Favorite Books of 2018

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book review

It’s been a great year for me in terms of reading – 44 books in total. Here are some of the ones I enjoyed the most.

How to turn down a billion dollars

“I am now convinced that the fastest way to figure out if you are doing something truly important to you is to have someone offer you a bunch of money to part with it.

“The rock stars of the company were not the developers but rather the artists. The founders came from animation and media backgrounds. The walls of the office were covered in personalized cartoons, giving it the feel of an art studio rather than a tech startup.”

How to talk about books you haven’t read

“Reading is first and foremost non-reading. Even in the case of the most passionate lifelong readers, the act of picking up and opening a book masks the countergesture that occurs at the same time: the involuntary act of not picking up and not opening all the other books in the universe.”

“In truth, readers and non-readers alike are caught up in an endless process of inventing books, whether they like it or not, and the real question is not how to escape that process, but how to increase its dynamism and its range.

Kafka on the shore

“Closing your eyes isn’t going to change anything. Nothing’s going to disappear just because you can’t see what’s going on. In fact, things will even be worse the next time you open your eyes. That’s the kind of world we live in. Keep your eyes wide open. Only a coward closes his eyes. Closing your eyes and plugging up your ears won’t make time stand still.

“Narrow minds devoid of imagination. Intolerance, theories cut off from reality, empty terminology, usurped ideals, inflexible systems. Those are the things that really frighten me. What I absolutely fear and loathe.” 

“It’s like Tolstoy said. Happiness is an allegory, unhappiness a story.” 

Straight to hell

“Rules are for the obedience of fools and the guidance of wise men. […] Let scholarship kids, or worse, do-gooder types follow the rules. Then come talk to me in twenty years.

“Who you know is as important as what you do and how you are perceived is more important than any reality.”

The billion dollar whale

“Jho Low’s story epitomizes the shocking power of those who learn how to master the levers of international finance in the twenty-first century. How he thrived, and what it says about the failure of global capitalism, is the subject of this book”

“It was a lesson that power and prestige—or at least the appearance of it—opened all kinds of doors. Low positioned himself in the group as someone who could get things done. He’d make the bookings and collect money when it came time for the bill, making it appear like he was the one paying. He became the fixer, trading off his proximity to the truly powerful, and it had the effect of making him a focus of attention.

Be slightly evil: a playbook for sociopaths

“I divide my officers into four classes; the clever, the lazy, the industrious, and the stupid. Most often two of these qualities come together. The officers who are clever and industrious are fitted for the highest staff appointments. Those who are stupid and lazy make up around 90% of every army in the world, and they can be used for routine work.

The man who is clever and lazy however is for the very highest command; he has the temperament and nerves to deal with all situations. But whoever is stupid and industrious is a menace and must be removed immediately!

Disney War

A Disney-esque house of cards in the Michael Eisner era.

Essays in Love

“Yet we can perhaps only ever fall in love without knowing quite who we have fallen in love with. The initial convulsion is necessarily founded on ignorance. Love or simple obsession? Who, if not time (which lies in its own way), could possibly begin to tell?

“Certainly travellers had returned from the heart and tried to represent what they had seen, but love was in the end like a species of rare coloured butterfly, often sighted, but never conclusively identified.

The Author

Some musings about tech + philosophy + econ.

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