Books I read in 2022

In my own contribution to the fashion du jour, listing down the (mostly) written words that absorbed my attention in the year gone by. In no particular order except what my memory serves

  1. Ponniyin Selvan – Book 1: Got me interested from the movie and began diving into the book. Discovered the movie doesn’t do the book justice at all *ducks*. The intrigues, the character development, the dialogues, the historical context is GOT level (barring the season we all know). Highly recommended
  2. Ponniyin Selvan – Book 2: The eponymous hero comes into being and the literature matches the historical titan Rajaraja Chola or Ponniyin Selvan was. The twists, characters are all up several notches. Can’t wait to see what the other 3 books hold
  3. Story of Russia: If you really want to understand Putin’s Russia today . . . then you simply have to read Figes’s superb account in The Story of Russia’. This blurb sums the book well. Again the trigger was the contemporary geopolitics and gives some context on why Ukraine is a red line for Russia.
  4. Fanatical Prospecting: I have struggled with sales in my previous startups and side projects. This book brings back the focus on what matters in sales – no clever tricks or sassy relationship building, only a tunnel vision on creating a pipeline which never runs dry. Back to basics, helps declutter a lot of sales mythology. Highly recommended esp for technical folks
  5. Bad blood: The story of Elizabeth Holmes by the guy who cracked the case. I love books which catch attention from prologue onwards and this one didn’t let me put it down. A cautionary tale in believing your own delusions and being afraid to face failure. What’s clear is Holmes didn’t start out wanting to be a fraud, but a billionaire and could have sustainably succeeded if it was not playing with patient’s lives. Also one realises how powerful large corporations are in their ability to bankrupt you with legal fees itself
  6. The smartest guys in the room: Bad blood sent me on a scent chase of similar tales of corporate downfalls through fraud. This book about the Enron saga is another masterpiece, though more detailed and has a lot of backstory. As the title suggests, the guys who built the Enron fraud were already on top of their game and could retire early, however they wanted to reach the pinnacle of history.
  7. Power – Why some people have it, and others don’t : Jeffrey Pfeffer, the author is OB professor at Stanford business school. The book contains interesting case studies and techniques on how to accumulate more power in corporate settings. To be honest, I found the advice and techniques quite basic. Maybe its because of my decade long career in different companies, the advice seems stale, but might be useful to a fresher
  8. The cold start problem by Andrew Chen. Yet another highly credentialed author (GP at Andreesen Horowitz, xVP at Uber) writing a very basic book with generic advice. Solving the marketplace chicken’n’egg problem is one of the most complex but this book has little else other than basic nuggets being suggested from the author’s experience. Maybe as like all good things in life, it boils down to the basic of good product and good old hard work
  9. The minimalist entrepreneur by Sahil Lavingia. Now here is a book I found quite interesting. The author is founder of gum road, famous for evangelizing the build it slow, fully remote, lifestyle business which turns a tidy profit. He advocates a different style of entrepreneurship from the VC funded expressway, one that allows you to retain control of business and life. Good read
  10. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy by John le Carre. My disappointment with Le Carre continues. After reading his one book – “The spy who came in from the cold” which was undoubtedly one of the greatest spy thrillers ever, I have been on a wild carre chase to find something as good. In came ‘The honourable schoolboy’, ‘Smiley’s people’ but I couldn’t manage to finish it. Finally I decided to read the his next most acclaimed TTSS but that has come up short as well. Not that the story is bad, however reading his books feel like a train with two locomotives – one at the front and other at the back. Too much mindless detailing and background makes you lose interest in the story completely.
  11. My life and work by Henry the Ford. Pretty amazing book, don’t know why its not in the top autobiographies list. His clarity, vision and machine like adherance to excellence and optimization should make inspiring read for any entrepreneur
  12. Flow: The Classic Work On How To Achieve Happiness is an excellent read. It talks about how the real happiness comes in being immersed in activity, such that the hours simply vanish. Truth be told, this classic work on achieving happiness made me quite sad as well. In the beginning it details a graphic sketch of how chasing material and outward goals will lead to utter disillusionment, by the time we realise its quite late and life has already passed us by.
  13. Man’s search for meaning . Victor Frankl is right up there with Freud, Jung and Adler in classic psychology theories which define an individual. Victor’s contribution is logotherapy or that man’s life is nothing but trying to find something meaningful to do and achieve. Deserved classic. The graphic retelling of his holocaust survival in the book is not for the faint hearted.
  14. The Will to Meaning: Foundations and Applications of Logotherapy by Victor Frankl. Books usually follow a chain. From Flow, I learnt about Victor Frankl and his beautiful autobiography. That got me interested in learning more about his branch of psychotherapy which tries to assign meaning and directions to individuals who are traumatized, depressed etc. This book discusses some such cases and is quite an interesting read
  15. Greenlights: Raucous stories and outlaw wisdom from the Academy Award-winning actor Matt McConaughey is quite a legend. The fact that he was merely 25 when he delivered an amazing performance in ‘A time to kill’ was a TIL moment for me. He is a person of varied interests including spirituality with Sadhguru. Hence I picked up this book. Has some funny anecdotes and his learnings from his eventful life
  16. Inventory Optimization: Models and Simulations I just realised that this is the only technical book I read in 2022. The last year was full of technical books, however since Github copilot has become my online coach, mentor for coding, am not relying on books and courses at all anymore. This book specially helped me for the ONDC hackathon contest I participated in (and won). Very good read for anyone wanting to understand inventory optimization using python
  17. Lifespan : Why We Age – and Why We Don’t Have To: David Sinclair is a proponent of the theory that ageing is a disease and that it can be reversed. Seems fanciful but his experiments with yeast and later mice look quite credible. In a nutshell to delay ageing – fast (intermittently) till they discover a cure. Good read
  18. Selfish Gene by Richard Dawkins. Now this is one landmark book, the term meme originated here. If I can recommend to you one book to read in this list, this is one. Amazing how genes can play the game of deceit, entrapment and sacrifice in their quest for survival and propagation. Brilliant
  19. Brainwashing: The science of thought control: Am putting it down here even though I couldn’t get around to finishing it. The selfish gene was so good, I started picking other titles from the Oxford Landmark science series and was disappointed in the first pick. Not sure why this book is catalogued as science, it mainly is an opinion piece of how brainwashing happens. The fact that the author is cherry picking examples from woke left wing journals doesn’t add to the credibility. Avoid!
  20. Starting strength by Mark Rippetoe. This is again an extraordinary book and has helped me get on the path of purposeful strength training. Thanks to my surgeon brother (to whom I turn to for all things health related) for recommending this. After years of dawdling and doing ad hoc exercises, this book is a great guide to mindfully build your strength. Can get too detailed at times and needs a lot of attention, but once you get through the rite of passages, it will bear a lot of good fruit.