Plus My Favorite Books I Read This Year
I know the year isn’t over yet, but last year I wrote about my favorite investment writing of 2017 and decided to continue this tradition on Of Dollars And Data. As I mentioned previously, I do not consider other financial bloggers as competition, but as assets to this blog. The reasoning is simple. Every great finance article increases engagement in finance and keeps people coming back to read more. So whether a post spoke deeply to me or not, thank you to all of the finance writers for everything you do for our community. Without further ado, my favorite investment writing of 2018:
If you had to model how to write a great investment article, this is it. The title, the story, the data, the ending. It’s all there. Yes, I am a fan of all of Morgan’s writing, but his craftsmanship in this piece is just superb. His ability to distill the entire point of the article into the title while also doing a play on words is simply excellent. It’s fractal and almost all of the best blog posts do this. The title acts as a summary of the larger whole. Study this if you want to take your writing to the next level.
Every year Corey writes at least one piece that just shatters my reality, and, this year, this was it. I knew that getting a proper sample size could be difficult, but Corey illustrates just how long it can take to determine whether a factor has gone out of favor. This piece masterfully addresses the age-old question: How can we tell the difference between signal and noise?
I loved this piece by Michael because it illustrated just how crazy valuations were during the DotCom bubble. His ability to link the high flying tech companies of the late 1990s to the FANG stocks of today puts the DotCom bubble in perspective. Also, this piece is even more impressive considering Michael wrote it in the same year he published his first book.
Incredibly insightful piece from Ben Hunt at Epsilon Theory on financial innovation and the roles of different actors in the development of those innovations. Ben is such a great writer because of his use of analogies (most involve animals from his farm) to explain complex financial concepts. Stellar work here.
This is a brilliant piece from OSAM in concert with Jesse Livermore, the blogger. It is a bit more technical, but if you want to take a deep dive into how the value and momentum factor fundamentally work, I highly recommend this piece.
A veteran of Wall Street explains his time in the game and how that game has evolved. No one in finance writes with as much passionate intensity as Josh, and this is why I keep reading. This post is no exception to that rule.
Simple, yet profound. This is Ben’s style. I particularly liked this piece because it changed how I viewed levels of wealth from a psychological standpoint. This is something a lot of people do not discuss, but as soon as you read it you immediately understand what he is saying.
I didn’t use to believe in trend following, but this changed after I met Jake, the anonymous blogger who runs EconomPic. Jake is one of the most knowledgeable people I know on this topic and was able to convince me of trend’s usefulness. If you aren’t familiar with this topic and want to learn more, this piece is a great start that explains a lot of the benefits of trend.
Last year I closed with the GOAT of our industry and this year I will do the same. The level of introspection in this one is astounding as Zweig gives you a view inside his mind during the worst financial crisis of our lifetime. I only hope one day we all can understand our investing selves half as well as Zweig does in this piece.
My Favorite Books I Read in 2018
I read 37 books in 2018 which is down from 45 in 2017 (NYC has kept me busy haha). Here are some of my favorites I read this year:
- Everybody Lies: Big Data, New Data, and What the Internet Can Tell Us About Who We Really Are (Seth Stephens-Davidowitz)
My favorite book of 2018. It’s got big data revelations on the private thoughts of Americans that no one else could have guessed. One of the funniest facts from the book is that “men make as many searches looking for ways to perform oral sex on themselves as they do how to give a woman an orgasm.” If you like data, this book is for you.
- The Success Equation: Untangling Skill and Luck in Business, Sports, and Investing (Michael Mauboussin)
Mauboussin does a better job parsing out luck from skill than anyone else I have ever read. Just trust me and move it to the top of your reading list. Also, the fact that this book only has 4 stars on Amazon is even more evidence that markets are not always efficient.
I heard about James’ blog earlier this year and his book takes his ideas on building habits to another level. Great concept and very applicable to actually changing habits. This is probably the best part of the book because he explains exactly how you can create systems to allow habits to develop on their own. “You do not rise to the level of your goals, you fall to the level of your systems.”
- Scale: The Universal Laws of Life, Growth, and Death in Organisms, Cities, and Companies (Geoffrey West)
Everything is a scaled version of something else. This is the premise of the West’s book that addresses the life and death of complex systems such as organisms, cities, and companies. I wrote a post about this book and highly recommend you check it out if you are interested in understating some of the hidden order within natural systems.
- Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup (John Carreyrou)
I wrote a post on this book because it was so good. The inside story of Elizabeth Holmes and the fraud inside her company Theranos. It is non-fiction that reads like a thriller, and also a lesson in the power of people to influence others.
One of the best books I have ever read on decision-making. Duke approaches belief formation, separating process from outcome, and many other concepts in a novel way. The book has been recommended by Marc Andreessen (one of the kings of VC) and it was also the most purchased book I referenced on Of Dollars And Data this year (I tracked this data through the Amazon Affiliate account for this site).
- The Evil Hours: A Biography of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (David J. Morris)
Spellbinding. Chilling. Dark. The writing in this book is just superb. Even if you aren’t highly interested in PTSD, this book is a must read. Some passages will rock you to the core.
- How Not to Be Wrong: The Power of Mathematical Thinking (Jordan Ellenberg)
One of Bill Gates’ favorite books and also one I thoroughly enjoyed. This book is the answer to the famous question: “When am I ever going to use this?” Math is everywhere around us, and if more people thought like Ellenberg did, we would have a far more mathematically literate society.
I have mentioned this book before and it took my writing to another level. Forsyth is able to reveal the hidden mysteries of eloquent English in a way that makes you feel like you knew them all along, but never noticed. If you want to improve your writing, this one is for you.
I hope you found something useful in this list. Enjoy the holidays, travel safe in the coming weeks, and thank you for reading!
This is post 102. Any code I have related to this post can be found here with the same numbering: https://github.com/nmaggiulli/of-dollars-and-data