A Complete Summer Reading List

One of my favourite parts of summer is having the opportunity to catch up on pleasure reading.  Like many, I read so much work-related material that it is refreshing to have the luxury to broaden my thinking and information intake by reading non-work related books.

Inspired in part by the Wall Street Journal’s recent piece on VC Summer Reading, here  are a few of the books that have been capturing my imagination lately, organised by topic.

Life Management/Happiness/Health

Despite being a computer scientist/technology wonk/business type, I am fascinated with books on the philosophy of life and seeking happiness.

  • A New Earth:  Awakening to Your Life’s Purposes by Eckhart Tolle.  My former business partner Michael Bronner recommended this excellent book to me.  I found the lessons regarding managing your ego and maintaining personal equilibrium to be so compelling that I wrote down a dozen or so excerpts and put them up in my office.  
  • Happier:  Learn the Secrets to Daily Joy and Lasting Fulfillment by Tal Ben-Shahar.  This book is a thoughtful exploration into what makes you happy, encouraging self-awareness and wise choices.  My friend Dan Allen recommended it to me.  An insightful study covered by the Atlantic Monthly on this important topic of happiness is also worth a read.
  • Younger Next Year: A Guide to Living Like 50 Until You’re 80 and Beyond by Chris Crowley and Henry Lodge.  One of my softball teammates pushed this one on me and I adored it.  I’ve given it to a dozen friends as a gift – encouraging them to maintain the philosophy that health, fitness and well-being does not have to degrade as you get older.

Family/Kids

My three kids remain one of my most passionate obsessions, so I’m a sucker for any recommended books about child-rearing and family management.  A few of my recent favourites:

  • Nurture Shock: New Thinking About Children by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman.  David Kidder of Clickale suggested this one to me and I have enjoyed it as a book that cuts against conventional wisdom in many areas of raising children.
  • The Talent Code:  Greatness Isn’t Born, It’s Grown. Here’s How by Daniel Coyle.  My partner Jon Karlen recommended this one to me.  Jon was an all-American squash player and his wife was a 12-letter athlete (!) at Harvard, so I take his recommendations about raising talented kids seriously!
  • The Three Big Questions For a Frantic Family by Patrick Lencioni.  Lencioni is one of my favourite business book writers (see my recent blog post on his work on team dysfunction) and so this book was a refreshing way to apply some of his core business lessons to family management.

Fiction/Fun

When you don’t feel like serious non-fiction, a little light fiction hits the spot.  For example:

  •  The Strangler by William Landay.  Full disclosure:  Billy is my brother-in-law, but as a former prosecutor in the DA’s office, he’s got a great angle on crime mysteries.  His third book, Defending Jacob, comes out next winter and is also outstanding.
  • Delirious by Daniel Palmer.  This is a very fun and a bit freaky fictional work about a start-up CEO who goes insane.  Murder, drama and software all play heavily.  Palmer used to be a start-up executive and gives a great view into this world. 
  • The Finkler Question by Howard Jacobson.  A hedge fund buddy of mine recommended this to me.  Wry and somewhat bizarre depiction of a philo-Semitic (as opposed to anti-Semitic) world view. 
  • Cityboys:  Beer and Loathing in the Square Mile by Geraint Anderson.  A buyside equity analyst buddy of mine recommended this one to me.  Anderson is a London-based trader who provides a laugh out loud fictional (but based on fact) inside look at the hypocrisy and idiocy on the trading floor. 

So those are a few of my top suggestions – many are a bit off the beaten track but very enjoyable.  Happy reading!

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