Best books of 2021

Everyone should read this book. It’s a marathon but it has changed how I think every day.

Definitely also recommend Sapiens (read it this year) and also:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Guns-Germs-Steel-history-everybody/dp/0099302780

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My top three….

The first, We by Yevgeny Zamyatin approaching its one hundredth anniversary, and seems more relevant than ever as the world seemingly creeps towards totalitarian technocracy.

The second, The Key Man by Simon Clark and Will Louch, is a book at the heart of what I do for work which is emerging market impact investment. It’s a mad story of ESG and impact washing, group think, fraud and reminds me of the importance of constantly challenging assumptions and fundamental diligence is essential to not losing both money and your credibility.

The third, Crude Britannia by Terry Macalister is a fascinating breakdown and take down of the UK’s hydrocarbon journey and throws off some super interesting political ideas which links how historic UK oil and gas policy has engendered some of the mad political instability and socioeconomic insecurity we’re experiencing today. Nice maps and diagrams too.

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Interesting read:

How to Avoid a Climate Disaster: The Solutions We Have and the Breakthroughs We Need by Bill Gates

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You’ll probably like these 2 books

The ebook is only 99p right now on Amazon and Apple…

I’d pick up the physical version of this book.

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This is such an excellent book, and the updated 10th anniversary edition is great. Cannot recommend this enough. David Graeber’s death is a big, big loss.

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Have you read the other two in the series?

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Advice for readers? I would recommend to not buy books based on reviews etc, but based on whether it looks like something you’d like to read. These days a lot of money is put behind the marketing of a book rather than focusing on the written talent. There are books out there with thousands of 5 star reviews that I just couldn’t get in to.

Remember, not every book is for every reader so something you didn’t like, will be another person’s favourite and the other way around.

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Aha okay so let’s see.

The first, would be Rocking the Boat. A non-fiction memoir by a retired Superintendent who worked for the Met Police for over 30 years fighting institutional racism. It’s actually recently been reviewed as an academic resource.

Another would be Sleeping, by Evan Baldock. A thriller about a women being brainwashed and radicalised while in Somalia where she returns to the UK as a sleeper ready to carry out attacks when requested.

I’ve posted the Amazon UK links but they’re available to order at most bookstores.

I’ve read homo dues which I didn’t enjoy so much but was still a brilliant read. A little more of a slog at times but the concept that has stick with me is the one of health as a baseline not a goal. How we will soon have a additional tiers of society who are able to afford bioengineering.

That and how the idea of consciousness might be a big rather than a feature. Some of that chapter went over my head but I’ve never heard anyone say that and it immediately resonated.

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So many great choices here!

I enjoyed reading Annie Duke’s How to Decide - it’s a really helpful book and made me think about my decision-making processes:

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Total nonsense. We have very little private involvement in healthcare compared to most European countries. But in our country it’s impossible to discuss the NHS without people screaming privatisation and “you want a US system”…

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Isn’t that the point…Erosion of our NHS! Thats how it starts! and there is quite a lot of private involvement in our NHS actually.

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The NHS has some of the worst cancer survival rates in Europe despite the billions we spend on it. It’s a bottomless pit of money yet the more money which goes on the more money it needs. Other countries allow more private involvement and have better outcomes to help assuage demand. There’s more than just a US system or an NHS system - in Europe countries like the Netherlands or Germany allow more of a mixed approach and get much better results.

Money isn’t the underlying problem for the NHS, you can throw as much money at it as you like, it’s still badly managed and inefficient. Way too much is still paper based, stock and staff aren’t distributed properly, etc.

Some will have you believe that it is just a money pit, and would be better privatised but really I think it just needs to enter the 21st centrury. Paper based systems should be replaced with software, staffing and stock should be handled by software. A lot of practices and hospitals are still using win 95 and xp for christ sake!

Also, the NHS being what it is, it has a unique benefit in that it holds a medical dataset that follows millions of people from birth all the way through to death, there are some amazing opportunities there for discovery, the results of which can be sold to pharma companies for real money, but they don’t know where to start with it.

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Our spending on healthcare per person is far lower than the countries you mention though

https://worldpopulationreview.com/country-rankings/health-care-costs-by-country

https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/healthandsocialcare/healthcaresystem/articles/howdoesukhealthcarespendingcomparewithothercountries/2019-08-29

Anyway, I think this is derailing the thread somewhat

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I’m not saying it needs to be privatised.

I’m saying there’s a middle way.

We always talk in the U.K. as if the US system and the NHS are the only options but in reality every other big European country works with private providers to manage demand whereas the NHS just rations care based on a central pot.

As much as the NHS is a UK institution, let’s keep this thread focused on best books!

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To get us back on track here is another one from me -

The Spy and the Traitor - Ben Mcintyre

One of the best books I’ve read ever, let alone this year, is The traitor and the Spy by Ben Macintyre. I’ve thumbed my way through a fair few of his spy books over the years but The Spy & The Traitor is exceptional. A page turner that leaves you genuinely caring about the main character.

The Spy and the Traitor: The Greatest Espionage Story of the Cold War: Amazon.co.uk: MacIntyre, Ben: 9780241972137: Books

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One of the best books and authors I’ve read:

The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York

It’s a study of power, corruption and human nature.

The same author is working on a series about Lyndon Johnson and it’s most amazing as well.

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