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  • Writer's pictureIshfaaq Peerally

Top 5 Books I read In 2020

Ishfaaq Peerally books

For the second year in a row, I failed to meet my goal of reading at least 50 books in a year with only 32 books. The worst part is that I didn't read any fiction books at all.

Therefore, my goal for 2021 is to read at least 50 books including a few fiction books.

Let's now have a look at the top 5 new books that I read this year. Top books means they had the biggest impact on my life and doesn't necessarily mean that they fit some literary criteria.

#5 Thinking in Bets: Making Smarter Decisions When You Don't Have All the Facts by Annie Duke

Annie Duke is a professional poker player and in the book she explains how we can apply probabilities in life. How do we improve our decision making based on the data we have and estimating the possible results? As an investor, applying probabilities to life is something I have to do all the time. The markets and life itself is more a poker game than a game of chess because in a poker game there's randomness just like in life and the markets. Some of these randomness will be good for us and others will be bad. The book teaches us how to better navigate these randomness. For example, we should not be resulting, that is, equating results with decisions. A good decision can lead to a bad result and vice versa. Driving a car drunk is always a bad decision even if you have the positive result of not killing yourself.

#4 Last Man Standing: The Ascent of Jamie Dimon and JPMorgan Chase by Duff McDonald

Jamie Dimon is my role model. I've often said that JPMorgan Chase has the best leadership team in the world but how did Jamie Dimon become such a great leader? He was not born CEO of the America's Largest Bank. He took a very controversial decision in his youth that made him what he is today, not going to work at Goldman Sachs but instead be an "entrepreneur" with Sandy Weill at American Express. They build an Empire (Citigroup) together until Sandy fired Jamie. Jamie didn't give up. He built an even bigger Empire on his own.

#3 The 33 Strategies of War by Robert Greene

Although life is full of randomness, we can still work on some strategies on how to get ahead. And where do we find the best strategist? In the Art of War. Athena was the Greek Goddess of War and Wisdom. Today, we don't have conventional warfare anymore. More people die from suicide than war, homicide and terrorism combined. But we still face challenges in life that war strategies can help us get through. For example, Law 7 is about how to transform your war into a crusade. How does this apply in modern life? When Steve Jobs was persuading Pepsi CEO John Sculley to join him at Apple, he famously said, “Do you want to sell sugar water for the rest of your life or come with me and change the world?”

#2 The Happiness Hypothesis: Finding Modern Truth in Ancient Wisdom by Jonathan Haidt

I read Jonathan Haidt's book "The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion" and it made me a radical moderate. The Happiness Hypothesis is about how to be happy by looking at the teachings of Eastern and Western thinkers from The Buddha to Nietzsche. One of the most important things I learned was the Happiness formula of Martin Seligman and I've been trying to maximize my happiness since then by thinking of this formula whenever I have to take an important decision.

#1 Master of the Senate (The Years of Lyndon Johnson Volume III) by Robert A. Caro

This biography of America's 36th President Lyndon B. Johnson is in 5 volumes with Volume V still being written. One has to read all of them since they are all great but if I had to choose one among them as the best, it would be volume III. Lyndon Johnson, born in the Hill Country of Texas, had that dream of becoming president of the United States since he was a child but it was not an easy road for him as he was a Southerner. Lyndon Johnson understood that the best way to achieve his goal is to become the most powerful man in the Senate, which was controlled by Southern Democrats. The reason why the Majority Leader has so much power today is because of Lyndon Johnson. This book is not only a story of how LBJ ascended the Senate to become its leader but is also a history of the US Senate and how it works.

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