This note was originally published January 24, 2012 at 16:43 in Early Look
“No matter how busy you think you are, you must find time for reading, or surrender yourself to self-chosen ignorance.”
Please find attached Hedgeye’s reading list for 2012. There was no science in the construction of this list, we simply surveyed our colleagues at Hedgeye for their favorite reads in the last twelve months. We hope you will enjoy digging into these books as much as our team did.
Daryl G. Jones
Director of Research
“High Financier” by Niall Ferguson
Niall Ferguson's biography of Siegmund Warburg is a great read. Warburg was the architect of the post-WWII re-globalization of financial services after a period of profound retrenchment during and immediately following the war. The context Ferguson provides around banking pre and post WWII seems invaluable given the parallels to the challenges facing Europe today.
“Sam Walton, Made in America: My Story” by Sam Walton and John Huey
This is the story of Sam Walton, who parlayed a single dime store in Newport, Arksas into Wal-Mart, now the largest retailer in the world. Part of the magic of Walton was that he never lost the common touch and developed one of the most loyal, and thrifty, employee bases in the history of commerce.
“Greater Than Yourself” by Steve Farber
In Greater Than Yourself Steve Farber proves them wrong: in this powerful and inspiring story, Farber shows that the goal of a genuine leader is to help others—teammates, employees, and colleagues—become more capable, confident, and accomplished than they are themselves. Through the actions of a forward-thinking and extraordinarily successful CEO, Farber reveals the three keys to achieving this: Expand Yourself, Give Yourself, and Replicate Yourself.
“Lean Thinking” by James P. Womack and Daniel T. Jones
Expanded, updated, and more relevant than ever, this bestselling business classic by two internationally renowned management analysts describes a business system for the twenty-first century that supersedes the mass production system of Ford, the financial control system of Sloan, and the strategic system of Welch and GE. It is based on the Toyota (lean) model, which combines operational excellence with value-based strategies to produce steady growth through a wide range of economic conditions.
“The Information: A History, A Theory, A Flood" by James Gleick
Gleick starts off thinking about information as a concept, and how human society shifted as it developed the idea of information. He walks through fascinating history and anecdotes from the talking drums of Africa (for a while, the most sophisticated long-range communications system in existence) to the microprocessor, with a very approachable background on the study of Information Theory along the way.
“The Talent Code: Greatness Isn't Born. It's Grown. Here's How." by Daniel Coyle
What is the secret of talent? How do we unlock it? In this groundbreaking work, journalist and New York Times bestselling author Daniel Coyle provides parents, teachers, coaches, businesspeople, and everyone else with tools they can use to maximize potential in themselves and others.
"How to Stay Alive in the Woods: A Complete Guide to Food, Shelter, and Self-Preservation That Makes Starvation in the Wilderness Next to Impossible " by Bradford Angier
It was originally published in the mid 1950s when wilderness was really The Wilderness in much of the United States. The book describes practical solutions to survival in the woods. Not that I plan to be lost in the woods (although that happened recently on a hike in Vermont with my wife and kids) and driven to some of the techniques described by Angier, but it was fascinating to see the vast possibilities he presents for food, shelter, and navigation. It took a landscape which I thought I was intimately familiar with, and showed me how to look at things in a completely new way. This is a good exercise in any endeavor.
“Moby Dick” by Herman Melville
It's a classic for a reason. It was my first read of Moby Dick which I chose to read in preparation for the lauded The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach, which is based on Mellville's classic. Moby Dick offers a detailed account, often times cinematic, of a time and place of transition of the American Narrative. Melville's personal crisis of faith comes through the layered tapestry he has woven here. It has been particularly interesting and fun to analyze the text and many subtexts while also sifting through the ample literary criticism and essays available.
“The Art of Fielding” by Chad Harbach
First, it's a novel, not a non-fiction book. That said, it uses sports - in this case, baseball - as a vehicle to talk about ambition, teammates, friends, and loyalty. It's eminently readable if you like baseball.
“The Medici Effect” by Frans Johansson
Why do so many world-changing insights come from people with little or no related experience? Charles Darwin was a geologist when he proposed the theory of evolution. And it was an astronomer who finally explained what happened to the dinosaurs. Frans Johansson’s The Medici Effect shows how breakthrough ideas most often occur when we bring concepts from one field into a new, unfamiliar territory, and offers examples how we can turn the ideas we discover into path-breaking innovations.
"Don't Make Me Think: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability, 2nd Edition" by Steve Krug
Five years and more than 100,000 copies after it was first published, it's hard to imagine anyone working in Web design who hasn't read Steve Krug's "instant classic" on Web usability, but people are still discovering it every day. In this second edition, Steve adds three new chapters in the same style as the original: wry and entertaining, yet loaded with insights and practical advice for novice and veteran alike. Don't be surprised if it completely changes the way you think about Web design.
