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2023 Book Recommendations



Previous lists are available here.


Business, Finance & Economics


Make Something Wonderful (Steve Jobs). As the book's subtitle says, this is a series of writings about entrepreneurship by Steve Jobs "in his own words". I discovered this book through David Senra's excellent podcast on the book. Like many tributes to Jobs, it glosses over some of the less admirable parts of his life, but it's still a superb introduction to the man and his achievements. 4.8 stars.


The Outsiders (William N. Thorndike, Jr). This is probably the 3rd of 4th time I've read this modern classic. There's always something new to find. On the other hand, some of its lessons have become so ingrained in modern ideas about capital allocation that they perhaps seem less novel than they once did. Still, a superb read. 4.8 stars.


The Activist Director (Ira Millstein). Ira Millistein, a legendary corporate lawyer, has written a superb book on the role of boards. He doesn't pull any punches, leading to some fascinating stories, particularly about his time on the General Motors board. 4.6 stars.


How to be a Founder (Alice Bentinck and Matt Clifford). Bentinck and Clifford founded a highly unusual VC platform, and capture their best lessons for anyone interested in entrepreneurship. 4.6 stars.


Banking on America (Howard Green). A fascinating (mostly modern) history of TD Bank and its expansion into the US. Extremely readable and written for a popular audience. 4.4 stars.


How Stella Saved the Farm (Vijay Govindarajan and Chris Trimble). This is an allegory about making innovating in corporations while protecting your core business. Punchy and memorable with some important lessons, and can be read in one sitting. 4.2 stars.


About Gartner (Catherine Fredman). A good look at the IT advisory giant, though at times seems to gloss over some major decisions and periods in the company's history. 4.2 stars.


Invested (Charles Schwab). This is a very solid business biography of the founder of the eponymous brokerage/financial services firm. The Schwab story is far from linear, with some major downturns along the way, so it makes for some fascinating reading. 4.2 stars.


How Boards Work (Dambisa Moyo). This is a good introduction to corporate boards. Moyo is very careful not to air any dirty laundry, which, while prudent, detracts from the power of the book. 3.9 stars.


Other Non-Fiction


The Escape Artist (Jonathan Freedland). The incredible story of Rudolf Vrba, who broke out of Auschwitz to alert the world to the horrors of Nazi concentration camps. It's sometimes easy to forget just how shocking the atrocities were, the sheer scale on which they were committed and the way they were covered up for so long. 4.6 stars.


Everyday Dharma (Suneel Gupta). I heard the author on a podcast and was intrigued by his application of Hindu philosophical tenets to the modern world. Very readable and wise. 4.5 stars.


Take That - Now and Then (Martin Roach). The defining musical group of my pre-teens. I'm admittedly biased, and would hardly classify this as a classic of the genre, but I learned a lot about the group and its music. A must-read for fans. 4.0 stars.


Fiction


The Sleepwalker's Guide to Dancing (Mira Jacob). A beautiful novel about the complexity of family life in an Indian-American family. I'm obviously biased, but I thoroughly enjoyed seeing so much of Malayalee culture represented wonderfully. Full of laugh-out-loud comedy and heart-wrenching moments. 4.7 stars.


The Great Reclamation (Rachel Heng). With its sweeping view of Singapore prior to WWII and through its independence, this lovely book could well stake a claim to the being The Great Singapore Novel. As always, I enjoyed seeing a serious literary work extensively use Singlish. Deserves the major critical acclaim it has garnered. 4.6 stars.


A Hero Born (Jin Yong). The first book in the popular Chinese Legends of the Condor Heroes series. An excellent escape if you're looking for adventure and fantasy mixed with historical fiction. 4.5 stars.


A Bond Undone (Jin Yong). The second book in the series. 4.5 stars.


Beijing Opera Murder (Chris West). A very solid police procedural with what seeemed like a unique premise, i.e. a detective in Beijing's police force in a rapidly changing post-Tiananmen China. 4.4 stars.

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