Some Non-Fiction Books I Recommend, Part 3

It’s a wonderful time of the year: I have free time. We recently just had our annual meeting with our Limited Partners, and HBS is very nearly about to start spring break. So, for the next week, I have some slack time, and I’m looking forward to doing some local fly fishing and some reading.

After a long work week, one of my guilty pleasures is to read. To save my eyes, I check out books from the library, either physical ones or digital ones that I read on my Kindle. Here are non-fiction books that I read relatively recently and which I’d recommend as well:

Let’s Take the Long Way Home (Gail Caldwell). This is a friend’s favorite book. I was blown away. The opening chapter is one of the most lyrical pieces of prose I’ve ever read, and the author pulls you in right away. It’s a poignant encounter of a friendship underlying which are personal struggles and common bonds. There’s a death that happens, and it is handled beautifully.

Friends, Lovers, and the Big Terrible Thing (Matthew Perry). If you’re a fan of Friends or are in the mood for a raw, blunt, and detailed celebrity autobiography, look no further. Perry is absolutely up front and truthful about his addictions and what being famous can do to you.

Breath (James Nestor). More research shows how “proper” breathing can increase your health, happiness, and mental acuity.

Bloodlands (Timothy Snyder). This is an unflinching look at Ukraine and its neighbors by one of the world’s foremost scholars. It explains a great deal about what is going on right now with Russia.

The Road to Unfreedom (Timothy Snyder). How fascism took root in Russia.

Putin’s World (Angela Stent). Putin is easy to understand when you know his background and his core beliefs. We are in for a long, long conflict.

The Man Without a Face (Masha Gessen). A biography of Putin. We truly are in for a long, long conflict.

The Chancellor (Kati Marton). A fascinating look at Germany’s Angela Merkel.

Lessons from the Edge (Marie Yovanovitch). The former US Ambassador to Ukraine who was pushed out of her job by Trump and others. A real expert on Eastern Europe.

Spare (Prince Harry). I was skeptical at first, but read the book very quickly. It’s very engrossing. The ghost writer is known for being a gifted author, and that was certainly the case here.

When Breath Becomes Air (Paul Kalanithi). Well, it’s pretty sad. A surgical resident writes about his last days of life. Very moving.

There Is Nothing For You Here (Fiona Hill). The Russian expert writes about her childhood and upbringing. A great peek inside what life is like as a national security advisor.

Mr. Putin (Fiona Hill). Yes, I really wanted to better understand the current war. This is an excellent book about Putin’s philosophies.

Peril (Bob Woodward). It’s about the last days of the Trump Administration. It is well-sourced and well-written per the typical Woodward book. It just made me wonder about civil servants who are eager to criticize Trump now that he is out of office and who were silent previously.

The Storyteller (Dave Grohl). What is life like as a rock band drummer? What was it like to be a part of Nirvana and to start Foo Fighters? The rock-and-roll lifestyle seems both exciting and draining. A great book.

Vanderbilt (Anderson Cooper). The CNN anchor does a great job of writing about his family. It’s shocking but not surprising how wealth can really screw up lives and create inter-generational trauma. Cooper writes particularly well about his mother, Gloria Vanderbilt.

House of Hilton (Jerry Oppenheimer). Like Cooper’s book, this is an account of dysfunctional family patterns, wealth, and avarice. I don’t know much about Paris Hilton or how an ancestor of hers created the global hotel chain, but it’s all here in full color.

Trust the Plan (Will Sommer). This is a book about QAnon, it’s origins and subsequent manifestations. You truly cannot understand how people can believe outlandish conspiracy theories.

Surrender (Bono). If you’re a fan of U2, you’ll enjoy the first half of this book: how the band got together and how some of their greatest songs were written. No need to read the second half.

The Revolutionary (Stacy Schiff). I knew very little about Samuel Adams and so I’m glad I read this book. What a true hero!

The Last Tycoons (William Cohan). This is a very thoughtful book about Lazard Frères & Co., the venerable investing banking house. I used to work at Wasserstein Perella, and Bruce Wasserstein is featured in this book with all of his strengths and weaknesses. Raw power, greed, and political maneuvering at their best.

The Gotti Wars (John Gleeson). The US government’s fight against organized crime. Hard to believe that the Mafia at one point seemed impervious to prosecution.

Catch and Kill (Ronan Farrow). He’s a great writer, and I enjoyed this book, even though I despise Harvey Weinstein.

Legacy of Violence (Caroline Elkins). This book chronicles the British Empire and its systematic use of force to subjugate other peoples.

Comedy Drama (Bob Odenkirk). I’m a fan of Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul. This autobiography really articulates how hard it is to be “a star.”

Enjoy the early signs of spring!

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