Arif Widianto on finding values

The Books I Read in 2017

Arif's 2017 in Books

Inspired by DHH post at Basecamp, I want to start sharing the books I read in a year. The complete list available on my Goodreads account. Here is a recap on some notable books that I read in 2017.

1. Muqaddimah by Ibn Khaldun

Muqaddimah

I agree with most the reviews. It deserved to be read by everyone who love history, social science, philosophy, law, and how society changes. I still amazed at the depth of knowledge he tried to discuss was prodigious. It's a brilliant work by a single man that covers a lot of ground intelectually. If you are muslim, this work adds some critical discussion about Islamic law, Arab dynasties, and more.

2. Omnivore's Dilemma, by Michel Pollan.

Omnivore's Dilemma

Interesting read. This work makes me think more about the food we eat everyday. Starting from the crop of corn. Food industry (yes, farms, vegetables, meats, poultry, food processing and also animal feed) changed how food industry works. It was more about more mechanized, industrious, and more focus on cutting costs rather than more important features such as taste, nutrition, or humane animals. I also surprised how cheap oil prices (and food policy) affecting more to food industry. By reading this book, you'll questions many thing about what you eat, how and where did it come to your table? And further more, what does the true cost? (Costs to environment and public health). Recommended.

3. History of the Arabs, by Philip K. Hitti.

History of the Arabs

This is actually the last book I read this year. In short, if you are into history, this will be your treasure. Great primary sources of Arabic history. It told interestingly. You'll love this book.

4. The Big Short by Michael Lewis

The Big Short

Michael Lewis is a good storyteller. Financial terminology like hedge fund, mortgage bond, derivate investments of mortgage bonds so called credit default swaps (CDS) and collaterized debt obligation (CDO)—in short a bet, a huge bet—can be explained in entertaining way by him. I'm sure I have fun reading them.

The problem, the matter, the such alarming situation this book tried to explain was much more huge than what I realized in its movie adaption. If you love financial history, this is your book. Even if you just curious what's the story caused 2007 crisis and how this affecting our society, you have to read this.

5. Barbarians at The Gates, by Bryan Burrough and John Helyar

Barbarians at The Gates

So here again. Another corporate-finance's history book. Barbarians at the Gates is a fascinating story about the rise and fall of food giant Nabisco. Which later merged with RJR Reynold, producer of Winston-Salem cigarette. Followed by the leveraged buyout (LBO) story financed by junk bonds that turned this giant company falls since.

It offers interesting story of how food industry works, how tobacco/cigarette industry, and other story of corporate dynasty can changed corporation course. More we can learn on how bad manager can turned good loving corporation into a sale party. You also learnt finance industry shaked town and country. Very detailed. So nice to read, like watching a real film. Compared to the movie I watch based on this story, the screen version just showing a rough skin of these details.

6. Muhammad: His Life Based on the Earliest Sources by Martin Lings

Muhammad: His Life Based on the Earliest Sources

It is a good biography of the prophet Muhammad, PBUH. Martin Lings expressed the story of the noble man interestingly and entertainingly. Some people may dislike his narration style, a much to fiction, but I do like it.

7. Making Globalization Work, by Joseph Stiglitz

Making Globalization Work

This is actually the first book I read this year. I should read earlier knowing this is such a good book, instead of waited to read it after 10 years since the purchase. This book opens widely my understanding on how globalization work, how global financial system, money creation, and currency (intrinsic and extrinsic) works. I learn many new things.

8. Stocks for The Long Run, by Jeremy J. Siegel

Stocks for The Long Run

Very good and thorough narration on stock investing, especially if you interested to a long term approach. Complete with historical account, statistics, tables, and data. You'll be surprised you got 200 years historical stocks data from this book. Loved this much.

Any topic you want: economic policy, crisis, inflation, wars, bonds, mutual funds, and other so useful comparison such as with: portofolio allocations, timings, various holding types, indexes, taxes, fees, and dividends. All supplied with data to prove them.

This book splitted by three chapters:

  • Stock returns, past, present, and future.
  • Verdict of History. Lots of data. I love them! Thanks Mr. Siegel!
  • Economic Environment Impacts Stocks
  • Stocks Fluctuatuation in the Short Run
  • Building Wealth Through Stocks

Later that I find surprising, with data, it still proved to be true that value strategy always have most benefit compared to other strategy. Long live value investor, eh?!

9. Security Analysis, by Benjamin Graham & David L. Dodd

Security Analysis

It was a reread. But I think I will read it again.

If you are into investing, if you are serious about value investing, then this yours.

10. Rework, by Jason Fried, David Heinemer Hansson

Rework

I bought this book to pay it back to the writers who inspires me much. These materials based on their first book and blogs. It repeated here more, just a reminders that few of all our work habits, focus, and drive are mostly wrong. It's a nice read to remind us to change the way we look and work. Short text, down right to the topic, interesting and provocative discussion. Bold statements! Yeah, you know David, and Jason. Rework. Yeah, rework.

Notable Fictions

  • The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger - What a prose. I really like the goddamn style. Makes you believe you'd be a young boy again. Tough Holden Caulfield was far from me when young. Damn, J.D. Salinger!
  • Matilda, by Roald Dahl — It was my daughter's book. But I do like to read children book
  • Perfume, by Patrick Süskind — What a kind of story!
  • Red Sparrow, by Jason Matthews — Tough I dislike the choice of his character having supernatural power.
  • An Officer and Spy, by Robert Harris — It's an historical fiction of 1890s spy era. I like his style of writing. Not so much like pop novel, with enough details, good use of intricate languages that forced me to open dictionary a lot.

Good Time, Good Books

I have a good time to read so many good books in 2017.

This year I challenged myself to read 48 books, just as last year. Glad I can make it more 😊

Thanks to my wife who supported me to have a reading time in so many unsuitable occasions: morning, after lunch, before bed, even at vacations and holidays. Thanks, hon! Glad I managed to have a better way to read more while doing other chores and works.

Last but not least, thanks to friend, Prof Nadirsyah Hosen who able to inspire and provoke to read more.