My Year in Books - 2022
Tippets by Taps #181: Turning the page on another year
Happy New Year! I hope you have found time to rest and recharge with family and friends during the holiday season, and that 2023 exceeds all your expectations.
A warm welcome to new readers getting this for the first time. Thank you for letting me be a small part of your week. As a reminder, Tippets is where I share what's on my mind and a curated assortment of tidbits and snippets (aka. tippets!) from around the web. If you were forwarded this newsletter and would like to receive it in the future, click below!
One more trip around the sun, one more year of reading in the books (pun, most certainly intended!) I made my way through ten books last year, the least number of books I’ve read in years. But, just like last year, I tried on various books for size. Those that fit, I kept reading. Those that didn't, I put away. And just like last year, as someone who has historically hate-read books to finish them, this new approach continues to improve my reading experience!
Below is the list with quick thoughts on each. I haven't done any Taps' Notes reviews except Warfighting but will share them as I do. Oh, and as I pull together my reading list for 2023, please click the link below and send me your book recommendations (particularly historical fiction or detective/spy novels)!
Note: * indicates a strong recommendation
Bloodmoney by David Ignatius
I love spy/covert operations/geo-political thrillers, so naturally, I’m very inclined to books with descriptors like this:
Someone in Pakistan is killing the members of a new CIA unit trying to buy peace with America’s enemies. It falls to Sophie Marx, a young officer with a big chip on her shoulder, to figure out who’s doing the killing and why. Unfortunately for Sophie, nothing is quite what it seems. This is a theater of violence and revenge, in which the last act is one that Sophie could not have imagined.
By David Ignatius, a prize-winning journalist at Washington Post who has been covering the Middle East and the CIA for four decades, this doesn’t disappoint.
Harlem Shuffle by Colson Whitehead *
Harlem Shuffle, by 2x Pulitzer Prize winner Colson Whitehead, is a heist novel in the best sense. A light read, it follows Ray Carney on his “good guy gone wrong” journey in Harlem in the 50s and 60s. In typical Whitehead fashion, he presents his characters, flaws and all, in such exquisite detail that, by the end, they feel like friends. This is not to be missed.
Warfighting by the US Marine Corp *
Running a brief 84 pages, Warfighting is insightful and packed full of wisdom and entirely devoid of fluff (as one would expect from the military). It was first written in 1989 as a manual to outline "the way Marines think about warfare." What was striking to me was how much of the book and its truths apply to warfare, but more broadly to business, investing, and life. If you remove the combat-related terms and apply the approach to, say, building a startup, the insights hold true. A great read which I wrote about in more depth here.
The Power Law by Sebastian Mallaby
This is an insightful read on the history and rise of venture capital as an asset class, and its role in shaping the technology industry and the wider economy. With insights gleaned from across funds and decades, this is a must-read for anyone interested in VC and the startup ecosystem more broadly.
Hero on a Mission by Donald Miller
I’m normally not that into books that are supposed to help “turn your life around.” But on the recommendation of a friend, I gave this one a chance. A bit too much self-help/self-aggrandizing at times, a few core ideas/exercises from the book stood out, the biggest being “write your own eulogy.” The idea of a eulogy is surprisingly scary to think about. But upon reflection, it can be quite powerful things to write ahead of time because it provides a destination for you to drive toward.
Freezing Order by Bill Browder
Red Notice was the amazing first book by Bill Browder, investor turned activist, which detailed his fight for justice after his friend and lawyer was murdered in a Russian prison. Freezing Order is the gripping next installment, detailing Russian money laundering, election interference, and murder, all as a result of the Magnitsky Act’s growing adoption around the world.
The Power of Regret by Daniel Pink
A quick read on how to harness regret for good. “When it comes to regret, a third view is healthier: Feeling is for thinking. Don’t dodge emotions. Don’t wallow in them either. Confront them. Use them as a catalyst for future behavior. If thinking is for doing, feeling can help us think.”
Setting the Table by Danny Meyer *
This was my most recommended and gifted book this year. By world-famous restauranteur Danny Meyer (of Union Square Cafe, Blue Smoke, 11Madison, and Shake Shack fame, to name a few), it is an excellent read on the value of hospitality and how to build relationships, companies, and experiences with hospitality at the center. Written in 2004, the content is evergreen and actionable, as easily implemented today as it may have been then. Relevant not just for restaurateurs, but for anyone building a business, in a managerial role, or who works with others, I cannot say enough good things about this one.
A note: I listened to the audiobook versions of A Very Punchable Face as I do with most autobiographies. I find the experience of listening to the author read their own story uniquely awesome. They become guests I invite into my home or on a road trip, and offer an hours-long answer to the question, “So what’s your story?” I highly recommend pairing the audiobook with the book itself.
A Very Punchable Face by Colin Jost
A hilarious read/listen by the SNL star, I laughed out loud at many points along the way through Jost’s life journey. If you’re looking for a quick, entertaining story with more quirks than you’d expect, I strongly recommend this one!
A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway *
Ernest Hemingway’s autobiography…sort of. Published posthumously, it is a collection of papers he had written and organized together upon discovering a trunk of his in 1956 that contained writings going all the way back to the 1920s. If you’re a Hemingway fan, this is a must-read. If not, do yourself a favor and transport yourself back to Paris in the 1920s with the man. It’s worth it.
P.S. I strongly recommend the PBS 3-part series on Hemingway’s life.
Tippets from Around the Web:
Some fun to end:
The “fastest reader in the world” 😂
Quote I’m thinking about: “Though we would like to live without regrets, and sometimes proudly insist that we have none, this is not really possible, if only because we are mortal.” - James Baldwin
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