My Favorite Books From 2017Submitted by Castlebar Asset Management on December 12th, 2017
I am always looking for a great book to read. Reading helps me relax, but it also helps build my mental lattice. I set a goal each year to read a certain number of books. This year I came up short of my goal, but the books I did read were all great. No throwaways so far!
Here is my list of favorite books 2017.
This is my favorite book of the year! Destined for War is a simple premise, over time there has been a ruling power and rising power. The US and China are the current pairing and there have been 16 examples in history of rivalry pairings. Only four historical pairings have avoided war. Author, Graham Allison analyses our current situation, offers practical solutions to avoid possible conflict between an established and emerging superpower. He also refers to other historical cases. I took an Origins of War class in college and this book reminds me of many of the topics covered in that class. Everyone I have recommended this book to has come back saying they feel significantly better informed and enlightened. This book is a gem – it is both timely and historical.
I rarely think about the electric grid until we have a power outage in my neighborhood. This book has shown up on other people’s book list from time to time and I got a deal on the Kindle version of the book. The Grid provides you the history of the US electric systems starting with Edison through today’s challenges and opportunities responding to technology. Sustainable energy sources bring havoc to an old system that has not kept pace with modern technology. I enjoyed taking a deep dive in a topic that I don’t know much about. This book helped me become better informed about the future of power generation, distribution and consumption.
The geography around us has a considerable influence on our culture, our local economy and how our governments approach their military. In Prisoners of Geography it explains why Russia’s military strategy is significantly influenced by the open plains on most of their borders. The book also compares how neighboring countries like France and Spain have thrived or suffered because of their farmable lands, navigable rivers and large natural harbors or lack of these natural assets. It also explains how the US has a perfect geographic set up to be a super power.
I try to read a few science fiction books each year. I only was able to read one this year and it was a terrific. This book was recommended from a podcast around the time of the solar eclipse. Imagine if the moon broke into seven pieces. Scientists predict that the earth has two years until those pieces fall to earth. This starts a race to get as many and as much stuff off the surface of earth and into space before those pieces come down and destroy the planet. It offers a unique take on who and what should represent the future of humanity and how humanity will survive in space until the Earth is ready for them to return.
This is the only pure business book on my list this year. Dear Chairman is a history of shareholder activism. Jeff Graham provides historical case studies of different shareholder activist letters and the follow up conversation (sometimes battles) between shareholders and the companies. If you enjoy business history, you’ll find this a great read.
If Michael Lewis writes a book it typically ends up on my must-read list. This book did not disappoint. The Undoing Project looks at two of the founders of behavior psychology (and behavioral finance). Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky are fascinating individuals and this book focuses more on their background and friendship and less on their theories. I have gone back and revisited a few of Tversky and Kahenman’s papers and found I had a slightly different perspective on their work after knowing the challenges both men had growing up, their military history and their personal struggles once they moved to the US.
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