The year’s best reading, listening and watching.
With the long weekend ahead of us, it’s time for my annual summer recommendations. Here are some of the things I’ve enjoyed the most over the last year.
1. Podcast: Ed Thorp My Personal Blueprint by David Senra (1 hour 38 minute listen).
- Topics: Wealth, investing, gambling, trading and living a balanced life.
- Why listen? This podcast is from 2021, but it was arguably the richest thing I listened to this year. David Senra of the Founders podcast has meticulously profiled over 220 of the world’s most successful and influential people. In a wildly entertaining podcast he explains why hedge fund founder Ed Thorp is his personal blueprint for living a balanced life. I was struck how the defining characteristic of Thorp’s thrilling adventures was his uncompromising pursuit of his own curiosity.
2. Article: Life after Lifestyle (73min read).
- Topics: Consumer culture, innovation, marketing, entrepreneurship.
- Why read? A stunningly insightful essay by Toby Shorin. Essentially he describes how the consumer economy and supply chains of the 2020s have been set up to piggyback on social movements, or even produce their own. “Stare long enough, and you begin to see the whole: an economy where culture is made in service of brands. To be even more literal: cultural production has become a service industry for the supply chain.”
3. Podcast: High-Quality Investing with Christopher Begg (2 hour 6 minute listen).
- Topics: Investing, wisdom and life-long learning.
- Why listen? Chris Begg runs East Coast Asset Management and teaches on the value investing program at Columbia. This is a wide-ranging and profound conversation about wealth, wisdom and investing in quality (our obsessions here at Sapient).
- Topics: The future of technology, Artificial Intelligence, wisdom.
- Why read? Kelly recently released a book of life advice. He’s an unusually optimistic futurist and his enthusiasm is always infectious. His description of A.I. as “universal interns” has resonated the most with my current experience to date. I also loved his idea of trying to pursue careers that have no clear definition. “When you are ahead of language, that means you are in a spot where it is more likely you are working on things that only you can do. It also means you won’t have much competition.”
5. Article. The Matter With Things- Interview with Dr. Iain McGilchrist in Beshara Magazine (66 minute read).
- Topic: How a stunning theory of the brain has shaped the modern world.
- Why Read? Even though it’s comfortably the best book I’ve ever read, I appreciate that only a small fraction of you are likely to tackle Dr. Iain McGilchrist’s 1,600 page masterpiece The Matter with Things. This superb interview is the best one I’ve read on his work, and hopefully explains why his thesis is potentially life-changing (as it was for me).
6. Article. Upheaval Interview with Matthew B. Crawford with N.S. Lyons (40 minute read).
- Topics: Attention, technology and human meaning.
- Why Read? N.S. Lyons’ substack The Upheaval may be the single most provocative and thoughtful thing I read. His blistering longform article A Prophecy of Evil: Tolkien, Lewis, and Technocratic Nihilism permanently altered my perception of technology and Silicon Valley. And not for the better. Lyons is concerned with what is ultimately of value and how to live in the world. This interview also led me to read Crawford’s book, The World Beyond Your Head. It’s filled with lots of subtle insights about the redemptive nature of focused attention in an age of perpetual distraction.
7. Book. Proof of Spiritual Phenomena by Dr. Mona Sobhani.
- Topics: Neurology, “psi” research, spirituality and taboo scientific beliefs.
- Why Read? Even with my “eclectic” reading habits I wouldn’t have expected to be recommending a book on these kinds of topics. But, as I wrote recently, this book challenged my worldview so radically that I sometimes felt physically queasy when reading it. As a skeptical neuroscientist, a personal crisis led Dr. Sobhani to research “psi phenomena.” This would include pre-cognition, telepathy, remote viewing and clairvoyance. She was as shocked as I am that the amount of evidence in support of psi is meaningfully higher than some other common findings in neuroscience and psychology.
The best of the rest:
- Book: I haven’t gotten to it yet but about 10 people have told me to read Rick Rubin’s new book The Creative Act.
- Movies: if you’re as bored of superhero movies as I am, the two Spider-Verse movies are gorgeous palate-cleansers. Visually they are true art, with an almost hypnotic quality to them. This is something you can watch with your kids and enjoy equally, or even more…
- TV: I get no originality points for noting that Succession is great. We also enjoyed Netflix’s show Beef.
Have a great summer!