Sunday, April 5, 2020

March 2020 Reading Review

Like many of you, I've spent most of the month of March working from home. My workload is a bit heavier than normal as my company has been heavily impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak and I have been doing a lot of financial scenario analysis. Nevertheless, I still was able to finish 7 books in the month of March and wanted to document them here.

I have gotten to the point that if a book truly isn't good, I don't finish it. So the fact that I finished all 7 of these is a sort of recommendation for any of them. There are, however, some that were better than others and I've broken them out below.

My Best 3 Books of the Month:

Young Money: Inside the Hidden World of Wall Street's Post-Crash Recruits - Kevin Roose.
If you know a young person considering a career on Wall Street, this is a good recommendation. When Michael Lewis originally wrote Liars Poker, he says he thought it would have been a rebuke of the industry and was later surprised to see that it actually caused many people to flock to it. This book shows another side of the coin that reflects the reasons I chose to avoid this particular career path, mainly mental health and work/life balance. 

Where are the Customers Yachts?: Or a Good Hard Look at Wall Street - Fred Schwed Jr
Written back in 1940 yet remarkably still applicable, this book takes shots at Wall Street banks, the ways they make money, and the relationships they have with their customers. I enjoyed it and it was a fairly quick read.

The Man Who Solved the Market: How Jim Simons Launched the Quant Revolution - Gregory Zuckerman
This was a fascinating view into one of the most successful hedge funds that you've probably never heard of (their flagship Medallion fund had 30 year average annual return from 1988-2018 was a whopping 39% after fees!). One part that repeatedly stood out to me is how the personalities in the book differ so much from the stereotypical trader and align with engineers, coders, or mathematicians. If you're looking for a more 'Wall Street' book, check out 'The Greatest Trade Ever', by the same author.

Other books I also read in March:

The Frackers: The Outrageous Inside Story of the New Billionaire Wildcatters - Gregory Zuckerman.
I didn't realize until I was going through this that I had actually read two books from the same author in the same month. Coincidentally I also happened to be reading this book when oil prices plummeted to their lowest point in years. When I first saw the drop in oil prices, my mind immediately went back to an article I read that caused me to want to learn more about the players in fracking and having now read this book, it further reinforces my belief that we're likely to see a lot of bankruptcies in the fracking space.

How Full is Your Bucket - Tom Rath
This was a really quick read and gave me a few things to think about but wasn't exactly life changing. I tend to be a pretty upbeat person already, and this caused me to think about how my attitude influences others. This is especially important in the workplace right now during uncertain economic times, and I have to try especially hard to brighten anyone else's day since my entire team is working from home 100% and has been for the last few weeks.

We Were the Lucky Ones - Georgia Hunter
This book follows various peoples lives and stories throughout the horrors of WWII, all based on true stories. I've read many similar accounts, and each one causes me to be thankful to live in the time and place that I do and to do my part to not allow the mistakes of prior generations to repeat.

Conquistador: Hernan Cortes, King Montezuma, and the Last Stand of the Aztecs - Buddy Levy
This one came recommended from a friend living in Latin America and dove into details of the Conquistadors I never knew about, but also hadn't ever thought about.

I welcome any recommendations you might have as I am plowing through my 'to-read' shelf and always need to be adding new titles.

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