(Bloomberg Opinion) -- It’s that time of year! Memorial Day is almost here, and the season to sit on the beach or poolside and enjoy your favorite authors is upon us.
Here are my top 10 most promising titles for this reading season. There are many, many books on my wish list, including a number recommended by readers. (The complete list of more than 50 suggestions is here; all of our past summer and winter reading lists are here).
A few caveats: As always, most of these are new releases, with one or two older titles mixed in. Second, this list is based on my personal interests (they are decidedly not based on pitches by publicists). Third, I link each book to Amazon.com, which lets me track lots of data about each title (including how many of you actually buy the book). It throws off a few dollars, and I donate any revenue your book purchase generates to a literacy program.
On to the book list!
• "The Algebra of Happiness: Notes on the Pursuit of Success, Love, and Meaning," by Scott Galloway. Galloway should be familiar to readers as the brand-strategy professor at New York University's Stern School of Business, as a regular guest on Masters in Business and as the author of "The Four," about the dominance of the big tech companies. He usually writes about technology and business, but concern with students’ life issues led to creation of a 10 minute YouTube video that garnered almost 2 million views. That became this lovely short book, which is likely to be a graduation and holiday gift for years to come.
• "Loonshots: How to Nurture the Crazy Ideas That Win Wars, Cure Diseases, and Transform Industries," by Safi Bahcall. How does group behavior and the science of phase transitions manifest itself? The author, a physicist and entrepreneur, tries to show why some wild new ideas become game changers. I was skeptical, but when someone like Daniel Kahneman says, “This book has everything: new ideas, bold insights, entertaining history and convincing analysis. Not to be missed by anyone who wants to understand how ideas change the world,” I pay attention.
• "The Pioneers: The Heroic Story of the Settlers Who Brought the American Ideal West" by David McCullough. Ever since I read McCullough's "The Wright Brothers” (on an earlier summer reading list of ours -- and it was fantastic) I have been a fan of the two-time Pulitzer Prize–winning historian. This tale of how the American Northwest Territory was settled looks intriguing.
• "Rockonomics: A Backstage Tour of What the Music Industry Can Teach Us about Economics and Life," by Alan B. Krueger. From the economist who revealed the mysteries of the minimum wage comes this look at the economics of the music industry. The music industry offers important financial lessons, from the role of technological disruption to the economics of songwriting and concert tours. Krueger, an economics rock star himself (he was former chairman of the president's Council of Economic Advisers) left us much too soon.
• "The Silk Roads: A New History of the World," by Peter Frankopan. The trade routes that connected the East and the West also led to the spread of ideas, cultures and religions. In the midst of our budding trade war, perhaps some history on trade between China and the world might shed a little light on current affairs.
• "Billion Dollar Whale: The Man Who Fooled Wall Street, Hollywood, and the World," by Bradley Hope and Tom Wright. Is financial fraud becoming its own subgenre? This look at the 1MDB scandal in Malaysia reminds me of tales about scandal before it, but what distinguishes this one is the size: It involved $5 billion.
• "Trillion Dollar Coach: The Leadership Playbook of Silicon Valley's Bill Campbell," by Eric Schmidt, Jonathan Rosenberg and Alan Eagle. I understood Bill Campbell was a behind-the-scenes guy in Silicon Valley, but I had no idea just how influential he was. Venture capitalist Bill Gurley of Benchmark noted “I would argue that Bill has had a bigger impact on Silicon Valley than any other single person simply because his reach was so amazingly wide.” That’s a story I want to read.
• "The Wizard and the Prophet: Two Remarkable Scientists and Their Dueling Visions to Shape Tomorrow's World." by Charles C. Mann. When it comes to climate change, there are many possible futures. At one end, things get irreversibly worse; at the opposite end, technology solves climate change just like any other engineering problem. This book looks at that intellectual clash between environmentalists on the one side and the techno-optimists on the other by telling the history of two little-known 20th-century scientists.
• "Alchemy: The Dark Art and Curious Science of Creating Magic in Brands, Business, and Life," by Rory Sutherland. Sutherland is the vice chairman of advertising giant Ogilvy; he says his “attractively vague job title” gives him the freedom to create a behavioral science practice within the ad agency. This looks intriguing.
• "Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid," by Douglas R. Hofstadter. A masterwork from 1979 that focuses on how cognition can emerge via a variety of hidden neurological mechanisms. I always regretted blazing through GEB in college for a class. This is the summer when I finally get to reread it slowly and carefully.
What books do you want to read this summer? Message me at the address below and I might include them in a future books column.
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Barry Ritholtz is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist. He founded Ritholtz Wealth Management and was chief executive and director of equity research at FusionIQ, a quantitative research firm. He is the author of “Bailout Nation.”
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