Recent Reads (Books)

September 21
The 4-Hour Work Week – Tim Ferris
Non-Fiction
2/5

September 18
Unbowed – Wangaari Maathi
Non-Fiction
4/5

September 15
The Daily Drucker – Peter Drucker and Joseph Maciariello
Non-Fiction
5/5

September 8
The Other 8 Hours – Robert Pagliarini
Non-Fiction
4.5/5

September 8
Smart Thinking – Art Markman
Non-Fiction
4/5

September 8
The Power of Slow – Christine Louis Hollmbaum
Non-Fiction
3.5/5

September 8
A Devil’s Chaplain – Richard Dawkins
Non-Fiction
4/5

September 8
Ungifted – Scott Barry Kaufman
Non-Fiction
4.5/5

September 1
Start With Why – Simon Sinek 
Non-Fiction
3.5/5

September 1
A Brief History of Thought – Luc Ferry
Non-Fiction
2/5

August 25
Mortality – Christopher Hitchens
Non-Fiction
5/5

August 18
Stumbling on Happiness – Dan Gilbert
Non-Fiction
4/5

August 11:
Investing for Dummies – Eric Tyson
Non-Fiction
4/5

August 11:
Join the Club – Tina Rosenberg
Non-Fiction
4/5

August 4:
The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini
Fiction
5/5

This was a great read, and I’m surprised it had taken me as long as it has to get around to reading it. Probably one of the most though provoking fiction books I’ve ever read. Kind of want to read his next book now too. The list keeps growing. The book is definitely worth reading if you’re interested in that part of the world, or, moreso, if you’re interested in life dilemmas.

August 2:
Enough – Bill McKibben
Non-Fiction
4/5

A good read talking about the ethics of bio-engineering and our future. I think his most salient points were that being flawed and having the ability to say “enough” are some of the characteristics that make us most human. Would love to see his current thoughts on this, 10 years after publication. Worth the read if you like philosophy/bio-ethics.

July 30:
Being Wrong: Adventures in the Margin of Error – Kathryn Schulz
Non-Fiction
5/5

I had wanted to read this since I had seen her TED talk, and finally bought the book in a bookstore in Cincinnati a couple of weeks ago. Loved the book. Maybe because it affirmed something that I really believe, which is our failures need to be talked about more often, because those are often much more important than our successes in terms of lessons. And there is not nearly as comprehensive a record of failures. Definitely worth reading.

July 28:
Let My People Go Surfing: The Education of A Reluctant Businessman – Yvon Chouinard
Non-Fiction
4/5

Autobiographical, but a good read. Another lesson in authenticity, really similar to Delivering Happiness. Think the values section was a bit long and not incredibly well defined, but I loved all the pictures and style. Definitely worth reading though.

July 21:
The Art of Thinking Clearly – Rolf Dobelli
Non-Fiction
5/5

Inspired by Black Swan (the authors are friends), basically a list of psychological errors we are prone to. Got it from the library, but now I plan on buying it.

July 21:
Giving: How Each of Us Can Change the World – Bill Clinton
Non-Fiction
2/5

The Book was a compilation of anecdotal stories about giving, some of which I know for a fact weren’t too effective (Greg Mortenson, Agassi Academy).

July 14:
Risk Intelligence: How to Live with Uncertainty – Dylan Evans
Non-Fiction
2/5

Might be overly harsh, but I kept thinking this was a terrible version of Nate Silver’s book.

July 7:
Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable – Nassim Nicholas Taleb
Non-Fiction
5/5

I’d definitely say a must read for anyone and everyone, though it might make you feel a little hopeless at times. The writing style isn’t always the most engaging (and is certainly a little different!), and it gets a little wonkish in paces, but it is an incredible read and might force you to look at the world differently.

