A short paragraph about the books I read. Books are like wine, you like it or not.
- Dining with al-Qaeda: Three Decades Exploring the Many Worlds of the Middle East by Hugh Pope
An extraordinary account of the adventures undertaken by the author, a Wall Street Journal veteran, who, during his 30-year reporting career, wrote inspiring stories of the culture and people that dominate the Middle East. Having explored a few of those places myself, I can deeply relate and heavily enjoyed reading each of the chapters (almost every chapter plays in a different region of the Middle East).
- Brief Answers to the Big Questions by Stephen Hawking
This book is a collection of Stephen Hawking’s contemporary writings on a variety of topics, such as “What is inside a black hole?” or “Is time travel possible?”. I enjoyed reading this book, particularly due to the ingenious and entertaining way that Hawking uses to give his answers.
- Haben oder Sein: Die seelischen Grundlagen einer neuen Gesellschaft by Erich Fromm
The second time I have read this book, and despite its age I would still consider it highly relevant for a critical reflection of our human society and what we strive for in life. It consists of three main parts, out of which the first two give an introduction to Fromm’s world of thought, while the third part proposes a couple of ideas for improvement (which at least to me appear to be a bit outdated). Still, an extremely worthwhile read that I would recommend to everyone!
- The Big Five for Life: Was wirklich zählt im Leben by John Strelecky
Superficial guide for living a happy life by following your personal life goals, the “big five for life”. The story is easy to follow, but I didn’t get too much out of it, to be honest.
- The Gates of Europe: A History of Ukraine by Serhii Plokhy
A deep dive into the history of Ukraine. The author shows at great length how the modern nation of Ukraine emerged from a lengthy struggle for independence that lasted multiple centuries. The book is sometimes a bit too detailed (at least for my taste), but definitely worth a read, especially to understand the propaganda of the Russian invasion.
- How to Be a Dictator: The Cult of Personality in the Twentieth Century by Frank Dikötter
Great study of some of the most influential dictators that ruled the planet during the 20th century (Stalin, Hitler, Mao etc.). Frank Dikötter outlines how they came to power and observes that their rise was often accompanied by a tremendous cult of personality that cemented their power.
- Clean Code in Python - Second Edition by Mariano Anaya
Excellent resource for writing clean- and maintainable Python code. Python has it’s own, “pythonic” way of achieving certain things, and this book is a great reference that provides an under-the-hood view of the Python programming language and the vast amount of features that it offers.
- Die Kunst des klugen Handelns: 52 Irrwege, die Sie besser anderen überlassen by Rolf Dobelli
I can not really recommend this book, as it basically is a recap of thoughts and ideas already presented in the works of Daniel Kahneman (“Thinking fast and slow”) and Nassim Taleb (“Black Swan”, “Antifragile” etc.). An entertaining read, but you won’t learn anything new if you have already some background knowledge.
- Calling Bullshit: The Art of Sceptisim in a Data-Driven World by Carl T. Bergstrom, Jevin D. West
Helpful resource on how to spot false information that is meant to mislead us. Provides plenty of practical guidance on how common sense can help us navigate the challenges of big data and fake news.
- The Value of a Whale: On the Illusions of Green Capitalism by Adrienne Buller
An excellent book that discusses the current trends around “green capitalism” and gives reasons why proposed solutions around carbon offsetting (and similar schemes) are often too narrow to deal with the problems we are facing as part of the current climate crisis.
- We Are Bellingcat: An Intelligence Agency for the People by Eliot Higgins
Very well-written and engaging book. The boys and girls at Bellingcat are doing amazing work in the OSINT space, and it’s highly inspiring to read about this.
- Penguin Lost by Andrej Kurkov
The sequel of the book “Death and the Penguin” (see below). Again a highly entertaining read about Viktor and his quest to rescue his penguin from the Mafia. I love the author’s surreal writing style and the insights that he provides on Ukrainian / Kiew culture.
- Safe Haven: Investing for Financial Storms by Mark Spitznagel
In this book, Mark shares his perspective on investment strategies and how to properly mitigate risks and insure an investment portfolio against major losses. Reading and understanding the book requires some basic mathematical expertise, which makes it even more engaging and interesting to read.