"The Man in the Rockefeller Suit: The Astonishing Rise and Spectacular Fall of a Serial Imposter" by Mark Seal
The story of Clark Rockefeller is a stranger-than-fiction twist on the classic American success story of the self-made man because Clark Rockefeller was totally made up. The career con man who convincingly passed himself off as Rockefeller was born in a small village in Germany. At seventeen, obsessed with getting to America, he flew into the country on dubious student visa documents and his journey of deception began.
"December 1941: 31 Days That Changed America and Saved the World" by Craig Shirley
This book examines the critical days leading up to Pearl Harbor. Analyzes the Japan relationship, Japan's decision to attack and the warning signs we missed but also paints a picture of what it was like to live in the United States at that time.
"Winner-Take-All Politics: How Washington Made the Rich Richer and Turned Its Back on the Middle Class " by Jacob Hacker and Paul Pierson
There's a reason this book is not on the Wall Street Journal's Christmas reading list. Hacker and Pierson reconstruct with chilling and profound detail the intertwining sequence of legislative and presidential actions and targeted neglect, starting in the 1970's and continuing to this day, that have actively redistributed the risk-reward in America's economic system. The book argues quite convincingly, backed by scholarship and meticulous documentation, that the widening inequality gap in our economy is the result of decades of deliberate policy decisions. If you didn't get why the folks in Guy Fawkes masks camped out at Zuccotti Park, you should read this book.
“Debt: The First 5,000 Years” by David Graeber
An internationally recognized academic who is also an avowed anarchist and card carrying member of the IWW, Graeber is the intellectual father of Occupy Wall Street and was instrumental in creating the first general assembly in August of this year. Debt traces the link between war, slavery, enforced prostitution, coinage and credit, and positively shreds the accepted basis of Smithian market theory that money and markets "evolved" to replace barter. The book is a fundamental challenge to all the mainstream pablum in favor of today's brand of free market capitalism, and is a real argument for the power of the written word to change society. If you read no other book this year, read this one.
"Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption" by Laura Hillenbrand
On a May afternoon in 1943, an Army Air Force bomber crashed into the Pacific Ocean and disappeared, leaving only a spray of debris and a slick of oil, gasoline, and blood. Then, on the ocean surface, a face appeared. It was that of a young lieutenant, the plane’s bombardier, who was struggling to a life raft and pulling himself aboard. So began one of the most extraordinary odysseys of the Second World War.
“The Gap in the Curtain” by John Buchan
In an experiment that allows for a glimpse into the future, a group of friends get a look at a newspaper one year from the current date. Two of the men read their own obituaries. The story chronicles how each spends his next year, trying to take advantage of, or change what they know of the future; such foresight turns out to be more of a curse than a blessing.
“Thinking, Fast and Slow” by Daniel Kahneman
This book gives a practitioner’s view of how both intuitive and deliberate thought impacts our daily lives as well as exploring and challenging the assumption of rationality in economics. Among the book's many pursuits is an intriguing look into loss aversion and the role it plays in our industry. This a terrific book that sheds new light on the way people think. It has dramatic implications not just for everyday decision making, but also how investors approach decisions about the markets.
“Inside the House of Money” by Steven Drobny
It's an interesting read for any of the young analyst-types who want to learn more about what actually happens on the buy-side. While admittedly macro-oriented, it does offer some perspective on how various buy-siders develop and execute on their own investment processes.
"A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future" by Daniel H. Pink
Pink discusses the importance of right-brain thinking in society, providing thought-provoking examples of how left-brain thinking is becoming highly automated (outsourced) and how right-brain thinkers at least in highly developed countries like the U.S. will excel and be coveted by employers. Pink ties in examples of ways to better activate right-brain thinking in this fast pace, dynamic book.
“Willpower, Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength” by Roy F. Baumeister and John Tierney
Willpower, manifested in both the individual and the collective, has been credited with and blamed for some of the most important global events in history. Such a distinctive human trait deserves thorough investigation and, in my view, this book does it justice. Baumeister and Tierney explain the phenomenon of willpower through a scientific lens while also contextualizing shifting attitudes towards willpower between different eras and cultures. More narrowly, the authors offer a digestible and engaging tool for understanding a key facet of human behavior offering, at the same time, a compelling case for self-control over self-esteem as an avenue to success in all areas of life.
“Ghost Rider: Travels on the Healing Road” by Neil Peart
This is a story of a physical and philosophical journey - and ultimate rehabilitation -- after a tremendous personal tragedy. In less than a year, Neil Peart lost both his 19-year-old daughter, Selena, and his wife, Jackie. Faced with overwhelming sadness and isolated from the world in his home on the lake, Peart was left without direction. This memoir tells of the sense of loss and bewilderment that led him on a 55,000-mile journey by motorcycle across much of North America, down through Mexico to Belize, and back again.
“Death of Salesman” by Arthur Miller
Arthur Miller's 1949 Death of a Salesman has sold 11 million copies, and Willy Loman didn't make all those sales on a smile and a shoeshine. This play is the genuine article--it's got the goods on the human condition, all packed into a day in the life of one self-deluded, self-promoting, self-defeating soul. It's a sturdy bridge between kitchen-sink realism and spectral abstraction, the facts of particular hard times and universal themes.