Welcome to the 2022 edition of my Top 10 Books of the Year list. This year I decided to split the fiction books into an additional category and bring you two bonus books 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 in style books. So this is an important topic for this year. Conspicuously missing are books on blockchain/cryptocurrencies as this industry is in the midst of a period of creative destruction and I continue to view cybersecurity as stuck in a cyber winter.
It was particularly difficult this year to narrow the list down to the top 10. If you like these recommendations, I would really appreciate it if you would subscribe to my weekly Global Frequency mailing list. I read over 100 books a year and review one a week on Global Frequency, which also features my hand-curated picks for the week’s top technology and security news. I maintain an ongoing list of recommended books on Amazon’s Global Frequency Idea List.
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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 insight into the venture capital industry and the underlying dynamics of venture investing success. Mallaby offers interesting and compelling case studies and shows that large venture firms rely on the power law, where one or a small handful of investments can cover the returns of an entire fund.
“Decision Advantage: Intelligence in International Politics from the Spanish Armada to Cyberwar” by Jennifer E. Sims
A definitive examination of the place of intelligence in the decision-making process using historical and contemporary examples. Useful for anyone making decisions or trying to understand how to derive value from intelligence.
“The Metaverse: And How It Will Revolutionize Everything” by Matthew Ball
With the money flowing into Metaverse investments, it’s helpful to track the entire opportunity space. Ball provides the most thorough and thoughtful overview of the current and future potential of the metaverse that I have read in several years.
“Where the Money Is: Value Investing in the Digital Age” by Adam Seessel
Seesel offers an interesting insight into how to look at value investing in the age of disruptive technology. How do you reconcile the value investing perspective made famous by Benjamin Graham and Warren Buffett in the age of high-growth stocks? Seeessel provides his perspective.
“Creative Capital: Georges Doriot and the Birth of Venture Capital” by Spencer E. Ante
I was so impressed with Georges Doriot’s story that I commissioned his portrait to be part of the Hack Factory offices. Doriot is considered the father of modern industrial business management through his work at Harvard Business School, but was also a World War II hero, credited for solving several critical supply chain problems for US troops and then founding the first venture capital firm . The nexus to science, national security, and investment 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 have never been fully convinced of the long-term cyclical themes present in many national security and economic studies. Dalio makes an incredibly compelling case for these cycles and with a focus on modern times that might lead you to interpret big changes that are inevitable in the short term.
“The Modern World: A Prehistory of Social Media” by Kevin Driscoll
Before the web and social media, we had modems and online communities that emerged based on regions, issues, and communities of interest. The Modern World is a great historical exploration of this space and not only provides a great account of what was built but also how some of the community models from that time might be applied today.
“Building: An Unorthodox Guide to Making Things Worth Making” by Tony Fadell
If you are a builder or want to become a builder, you need to read this book from legendary creator Tony Fadell. In successful companies, the business perspective is often emphasized in dozens of books, but rarely do we get insights from a classic technology developer like Fadell, who gave us technologies like the iPod, the iPhone, and the Nest thermostat.
“The Cold Start Problem: Starting and Scaling Network Effects” by Andrew Chen
Understanding the network effects that impact a company’s ability to capture market share is important in the modern business world, and Chen, who helped scale Uber and now works at A16Z, offers interesting insights into these crucial growth dynamics.
“The Founders: The Story of Paypal and the Entrepreneurs who Shaped Silicon Valley” by Jimmy Soni
The nickname “Paypal Mafia” is often used to describe the core team that built and operated PayPal over two decades ago. This cohort built incredible value in the marketplace and continues to have a disproportionate impact on business, politics, technology and society to this day. This is one of the more in-depth and interesting explorations of PayPal’s early days that I’ve read, and provides a great character study of the figures influential today.
“When we no longer understand the world” by Labatut Benjamin
This somewhat somber and bizarre fictional investigation of real people at the forefront of scientific and mathematical 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 retreat into isolation? Based on real-world discoveries and with great liberties with the underlying characters, this is a fascinating book for winter fireplace reading.
“Under Money” by Jay Newman
Undermoney was my favorite read of the year and I highly recommend it. Newman creatively and incredibly compellingly blends multiple ecosystems to include the worlds of finance, special operations, and espionage. This is a fun read with plenty of creativity and brilliantly developed characters pitted against the best storyline of the year.
“Rabbit” by Terry Miles
Rabbits by Terry Miles was my favorite near future sci-fi read of the year and a great book to read via audio. It examines a scenario in which a conspiracy-bending reality-bending game is played beneath the undercurrents of society and in a way that may endanger participants who find the ramp to play. Have fun and a great story.
Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir
Pure sci-fi delight in the form of a space exploration story where the fate of mankind rests in the hands of a single scientist. Captivating science, a fun story, amnesia and aliens. What more do you want?
Both of these books were written by longtime friends so I feel contradictory to list 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 longest-serving secret agents to ever write a book. This is amazing reading as we not only learn about Ric’s career at the CIA, but also how his core patriotic beliefs contributed to his success. You can check out the OODAcast that contributed to this book – Ric Prado OODAcast.
“American Reboot: An Idealistic Guide to Doing Great Things” by Will Hurd
Will Hurd draws on his experience in the CIA, the private sector, and as a congressman to share his vision for restarting the US 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