- Grey Bees by Andrej Kurkov
The latest book from Ukrainian writer Andrej Kurkow. It describes life in the occupied territories of Ukraine and how people manage to cope with the status quo. This novel is by far my favorite book for this year so far.
- The Mom Test: How to talk to customers & learn if your business is a good idea when everyone is lying to you by Rob Fitzpatrick
Excellent book on how to have customer conversations that can help you derive insights on building a better product. The book serves as a simple but practical guide with lessons that every aspiring startup entrepreneur should know.
- Death and the Penguin by Andrey Kurkov
Funny and surreal book by Ukrainian author Andrey Kurkov. The story takes place in late-90s Kyiv and describes the life of the protagonist and his pet - a Penguin. Helps to understand Ukrainian culture and society a bit better and definitely makes appetite for more. Another book from the same author that I would like to read soon is “Grey Bees”.
- The Rust Programming Language by Carol Nichols, Steve Klabnik
Excellent introduction into the Rust programming language and ecosystem around it. I had mostly been interested in understanding the core ideas behind the language and this book was definitely a great help. Clearly written and with many guiding examples.
- Dom Casmurro by Joaquim Maria Machado de Assis
A classic of Brazilian literature that tells the tragic love story between the narrator Betinho and his childhood love Capitu. Truly a wonderful and entertaining read.
- Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life by Marshall B. Rosenberg
A great guide to help us discover how the language we use can strengthen our relationships and prevent conflicts. The book contains plenty of stories and examples, which are helpful to understand how to apply nonviolent communication in our daily lives.
- La guerra del fin del mundo by Mario Vargas Llosa
Fascinating story about the conflict in Canudos (situated in Bahia, Brazil) taking place in the 1890s. Another epic novel by Mario Vargas Llosa, but involving quite a huge number of characters, which can make it a bit confusing at times.
- Tiempos recios by Mario Vargas Llosa
Great book with a fictitious story about the socio-political disruption that took place in Guatemala in the 1950s. Highly interesting to read and insightful to understand the actors and their motivations during this time of conflict (e.g., various Latin American dictators, the United Fruit Company, and the CIA, among others).
- The Book of Why: The New Science of Cause and Effect by Judea Pearl, Dana Mackenzie
The book discusses the approach that statisticians have taken throughout the last two centuries in trying to tackle the topic of correlation vs. causation. It also discusses a variety of ideas that were first introduced by the author (such as Bayesian networks). Overall an interesting read, but sometimes focusing a bit too much on the specific personality traits of some famous statisticians like Irving Fisher etc.
- The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer by Siddhartha Mukherjee
Excellent summary of the battle against cancer that medicine has been waging for the last 2000 years. What I found most interesting was the massive amount of progress that has been made to find a cure for cancer, especially within the last 50 years (which, of course, builds up on previous research and discoveries).
- Parkinson’s law and other studies in administration by C. Northcote Parkinson
Humorous and contemporary read, even though it’s from the late 1950s. The core idea of Parkinson’s law is the observation that “work expands to fill the time available” and I’m sure that most of us have observed the behavior described in the book on more than one occasion.
- The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg
Interesting book on how we form and develop habits that guide us through our lives. The core content could be summarized in a few pages, which make the book a bit of a dry reading because it is full of anecdotes and examples.
- The Mastermind: The hunt for the World’s most prolific criminal by Evan Ratliff
The captivating story of Paul Le Roux, a computer programmer who managed to make millions in a legal grey area by selling painkiller drugs via the internet on a massive scale. He then evolved to become an international drug kingin before he was finally captured by US law enforcement. I had heard about Le Roux previously from a series of articles in The Atavist, but this book provides even greater details in some of his seemingly crazy projects (like running his own militia in Somalia).
- Liftoff: Elon Musk and the Desperate Early Days That Launched SpaceX by Eric Berger
Engaging read to learn more about the founding phase of SpaceX and the efforts that went into putting the Falcon1 rocket into orbit. The author narrates the crazy journey that the company took to disrupt the entire aerospace industry.
