Books I’ve Read

“In my whole life, I have known no wise people (over a broad subject matter area) who didn’t read all the time—none, zero.”

— Charlie Munger

I read ~32 books a year. Following are short summaries of the books I’ve read over the years. They are listed in reverse chronological order. The latest books appear on top. I often re-read books. Therefore some of the books appear multiple times in the list. This also shows you how important they are.

I would be updating this page every now and then, so it is advisable to bookmark it so that you can visit it periodically.

2020

A Short History of Nearly Everything — Taking as territory everything from the Big Bang to the rise of civilization, Bryson seeks to understand how we got from there being nothing at all to there being us. He interviews a host of the world’s most advanced archaeologists, anthropologists, and mathematicians, travelling to their offices, laboratories, and field camps. He has studied their books, pestered them with questions, apprenticed himself to their powerful minds. This is a book that every school going kid should read, including their college going siblings, office going parents, and grandparents as well. This is how science should be written.

The Most Important Thing: Uncommon Sense for the Thoughtful Investor — Informed by a lifetime of experience and study, Howard Marks, the chairman and cofounder of Oaktree Capital Management, explains the keys to successful investment and the pitfalls that can destroy capital or ruin a career. Utilizing passages from his memos to illustrate his ideas, Marks teaches by example, detailing the development of an investment philosophy that fully acknowledges the complexities of investing and the perils of the financial world.

The Body: A Guide for Occupants — Bill Bryson sets off to explore the human body, how it functions and its remarkable ability to heal itself. Full of extraordinary facts and astonishing stories The Body: A Guide for Occupants is a brilliant, often very funny attempt to understand the miracle of our physical and neurological make up. ★★★★★

Thinking in Bets: Making Smarter Decisions When You Don't Have All the Facts — Annie Duke, a former World Series of Poker champion turned business consultant, draws on examples from business, sports, politics, and poker to share tools anyone can use to embrace uncertainty and make better decisions.

Ultralearning: Master Hard Skills, Outsmart the Competition, and Accelerate Your Career — Scott H. Young incorporates the latest research about the most effective learning methods and the stories of other ultralearners like himself—among them Benjamin Franklin, chess grandmaster Judit Polgár, and Nobel laureate physicist Richard Feynman, as well as a host of others, such as little-known modern polymath Nigel Richards, who won the French World Scrabble Championship—without knowing French.

Company of One: Why Staying Small Is the Next Big Thing for Business — Company of One is a refreshingly new approach centred on staying small and avoiding growth, for any size business. By staying small, one can have freedom to pursue more meaningful pleasures in life, and avoid the headaches that result from dealing with employees, long meetings, or worrying about expansion. This book introduces this unique business strategy and explains how to make it work for you, including how to generate cash flow on an ongoing basis.

A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy — In this book, the author offers a refreshing presentation of Stoicism, showing how this ancient philosophy can still direct us toward a better life. Using the psychological insights and the practical techniques of the Stoics, this book offers a roadmap for anyone seeking to avoid the feelings of chronic dissatisfaction that plague so many of us.

Surely You’re Joking Mr. Feynman — Autobiography of Feynman written in an absolutely engaging way. This book describes his experimental and mischievous nature right from his childhood.

2019

A Mind for Numbers: How to Excel at Math and Science (Even If You Flunked Algebra) — When professor Barbara Oakley saw how her lack of mathematical and technical understanding limited her options—both to rise in the military and to explore other careers—she returned to school with the determination to re-tool her brain to master the very subjects that had given her so much trouble throughout her entire life.

Let’s Talk Money — Wouldn’t it be wonderful if our money worked for us just as we work hard for it? Monika Halan offers you a feet-on-the-ground system to build financial security. Not a get-rich-quick guide, this book helps you build a smart system to live your dream life, rather than stay worried about the ‘right’ investment or ‘perfect’ insurance.

Good Strategy Bad Strategy: The Difference and Why It Matters — Strategy should not be equated with ambition, leadership, vision or planning; rather, it is coherent action backed by an argument. The heart of good strategy is insight into the hidden power in any situation and into an appropriate response – whether launching a new product, fighting a war or putting a man on the moon.

