One of my favorite 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, organized by topic.
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.
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 favorites:
- 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 favorite 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.
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!