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Happy Holidays Everyone

Heading in to year-end, I wanted to provide a final update on the books I’ve read this year.  Previous posts covered the First Half of 2019 and Q3’19.  I’m reading one longer book right now, and I do not anticipate wrapping it up by year-end.

All things considered, it has been a highly productive year reading – 39 books read.   So without further ado, here is the final list (arranged in order, most to least favorite).

  • Excellence Wins – Horst Schulze – Schulze, who co-founded the Ritz-Carlton and led the Ritz as President, has written an excellent book that covers not only how a culture of service is created, but also the rigor required to build and maintain such a culture in an organization.
  • Essentialism – Greg McKeown  Admittedly this is a book I’ve looked at off and on for years and it seemed more or less self-obvious, so I hadn’t read it.  Yet after a strong recommendation from someone I respect, I figured it was worth digging into and was surprised by how thoughtful and thought provoking a read it was.  This feels like the sort of book that is important to revisit regularly.
  • The Man Who Solved the Markets – Greg Zuckerman   Author Greg Zuckerman (The Frackers / The Greatest Trade Ever) is the first to document the story behind Renaissance Technologies and its founder Jim Simons. RenTec is arguably the most successful hedge fund of all time, compounding at nearly 2x Warren Buffett’s returns.  The book is a fascinating look at the firm and how it built its mathematical approach to understanding market movements. Perhaps most interesting is how Simons was a peer with many of the other great mathematical minds that led to the information technology revolution.
  • Small Giants – Companies That Choose to Be Great Instead of Big –  Bo Burlingham  This was an interesting read, especially when juxtaposed with the growth at any cost mentality of the venture capital world, WeWork, Uber, etc.  That said, the book felt a little scattered in places and was not as clear as it could have been.
  • Flat Broke with Two Goats – Jennifer McGaha  This book was just nuts.  The memoir of a woman in bankruptcy who loses her home and moves into a rural cabin and begins to raise goats.  Several of the stories are laugh out loud funny.  Yet the whole time I was reading it, I could not help but wonder where a good dose of common sense was and how that might have kept the family out of bankruptcy to begin with?  Honestly kind of reminded me of the family from The Glass Castle.
  • The Second Mountain – David Brooks This felt like two separate books in one.  The first book is about the move from success to significance that most people experience in the course of their lives.  It was wonderful.  The second book is David Brook’s guide to life – which rambled on and I frankly didn’t love.