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Note on books

Books are the best thing ever. The ability to have a one sided conversation with any person, from any era, on the topic which they are most knowledgeable about is something that never fails to amaze me - Lance H.

Books I've read (that I remember)

Pending books to read

Book Summaries

Surely you're joking, Mr. Feynman! - 11/10/2023

This book (or autobiography to be precise) was so enjoyable I read the whole thing as a pdf on my phone. One interesting thing for me was to see the personal life of one of the greatest scientists in history. In my head I always held these people as gods, and somehow never imagined them having the same issues as regular people (I know, sounds stupid), but was cool to see the same person talk about working on the Manhattan project (creation of the nuclear bomb) and then a few pages later on the things he learnt about picking up girls in bars.

Valuable takeaway: Knowledge is fragile if not learnt deeply from first principles

The Beginnning of Infinity - 25/10/2023

The main themes discussed in this book are knowledge creation (epistemology), artificial intelligence, evolutionary biology, and the role of optimism in society. The meaning of the title is that science and knowledge creation in general, is not about finding ultimate truths about the universe, but rather theories that are "less wrong", than the previous ones. A super important feature of any society that wishes to progress is the ability to auto-correct, to criticize, to challenge and to debate our current beliefs/values, etc. From David's point of view, discoveries and knowledge creation will never halt, or even slow down, its an infinite process, and as such, any point in time can be considered the beginning of infinity.

Valuable takeaway: Nothing has to be perfect - in fact it never will be. The key in anything, a society, an individual's life, etc. is that there is a self-correction mechanism that is constantly steering it in the right direction.

Broken Money - 19/05/2024

Lyn Alden is a person that is incredible at distilling complex systems like bitcoin or the financial system into simple mental models that are easy to grasp. This book is a masterpiece on getting a FULL comprehensive understanding of the PAST, PRESENT, and FUTURE of money. A concept so pervasive in our daily lives, so taken for granted, yet so misunderstood. I truly believe that simply understanding MONEY, will give anyone a huge advantage in life. Especially in how they position themselves financially, and geographically, taking into account the direction of the world is going, and by extension, the assets that will appreciate/devalue over time.

Valuable takeaway: money has had different forms, and evolved greatly over time. The common theme is that each technology that has facilitated the transfer of value has come with greater centralization of power, Bitcoin and blockchain broadly is a force that combats these NEGATIVE trends.

Elon Musk biography - 29/05/2024

Basically a full recount of Elon Musk's life. Prior to reading the book I already had a rough idea of his life trajectory, but the book obviously provided A LOT more detail. The book only re-enforced my preconceptions of him, those being that he is an extremely rare human being. Would highly recommend reading this book.

Valuable takeaway: When solving problems, always question everything (an example being when Elon realized the cost of a rocket was orders of magnitude more expensive than the raw materials, pushing him to reduce the cost of rockets enourmously). Also, if you want to get things done, you have to be willing to do the work yourself, and willing to put A LOT of hours.

Enough - 16/06/2024

Written by the founder of the widely successful Vanguard mutual fund, this book can be summarized with the first paragraph of the book:

"At a party given by a billionaire on Shelter Island, Kurt Vonnegut informs his pal, Joseph Heller, that their host, a hedge fund manager, had made more money in a single day than Heller had earned from his wildly popular novel Catch-22 over its whole history. Heller responds, 'Yes, but I have something he will never have... enough.'"

Valuable takeway: Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.

Leonardo da Vinci autobiography - 20/06/2024

Full recount of Leonardo's life. Extremely long book, but well worth reading.

Valuable takeaway: The key to Leonardo's genius was his insatiable curiosity. Be insatiably curious.

A HitchHiker's Guide to the Galaxy - 29/06/2024

Read to due Elon's insistence that it was the best book he every read. It didn't dissapoint. The story is a funny/comedic story of a man named Arthur Dent, who is saved from the destruction of earth by his alien friend Ford Prefect. A highlight of the book happens when a superpowerful computer is asked the meaning of life, and it responds with the number 42, emphasizing that asking the right questions is more important than the answers themselves.

Valuable takeaway: For me the book reminded me of how crazy future civilizations could be, with the advance of technology. And how insifnificant we are here on Earth.