Welcome to the 2022 edition of my top 10 books of the year list. This year, I’ve decided to split the fiction books into an additional category and given you two bonus books for your consideration written by close friends of mine. With the launch of the Hack Factory this year, I’ve been very focused on business, building technologies, and investing style books. As a result, that is a major thematic for this year. Noticeably absent are books on Blockchain/Cryptocurrencies as that industry is in the middle of a Creative Destruction phase, and I continue to view cybersecurity as being stuck in a Cyber Winter.
It was particularly hard to distill the list down to a top 10 this year, so If you like these recommendations, I’d greatly appreciate it if you sign up for my weekly Global Frequency mailing list. I read over 100 books per year and review one per week on the Global Frequency which also includes my hand-curated picks for the top technology and security news of the week. I keep a rolling list of recommended books on the Global Frequency Idea List at Amazon.
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Here is the 2022 list:
“The Power Law: Venture Capital and the Making of the New Future” by Sebastian Mallaby
A great look at the venture capital industry and the underlying dynamics of venture investment success. Mallaby provides interesting and compelling case studies and reveals that great venture firms rely on the Power Law, in which one or a small handful of investments cover the returns for an entire fund.
“Decision Advantage: Intelligence in International Politics from the Spanish Armada to Cyberwar” by Jennifer E. Sims
A definitive examination of the value that intelligence plays in the decision-making process that draws on historical and current-day examples. Useful to anyone making decisions or looking to understand how to derive value from intelligence.
“The Metaverse: And How It Will Revolutionize Everything” by Matthew Ball
Given the money flowing into metaverse investments, it is helpful to track the overall opportunity space. Ball provides the most thorough and thoughtful review of the current and future potential of the metaverse that I’ve read in several years.
“Where the Money Is: Value Investing in the Digital Age” by Adam Seessel
Seessel provides an interesting look at how to view value investing in an age of disruptive technology. How does one reconcile the type of value investing perspective made famous by Benjamin Graham and Warren Buffett in an age of high-growth stocks? Seessel provides his perspective.
“Creative Capital: Georges Doriot and the Birth of Venture Capital” by Spencer E. Ante
I was so impressed with the story of Georges Doriot that I commissioned his portrait as part of the Hack Factory offices. Doriot is viewed as the father of modern industrial business management through his work at Harvard Business School but was also a World War II hero, lauded for having solved several critical supply chain issues for U.S. troops and then started the first venture capital firm. The nexus with academia, national security, and investing was incredibly appealing.
“Principles for Dealing with the Changing World Order: Why Nations Succeed and Fail” by Ray Dalio
I’m certainly in the “history echoes” camp, but never quite sold on the long-term cyclical thematics that are present in many national security and economic studies. Dalio makes an incredibly convincing argument for these cycles and with a focus on modern times that might have you interpreting big changes are inevitable in the near term.
“The Modem World: A Prehistory of Social Media” by Kevin Driscoll
Before the web and social media, we had modems and online communities that sprouted up based on geographies, topics, and communities of interest. The Modem World is a great historical exploration of this space and provides not only a great account of what was built but how some of the community models from that era could be applied today.
“Build: An Unorthodox Guide to Making Things Worth Making” by Tony Fadell
If you are a builder, or want to be a builder, you must read this book by the legendary creator Tony Fadell. With successful companies, we often get the business management perspective highlighted for us in dozens of books, but rarely do we get insights from a classic technology builder like Fadell who gave us technologies like the iPod, iPhone, and Nest thermostat.
“The Cold Start Problem: How to Start and Scale Network Effects” by Andrew Chen
Understanding the network effects that impact a company’s ability to capture market share is important in modern business and Chen, who helped scale Uber and now works at A16Z, provides interesting insights into this critical growth dynamic.
“The Founders: The Story of Paypal and the Entrepreneurs Who Shaped Silicon Valley” by Jimmy Soni
The monicker “Paypal Mafia” is often used to describe the core team that built and operated Paypal over two decades ago. This cohort went on to build incredible value in the market and continues to have a disproportionate impact on business, politics, technology, and society today. This is one of the more thorough and interesting explorations of the early PayPal days I’ve read and provides a great character study of the personalities operating with influence today.
“When We Cease to Understand the World” by Labatut Benjamin
This somewhat dark and bizarre fictional examination of real-world personalities at the forefront of scientific and mathematic discovery is haunting in a good way. What if some discoveries are so disruptive that they become dangerous to society and the discoverers decide to hide them and recluse themselves into isolation? Drawing on real-world discoveries and taking great liberties with the underlying characters, this is a fascinating book for a fireside winter read.
“Undermoney” by Jay Newman
Undermoney was my favorite fiction read of the year and highly recommended. Newman mashes multiple ecosystems together in a creative and incredibly compelling way to include the world of finance, special operations, and espionage. This is a fun read with lots of creativity and brilliantly developed characters executing against the best plot line of the year.
“Rabbits” by Terry Miles
Rabbits by Terry Miles was my favorite near-future science fiction read of the year and a great book to consume via audio. It explores a scenario in which a conspiratorial reality-bending game is being played below the undercurrents of society and in a way that can endanger participants who find the on-ramp to playing. Lots of fun and a great storyline.
“Project Hail Mary” by Andy Weir
Pure science fiction joy in the form of a space exploration story in which the fate of humanity rests in the hands of a single scientist. Compelling science, a fun story line, amnesia, and aliens. What more could you ask for?
These two books were written by long-time friends so I feel conflicted listing them in the Top 10, but each is required reading.
“Black Ops: The Life of a CIA Shadow Warrior” by Ric Prado
Ric is a legendary CIA officer and one of the most senior clandestine operators to ever write a book. This is an amazing read as we learn not only about Ric’s career in the CIA, but also how his core patriotic beliefs contributed to his success. You can watch the OODAcast that contributed to this book – Ric Prado OODAcast.
“American Reboot: An Idealist’s Guide to Getting Big Things Done” by Will Hurd
Will Hurd draws on his experience in the CIA, in the private sector, and as a Congressman to share his vision in rebooting the U.S. to enable more bipartisan approaches to governance and future American national success. You can watch our OODAcasts with Will here – Will Hurd OODAcast #1 – OODAcast #2