1. Shaky Ground: The Strange Saga of the U.S. Mortgage Giants - Bethany McLean
I really enjoy Bethany McLean's writing and her choices of topics. If you follow my reading, you'll know I read a ton about the financial crisis so it's rare to find something that offers a new perspective or detail. This one went into some interesting background and detail on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac that I either didn't know, or hadn't thought about in the way it was presented.
Besides finding it fascinating, one of the reasons I read so much on this topic is to better understand the inter-connectivity of our economy. They say that history doesn't repeat itself but it often rhymes, so the better I know history the better I feel equipped to understand the present.
It was only coincidental that right around the time I was reading this, CEO's of four of the largest tech companies in the world were testifying in front of Congress to discuss antitrust matters. I really liked that it was short and to the point, and it gave me some things to think about. Tim Wu was also a recent guest on The Prof G Show Podcast if you'd like to get a taste for the content in podcast format.
3. Everything is Obvious: Once You Know the Answer - Duncan Watts
This book really causes you to think about things that you may consider to be 'common sense' and to question how you know what you think you know. For example, in the Army they were trying to determine whether recruits from cities or rural areas would fare better in training. The original hypothesis was that those from rural areas would do better since they may be used to the living conditions more that those from cities. After doing a study though, they found that recruits from cities actually did better and they attributed it to comfort with hierarchy stemming from more familiarity with the hierarchies of large companies or organizations.
Sometimes I've found myself reading the results of a study and thinking "did they really even need to do a study on that? It seems so obvious." This book helps shed light on the fact that what may seem like 'common sense', still needs fact checking and validation. I really like behavioral economics and this one was a similar style, but not focused on finance. Definitely an interesting read.
4. The Great Inflation and Its Aftermath: The Past and Future of American Affluence - Robert J Samuelson
The Great Depression left emotional scars on the psyche of the generation who lived through it and influenced the investment behavior of an entire generation. Likewise, those who lived through the high inflation periods of the 1960's, 1970's, and 1980's have formed beliefs and fears that influence their behaviors today. This was interesting to read more about all the different ways inflation impacts our behavior and the economy, and gave me some things to think about as we plan for our future.
Inflation is one of the biggest risks for early retirees, which we planning to do. No plan is without risk, but it is important to me to make sure we are planning for things like inflation as best we can.
5. The Anarchy: The East India Company, Corporate Violence, and the Pillage of an Empire - William Dalrymple
This came recommended to me from some co-workers while on a business trip to India a while back and I just now got around to reading it. I wish I had read it before I had my trip since it really gives new perspective and who knows when I'll ever be able to get back. I knew that England had colonized India, but I had no idea the that the colonization was largely done by a private company and militia sanctioned by the government.
6. Enemy Contact (Jack Ryan #27) - Mike Maden
7. Firing Point (Jack Ryan #29) - Mike Maden
Lumping these two together as they were equally enjoyable, and most all the same characters. These are predictable and always seem to wrap up loose ends way too quickly, but I really like the characters and can read one of these books in ~3 days. No one can truly replace Tom Clancy but the Jack Ryan books that keep coming out do a good job of honoring his legacy.
8. Your Money: The Missing Manual - J.D. Roth
I really wanted to like this one, but really didn't get much out of it and won't be recommending it to anyone just getting started. I know the author has inspired a lot of people in the personal finance and early retirement community, it just didn't do much for me.