Other than a number of Rick Steves’ books for my summer-long travels in Europe, here are a few books that I read in 2014 and recommend.
Even though I read few works of fiction, I read a number of Agatha Christie’s “Poirot” books, including the enthralling “Death on the Nile”. Christie describes her characters brilliantly with superb detail.
Books on Business, Operations, & Finance
- Atul Gawande’s ‘The Checklist Manifesto’ on eliminating errors, improving safety, and increasing efficiency by adapting checklists, standard operating practices, and work instructions.
- Steven Johnson’s ‘How We Got to Now: Six Innovations That Made the Modern World’ explores how seemingly simple inventions cause huge societal shifts through the unintended consequences of collaboration and context. For example, the chapter on “Glass” narrates how the Gutenberg printing press led to lens-making, which in turn led to eyeglasses, telescopes and space exploration, microscopes and biology, fiberglass and fiber-optic cables, mirrors, cameras and the present-day selfie obsession.
- Eric Schmidt and Jonathan Rosenberg’s ‘How Google Works’ is a firsthand account of the distinctive ecosystem, culture, people, and decision-making inside one of the world’s most admired companies.
- John Mihaljevic’s ‘The Manual of Ideas: The Proven Framework for Finding the Best Value Investments’ describes nine template-themes of value investing strategies along with case studies, checklists, and screening tools.
- Cristiane Correa’s ‘DREAM BIG: How Jorge Paulo Lemann, Marcel Telles and Beto Sicupira Acquired Anheuser-Busch, Burger King and Heinz and Revolutionized Brazilian Capital’ discusses 3G Capital’s approach to buying companies (including Tim Hortons in 2014; Coca-Cola, Campbell Soup, or PepsiCo are rumored to be next) and then implementing an aggressive management template that’s obsessive about slashing operating costs and expanding organizational efficiency.
Books on Skills for Success
- Susan Cain’s ‘Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking’ on how the world excessively and misguidedly admires extroverts, but should also encourage and celebrate the particular talents, abilities, and dispositions of introverts.
- Jocelyn K. Glei’s ‘Manage Your Day-to-Day: Build Your Routine, Find Your Focus, and Sharpen Your Creative Mind’ is a compilation of essays on time management, organizing routines, and work-life balance from various authors.
- Russ Roberts’s ‘How Adam Smith Can Change Your Life: An Unexpected Guide to Human Nature and Happiness’ is an interpretation of Adam Smith’s less known book, “Theory of Moral Sentiments”
- B. H. Liddell Hart’s ‘Why Don’t We Learn from History?’ on the didactic value of history and on the significance of acting on principles deduced from learning from other people’s experience.
- Gerd Gigerenzer’s ‘Risk Savvy: How to Make Good Decisions’ describes the many ways we characteristically misjudge risk and how we make bad decisions because we misunderstand risk.
- Garth Sundem’s ‘Beyond IQ: Scientific Tools for Training Problem Solving, Intuition, Emotional Intelligence, Creativity, and More’ on how to develop brain power in competencies such as creativity, willpower emotional intelligence and intuition—skills that are not measured by standardized intelligence (e.g. IQ) tests.
Four Timeless Books I Re-Read Every Year
Benjamin Graham’s “Security Analysis”, Benjamin Graham’s “The Intelligent Investor”, and Phil Fisher’s “Common Stocks and Uncommon Profits” discuss two complementary schools of investment analysis. Graham’s quantitative approach to value investing comprises of buying stocks below what they are worth and then selling them once they are fully priced. In contrast, Fisher’s qualitative approach to growth investing considers the intangibles (products and services, management, competition, growth prospects, etc.) and paying a premium for growth. Graham’s and Fisher’s viewpoints are a significant part of Warren Buffett’s approach to investments. He’s described himself as “85% Graham, 15% Fisher” (I think Buffett is more “15% Graham, 85% Fisher.”)
Dale Carnegie’s “How to Win Friends and Influence People” is the granddaddy of all self-help books that spawned the self-improvement industry. I discovered that the 2011 update, “How to Win Friends and Influence People Digital Age”, references my blog article on the art of remembering names.