Books

The first rule of YFG’s book club is you don’t talk about book club. The second rule of book club is that people might think you’re weird for talking about book club.

I love reading and I’m always carrying a book (or two with me). I’m often asked what books I read.

When I went to the FI drinks event in June, some lovely people were asking me for book recommendations and asking me what I was reading at the time. They then asked if I ever wrote reviews about the books I read (I said I didn’t). And finally, if I was using the Amazon affiliates thing to link to (and make money off of) the books I read. I told them that, despite being a young chap, I’m not very tech savvy. No fear they said, it’s a piece of cake!

So this page is an attempt to knock off three birds with one stone:

  1. To show what I’ve read.
  2. To start writing some reviews (and properly take some notes) of the books I’ve read.
  3. To have a go at this Amazon affiliates lark.

That being said, if you can get the books from the library I’d encourage you to do so! It’s free and a great public service.

Buying books is one of the few things I like to splurge on. I enjoy the physical feel of a book and being able to dip in and out as I please. It also makes me feel much smarter than I am when I peer over at my overflowing bookshelves. I almost exclusively read non-fiction and try to mix it up a bit. So hopefully this reading list is a little bit different to the usual ones.

If there’s interest, I can have a go at writing book reviews – with a focus on lessons for personal finance and FI. For now, I’ll leave my recommendations. I use four levels: (1) recommended to everyone; (2) recommended to people interested in the topic; (3) recommended only to people really interested in the topic; (4) don’t bother.

January 2018

Fifty Things that Made the Modern Economy – Tim Harford – recommended to everyone – interesting and easy to read, pair with the BBC4 podcast that inspired the book

Nonviolent Communication – A Language of Life – Marshall B. Rosenberg (re-read) – recommended to everyone – the book that’s had the most impact in my life

February 2018

The Box: How the Shipping Container Made the World Smaller and the World Economy Bigger, Second Edition – Marc Levinson – recommended to people interested in the topic – a compelling story about our modern economy

Turn The Ship Around!: A True Story of Building Leaders by Breaking the Rules – L. David Marquet – recommended to people interested in the topic – one of the better books on management, no fluff talk, easy to read, practical

March 2018

The Everything Store – Brad Stone – recommended only to people really interested in the topic – it’s an interesting story (about Amazon) but found it difficult to read due to writing structure

The Wright Brothers – David McCullough – recommended to people interested in the topic – fascinating insight into the Wright Brothers, ends rather abruptly, however, but a great look into a world on the verge of massive change

April 2018

30 Lessons for Living: Tried and True Advice from the Wisest Americans – Karl Pillemer – recommended to everyone – really enjoyed this book, written in an engaging and homely way, gave me a lot to ponder

Chancing It: The Laws of Chance and How They Can Work For You – Robert Matthews (re-read) – recommended to people interested in the topic – this is a great book on probability and chance. It’s basically like Fooled by Randomness by Taleb, but written in plain English and by someone who isn’t massively arrogant (note: I do like Taleb)

May 2018

The Secret Barrister: Stories of the Law and How It’s Broken – The Secret Barrister – recommended to everyone – a very important book on the UK legal system; please read!

Living Off Your Money: The Modern Mechanics of Investing During Retirement with Stocks and Bonds – Michael H McClung – recommended only to people really interested in the topic – it’s a very good book, but detail heavy, only worth it for people really wanting to get into the nuts and bolts of Safe Withdrawal Rates

Factfulness: Ten Reasons We’re Wrong About The World – And Why Things Are Better Than You Think – Hans Rosling, Ola Rosling and Anna Rosling Rönnlund – recommended to everyone – the late Hans Rosling was one of my heroes, this is a lovely, easy to read, book that summarises much of what he had been teaching over the past decades

June 2018

Talking to My Daughter About the Economy: A Brief History of Capitalism – Yanis Varoufakis – recommended only to people really interested in the topic – there are better introductions to economics, such as Tim Harford’s The Undercover Economist or Ha-Joon Chang’s 23 Things They Don’t Tell You About Capitalism but it’s still a good book coming from an interesting point of view

This is Going to Hurt: Secret Diaries of a Junior Doctor – Adam Kay – recommended to everyone – a funny, but kind of sad, insight into the life of an NHS Junior Doctor (although do take some of what’s written with a pinch of salt)

Nobody Wants to Read Your Sh*t: And Other Tough-Love Truths to Make You a Better Writer – Steven Pressfield – recommended to people interested in the topic – I found this book on writing very helpful and it gave me much to think about; wish I had read it sooner before starting the blog (I’ve had the book for over a year, but my guinea pig pissed on it so it smelt terrible and put me off)

July 2018

The Better Angels of Our Nature: A History of Violence and Humanity – Steven Pinker – Don’t bother – I gave up about 60% of the way through. Maybe I was late to the party but the book’s message was pretty old hat. It’s far too long, definitely one of those books that really are extended essays. Some very questionable statistics going on too. But most of all, this book is just boring. I know I’ll be in the minority on this book. But not all books are for everyone.

From Zero to Financial Independence in less than 10 Years: Tools and techniques to escape the rat race quickly – “Robert I. Tracey” – recommended to people interested in the topic this is a book (or really a booklet) by the author of the Retirement Investing Today blog – which I’ve been meaning to buy and read for ages. This is a short book of around 70 pages which is more of a manual about how he achieved FI. If you’ve followed RIT for a while, there isn’t loads of new stuff in here. That said, I still think this is a handy booklet that I will dip into now and again to ‘refresh’ on various FI concepts. I think this would be a great guide for beginners to FI with one caveat: RIT uses language which financial newbies might find tough. In that sense, an extra 20 pages and a ruthless editor would make this great book into an excellent book.

[to read: What Should I Do With My Life by Po Bronson]