Skin In The Game: The Hidden Asymmetries in Daily Life — “Skin in the game is the ultimate BS filter and the engine of evolution. Do not pay attention to what people say, only to what they do and how much of their neck they are putting on the line.” Taleb draws on everything from Antaeus the Giant to Hammurabi to Donald Trump, from ethics to used car salesmen, to create a jaw-dropping framework for understanding this idea. ★★★★★

How to Talk to Anyone: 92 Little Tricks for Big Success in Relationships — In this book Leil Lowndes reveals the secrets and psychology behind successful communication.

The Tao of Seneca: Practical Letters from a Stoic Master, Volume 1 — Stoicism is a no-nonsense philosophical system designed to produce dramatic real-world effects. Think of it as an ideal operating system for thriving in high-stress environments. This book is an introduction to Stoic philosophy through the words of Seneca.

What Every Body is Saying: An Ex-FBI Agent’s Guide to Speed-Reading People — What you say is often far less important than how you say it. One of the harbingers of success is understanding how nonverbal cues such as body language, dress and demeanour affect how you are perceived and understood.

Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain — Did you know you can beat stress, lift your mood, fight memory loss, sharpen your intellect, and function better than ever simply by elevating your heart rate and breaking a sweat? The evidence is incontrovertible: Aerobic exercise physically remodels our brains for peak performance.

How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big: Kind of the Story of My Life — Author Scott Adams wittily epitomises his life as a book of failures, that eventually turned out to be his manual for success. Consistently failing and falling and perennially getting mentally fatigued can often send a man straight up the stairway to hell. But Adams on the other hand, tells us how he exploited each fall to get back up and each pinch of pain to earn a moment of bliss.

Antifragile: Things that Gain from Disorder — In The Black Swan, Taleb showed us that highly improbable and unpredictable events underlie almost everything about our world. Here Taleb stands uncer­tainty on its head, making it desirable, even necessary. The antifragile is beyond the resilient or robust. The resil­ient resists shocks and stays the same; the antifragile gets better and better.

Never Split the Difference: Negotiating As If Your Life Depended On It — Life is a series of negotiations you should be prepared for: buying a car; negotiating a salary; buying a home; renegotiating rent; deliberating with your partner. Taking emotional intelligence and intuition to the next level, this book gives you the competitive edge in any discussion.

Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones — Bad habits repeat themselves again and again not because you don’t want to change, but because you have the wrong system for change. You do not rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems. Here, you’ll get a proven system that can take you to new heights.

Win Bigly: Persuasion in a World Where Facts Don’t Matter — This book distils the strategies Donald Trump used to persuade voters to elect the most unconventional candidate in the history of the presidency, and how anyone can learn his methods for succeeding against long odds.

The Great Mental Models: General Thinking Concepts — This book will upgrade your thinking with the best, most useful and powerful tools so you always have the right one on hand.

The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable — Through a number of examples, the author aims to show his readers how rare and unpredictable events have a deep and lasting impact on a person’s life. Human beings tend to try and rationalise such happenings almost immediately after they happen. This is an almost impossible task since such events are based on chance. A number of other topics, which relate to aesthetics, ways of life, knowledge and much more, have been discussed in this book. ★★★★★

Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In — This book describes a method of negotiation that isolates problems, focuses on interests, creates new options, and uses objective criteria to help two parties reach an agreement.

Meditations — Few ancient works have been as influential as the Meditations of Marcus Aurelius, philosopher and emperor of Rome (A.D. 161–180). A series of spiritual exercises filled with wisdom, practical guidance, and profound understanding of human behaviour, it remains one of the greatest works of spiritual and ethical reflection ever written.

Stumbling on Happiness — In this brilliant, witty, and accessible book, renowned Harvard psychologist Daniel Gilbert describes the foibles of imagination and illusions of foresight that cause each of us to misconceive our tomorrows and misestimate our satisfactions. ★★★★★

The Prince — While juxtaposing the traditional way of linking political theory with moral ethics and law, Machiavelli, in The Prince differentiates between the two, where he asserts that a Prince’s actions must always be based upon the practical implication of the situation.

Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness — Every day we make choices—about what to buy or eat, about financial investments or our children’s health and education, even about the causes we champion or the planet itself. Unfortunately, we often choose poorly. Nudge is about how we make these choices and how we can make better ones.

The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business — Charles Duhigg takes us to the thrilling edge of scientific discoveries that explain why habits exist and how they can be changed. With penetrating intelligence and an ability to distill vast amounts of information into engrossing narratives, Duhigg brings to life a whole new understanding of human nature and its potential for transformation.