These are my favorite books from this year.
The Future of Money. I’m waist deep in this compendium of financial history that traces money from the first paper currency issued by Kublai Khan to modern day crypto. The Future of Money is great so far, but I’m running out of time to finish it before 2022, so it might not truly belong on this list!
Words like Loaded Pistols. I discovered rhetoric in 2021 and read this book and The Elements of Eloquence which demonstrate the hundreds of literary devices we use to imbue language with flourish to entice or cajole the reader to hurdle over the period at the end of a sentence and sprint through the next, till the end of a tract.
The Sovereign Individual is an older book but foundational reading for web3. As taxpayers, we are customers of the government. At some point, most governments fail to produce enough value to justify the federal vigorish. Defiant citizens dissatisfied with their ROI revolt either by decamping or demanding regime change.
The Code Breaker relates the history behind CRISPR, a technology that enables biochemists to alter DNA via RNA, and the woman behind the innovation Jennifer Doudna. Walter Isaacson’s profile illuminates the science and history behind mRNA vaccines and poses difficult questions about the future of gene editing.
A Swim in a Pond in the Rain. George Saunders teaches one of the most lauded courses in fiction writing. He recasts his syllabus into this page by page dissection of four of the greatest Russian writers' short stories, a tour guide illustrating how these geniuses weave wonderful worlds and evoke emotions in few words.
Big Debt Crises and The Changing World Order trace Ray Dalio’s journey to understand macroeconomics throughout history. Dalio’s decades as an investor orient this potentially dry topic into a relatable and actionable guide to how to think about the US' next 50 years.
How Emotions are Made. Anger doesn’t provoke increased heart rate, flushing of the cheeks, and rage universally. Rather fury is something we define and create in our brains individually. Separately, emotional granularity, possessing an ample lexicon of different feeling-words, forms the essence of effective communication.
Draft No. 4. John McPhee has written for the New Yorker for more than 56 years, authored more than 30 books, taught non-fiction at Princeton, received the Pulitzer, and pioneered the use of fiction-techniques in non-fiction. He narrates how he writes through his work. Stunning.
This is How They Tell Me the World Ends. If you need more motivation to start using a password manager, this is it. Perlroth recounts how the smallest lapses in security snowball into massive international fiascoes and uncovers the clandestine war fought using the same wires that we use to surf the web.
The Order of Time. The Order of Time simplifies quantum relativity with poeticism by relating the science to quotidian experience.
Midnight in Chernobyl the hour-by-hour story of heroism and fecklessness in the face of a history-making disaster. Reads like a spy-thriller.
Engines that Move Markets. Phillipe Laffont tweeted this is one of his two favorite books; Mindset completing the pair. Reminiscent of Carlota Perez’s Technological Revolutions and Financial Capital, Engines that Moves Markets traces the boom and bust cycles of key industries like telephony, trains, and energy on the United States and its financial markets.
A Man for All Markets. Edward Thorpe ran a hugely lucrative hedge fund pricing convertible warrants, developed techniques for beating the house at blackjack and trained a cabal of MIT kids to do the same, derived Black-Scholes' options pricing formula independently, and spearheaded the use of the Kelly criterion in finance.