In a new tradition I bring you an ill timed best of the books I read in 2017 list. To be fair to me, I wrote this way back in December 2017 but somehow didn’t get around to publishing it. Then, as time passed, it started to become awkward. I thought to myself “It’s March 2018 now, does it really make sense to publish a best of 2017 list?”. The awkward feeling grew with each month that passed, until to this very day! This is the day I break my chains of awkwardness and any need for relevance hit “Publish” on my list of best books of 2017.
The weirdness doesn’t stop there. In another long lasting tradition of Therapy With Books (after all it’s my second best of list, check out the one for 2018 so far here) I have chosen books that were not necessarily published in 2017. It’s picked from stuff I read in 2017.
Hope you enjoy.
Boyhood Island – Karl Ove Knausgaard
This one is interesting for me. I don’t particularly understand why I enjoyed it so much, and to be fair it’s not about this particular book but about the whole way of this guy writes. The way he captures the day to day, the mundane in a way that resonates and connects with someone who has probably the exact opposite of his upbringing is impressive. I am ready to read pretty much anything he writes without really knowing why.
Martin Eden – Jack London
I came across this book pretty randomly. No one recommended it to me, I didn’t read about it. In fact, I picked it up from my childhood library when I was searching for a book for the trip back to London. No idea how it got there in the first place. Certainly not a book fit for a 7-8 year old (need to have a conversation with my parents!). But boy did it hit the spot. I finished the entire thing on the way in one sitting. It talks about blind ambition, about someone who is unhappy about his station in life but is willing to put the effort in to change this. However it also talks about nihilism, where blind ambition ultimately leads. In the process it explores the banality and meaninglessness of an industrialised life, the escape in drink and other familiar themes. Particularly enjoyed how both day to day physical struggle (hunger, fights, financial struggle) makes Martin Eden as well as purely ideological sphere about individualism vs. socialism.
Prisoners of Geography – Tim Marshall:
I, most probably, am not the only one who would pick this book for a top of 2017 list. I grew fond of books that explores the fundamental reasons of how our contemporary world came to be and how these fundamental reasons could go on to shape our world in the near and not so near future. They are blueprints of understanding. This book is one such book. As the title aptly suggests, the author looks at major countries/regions and explains the effects of their location on their current status. If you want to understand Russia, China, US and how these powers will be interacting with each other, you can do worse than reading this book.
Principles – Ray Dalio:
Again, I am not being very original here but I don’t particularly care. A good book is a good book and this was a good one (aiming for the deep meaning that lies behind the timeless statement that is “Brexit means Brexit” with this specific sentence). This book was a huge insight into the way one of the top hedge fund managers operates and beyond that, how they came to operate that way. Beyond the particular principles/algorithms themselves which were already very useful, this book shows you where the bar for world class success is (very very high) with regards to thinking rigour and mental models.
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