unexpected relationships within and between various biological, organisational and social characteristics. So damn good I read the entire book in one 3 hour sitting. (5/5)

Science, Strategy and War: The Strategic Theory of John Boyd, Frans Osinga, 2007:  In war, the victor is the one who can handle the quickest rate of change (rapid Observe-Orient-Decide-Act OODA loops). (4.5/5)

Seeing Like a State: How Certain Schemes to Improve the Human Condition Have Failed, James Scott, 1998: With sedentary states have a tendency to shape society in a way to simplify the classic state functions of taxation, conscription, and preventing rebellion. (4/5)

Seeking Wisdom: From Darwin to Munger, Peter Bevelin, 2006: We can make better judgements by becoming familiar with cognitive biases, physics and mathematics. (4.5/5)

Second Sex, Simon de Beauvoir, 1949

Sense and Respond: How Successful Organizations Listen to Customers and Create New Products Continuously, Jeff Gothelf and Josh Seiden, 2017

Shoe Dog: Memoir by the Creator of NIKE, Phil Knight, 2013: Entrepreneurship never gets easier as a business scales, and contrary to popular belief, genius is knowing when to give up to try something else. (4/5)

Show And Tell, Dan Roam: How Everybody Can Make Extraordinary Presentations , 2004: Reports change an audience’s information, an explanation changes ability, a pitch changes action, and drama changes their beliefs. (4/5)

Silent Invasion: China’s Influence In Australia, Clive Hamilton, 2018

Silk Roads: A New History of the World, Peter Frankopan, 2015: Just as anatomy helps explain how the body works, understanding the silk road routes help explain how today’s world works – it’s a shame this part of the world has been neglected in mainstream history. (5/5)

Six Thinking Hats, Edward de Bono, 1985

Skin In The Game: Hidden Asymmetries in Daily Life, Nassim Taleb, 2015: Most have a poor understanding of asymmetric risk – from ergodicity to corrupted incentive systems. (4/5)

Snowball: Warren Buffett and the Business of Life, Alice Schroeder, 2008 

The Space Barons: Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, and the Quest to Colonize the Cosmos, Christian Davenport, 2018 

So You Want To Talk About Race, Ijeoma Oluo, 2018: Racism is prejudice against someone based on race, when those prejudices are reinforced by systems of power. (4/5)

Sovereign Individual, James Davidson, 1997

Startup Way: How Modern Companies Use Entrepreneurial Management to Transform Culture and Drive Long-Term Growth, Eric Ries, 2017

The State Of Africa: A History of the Continent Since Independence, Martin Meredith, 2007: Despite high hopes following the wave of independence in the mid 20th century, the post-colonial institutional fragility in this region has proven incredibly difficult to overcome. Kind of a depressing read, but that’s the unfortunate reality right. (3.5/5)

Steve Jobs, Walter Isaacson, 2013

The Story of Art, E.H. Gombrich, 1954: The story of art is not a progress of increased technical proficiency, but a story of changing societal ideas and values. (4/5)

Story of Philosophy: The Lives and Opinions of the World’s Greatest Philosophers, Will Durant, 2006

The Structure Of Scientific Revolutions, Thomas Kuhn, 1962: Normal science accumulates and re-articulates already-accepted facts, while anomalies lead to paradigm shifts that redirects research into completely new fronts. (4/5)

The Subtle Art Of Not Giving A F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life, Mark Manson, 2016: Self-improvement is really about choosing better things to give a fuck about. Was fortunate enough to have stumbled upon the original 2014 blog post and have continued to reap the benefits since… reading the full book was a welcoming refresh with more detail and it did not disappoint. (4.5/5)

Superintelligence: Paths, Dangers, Strategies, Nick Bostrom, 2013: There are many possible forms (speed, collective, quality) and pathways (artificial, whole brain emulation, brain-computer interfaces, networks) to superintelligence. (4/5)

Supernatural: Meetings with the Ancient Teachers of Mankind, Graham Hancock, 2006: Little remains known in popular wisdom about the potential impact of altered states of consciousness on our distant ancestors’ experiences, visions, and beliefs; and more importantly, the potential impact this had on human progress. (4/5)

Surely You’re Joking Mr Feynman!, Richard Feynman, 1997: Some are fortunate to get a kick out of exploring how the natural world works. (4/5)

Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard, Chip Heath and Dan Heath, 2010 When solving problems, instead of just asking “what’s broken”, also ask “when has it worked.” (4/5) 

The Sympathizer, Viet Thanh Nguyen, 2015

The Talent Delusion: Why Data, Not Intuition, Is Key to Unlocking Human Potential, Thomas Chamorro-Premuzic, 2017

The Tao of Coaching: Boost Your Effectiveness at Work by Inspiring and Developing Those Around You, Max Landsberg, 1996 

The Tao of Leadership, John Heider, 1985: Be fully present , grounded, balanced, and go with the flows of nature rather than harshly intervening. (5/5)

Tao Te Ching, Laozi translated by Chad Hansen, 2012: The paradoxes of nature can be perhaps be reconciled by seeing balance on multiple dimensions. Good concepts, but seems like bad and dull translation. (2/5)

Tap Dancing to Work: Warren Buffett on Practically Everything, 1966-2012, Carol Loomis, 2012

These Truths: A History of the United States, Jill Leopore, 2019: “Very often, histories of nation-states are little more than myths that hide the seams that stich the nation to the state.” (4/5)

Think And Grow Rich, Napoleon Hill, 1937: Those that figure out how to unlock the power of the unconscious mind will turn their dreams into reality. (4/5)

Thinking, Fast and Slow, Daniel Kahneman, 2011 

Thinking in Systems: A Primer, Donella Meadows and Diana Wright, 2009: “When we draw structural diagrams and then write equations, we are forced to make our assumptions visible and to express them with rigor.” (4/5)

Thinking Strategically: The Competitive Edge in Business, Politics, and Everyday Life, Avinash Dixit and Barry Nalebuff, 1991: Game theory situations are subtly prevalent and better understanding its key concepts is incredibly useful in business and daily life. (4.5/5)

This is Going to Hurt: Secret Diaries of a Junior Doctor, Adam Kay, 2017: Working as a junior doctor is pretty much modern-day slavery. (4/5)

This Is Marketing: You Can’t Be Seen Until You Learn To See, Seth Godin, 2018: Most marketers deliver the same feelings, just in different ways, with different stories, for different products, people, and moments. (4/5)

This Is Water, David Foster Wallace, 2009: Make the meaning you construct out of every experience a conscious choice. (4.5/5)

The Three Body Problem, Cixin Liu, 2006: Politics and ideology interfering with science is a very dangerous thing. (4/5)

Thus Spoke Zarathrustra, Freidrich Nietszche, 1883 

Timelines, John Haywood, 2019: Many events we consider significant today will end up as footnotes in history. (4/5)

The Total Money Makeover: A Proven Plan for Financial Fitness, Tony Robbins, Dave Ramsay, 2007

Trespassers on the Roof of the World, Peter Hopkirk, 1995

Tribal Leadership: Leveraging Natural Groups to Build a Thriving Organization, Dave Logan and John King, 2008 

The Truth: An Uncomfortable Book about Relationships, Neil Strauss, 2015: While fighting temptations is more difficult for some than others, monogamy is ultimately the best option. More famously known for his pick-up artist book, The Game, Strauss takes the reader through his most personal relationship challenges. It’s an excellent illustration of attachment theory – where childhood experiences shape the way you love as an adult. (4.5/5)

Turned On, Kate Devlin, 2018: The second and third order effects of advanced sex robots may take society by surprise, maybe even as much as contraceptives did in the 60s. Was anticipating a more thorough essay on the broader implications of sex robots on humanity, but book was more like an extended article than an essay. If interested in this topic, check out my post on Sex Robots and the Third Sexual Revolution. (3.5/5)

Understanding Power, Noam Chomsky, 2002: US foreign policy cares not about democracy and freedom, rather its primary objective is to keep as many nations dependent on it, powered by the “military-industrial-complex”. (4/5)

Upheaval: Turning Points for Nations in Crisis, Jared Diamond, 2019: National crises, while painful, present with unique opportunities to rebuild a country and reshape national identity. (4/5)

Upside of Irrationality: The Unexpected Benefits of Defying Logic, Dan Ariely, 2010

Valley of Genius: The Uncensored History of Silicon Valley (As Told by the Hackers, Founders, and Freaks Who Made It Boom), Adam Fisher, 2018: In the early days of breakthrough technologies and world-changing companies, most could not even fathom what value they were creating. (4/5)

