2017 – What I’m Reading

I’m always interested in finding good books to read.  In that spirit, here’s a list of things I’ve read recently with short descriptions and commentary for anyone looking for something to read. I’d appreciate an email with any recommendations you might have for me as well (jennings780[at] I enjoyed almost all the books below.  Books I don’t like I don’t finish and aren’t on the below list. I’ve noted some as Highly Recommended and other as Recommended.

First, here’s a link to our Company’s Book Club(s) list:  St. Louis Trust Book Club List

2017 Books Read (Most Recent First – ish):

  1. Artemis by Andy Weir. This is a sci-fi book by the author of “The Martian”. It occurs on the moon in the only city on the moon: Artemis. Solid book, very enjoyable. Not as good as The Martian, but a solid, worthwhile read in y opinion. RECOMMEND.
  2. Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City by Matthew Desmond. Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for non-fiction in 2017. This book follows a few families and landlords in very low economic areas of Milwaukee.  A fascinating and tragic view of living life below the poverty line. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
  3. Everybody Lies: Big Data, New Data, and What the Internet Can Tell You About Who We Really Are by Seth Stephens-Davidowitz. Fascinating book by a data scientist about what Google search information reveals about us. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
  4. The Four: The Hidden DNA of Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google by Scott Galloway. This is one of our firm book club books.  Really good discussion of these four companies, their effect on our lives and their huge amount of power. Written in a fun, edgy way. RECOMMENDED
  5. Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz. Page-turner who done it with a number of fun twists.  Great if you’re looking for an enjoyable read. RECOMMENDED
  6. Surely You’re Joking Mr. Feynman!  Adventures of a Curious Character by Richard P. Feynman. This is a collection of autobiographical stories by the Nobel Prize winning physicist. Very enjoyable and quirky. A window into how a genius thinks. RECOMMENDED
  7. The Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O. by Neal Stephenson and Nicole Galland. A fun sci-fi book that explores magic and time travel. RECOMMENDED
  8. A Crack in Creation: Gene Editing and the Unthinkable Power to Control Evolution by Jennifer A. Doudna and Samuel H. Sternberg.  This book is about CRISPR/Cas9 – arguably one of the most significant discoveries by our species. The book gets quite technical at times but is intended to be read by a layperson. Dr. Doudna was the discoverer of CRISPR and will likely win the Nobel Prize in the near future. RECOMMENDED.
  9. Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis by J.D. Vance.  Really enjoyed this book.  Gave an interesting perspective on part of our country and culture with which I’m not that familiar.  RECOMMENDED.
  10. Killer Angels by Michael Shaara. Historical novel about the Battle of Gettysburg. Really enjoyed it.  RECOMMENDED.
  11. Leviathan Wakes (Book One of the Expanse Series) by James A. Corey.  This is a Sci-Fi book. Pretty solid, good plot, character development etc.
  12. Outlander by Diana Gabaldon. This book was fun and is book one of a seven book series (and also a TV Series on Starz). Based in 1940s and 1740s Scotland. Romance-esque novel.
  13. The Plant Paradox: The Hidden Dangers in “Healthy” Foods That Cause Disease and Weight Gain, By Dr. Steven R. Gundry.  I have heard Dr. Gundry speak twice and this book was given to me at the second talk. I am highly skeptical of the claims in the book. The scientific “support” for his diet recommendations appear to be based on just his patients. No mention of controlled studies, etc.  NOT RECOMMENDED – BEWARE!
  14. The Laws of Wealth: Psychology and the Secret to Investing Success by Daniel Crosby. Solid book on the behavioral aspects of investing.
  15. And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie. This is the best-selling mystery of all time and the seventh-best-selling book of all time.  A classic page turner and a quick read. RECOMMENDED
  16. Sleeping Giants (Themis Book One) and Waking Gods (Themis Book Two) by Sylvain Neuvel. First two books of a sci-fi trilogy about metal giants hidden around the earth by an alien race. First one is very good, second was so-so.
  17. 10% Human: How Your Body’s Microbes Hold the Key to Health and Happiness by Alanna Collen. A fascinating discussion of our microbiome – the bacteria that inhabits our gut and far outnumber the number of human cells in our body.  Our microbiome is key to understanding our health. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
  18. The Imp of the Mind: Exploring the Silent Epidemic of Obsessive Bad Thoughts by Lee Baer. Book exploring obsessive bad thoughts – very helpful if you or a family member struggles with these issues.
  19. Tools of Titans: The Tactics, Routines, and Habits of Billionaires, Icons and Wold-Class Performers by Tim Ferriss. This book consists of a lot (about 100) short snippets of interviews Tim has had of people on his podcast.  I really enjoyed many of them a lot.
