2017: A Learner’s Journey

New Books

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  1. Titan – Ron Chernow – Superb insight into the life and thinking of the original “richest man of the world” and one of the “robber barons”. Close view of the American life in the second half of 19th century and early 20th century. Easy read but offers a lot to ponder regarding pursuit of wealth, regarding questions on legal/regulatory compliance, and regarding the link between wealth, religiosity and philanthropy.
  2. Anatomy of the bear- Russel Napier – Detailed analysis of the macro economic environment around the four key bear markets of 20th century and the rebounds that followed. Serious stuff with rigorous macroeconomic analysis. Good historical reminder of life and markets during long term troughs – and peaks. Good reference material.
  3. Rain in the Mountains – Ruskin Bond – Classic Ruskin Bond that stirs up smell of the Himalayas and makes time stop for a while. Easy read.
  4. Behave – Robert Sapolsky – Excellent treatise on human behaviour drawing on neuroscience and psychology. Serious stuff with dense subject matter. Difficult and slow read in the early parts where the author has delineated the fundamentals of neuroscience. An eye opener and great value add for people who want to dig deeper into the science of human behaviour.
  5. Predictably Irrational – Dan Ariely – Lessons on our interactions with our environment, on ways to enhance our thinking process and thus improve our decision-making process in daily life and in investing. For those with interest in behavioural finance this book can be a logical extension to books by Kahneman, Thaler, Shiller, Howard Marks, James Montier etc. Easy/moderate read but must spend time to think through the questions raised.
  6. The Dhandho Investor – Mohnish Pabrai – Common sense based investment framework from the perspective of business owners. Quite simple though not easy to implement. But then investing is not supposed to be easy even if it can be made  simple. Easy/moderate read but worth spending time to absorb the ideas.
  7. Essays in Persuasion – John Maynard Keynes – Lessons in macro economy based on real life global environment in the first half of 20th century by one of the most recognized names in economics. Some elegant perspectives on macroeconomic events in an eventful period. Serious stuff but worth every minute spent. Best read in phases, instead of going for it cover-to-cover.
  8. The Introvert entrepreneur – Beth Buelow – Ten steps introverts can take to utilize their natural gifts and overcome their challenges to start a business. Can be taken as an extension of Susan Cain’s “Quiet: The power of introverts in a world that can’t stop talking”. Easy read.
  9. Talk like Ted – Carmine Gallo – Good highlighting – based on views of top psychologists, communicators and neuroscientists – of keys to deliver TED -like presentations that are engaging, persuasive and memorable. Easy read.
  10. Bull! A History of the boom and bust, 1982-2004Maggie Mahar – A fascinating history of one of the most potent bull markets in history. Highly informative and a must read for investors who seek lessons (“To Do’s “and “Not to Do’s “) from history. Easy read with a gripping narrative.
  11. A history of world in 100 objects – Neil MacGregor – Reading this is like visiting a rich museum with the curator – that too a deeply knowledgeable one. Nice way to tell history by linking it directly to archaeology and geography with focus more on trying to recreate the environment around processes and events, and less on events themselves. Easy read.
  12. Creating shareholder value – Alfred Rappaport – A different – dovetailing discounted cash flow method of valuation, with evaluation of management and company strategies- and rigorous framework for fundamental style of investment. Serious stuff requiring intense focus and comfort with numbers. Prior understanding of some basic concepts of finance will help. Good reference material.

Re-read Books

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  1. Man’s search for meaning – Viktor Frankl – Reading this book can be a life changing event. Frankl, a famous psychiatrist who had to suffer the horrors of a Nazi concentration camp, emphasizes in this book the importance of finding meaning in all forms of existence even the most brutal and miserable ones. After his rescue from the camp he founded logo-therapy which went on to become an important method of psychotherapy. The milieu of the book – Nazi concentration camps – is understandably dark. Still, instead of being depressing the book is like a sublime lesson in optimism as the author continues to look for the meaning in his life. Easy/moderate read.
  2. Catch 22 – Joesph Heller – Not for nothing is this considered by many as one of the best works of fiction in the 20th century. Dark humor and satire of a different kind at its best in the backdrop of world war II. Easy/moderate read but only after one moves up the curve in the first 30-40 pages to synch up properly with the author and the characters.
  3. One up on wall street – Peter Lynch – Should be in the list of ten all-time best books on fundamental, bottom – up investing. There are important takeaways every time one reads this book.  Seemingly easy read but key is not to rush through or else not difficult to miss key ideas.
  4. Aunts aren’t gentlemen – PG Wodehouse – Perhaps written for people who love day dreaming. Typical Wodehouse that takes the reader to a carefree and happy world where one finds it difficult to hate even the villains. The joke is always on the English aristocracy but is never vicious. Like other Wodehouse novels here too there is a tinge of sadness on noticing that one is on the last page and as one gets transported back into the real world. Effortless read.
  5. Memories of Malgudi – RK Narayan – Real life nostalgia associated with RK Narayan. There are five novels in this collection – Dark Room, English teacher (semi autobiographic in nature), world of Nagraj (his last novel), waiting for the Mahatma, , and The guide. – Effortless read
  6. Raag Darbari – Shrilal Shukla – Timeless Hindi classic that refuses to fade into irrelevance even 50 years after it was first published. Every quirk, every instance of deceit and corruption, and even the extreme inequality and poverty- that the author has so beautifully depicted with an amazingly apt satirical style is in every sense applicable to the contemporary Indian society. Effortless read.
  7. Irrational exuberance – Robert Shiller – Exceptional analysis of cultural, structural and psychological factors behind formation of speculative market bubbles and, depressing troughs. Moderate read. Good reference material.
  8. Against the Gods – Peter Bernstein – This is an all-round, detailed look at risk – in life and investments. It is a historical narrative which draws upon developments in physics, mathematics, statistics, medicine, psychology, finance and economics to place the concept of risk in the right context. Indeed, it leaves the reader with further curiosity. Serious stuff but written in an entertaining style.
  9. Empires of the word – Nicholas Ostler – History of the word cannot be different from the history of the world. This history of languages is a mesmerizing journey into the world’s history taking various languages and their speakers as the medium.

 

 

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