2022 Book Recommendations



As always, here are some books I've enjoyed this year, rated on a 5-point scale. Previous lists are available in the links.


Business, Finance & Economics


Understanding Michael Porter (Joan Magretta). Michael Porter's work on strategy is nothing sort of seminal but often described incorrectly. As a translator of Porter's work, Magretta is superb, clarifying concepts and updating Porter's work with his most recent thinking. I don't think it's an exaggeration to say this is one of the most important books I'll read this year. 5.0 years.


Bold Vision (Freddy Orchard). An excellent look at the history of GIC, one of Singapore's sovereign wealth funds. It covers a lot of fascinating economic history I didn't know. Hard not to feel a tinge of national pride at this one! 4.8 stars.


The Model (Richard H. Lawrence Jr.). The author recounts the principles underlying the very successful run he and his colleagues have had at the Overlook Fund, an Asia-focused investment firm. While the principles will not come as a surprise to those who have read the stories of investors like Buffett, I enjoyed the Asia-focused anecdotes. Overlook's emphasis on improving corporate governance also marks them as a 'Quality Shareholder', to use Larry Cunningham's memorable phrase. 4.1 stars.


Self-Improvement, Philosophy and Ethics


Four Thousand Weeks (Oliver Burkeman). A lovely book that tries to turn the "productivity" genre on its head. It preaches an acceptance of the finitude of our lives so as to be happier and more productive. A busy Christmas period interrupted my reading, and probably my ability to fully appreciate it, so I may come back to it at some point. Nonetheless, an excellent find. 4.8 stars.


Fiction


Death of a Perm Sec (Wong Souk Yee). A rare Singaporean political thriller, no doubt inspired by the author's experience as a political detainee. 4.4 stars.


Samarang Hotel (John Webb). A novel tinged with philosophy, telling the story of a disaffected hotel manager in Laos. Many laugh-out-loud moments in a much more serious overarching plot. 4.4 stars.


And The Award Goes To Sally Bong! (Sebastian Sim). The follow-up to Sim's first on Gimme Lao (see below). I preferred this over the first in the series, with the protagonist being a much more relatable character. 4.4 stars.


Let's Give It Up For Gimme Lao! (Sebastian Sim). An enjoyable work of fiction, interweaving many episodes in Singapore's history. The main character reflects many of the complicated motives behind Singapore's infamous high achievers. 4.3 stars.