Book Reviews

I read once or twice a week for a few hours. Mostly non fiction books about history, money, and space. Here are some books that I have read over the past few years and my thoughts:

Shoe Dog - Phil Knight

Great read, worth the time. Phil walks through some of the “all in” bets he took to get Nike started. For me it was interesting to see how much easier it was to start a business back then with a few key partners. It was also cool to hear about his athlete deals and competition with Adidas.

Think and Grow Rich - Napoleon Hill

Don’t waste your time. Catchy title and always one of the first “self help” books that comes up. This book is hard to read, outdated, and lacks any examples/substance.

The Wealthy Barber - David Chilton

This was one of my first reads out of college, and I enjoyed it. Provides good foundational knowledge of some things you don’t think about in college (dollar cost averaging, life insurance, wills) with solid first person examples. None of the investment strategies will knock your socks off, but good beginner book.

Red Notice - Bill Browder

This book rocks. One of my all time favorite reads of a true story about a successful investor who started investing in Russia right after the fall of USSR. Ends up getting arrested by Putin, and Obama had to step in. Super informational about the Russian oligarchs that I think could translate to China if they ever pursue democracy. Timely with Russia/Ukraine war.

A Brief History Of Time - Stephen Hawking

Hardest, but most rewarding book I have read. This book pretty much sums up everything we know (but actually don’t know) about our universe. He briefly introduces us to his life before getting knee deep in some advanced physics, I’m talking imaginary numbers, quantum physics, and all of that good stuff. Took me almost a whole summer to read and took notes the whole time. Strong math/physics background prolly needed.

The Total Money Makeover - Dave Ramsey

Maybe, but probably not. Ramsey is a pretty polarizing guy, who typically endorses the more traditional mutual fund investment route. I think some of the things in this book don’t apply anymore. I think if you read The Wealthy Barber, then you probably don’t need to read this one, but if you’re looking for advice from a 60 year old father figure this is it.

Billion Dollar Whale - Tom Wright & Bradley Hope

Would recommend. This nonfiction reads like a fiction since the fraud it details is so crazy. Not sure how he pulled it off, but this story is definitely something they could make a movie about.

Atomic Habits - James Clear

People love it, so I guess that means something. This book did a great job of outlining tangible steps in a progression towards better habits. It’s clear that Clear knows what he is talking about and his personal story is fascinating. I already have some great habits, but I am sure others found it to be great.

Make Your Bed - Admiral William McRaven

In hindsight, I’d just watch the video. This book is based off of a college graduation speech that McRaven gave (or visa versa) that was inspiring. Outlines how small actions can snowball into a more fulfilling life through many anecdotes from when he was serving. Very similar vibe to Atomic Habits.

Greenlights - Matthew McConaughey

Good, easy read. Matthew McConaughey is one of my favorite actors, so I have a bias there, but I really enjoyed this book. I didn’t gain anything profound or incredibly inspiring, but thought it was really interesting to learn more about his life. I also do like the whole “greenlights” framework on life. I’ve heard his narration in the audiobook is pretty awesome.

A Promised Land - Barack Obama

So this is what a president’s life looks like? Politics aside, I thought this book gave a great look into the life of a president from campaigning, to travel, to life in the White House. This was my first presidential read, so I’m not sure how it stacks up against others, but I thought it was a deeply fascinating book. Obama smoked like a pack a day in the White House, lol who knew.

Astrophysics for People in a Hurry - Neil DeGrasse Tyson

Another decent space book. For me, this book was a dumbed down version of A Brief History of Time. This book doesn’t include any of the math, but more so the general concepts of space and time. If you have time, read Hawking, but if in a hurry the title speaks for itself.

Zero to One - Peter Thiel

All time read. I really enjoyed reading this book and getting some insights to how the PayPal Mafia thinks. Not sure how, but that group of entrepreneurs and investors always seem to frame their views of problems and potential solutions differently. This book highlights some different ways to think about the world’s biggest issues. Short book with lots of info.

The Entrepreneur Roller Coaster - Darren Hardy

Not worth it imo. Darren Hardy seems like a pretty cools guy, but this book just seems to reiterate things that are commonly known. Someone gave me this book as part of a multilevel marketing scheme so maybe I just have a bad taste from that.

