The easiest way to get lost is in a good book and I’ve been reading a few lately that you may be interested in….
In Fiction, I’ve read about 20 books this summer (including Grisham’s latest flops) and can only recommend a few for you. I can’t really claim a category of books as a favorite as you may note by viewing my Goodreads profile, but I have been reading a lot of books set in the near future that I’ve been particularly enjoying. Books like Ready Player One, Wool, & Cumulus are all set in the near future and have a Vonnegutian simplicity to their focus on a small change and the social ramifications of that small change. If you’re curious what the future may hold….
Ready Player One examines the future of VR… not AR, but what a world enthralled in VR may look like and how individuals may participate in a society that interacts in a nearly all digital world. Ernest Cline holds nothing back with 80s nostalgia and video game lore which brings a smile to your face if you were a kid in the 80s. Not to be overlooked though is the more important configuration of the story line, it is setup like the story line of a video game which itself is ambitious and not a story arc that many authors are brave enough to tackle. Ernest does a stellar job with this story arc and delivers an easy to read tale.
Cumulus examines another part of our future… not a society broken down by the move from physical interaction to digital, but a society broken down by the growing divide between the haves and the have-nots. As the wealth gap increases, so does the opportunities for employment and self-sustainability. explores how a world of self-driving cars and artificial intelligence is susceptible to the same human greed that has always troubled society. Pitting San Francisco against Oakland to bring to life the social divide that entrepreneurs and innovators can drive across the bridge to witness the start of this dark and scary tale of espionage that Eliot so engagingly explores.
Wool was an introduction to me of an author I think I’ll be reading more of, Hugh Howey. Hugh’s tale of a post-apocalyptic world is the most extreme of the first three stories. If you usually shy away from these types of stories, Wool may be the place to make an exception. The characters act as a looking glass to reveal behaviors that we all have adopted simply to function in our society and then surprises you with how the most innocuous of behaviors can be the source of good or evil depending on the situation. I’ve certainly walked away thinking about the assumptions I make in my life and I bet you will too.
The fourth book I’d recommend you pick up for a good Sunday afternoon at the beach or that one more novel you want to read on the flight home is Neon Fever Dream. Also written by Eliot Peper, Neon Fever Dream is an incredibly fast paced book that brings you into the ever more popular Burning Man and weaves a tale of deceit and espionage into the free thinking oasis in the desert. If you want to be thoroughly entertained in a matter of hours I highly recommend picking this one up.
Non-Fiction, I’ve been slacking a little, but still read five books this summer and have two pretty amazing books to recommend.
The first is Devil Take the Hindmost, If you have any interest in the financial markets, as an investor, as a person with a retirement account, or as a business owner – this is an easy read with an amazing amount of detail walking you through the act of speculation in financial markets through time. If you’ve read the other books focused on speculation such as The Great Crash of 1929 or A Short History of Financial Euphoria, you’ll find that Edward Chancellor goes above and beyond in Devil Take the Hindmost, often referencing the other books and research available but putting those stories and research into context of history and the many different players involved in the financial markets. One fun tidbit Edward included is the current presidential nominee, Hillary Rodham Clinton’s foray into commodity speculation in 1978 where she turned a $1k stake into $100k in a short ten months. No wonder Wall Street loves her… they’re jealous.
Everybody Wins! A Life in Free Enterprise was half snore… and half edge-of-my-seat. To be perfectly honest, I skipped most of the memoir at the beginning and end of the book and took copious notes in the middle where Gordan Cain details his thought process and deal making for a number of LBOs in the 80s. As an angel investor and entrepreneur the tales and perspectives here were interesting. Generating huge multiples and wealth creation for all of the employees within the LBOs Cain undertook, Cain’s views on entrepreneurship by buying the right left over assets to meet an unforseen market shift is pure genius and a tactic to think about more carefully for anyone in business.