June 30:
Now, Discover Your Strengths – Marcus Buckingham
Non-Fiction
3/5

Really only useful if you do the assessment, and I’m not sold on the value of the assessment over the many others that are out there. For what it is worth, my top 5 are Input, Command, Restorative, Adaptability, and Self Assurance. Psychoanalyze away. Also, confession bear, I read this back in May, but I don’t want to go back and fit it in chronologically in the correct place.

June 23:
The Wal-Mart Effect: How the World’s Most Powerful Company Really works and How It’s Transforming the American Economy – Charles Fishman
Non-Fiction
5/5

A really comprehensive, objective look at Wal-Mart that goes through the history, shows the pros and cons, different stories, and the mass power that Wal-Mart as a company really holds. Entertaining, but thorough.

June 16:
Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions – Dan Ariely
Non-Fiction
5/5

Loved this book the most out of all of the books on the topic I’ve read. Highly recommend it. Probably the most comprehensive book of the ones I’ve seen.

June 16:
Sidetracked: Why Our Decisions Get Derailed, and How We Can Stick to the Plan – Fancesca Gino
Non-fiction
4/5

In the same vein of Predictably Irrational, which I finished first (and actually the authors referenced each other’s works frequently) which made it slightly less valuable. All these behavioral psychology books are interesting though.

June 9:
The Future: Six Drivers of Global Change- Al Gore
Non-fiction
4/5

Was interesting, the graphics at the beginning of each chapter were great, but it felt like an extended version of an Inconvenient Truth and Hot, Flat, and Crowded. Maybe I’m being harsh because I wanted more? Still worth reading though.

June 2:
The End of Leadership – Barbara Kellerman
Non-fiction
3/5

Loved the premise of the book, that we have a crisis of leadership and that the leadership industry needs to retool and re-evaluate but I thought the content itself was pretty lacking.

May 26:
Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness – Richard H. Thaler and Cass R. Sunstein
Non-fiction
4.5/5

Didn’t get the 5/5 because I really hated what they had to say about education reform. But was actually really intrigued by the idea of libertarian paternalism. And thought that they made some really good points. The tricky part is getting the right choice be the default choice (and having consensus on what right really means).

May 19:
Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies – Jim Collins and Jerry I. Porras
Non-fiction
3/5

I’m probably going to entrepreneur hell for this, but I wasn’t impressed, mainly because so many of those visionary companies he mentioned tanked after he wrote the book, leading him to write a book to explain why they failed. There are lessons worth gleaning, but I think there was way too much put into the comparisons, and it was a matter of time frame.
 

May 12:
The Gifts of Imperfection: Letting Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are – Brene Brown
Non-fiction
5/5

Was on my reading list after seeing the TED talk the author gave on Vulnerability, which remains to date one of the more influential things I have ever seen in my life. Loved the book. Highly recommend it. And am planning on reading her other two books.

May 12:
Tribal Leadership: Leveraging Natural Groups to Build a Thriving Organization – Dave Logan, John King, Halee Fischer-Wright
Non-fiction
4/5

I was actually kind of disappointed by this book. Thought it did a good job of laying out the premises, but it seemed way to simple to classify into 5 categories based on language. But maybe that is the beauty, the simplicity. Worth reading in term of organizational structure and management.

May 12:
Bend and Not Break
Go check it out on Amazon. Take a look at the reviews. Then send me a message if you want to know my thoughts.

May 5:
Conscious Capitalism: Liberating the Heroic Spirit of Business – John Mackey and Rajendra Sisodia
Non-Fiction
5/5

I was already familiar with the concept of triple bottom line, but this book moved beyond that. It was a really interesting look at this history of Whole Foods, but also examples of other companies that wholly believed there is more to a company than profits. The cynic in me believes that greedy people won’t let the model work. The optimist things we might be trending in that direction, though this book doesn’t think that a strong social safety net is best met by government. Side note, John Mackey spoke Downtown, and it was awesome.

