Time is scarce, books are many, what do I read? Here is my list of year 2018, I hope you can find something you like!

Books 2018 (please return the missing ones!)

1. What If? by Randall Munroe
5 out of 10

Ok entertaining book, some funny bits, would recommend as a gift to middle schoolers who are not much into reading.

2. The Undoing Project by Michael Lewis
7 out of 10

Entertaining read about Amos and Danny’s lives, but very little of the actual theory. I’d recommend to read their works directly, e.g. Thinking Fast and Slow. Though if you never had any exposure to the topic, it could serve as an alright entry point.

One bit was memorable: how do we forget bad things? Loss of close people, or serious injury — how people get over it? Turns out usually within a year people go back to their natural level of happiness. And within a few years that can’t mentally “undo” the tragic event anymore. This forgetting and letting go is a function of time and number of events that happen in the meantime. The more time has passed the harder it is to undo them in your mind and “prevent” the original tragedy.

3. That Thing Rich People Do by Kaye A. Thomas
10 out of 10

Despite it’s cheesy title, absolutely essential excellent concise overview of what everyone needs to know. I’d make this a 9th grade mandatory class. All the information is basic enough to be understood by everyone, yet so often ignored and overlooked that it’s a single most important (financially) book most of people would have ever read.

Return is a bit diminished for people outside of the USA, since the discussion is tied to US laws, but it is still a recommended read — just skip irrelevant parts.

Would strongly recommend to everyone.

Style is great, language is good, easy to read, easy to understand, author did a great job!

4. Embedded Android by Karim Yaghmour
5 out of 10

Obviously this is a very technical book, with a nice overview of the Android system at the beginning which gives a basic grasp on the core principles. Otherwise will only be useful to people actually working on Android OS.

5. Einstein by Walter Isaacson
10 out of 10

Absolutely fantastic journey Isaacson will take you aboard! You’d never think of great people that they actually had a life, but they did! Einstein turns out had a very complicated story with struggle and multiple ups and downs (duh).

There is no point in spoiling the book, just go read it — style is great, keeps you excited like a thriller, you’ll learn a lot about life, history and physics. Can’t recommend this one enough!

6. Elon Musk by Ashlee Vance
10 out of 10

Having accidentally grabbed this book from a friend in Cancun oh boy was I pleasantly surprised to discover the most delightful and inspiring read! About twice an hour I wanted to jump and start my own company to earn some millions and solve real problems for people today and humanity tomorrow.

I don’t want to spoil it, just read it, it’s absolutely fantastic!

7. Adventure Capitalist by Jim Rogers
9 out of 10

Recommended by the same friend that I got the previous book from, this one is great to read while on a plane or otherwise traveling. Entertaining read on travel, cultures, and investment. Recommend to all thrill seekers and adventurers. At times, Rogers sounds a bit too pretentious to my taste, but the fantastic content overwhelms that downside entirely.

8. A Woman of No Importance by Oscar Wilde
7 out of 10

Underwhelming for Wilde, pretty good compared to others — you’ll find you beloved wit and word play, controversial thinking and taboo topics discussed without fear. Good read overall, but I’d recommend to start with the Portrait of the Dorian Gray, if you never read Wilde before.

9. Factfulness by Hans Rosling
7 out of 10

Excellent content, ideas and message, but presentation could have been better — here is an irony: tactfulness is boring and not sexy, pragmatism is scoffed upon, hence it’s so hard to achieve.

This book would be very useful for international businessmen, or someone who seeks to know the truth about the world today. But be sure, your opinion, based on this book, would not be popular. I’m grateful to Hans Rosling for his courage to talk about thing people usually don’t talk about — the truth.

10. Zero to One by Peter Thiel
10 out of 10

Refreshingly unconventional! From the start it was like “Oh man, there are still people that can say what others are scared to say!” One of the core ideas “If you think like everybody else — you can’t go from zero to one, you can only do incremental; every success is based on a secret” It follows that one does not need to be scared or worried if others don’t agree with them. Just the opposite. Anyways, go read that book, regardless of what you do, it’s only several hours long and it will make you feel smart!

11. The Selfish Gene by Richard Dawkins
10 out of 10

Brilliant, humble and logical. Easy to understand yet makes you feel like a master of science. This book introduces a framework, or a set of lenses, through which the author invites us to think about our planet’s live and ourselves. From the sound premise he builds up a plausible explanation on how we ended up here, and where we will go from here. It’s a must read for any intellectual.

The style is just great: it’s as easy and intriguing to read as Harry Potter! Follow the story of the cunning replicators that try to maximize their utility functions (well, they don’t, since they don’t have consciousness, but it’s a mathematical consequence that the reproduction makes it as if they were). The guys also invented memes!

Worth every minute of your time. Can’t recommend this one enough!

12. Antifragile by Nassim Nicholas Taleb
7 out of 10

Not your typical modern book: provocateur Taleb will take you to a speculative journey to explore all the various parts of our lives and how it’s messed up in terms of perverse incentives.

Some parts you will find conflicting — I was not onboard with the basic education/science argument, though it’s good to hear the evidence and the lack of it to better understand the picture.

Some parts are just reading my mind — heavy criticism of capitalistic marketing, and its worst case of legal propaganda of negative goods (e.g. tobacco, soda etc).

If I were to read it again, I’d skip the first half of the book and just enjoy the second half.

Overall, great classic, which makes you ponder in many directions, and question the establishment.

The writing style is very inconsistent, and probably not my favorite, at times outright boring, though some places very refreshing and unique. Author does not really care to conform any one guideline, which is good and bad, but definitely unusual. Also I was not a big fun of many invented words that did not really add any value to the narrative.

So… I’d definitely recommend to read it, just be ready to skip over chapters that you find boring.

12 books, ~3700 pages

Previous Years:
2017: https://medium.com/@alexsalo/books-2017-e3f88be7a23a
2016: https://medium.com/@alexsalo/books-2016-d01ee6a93a7

What's life without a little adventure?