- The Open Society and Its Enemies by Karl Popper
I find it very hard to write a short and concise summary of this book, so you may want to consult other resources if you would like to learn more about it. In general, the book deals with the role of historicism and reflects critically on the thoughts of Plato, Marx and Hegel.
- Doing Good Better by William MacAskill
This book was recommended to me by a friend. I like the framework which the author uses to analyze NGOs and measure the impact of charity work (quality-adjusted life years - QALYs). It also has some good remarks on statistics, such as modeling with fat-tailed distributions.
- A Guide To The Good Life: The Ancient Art Of Stoic Joy by William B. Irvine
I mainly bought this book to complement “Letters from a Stoic” by Seneca. Irvine provides a great presentation of the Stoic philosophy, including various techniques that can assist us in practicising Stoicism (e.g. negative visualization). Definitely a helpful read if you aim to attain inner tranquility.
- Thinking in Systems: A Primer by Donella Meadows
A good introduction to systems thinking and how we can apply it to model complex behavior of e.g. companies. The whole world exhibits system properties and understanding these and their interactions is crucial to bringing along positive change.
- The Changing World Order: Why Nations Succeed and Fail by Ray Dalio
A good primer on the macro-trends that have led to the rise and fall of nations over the last 2000 years. Ray Dalio tries to find patterns in the major events that have occured in the past and how they can be used to explain what we are experiencing the present (e.g. debt crisis or the struggle for influence and power between the US and China)
- Letters from a Stoic by Seneca
This books provides a great introduction to Stoic philosophy. It’s a collection of Seneca’s letters in which he gives advice on how to live a good life - many principles can also be followed in modern-day society!
- Influence: Science and Practice by Robert B. Cialdini
Reading “Influence” will help you become aware of the tricks and tactics that marketing uses in order to sell you something / convince you of something. The book describes how under certain conditions, our mind switches to auto-pilot mode - in this mode, we behave in a very predictable (and exploitable) way.
- La llamada de la tribu by Mario Vargas Llosa
In this book, Mario Vargas Llosa shares his experience of reading and thinking about some of the greatest philosophers of the last century (Karl Popper, Isaiah Berlin and many others). He describes how reading these philosophers have helped him in developing his own ideas as well as shaping his views of the liberal agenda.
- Option Volatility and Pricing: Advanced Trading Strategies and Techniques by Sheldon Natenberg
This book is a good textbook introduction into option trading. I just skimmed over the majority of the content, but my main takeaway is that option trading is a very complex and risky activity and that, as a non-professional trader, you should better stay away from it (and instead directly invest in the underlying security)…
- Elephant in the Brain by Kevin Simler, Robin Hanson
A good read to gain a bit more understanding of human psychology. The book first dives into the topic of animal behaviour and social norms that lead us to rely on signaling and self-deceptition. It then covers a variety of aspects in our lifes (such as body languange, religion and politics) in which our behaviour can often be explained by very different motives than those that we claim to follow.
- Antifragile: Things that Gain from Disorder by Nassim Taleb
- Deep Work by Cal Newport
- Fooled by Randomness by Nassim Taleb
- Schrödingers Katze auf dem Mandelbrotbaum by Ernst Peter Fischer
- One Up on Wall Street by Peter Lynch
- La Tierra de las Papas by Paloma Bordons
- Flash Boys by Michael Lewis
- Lab Rats by Daniel Lyons
- Against the Gods - The Remarkable Story of Risk by Peter Bernstein
- EDGE: Value-driven digital transformation by James Highsmith
- The Go Programming Language by Alan Donovan
- 21 Lessons for the 21st Century by Yuval Harari
- Line by Line - How to edit your own writing by Claire Cook
- Die 5 Sprachen der Liebe by Gary Chapman
- Upheaval by Jared Diamond
- Lifes per Gallon by Terry Tamminen
- The great reversal by Thomas Philippon
- The Triathlete’s Training Guide - Joe Friel
- The prosperity paradox by Clayton M. Christensen
- Zero to One by Peter Thiel
- How to build a billion dollar app by George Berkowski
- Why we sleep by Mathew Walker
- Beruflich in Australien by Lea Joskowicz
- Escape from Freedom by Erich Fromm
- In a sunburned country by Bill Bryson