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Summer Reading

Every year I compile some of my favorite recent pieces and highlight some consistently brilliant writers I’ve been enjoying.

We're off to spend some time in Italy tomorrow. Or, as is sadly more likely, Italian airports.

So please send me your favorites too! I’m probably going to need them….


Four remarkable pieces.

  1. Read. The Depths She’ll Reach (25 minute read, contains instances of profanity). This isn’t an article as much as a full-blown multimedia experience. Without revealing too much, it’s about a free-diver’s path to personal redemption. I found it extremely moving.

  2. Read. OM interview with Brunello Cucinelli (46 minute read). A resonant and highly relevant examination of the philosophy behind building an enduring business. In this time of extreme uncertainty, a system with slack in it is more resilient than one optimized for a single factor like profitability.

  3. Read. Book Review: The Scout Mindset by Scott Siskind (39 minute read). This review makes a radically important point. Despite our current cultural focus on cognitive biases and rationality, learning about them doesn’t seem to help us much. In fact, you need to be both more rational and have guiding values. This piece I wrote trying to explain why that’s so important is still the most popular thing I’ve written, and by a substantial margin.

  4. Listen. Tim Ferriss with Boyd Varty: A Lion Tracker’s Guide to Life (2 hour 32 minute listen). This is probably one of my favourite podcasts ever. Varty’s adventures in the wilderness of Africa make him a unique mix of hilarious storyteller and a source of surprisingly profound wisdom.


Some writing I pay for:

  1. Cedric Chin’s Commonplace. Cedric has the best nonsense filter I’ve encountered. He’s focused on finding out if intellectually appealing insights work in reality. His exploration of cognitive flexibility was one of my three favourite reads of 2021.

  2. Neckar’s Minds of the Market. Frederik uses deep and unique analytical skills to uncover the process and stories behind the world’s best investors. My favorite recent piece exploded the myth around Warren Buffett that he simply reads all day. Buffett was also incredibly proactive about getting into the real world and building his network.

  3. Matt Klein’s Overshoot. One of the best macroeconomic Substacks (blogs) I’ve read. The Implications of Unrestricted Financial Warfare, on Ukraine, was the piece that tipped me over into subscribing.

  4. The Browser. This is an immaculately curated email that sends you five extremely diverse articles a day. It helps ensure I never stay totally enclosed within my narrow interests or filter bubble.

[I also wrote a listicle of my favourite rabbit holes from the past few years 21 Useful Ideas, 1 Big One]

Some other writers I try to read whenever they publish:

  1. Matt Levine’s Money Stuff. This is not a differentiated opinion, but Levine’s daily email is still my favourite markets commentary. It’s unusually educational and funny.

  2. Macro Ops. Alex Barrow’s Monday morning update is the best free markets rundowns I’ve found.

  3. N.S. Lyons’ “The Upheaval” . A relatively new discovery. The anonymous Lyons has written some of the best (and weirdest) pieces I’ve read this year. Their article on Chinese political strategy in Palladium was enthralling.

[From a markets and geopolitical perspective, there are a small group of exceptional thinkers I’m following. I wrote a quick explanation of why. Scottish strategist Russell Napier, geopolitical strategist Marko Papic, former CIA analyst Martin Gurri, salty polymath scientist Vaclav Smil, China expert Dan Wang and N.S. Lyons.]


Books.

  • I don’t think I need to tell you what my top book recommendation is by now. Dr. Iain McGilchrist's The Matter with Things is the best book I've read, by some distance.

  • ……As a spiritual successor to The Matter with Things I also recommend Philip Shepherd’s book Radical Wholeness. It’s about how to bring more embodiment into your life. Shepherd’s interview with Tim McKee was one of the most beautiful things I read last year.

  • This year also saw the publication of Vaclav Smil’s book How the World Really Works (insights here) and Peter Zeihan’s The End of the World is Just the Beginning (insights here). Both books are extremely timely examinations of the incomprehensible complexity of our physical world. Smil’s general point is that we’ve lost touch with the realities of energy intensity. Zeihan takes a much more negative stance in outlining the substantial risks from dwindling demographics and the pitfalls of deglobalization.

Have a magical summer.

Tom

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