  20. Becoming Wise: An Inquiry Into the Mystery and Art of Living by Krista Tippett. Krista has a radio program called “On Being.” This book discusses what she has learned about spirituality, faith and science in hosting her program.
  21. How We Got to Now: Six Innovations That Made the Modern World by Steven Johnson. This book is fantastic! Discusses how six inventions really made the difference between pre-modern and modern times. For instance, without glass there’d be no microscopes or telescopes.  Think about what those two inventions have done for us.  HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
  22. Astrophysics for People in a Hurry by Neil deGrasse Tyson. This is a fun, quick read that covers a lot of areas of physics and astronomy. RECOMMENDED.
  23. This Is Your Brain on Music: The Science of a Human Obsession by Daniel J. Levitin. Packed with interesting information about the technicalities of music and also the brain.  I learned a ton. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
  24. The Distracted Mind: Ancient Brains in a High-Tech World by Adam Gazzaley and Larry D. Rosen. Solid book by two neuroscientists about our brains and why we become so addicted to modern technology. Also discusses tips for battling distraction.
  25. Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari. Fascinating summary of history of our species. Sobering at times. We’ve tended to destroy other species of life wherever we’ve gone on our planet. RECOMMENDED.
  26. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. This was a re-read from a few years ago as it was a book club selection for our company. This is one of my favorite sci-fi books.  A pager-turner and an interesting view of what life could be like in the future.  HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
  27. The Machine Stops by E.M. Forster. This is a novella written in 1909. An amazing view read and it’s stunning that it was written in 1909.
  28. The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck : A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life by Mark Manson. Don’t be put off by the title.  This is one of the best self-help books around. Fantastic perspective on being a positive force in the world. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
  29. The Singularity is Near by Ray Kurzweil. Ray is the founder of Singularity University and a leading inventor and futurist. This book is about how many areas of technology have exponential growth and what that means for the future.
  30. Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of Nike by Phil Knight. Also a book club selection, this is the story of the creation of Nike. Very interesting. RECOMMENDED.
  31. A Constellation of Vital Phenomena by Anthony Mara. This is a novel set in a village and mostly-abandoned hospital in Chechnya during the second Chechen war. Very good book. RECOMMENDED.
  32. Your Complete Guide to Factor-Based Investing: The Way Smart Money Invests Today by Andrew L. Berkin and Larry E. Swedroe. A really good deep dive into various factor-based investing strategies. Really a practial follow-up to “The Incredible Shrinking Alpha” mentioned below.
  33. Dark Matter by Blake Crouch. Fun sci-fi read about the ability to travel through the multi-verse. Page-turner.
  34. Siddhartha by Herman Hesse. Classic novel by the Nobel Prize winning Herman Hesse. This book is about the life of Siddhartha and his search for enlightenment. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
  35. Search Inside Yourself: The Unexpected Path to Achieving Success, Happiness (And World Peace) by Chade-Meng Tan. This book is by a former software engineer who now leads the mindfulness based stress reduction program at Google. Good guide to beginning a mindfulness meditation practice.
  36. The Vegetarian, by Han Kang. Winner of the Man Booker Prize in 2016. This novel follows a woman who decides to give up eating meat and all the changes it causes in her life and the unexpected effects on her family.  RECOMMENDED.
  37. The Girl with All the Gifts by M.R. Carey. This is a Sci-fi book that is dynamite. It deals with a dystopian future where most of humanity has been wiped out by a fungus that turns people into zombies.  Really enjoyed.  Made into a movie which I have not watched yet. RECOMMENDED.
  38. The Power of Fifty Bits: The New Science of Turning Good Intentions Into Positive Results by Bob Nease. This was a book club selection for our firm and we also had Bob present at one of our firm symposiums.  This book is about our behaviors and importantly what we can do to adopt better behaviors. RECOMMENDED.
  39. The Incredible Shrinking Alpha: And What You Can Do to Escape Its Clutches by Andrew L. Berkin and Larry E. Swedroe. This book describes the history of stock picking and how explanations for out-performance now are largely the result of various factor bets.  Very good book.
  40. Making of Zombie Wars by Aleksandar Hemon. This novel is not about zombie wars. Instead its a very well written, fun read about an aspiring screenwriter. Really enjoyed it. RECOMMENDED.


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