Never Eat Alone- Keith Ferrazzi

Catchy title and pretty good book. This books gave me some new insights to relationships and networking, mostly within the corporate and business world. It definitely reduces the stigma around just saying “f*** it” and reaching out to talk to new people. I really need to stop eating lunch by myself.

The 10X Rule - Grant Cardone

Big reputation, but seemed to deliver. Grant Cardone is another high energy, and sometimes polarizing guy. It feels like everyone reads this book, but maybe for a reason? This book was somewhat inspirational and defined what kind of effort (regardless of talent or privilege) is needed to have massive success.

Proving Einstein Right - S. James Gates & Cathie Pelletier

Depends on what you want. I got this books and thought it was going to be more science based like Hawking or DeGrasse Tyson, but this book was more based on the journey and expeditions that took place that occurred to collect astrological data in support of Einstein’s theory of relativity.

Rich Dad Poor Dad- Robert Kiyosaki

Famous book, start here. I enjoyed this read quite a bit. Where The Wealthy Barber details more traditional investment routes, this book was my first introduction to cash flowing assets and other vehicles of that nature. I would recommend you read this book right before or after The Wealthy Barber to get a few different perspectives.

Cashflow Quadrant - Robert Kiyosaki

Same dude, more detail. If you liked Rich Dad Poor Dad and want some more detail, this is the book. This book offers a deeper breakdown of cashflow, detailed balance sheet, and some examples that I found useful.

How the Futures Markets Work - Jake Bernstein

Not me, not nobody. Stole this book from my dad, and it underdelivered. It read like a textbook and is something that you would only read if it was needed for a job, in my opinion. I think it’s a pretty old book too, so maybe not so relevant since now is the “future”

Brief Answers to the Big Questions - Stephen Hawking

Good, but grim. In a follow up to A Brief History of Time, Hawking addresses some of the most controversial questions out there. Overall, it was a good read with some interesting thoughts and insights (Hawking delivers again), but was pretty depressing on the future of the world (I guess only time will tell) and pretty atheist.

Freakonomics - Steven Levitt & Stephen Dubner

Worth the read. This book does a good job of explaining how to breakdown problems and peel the layers to uncover the simpler details that makeup complex problems. Gives details on realistic scenarios like buying a house.

Super Freakonomics - Steven Levitt & Stephen Dubner

The title pretty much sums this one up. This book is a follow up to Freakonomics, providing some even more complex problems and analyzing their innerworking.

The Startup of You - Reid Hoffman

Average read in the middle of my list. I thought this book was going to be really corny, but it actually did a decent job of explaining the “3 degrees of separation” concept and gave some more insights into the PayPal Mafia that Reid Hoffman was apart of (also mentioned in the Zero to One review).

Stuff You Should Know - Josh Clark & Chuck Bryant

Kind of random. Not sure if I would recommend this book for a read or for  perusal. There’s no real theme besides it just being a collection of random facts, that at times are interesting. I think this is based off of a podcast I haven’t listened to, so if you love the podcast you may love the book.

Emotional Intelligence - Gil Hasson

Like, maybe if you’re not emotionally stable? I found this book pretty self explanatory, but maybe that means I am a master of my emotions. This book explains better ways to handle your emotions, as well as analyze your own behavior. For me, this was just another self help book that fell short.

Principles for Dealing with the Changing World Order - Ray Dalio

Super dense, but really interesting. This book outlines the rise and fall or famous world powers and the reasons behind each. From these examples he identifies recurring and underlying themes that help predict these cycles. The US is doing well, but China is on the climb. This one is a doozy, I’m still reading it, so let me get back to ya.

The Defining Decade - Meg Jay

Cool stats & makes you feel decent. This book is written by a psychologist whose clients are mainly people in their twenties going through some sort of identity/direction crisis. As a college grad it made me feel pretty good about where I was at and why I shouldn’t feel rushed. Even though I didn’t quite agree with all of the opinions, the statistics to back them were interesting.

American Kingpin - Nick Bolton

Nonfiction that reads like fiction. This book is very similar to Billion Dollar Whale and Red Notice in how it reads. It’s more of a thriller than informative, but takes you through one of the biggest drug busts in US history and the beginning phases of bitcoin.

When We Cease to Understand the World - Benjamin Labatut

Not so much a book as it is a collection of short stories. Each chapter is about a different major historic discovery, and the story behind the person who made it. Pretty interesting short read.

Current Read: Titan

Next Read: The Little Book of Common Sense Investing