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FCS Reading List – First Half 2019

Jul 8, 2019 | Book Recommendations

It has been a little while since I have posted an updated list of what I am reading / have read so far this year.

I had aspirations of getting this list published before the start of summer, but sadly that did not happen.  I have tried to group the books into some what orderly categories.

Business Strategy

  • Good Strategy, Bad Strategy by Richard Rumelt – This was fantastic, one of the best reads on strategy I have found in years.
  • 7 Powers by Hamilton Helmer – This aligned nicely with a lot of Rumelt’s points as well
  • HBR Guide to Buying a Small Business Ruback and Yudkoff – Helpful look at the strategic opportunities for smaller businesses and those who acquire them.
  • 48 Laws of Power by Robert Green – Truth be told, I enjoyed this, but about halfway through I was worn out and gave up.  Green’s work is a master tome in intrigue, power and strategy.   As you may surmise from the title there are 48 individual sections he dives into, unfortunately, it makes the book really choppy to read and keep connections in mind from chapter to chapter.
  • Bad Blood by John Carreyou – An unbelievable story, as well as a tremendous argument for doing your own work as an investor.

Management Theory

  • Creative Selection: Inside Apple’s Design Process During the Golden Age of Steve Jobs by Ken Kocienda – Great stories in here about how Apple manages the process of producing great products
  • 4 Disciplines of Execution by Chris McChesney, Sean Covery, Jim Huling – All businesses struggle to manage the on-going ‘whirlwind’ of the business.  With such busyness, how can they possibly expect to add to or improve their capabilities?  4DX (which is arguably a version of Agile in software development) is one such tool.
  • Trillion Dollar Coach by Eric Schmidt et al – Who was Bill Campbell and why did he leave such an amazing legacy among the greatest tech founders?
  • Reboot by Jerry Colonna  – Colonna, a former Venture Capitalist, turned executive coach makes the compelling case that leaders are more effective when they have faced and dealt with their own history and story.
  • Crucial Conversations by Patterson – How do we interact with others when the stakes are high?

Cognitive Functioning

  • The Reading Mind by Daniel Willingham – Fascinating look at what is known about the brain science behind literacy – thanks CF for the copy!
  • Thinking in Bets by Annie Duke – When we frame our decisions as bets, it changes dramatically how we approach decision making.

Cultural Analysis

This is by no means an exhaustive list and is a continuation of a series of books I read over the 2017/2018 time frame.  I remain a cautious student of our current cultural climate.

  • Dopesick by Beth Macy – Macy does an incredibly job of laying out what is going on in the opioid epidemic destroying communities across the country
  • Them by Ben Sasse – Senator Sasse’s second book continues many of the same themes as his first book, but looks more deeply at why in a time of such global connectivity, we remain so isolated from one another.
  • White Fragility by Robin Diangelo – While this book probably warrants a much longer and thoughtful reflection, no doubt, how we talk about and experience race is worth much deeper contemplation.
  • Coddling of the American Mind by Greg Lukianoff – This was absolutely fantastic.  It is a deep-dive look at the current climate of universities.

I have started David Brook’s new one – which pursues similar themes.


  • The Bettencourt Affair by Tom Sancton – Plucked straight from the news papers and tabloids of France, this wild book tells the story of the willing (or not?!) largesse of one of France’s richest women.
  • The Moscow Rules by Antonio and Joanna Mendez – From the author or Argo, Mendez recounts newly declassified information about how the CIA operated during the Cold War in Moscow itself.  Amazing stories of disguises, inflatable dummies and cool spy-tech


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