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Summer Reading

Dear Friends-

Over the last few months I’ve been lucky to meet a wide range of the best writers and thinkers in life, markets, and business. As we go into summer reading territory, I wanted to share a few of the pieces that have really stood out.

The joy is in the network. We’d also like to ask you what you’ve been reading. Please send us your favourite books or articles, right now or of all time. Ideally with one or two sentences explaining why you love it. Something that will help pique the curiosity of other readers.

I will share the list (anonymously) with people that also share their choices with us. I am excited to see your picks!

Books. My current top 3:

Most modern nonfiction books should be articles. I’ve picked these 3 because they either have incredibly high density of insights or have materially altered my awareness of the world around me.

  1. The Master and His Emissary by Iain McGilchrist. Truly the only book I’ve ever read that radically altered my perception of reality, very much for the better. (Insights piece on request).

  2. The Power of Myth by Joseph Campbell. More wisdom-per-square-inch of anything I’ve read. (Insights coming, once my summary is less than 300,000 words).

  3. The User Illusion by Tor Norretranders (insights here).

Business and Investing Articles:

A lot of these people are making money purely from their writing. My emphatic opinion is that their premium content is overwhelmingly worth the subscription.

  1. Frederik “Neckar” is a compelling and deeply authentic writer with a superb Substack “Neckar’s Notes.” As a premium subscriber there’s a lot of great pieces, but my favourite was an article on one of the all-time-great trades: Soros breaking the Bank of England (19 minute read). It’s not only a cracking story, but Frederik’s insights on “Layers of Conviction” is applicable across business and investing. That’s how you tell useful stories.

  2. I’ve been lucky enough to recently discover Cedric Chin. Cedric writes about business and investing strategy, but as an operator. He’s different from the “generic insights” writers because he critically engages with concepts and tries to implement them in practice wherever possible. I recommend Beware What Sounds Insightful (19 minute read) and Much Ado About The OODA Loop (52 minute read).


  3. Cedric introduced me to Brian Lui. Brian wrote a superb piece Beware of Tight Feedback Loops (19 minute read), challenging the accepted wisdom (and my prior belief) that faster feedback loops are always a good thing. He discusses how good investing is actually a process of world construction based on creativity, slack, and equanimity. It’s 100% resonant with my thinking and I think it’s a great read.


  4. Dave Nadig, CIO of ETF Trends, has written the rarest thing: a finance article that is clear, humble, and funny. Welcome to the Thunderdome (25 minute read) attempts to unpack the dizzying dynamics behind what’s going on in markets with the meme economy. He followed that up with a valuable primer on what volatility actually is (30 minute read). Something I thought I broadly understood but clearly didn’t. I find that a lot lately. I would pair these pieces with the viral paper “Liquidity Cascades” (19pp PDF) from Corey Hoffstein, CIO of Newfound. Corey valiantly attempts to answer how the overlapping forces of market microstructure have altered the playing field in investing, and why the market is becoming increasingly fragile.


  5. Matthew Ball’s nine part Metaverse primer is a wonderfully comprehensive examination of the direction our virtual worlds might take over the next few years. A previous Attention Span topic, this is likely to be an investment theme for the next decade. The broader irony is that successful digital environments increasingly resemble “infinite games”, but if a single private company creates a dominant platform they could win a multi-trillion-dollar finite game.


  6. A Marc Andreesen interview with Noah Smith (41 minute read). OK. Andreesen is a techno-optimist, because it made him wildly successful. But he still has an ability to be more insightful than almost anyone out there. Interesting, incredibly optimistic thoughts on technology post COVID.

I don’t get any points for originality highlighting these guys, but all are must-reads for me every single time they publish:

  • In my opinion, Morgan Housel is still the GOAT in terms of using historical and behavioural analogy to illustrate business and investing concepts.
  • I believe Matt Levine at Bloomberg’s daily Money Stuff is truly best-in-class for combining news with humour and insight.
  • Along with Levine, The Browser is the only e-mail I read every single day. They filter 600-1000 articles down to their 5 favourite. I think it enrichens and broadens your information diet.


Three Superb Synthesizers

“We are drowning in information, while starving for wisdom. The world henceforth will be run by synthesizers, people able to put together the right information at the right time, think critically about it, and make important choices wisely”- E. O. Wilson

If you’re serious about navigating the information deluge, trusted synthesizers are the single most valuable input. Regular readers will know my absolute favourites by now:

  1. Maria Popova at Brain Pickings. Popova has cross-indexed all the world’s thinkers and thoughts in wonderful short articles. Her insights into her own process and the nature of synthesis, Networked Knowledge and Combinatorial Creativity (18 minute read), are staggeringly profound. No idea how she does it.

  2. Kyle Kowalski at Sloww. I’m really lucky to have gotten to know Kyle. He’s deeply focused on finding the really differentiated thinkers and perennial spiritual wisdom. If there’s too much nonsense out there, why not focus on truths that might be universally applicable? He has written so much great stuff, but his piece on Daniel Schmachtenberger’s thinking (40 minute read, paywalled) was particularly useful. Schmachtenberger is one of the most interesting thinkers out there right now, but his ideas are often tricky to piece together in one place.

  3. Blas Moros at The Rabbit Hole. A regular feature in my weekend e-mails, Blas has indexed and absorbed critical books from across the spectrum. His PDF summaries of Effortless Mastery and A Treatise on Efficacy were particularly useful to me.

Have an amazing summer.

Tom

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