Continuous Learning: 28 Books I Read in 2016

Evolution, the natural movement toward better adaptation to reality, is one of the greatest forces in the universe. Evolution leads to improvement, improvement helps one get what he/she wants. Thus the desire to evolve is probably humanity’s most universal driving force, and continuous personal evolution is one of the greatest rewards by itself. In order to better adapt to reality, one has to have an accurate understanding of it. Reading and reflecting is a shortcut to gaining knowledge about how society and the universe work. Below are 28 books that I read in 2016 across a range of domains. I don’t think I am any smarter, but I am certainly more knowledgeable than a year ago, or rather more aware of my ignorance…
In 2017, I think I will slow down my pace of reading and instead devote more time to each book, and re-visit some books read in the past. After a year of voracious reading, I found my knowledge retention was not very satisfactory. Writing a book review is a good exercise but a bit too time-consuming and less economic given my slow speed of writing. A habit that I will start to form is to write down a few key unconventional ideas from each book. Peter Thiel asked an interesting and really hard question in the opening of his book “Zero to One”:

“What important truth do very few people agree with you on?”

I think that is a good filter to start with to select my key takeaways.

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Note: my book of the year goes to Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari. Not too far behind, if not equally mind-altering to me personally is Ray Dalio’s Principles (do yourself a personal favor, read it, and read it multiple times) Other highly recommended books are bolded, each of these I have gone back to read again in the past year.

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Biography

  1. The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon – Brad Stone
  2. ShoeDog: A Memoir by the Creator of NIKE  – Phil Knight
  3. The House of Morgan: An American Banking Dynasty and the Rise of Modern Finance  – Ron Chernow

 

History & Anthropology

  1. Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind – Yuval Noah Harari
  2. The Master Switch: The Rise and Fall of Information EmpiresTim Wu
  3. The Attention Merchant: Epic Scramble to Get Inside Our HeadsTim  Wu
  4. Against the Gods: The Remarkable Story of RisksPeter Bernstein

 

Finance & Economics

  1. Ray Dalio’s Economic PrinciplesRay Dalio
  2. Margin of SafetySeth Klarman
  3. Life Annuities: An Optimal Product for Retirement Income
  4. The Richest Man in Babylon – George Clason
  5. Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything – Steven D. Levitt 
  6. Venture Deals: Be Smarter than Your Lawyer and Venture Capitalist – Brad Feld and Jason Mendelson

 

Science & Technology

  1. The Vital Question: Energy, Evolution, and the Origins of Complex Life – Nick Lane
  2. How Not to Be Wrong: The Power of Mathematical Thinking – Jordan Ellenberg
  3. The Age of the Spiritual Machines – When Computers Exceed Human Intelligence – Ray Kurzweil
  4. Data Science for Business: What You Need to Know about Data Mining and Data-Analytic Thinking – Foster Provost & Tom Fawcett
  5. A Brief History of Time Stephen Hawking

 

Management

  1. The Hard Thing about Hard Things: Building a Business When There are No Easy Answers – Ben Horowitz
  2. Ray Dalio’s Principles  – Ray Dalio
  3. The Innovator’s Solution: Creating and Sustaining Successful Growth Clayton M. Christensen
  4. Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion – Robert Cialdini
  5. Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World – Cal Newport

 

Philosophy

  1. Seeking Wisdom: From Darwin to Munger – Peter Bevelin
  2. Poor Charlie’s Almanack: The Wit and Wisdom of Charles Munger – Peter Kaufman
  3. How Will You Measure Your Life Clayton M. Christensen
  4. The Education of a Value Investor Guy Spier
  5. The Seventh Sense: Power, Fortune, and Survival in the Age of Networks – Joshua Cooper Ramo

 

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