Books, Reading and Knowledge
“I read and read and read. I probably read 5 to 6 hours per day. I read five daily newspapers, I read a fair number of magazines, I read 10k’s, I read annual reports, and I read a lot of other things too. I’ve always enjoyed reading. That’s how knowledge works. It builds up, like compound interest.”
– Warren Buffett
In other words, reading opens one’s mind to bigger and better things. Another voracious reader, Bill Gates, recently shared his picks for some good summer reading. And who wouldn’t be interested in reading what a brilliant thinker like Gates found illuminating?
Of course, the Janiczek community isn’t short on good book recommendations either. In December, our team offered up some of our favorite books of the year, and our client community responded with some great picks of their own. (One client recommendation made the current Bill Gates list … great minds think alike, right?!)
So, as you begin your summer reading, whether to learn or to simply escape, we gladly share a few of our picks. Personally, I’ll be reading one of Bill Gates’ picks, Origin Story: A Big History of Everything by David Christian.
If you have book recommendations, by all means, let me know!
Book Recommendations from the Janiczek Team
Corruption in Russia has been widely known for years, but this true story from a hedge fund manager is simply incredible. Sadly, the account includes the death of one of Bill Browder’s lawyers in Russia who stood up against the crooked government officials and paid the ultimate price. The Russian stock market trades incredibly cheaply even today, but this book will make you think twice about doing business in Putin’s Russia. -Jim
Ironically, I started reading this book while riding a train in New York and it was unsettling to do so. This may not qualify as your typical relaxing summer read as the intensity builds with each page causing my heart to race. I won’t spoil the surprise, but if you’ve ever caught yourself observing others and imagining what their life is like, you’ll identify with Rachel who does the same. Her depressing daily commute takes an exciting turn one day when she observes something that was not at all imaginary. -Lynne
In a fly-by synopsis of recent political history, Ian Bremmer objectively depicts the opposing philosophies of globalism and protectionism. Instead of combining efforts with unpredictable rewards, the focus turns to protecting what we already have (e.g., border walls, tariffs, anti-immigration, etc.) Bremmer expertly outlines why globalism failed to gain traction and begins to paint a picture of what the future may hold in a protectionist political environment. -Matt
Summertime, to me, is a good time to slow down, relax, and reflect. The author shows readers how one can break free from the restrains of self-induced boundaries. Our clients may draw some connections with a program we hosted, Thoughts Patterns for High Performance. Regardless, it’s a wonderful journey that’s a perfect addition to your summer reading list. -Brady
Veering from my typical nonfiction readings, this quarter I am recommending this follow-up to The Da Vinci Code. In true Dan Brown form, this story follows Robert Landon through a new adventure of codes, symbols and unexpected plot twists. It’s a well-written intellectual thriller that I highly recommend if you are looking for a book that will keep you guessing! -Kyle
… and last but not least, for the younger readers out there …
Zach Callahan (age 11)
I think there should be a book recommendation for kids, and this one is my favorite. But be warned: this book may be scary to younger readers … and I can speak from experience! -Zach
Lifelong learning. It’s a core belief here at our firm, and we regularly read across a variety of topics. I recently asked the team to share any of their favorite books from the past year, business or otherwise. Below is what we’d offer up as our recommendations from 2017, and if you have any good book recommendations from the last year, please let us know!
As my clients know, planning for the future eventually includes a conversation about mortality. When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi is a powerful memoir that tackles this topic to its core. This story made me reflect on how the human spirit allows us to re-imagine a new future that includes hope, faith, love and joy – no matter what the circumstances and regardless of the uncertainty. There is so much about this story that lingers, leaving each reader a new set of ideas, and most likely questions, that will, no doubt, leave you changed.
My favorite book of 2017 was The Obsession by Nora Roberts. While Nora Roberts is probably better known as a romance writer, her last several books are more mystery/thriller types that appeal to me. This story is a mystery about woman who (as a child) discovered her dad was a serial killer. Fast forward to her adulthood and she is being stalked by a serial killer who is mimicking her father’s style. The setting is the islands of Puget Sound, and I liked the story and flow of the book.
I thought Principles by Ray Dalio was a great read not just from a business perspective (Dalio founded what is now the world’s largest hedge fund), but also life principles. Obviously, he has been vastly successful in the business world, but he also shares valuable thoughts on how he lives his own life, and I think most would take something meaningful away from this book. As Dalio writes, “Time is like a river that carries us forward into encounters with reality that require us to make decisions. We can’t stop our movement down this river and we can’t avoid those encounters. We can only approach them in the best possible way.” Good stuff!
This year, I re-read The Power of TED by David Emerald because it provides great guidance on how to best interact with others in more effective ways. It explains the undesirable roles and techniques we often find ourselves in and provides an empowering alternative. For anyone who wants to lead, manage, coach, parent or help others with greater impact and results, this book is for you.
One that caught my attention earlier this year and challenged many of my longstanding beliefs was Predictably Irrational by Dan Ariely. It’s a book about human behavior and how we consistently act irrationally. So consistent, in fact, our irrational behavior is predictable. Many of his illustrations point out the ways we repeatedly act irrationally in every day behavior and makes the reader much more conscious of these actions.
The most common question clients ask me in meetings these days is, “When will this run end, and how bad will the downturn be?” Published in 2008, “The Great Depression: A Diary” is part history and part finance that offers some perspective for today’s environment. Authored by a young attorney who was fascinated with the 1929 stock market crash, this story offers an in-the-trenches account of the ugliest recession our country has ever faced. My takeaways include not only the changes in our economy and markets since the 1930s that will help prevent another 10-year depression, but also the things that remain the same, such as fear, greed, and the folly of relying on predictions in managing one’s money.