Today, we have an (abbreviated) list of books I read in 2019.
Some years ago, I decided that I would undertake a multi-year project of self-education. In the process of learning about homeschooling, I concluded that my own education (which included both elite boarding schools and Ivy League universities, plus a lot of study on top of that) was insufficient. It did not measure up, in certain key areas, even to what I expected my homeschooled son to learn by age 18. As part of this process, I decided to read three things: the Harvard Classics, a fifty-volume collection from 1909, the Story of Civilization by Will and Ariel Durant (eleven big books), and a survey of nineteenth-century novels, most of which I listen to on audiobooks while working out. Thus, most of this year’s reading fell into those categories.
Rome, by Michael Rostovtzeff. A compact history, with a more-than-usual focus on economics.
The Last American Man, by Elizabeth Gilbert
Harvard Classics #18: English Drama
Wild, by Cheryl Strayed
War and Peace, by Leo Tolstoy (audiobook). My favorite of the big novels thus far.
It’s Very Simple, by Alan Stang. Interesting firsthand account of the Civil Rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s.
Faust Part II, by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Tragedy and Hope 101, by Joseph Plummer. Because I haven’t got to the original yet.
Harvard Classics #19: Goethe, Marlowe. Includes Faust Part I.
The World Until Yesterday, by Jared Diamond. A survey of primitive societies worldwide. They were very violent.
Understanding Big Debt Crises, by Ray Dalio. I read a lot of investment-related books this year, which have been on my reading list for a long time but were postponed because I was doing so much economic research for my books.
Vanity Fair, by William Thackeray (audiobook). If Jane Austen is the “bluepill” version of courtship in the early nineteenth century, Thackeray is the “redpill” version.
Harvard Classics #20: The Divine Comedy, by Dante. Difficult, but deserves its exalted reputation. Don’t stop at only the Inferno.
The Myth of Capitalism, by Jonathan Tepper. Wall Street strategist type takes on the topic of effective cartelization in big business today.
Emma, by Jane Austen (audiobook). A novel in which almost nothing happens, even compared to Austen’s other books. The heroine marries Mr. Right in the end, did you guess?
Harvard Classics #21: The Betrothed, by Alessandro Manzoni. Considered the finest novel in modern Italian. I had never heard of it. Often you wonder; is this going to be worthwhile? But, everything in the Harvard Classics is great. In a series where Aristotle, Homer’s Iliad, most of Plato and Herodotus didn’t make the cut, there is no junk.
The Cure That Works, by Sean Masaki Flynn. Singapore’s healthcare system is better than you can imagine.
Marriage and Civilization, by William Tucker. Among primitive societies, monogamy is the norm.
Harvard Classics #40: English Poetry #1. First of a three-volume series. I read two pages a day.
Principles, by Ray Dalio
Harvard Classics #23: Two Years Before the Mast, by Richard Henry Dana. A young Harvard student, who must cease his studies due to failing eyesight, spends two years on a sailing ship in California in the 1830s.
Aftermath, by James Rickards. An insider’s view of gloom and doom.
Public Choice — A Primer, by Eamonn Butler. Summary of the “public choice school” of economics.
Pioneering Portfolio Management, by David Swensen.
Mastering the Market Cycle, by Howard Marks
Harvard Classics #24: Edmund Burke
Just One Thing, by Howard Marks
Don Quixote Book II, by Miguel Cervantes (audiobook). Very silly. While I am generally against modern translations that tend to be dumbed down, this 2003 translation by Edith Grossman suits the subject matter well. Bathroom jokes lose their charm in language from the King James Bible.
Margin of Safety, by Seth Klarman. Hard to buy in hard copy, but easy to find in .pdf.
Harvard Classics #25: Mill, Carlyle