Recent books: Niall Ferguson, Samuel Johnson, Tom Friedman and Marcus Aurelius

Here are books I finished in January and February. Heavier reading months.

The Ascent of Money by Niall Ferguson [Kindle] – a financial history of the world with a focus on the 19th and 20th century. Very data-focused, Euro-centric. Good early chapters on currency creation, asset securitization, and how economic history is inseparable from – and often the driver of – geopolitical history

Dune by Frank Herbert [Kindle] – a sci-fi classic. My second reading. Still waiting for a good movie adaptation!

Daily Rituals by Mason Currey [Kindle] – the daily routines of history’s most famous writers, painters, musicians and general creatives. Historical productivity pron. I try to read one or two profiles every day

Rasselas, Prince of Abyssinia by Samuel Johnson [Kindle] – one of Tim O’Reilly’s favorites (here’s his list). The story is an entertaining canvas for Johnson to paint his philosophy of what makes a good life

That Used To Be Us by Tom Friedman and Michael Mandelbaum [Kindle] – like Race Against The Machine, describes how America has fallen behind and how its formula for success should be re-imagined for the 21st century. About 100 pages too long, but with Friedman’s reliable supply of anecdotes, catchphrases and plainspoken advice

Meditations by Marcus Aurelius (audiobook) [Audible] – if Aurelius were alive today, he would be Warren Buffett. This is a collection of his accumulated wisdom. I didn’t understand at least 30% of it

A Dance with Dragons by George R. R. Martin [Kindle] – I stopped enjoying the story (or stories, emphatically plural) midway through Book 4. But when (if?) Book 6 comes out, I will probably read it…

The Freedom of Self-Forgetfulness by Timothy Keller [Kindle] – in short (and it is quite short), stop thinking about yourself and you will feel better. Recommended by a respected friend. Plus, it’s only $1.62!

Here’s a list of what I’ve read and written about.

Hi! I write about habits and spirituality and random whatevers. Click here to see the daily habits that I track. Find me on Twitter @kgao.