This year’s summer reading list, at first sight, introduces two opposing concepts. One is building habits one per cent at a time so they can withstand our tendency to return our behaviour to square one (Atomic Habits). The other is actually complementary. It literally promotes doing nothing (Do Nothing) to reintroduce meaning into our lives.
Picking up on the expanding void, we teleport our readers to a spaceship in a planetary system far away and confront them with a mesmerizing story of a science teacher who suffers from amnesia before eventually setting off to save humanity (Project Hail Mary). Bill Gates loves intelligent fiction, and so do we.
We suggest you end your summer break with a power-dose of investing legend Ray Dalio (Principles for Dealing with the Changing World Order). Its concepts and explanations go far beyond shining at the next cocktail party.
The team at Tramondo wishes you a relaxing summer break.
Watch author James Clear give an 8-minute summary talk on the key concepts of the book.
Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones
Wait. Hear us out. We feel the same about self-help books, even if they are #1 New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestsellers like this one. Most can make you happy, wealthy, or whatever the goal might be, If you are their author. And then there is Atomic Habits. A fascinating book that builds on the premise that one needs to change habits to change oneself permanently. The magic of this book is that it leads you scientifically through the crucial stages of noticing, wanting, doing and liking.
Clear introduces a simple system that builds on these stages but focuses on the compound interest of self-improving only 1 per cent a time while not giving away a single pip. Exactly. The investment types among us who embrace absolute returns and active risk management will see parallels with this concept. However, unlike books about finance, Clear’s book manages to distil complex topics into simple behaviours that are easily applicable to our daily routines.
One of those who has been doing this successfully – as in keeping an insane 2-minute-54 per-km pace for a whole 42 km – is Eliud Kipchoge. This generational marathon champion credits Atomic Habits for helping him develop small habits, consistency, timekeeping, self-discipline, good planning, and preparation. So here’s the challenge: How about we all meet at Eliud’s legendary Kaptagat training grounds in the Kenyan Highlands next year at this time?
Do Nothing: How to Break Away from Overworking, Overdoing, and Underliving
Not another self-help book, but rather a thoughtful manifesto for the purposeful void, this book is not the opposite of the one above. On the contrary, it is complementary and deeply philosophical. Fear not. It will not let us feel intellectually inadequate like the works of Immanuel Kant or, worse, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel. Instead, award-winning journalist Celeste Headlee attacks the mechanisms that lead us to fill every moment of our lives with something “useful” or “productive”. Headly revisits history, neuroscience, social science, and even palaeontology to examine how we ended up equating hard work with happiness and idleness with the opposite.
Do Nothing is a refreshing antidote to our constant quest to optimize our bodies and minds for peak performance as we measure time in terms of efficiency instead of meaning. Hadlee leads us to question our raising the bar higher and higher with activities we secretly loathe instead of naturally embracing what we do well. In that sense, Do Nothing builds an unexpected bridge to Gary Vaynerchuk, a US entrepreneur, author, speaker, and colourful internet personality. While Gary Vee, as his fans call him, seems to be the pure antithesis of this book with his 18 hour-workdays, he also embraces the idea that one should focus on becoming excellent at what one is already good at. And not waste time on becoming merely average by improving one’s weaknesses.
And in case there is no way that you will embrace doing purely nothing: How about combining the concept of this book with the one above by first identifying the passions and talents and getting rid of everything else — and then developing those areas one per cent at a time?
Project Hail Mary
What’s with this science fiction thing, you might ask. We already featured Artemis by the famed author of The Martian in last year’s Summer Reading List. While it is true there is one died-in-the-wool science fiction fan in our team, the reason to include this book has more to do with our readers’ enthusiastic reception of Artemis. And with the fact that Bill Gates took the time to review Hail Mary on his blog. Hold that thought.
Many readers think that Project Hail Mary might be Andy Weir’s best so far. As with his previous novels, if you like the science in science fiction, this one is for you. Weir amazes with his attention to detail as he develops the plot of Ryland Grace. Grace, a high school science teacher, wakes up alone with no memory of how he got onto a spaceship in a different star system.
Vastly different in terms of aspirations and outcome than some other well-known plot featuring a science teacher (Breaking Bad comes to mind), Project Hail Mary pushes our protagonist to work together with an alien to save the world.
Watch author Ray Dalio give an iconic presentation about the key concepts of the book.
Principles for Dealing with the Changing World Order: Why Nations Succeed or Fail
The final book of this Summer Reading List traditionally leads us back to business. This time, we feature no other than legendary investor Ray Dalio, who founded Bridgewater Associates more than 50 years ago. Anyone unfamiliar with his investment concepts (risk parity, alpha overlay, and All-Weather) should not be allowed anywhere near client money.
Ray Dalio is known for his quest for radical truth and honesty. According to him, this is the base for every good decision. All meetings at Bridgewater were recorded and available to watch for anyone in the firm. There used to be highly polished corporate films on Bridgewater’s website that showed employees crying during their interviews with the filmmaker. Some try to square the fact that Ray is self-effacing with the accusation of him effectively being a corporate cult leader. Most know him for his #1 New York Times bestsellers such as Principles: Life and Work and Principles for Navigating Big Debt Crises.
His latest one, Principles for Dealing with the Changing World Order, takes us on a journey across centuries and Empires such as the Dutch, the British and the American. First, Dalio illustrates the big cyle and the ever-repeating government and central bank actions and their respective political and social implications. Next, he observes the rise of China and uncovers the timeless and universal forces behind these tectonic shifts. Finally, Dalio offers practical ideas that help us position ourselves for the future.
If you already took our previous book recommendation to heart, you might prefer this video. It also features Ray Dalio’s iconic voice and intonation.
For everyone else, we highly recommend taking the physical book to wherever your summer break leads you. So may you consider the traces of sand and saltwater worthy battle scars as you revisit the book later this year in front of a cosy fireplace.