Velocity, Ahmed Ajaz, 2012: Organisational agility is becoming incredibly important. (2/5)

Venture Deals, Brad Field, 2016: It really helps to understand the terminology and way that venture capital firm think and work before securing a deal. (4/5)

The Virgin Way: How to Listen, Learn, Laugh and Lead, Richard Branson, 2014

The Vital Question: Energy, Evolution, and the Origins of Complex Life, Nick Lane, 2016

Waking Up: A Guide to Spirituality Without Religion, Sam Harris, 2014: There is no free will, only the illusion of it. (4/5)

The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles, Steven Pressfield, 2002: “The more you love your art, calling or enterprise, the more important its accomplishment is to the evolution of your soul, the more you will fear it, and the more resistance you will feel towards it.” A must read for anyone that works in the creative field, in the process of mastering a certain skill, or undertaking a side hustle. (4.5/5)

Water Kingdom: A Secret History of China, Philip Ball, 2015

We Were Feminists Once: From Riot Grrrl to CoverGirl, the Buying and Selling of a Political Movement, Andi Zeisler, 2016

What Every Body Is Saying, Joe Navarro, 2008: Your feet is the most honest part of the body, while your face is the least. (4.5/5)

What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions, Randal Munroe, 2014: With some simple physics, we can get a sense of what would happen in some unusual circumstances. (3.5/5)

When Breath Becomes Air, Paul Kalanithi, 2016: Life is fragile, beautiful and cruel; make it count. (3.5/5)

White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism, Robin Diangelo, 2018: Racism is a system, not an event – so it is important to acknowledge the subterranean social forces that affect our perceptions. Don’t agree with some of the more extremist views, but a fascinating read on an increasingly sensitive topic. (4/5)

Wholeness And Implicate Order, David Bohm, 1980: An explicit, mechanistic, fragmented approach to questioning reality and consciousness will inevitably only produce false fragmentary answers. (4/5)

Why Aren’t They Shouting?: A Banker’s Tale of Change, Computers and Perpetual Crisis, Kevin Rodgers, 2016

Why Nations Fail, Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson, 2013: Impoverished countries are that way not because of igno: The Origins of Power, Prosperity, and Povertyrance or culture, but because those in power intentionally made choices that sustained poverty for their own self-interest. (5/5)

Why We Sleep: The New Science of Sleep and Dreams, Matthew Walker, 2017: Sleep science – including  how memory works, as well as the function of dreams – is relatively new, and understanding it reveals implications beyond health. (4/5)

Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers, Robert Sapolosky, 2004: We all know stress is bad, but understanding the specifics on a physiological level has been a powerful deterrent to consciously managing my own stress levels. (4/5)

The Wizard And Prohet: Science and the Future of Our Planet, Charles Mann, 2018: There are two opposing approaches to environmental sustainability: Prophet says we should consume less, while Wizard says we should focus more on devloping new technologies. (4/5)

Who Moved My Cheese?: An A-Mazing Way to Deal with Change in Your Work and in Your Life, Spencer Johnson, 1998

The Wolf of Wall Street, Jordan Belfort, 2007 

The World Is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-first Century, Thomas Friedman, 2006

World Order, Henry Kissinger, 2014: While balancing legitimacy and power is tricky, history provides clues into other state’s political ideologies. While not everyone likes or agrees with Kissinger’s decisions, no one can deny that he was an incredibly influential figure in late 20th century US foreign policy. So it’s worth reading about how he thinks about the world. (4/5)

The World Until Yesterday: What Can We Learn from Traditional Societies? , Jared Diamond, 2012: Without romanticising pre-agrarian tribal life, since this is how we lived through most of human history, it’s likely that there may be some surprising lessons on sociology to re-learn from our ancestors. (4/5)

Worth Dying For: Power and Politics of National Symbols, Tim Marshall, 2016 

Wrong Way, Damien Cahill et al, 2018: From social services to finance, energy and telco, the Australian neoliberal reforms (privatisation, deregulation, and marketisation) in the 80s have not lived up its promises. (3.5/5)

Zero To One: Notes on Start Ups, or How to Build the Future, Peter Thiel, 2014: Create breakthrough technologies instead of just incremental improvements; and protect it with a monopoly. (4/5) 


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