April 28:
Decisive: How to Make Better Choices in Life and Work – Chip Heath and Dan Heath
Non-Fiction
4.5/5

Actually had the chance to meet Chip Heath when he gave a talk here, and his book was an extended version of his talk, which is part of the reason this book didn’t get the 5/5 (the other reason being I thought Switch and Made to Stick were much better too). Went into a great deal of detail, but the biggest villains in decision making as narrow framing, confirmation bias, short term emotions, and over confidence about the future. Personally, I think there are a lot more than just those.

March 21:
Friendfluence: The Surprising Ways Friends Make Us Who We Are – Carlin Flora
Non-Fiction
4/5

Been a while since I read this, but don’t remember being particularly impressed. A lot of interesting evidence, but nothing earth shattering. Maybe this is my independent nature unwilling to acknowledge outside influences…

March 14:
The Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter — And How to Make the Most of Them Now – Meg Jay
Non-Fiction
5/5

Worth the read. Sobering reminder that your youth is when you are supposed to explore, but at the same time, if you don’t take advantage of that time, you’ll be a lot further behind than you realize. Worth the read.

March 10:
The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine – Michael Lewis
Non-Fiction
4/5

Well, I’m a firm believer that financial markets in their current state are the wild west. So this book is right up my alley. Definitely worth reading. Though really disheartening.

March 3:
Nature: Ralph Waldo Emerson
Non-Fiction
4/5

Finally got around to (re?)-reading this. It has been a while. One of the things that I rediscovered over the last year is how much I love being in nature. The essay certainly had its fair share of moments basking in the glory of nature. Unfortunately, it also had its fair share of equating nature and wonder with the vast importance of God (which irked the atheist in me). Still, worth reading.

Also sometime before March 1-
Why Calories Count: From Science to Politics – Marion Nestle and Malden Nesheim
Non-Fiction
4/5

If anyone is interested in the history of calories and seeing how convoluted our government regulations are when it comes to food this is the book for you. Worth the read if you’re interested in food policy with a dash of science thrown in.

Sometime before March 1-
2052: A Global Forecast for the Next Forty Years – Jorgen Randers
Non-Fiction
3/5

Interesting read, but I haven’t really read anything particularly revolutionary yet. Maybe because I’m a climate nerd? I think my end assessment was that it provides an interesting statistical model forecasting what could happen. I think it was a little heavy in its Scandinavian influence, and it didn’t take into account human trends very well (no mention of human rights and greater awareness to be found). I will say that I share his take, that we can survive, but the transition is definitely not going to be smooth.

February 5-
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People – Stephen R. Covey
Non-Fiction
3/5

One of those books I got for free from the Amazon Kindle Owner’s Lending Library.  I’d recommend reading it, but with a grain of salt, especially if you have already done a lot of introspection/self-awareness stuff. I do recommend doing some of the exercises that were recommended.

January 20-
Bartimaeus: The Ring of Solomon – Jonathan Stroud
Fiction
4/5

Read if you liked the trilogy, or enjoy fantasy books with a slightly different take. Probably going to be one of the few fiction books that makes it on my reading list, but I enjoyed it. Really like how the author bounces around to tell the story from different character’s views, while also using different perspectives as well (first and third person).

Sometime before January 12 –
The Signal and the Noise: Why So Many Predictions Fail – But Some Don’t – By Nate Silver
Non-fiction
5/5

Must read if you are a data nerd or bow to the altar of Nate Silver (both of which I am/do unabashedly). Really interesting way to talk about so cool data analysis, predicting, and forecasting. And covers a wide variety of topics.

January 1-
Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity – By Katherine Boo
Non-Fiction
5/5

Must read. Probably one of the most powerful books I have read since reading Mountains Beyond Mountains. Multi-faceted comprehensive view of life in a Mumbai slum over a period of time, getting a solid background and framework. Doesn’t shy away from the harsh realities of the world, but captivates the reader at the same time.

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3 thoughts on “Recent Reads (Books)

  1. Pingback: India in a nutshell and other updates | Ovik Banerjee

  2. Pingback: Weekly Review 7/28 | Ovik Banerjee

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