The Books I Read in 2018

Thanks to my wife who always supporting me. Although I had a busy year working for Bolasalju full time, I managed to be able to read 30,646 pages across 90 books.

Reading become a good habit of mine for the last three years. I started it with a simple challenge, an approachable amount. After one success, the rest became easy. I believe the habit fulfills the needs and the faith, that reading helps me. A lot.

I have some reading list either on my devices—the broken and scratched iPad (Kindle & iBooks), iPhone (less) or Mac—or borrowing books from local library. I always have a couple books around, phisically and digitally. This put me in the situation that I always have something to read.

Second, I need to read. A lot. Other than for reading some investing theory, or rereading them, for work; I also read fictions and other subjects. It helps me a lot. When I get bored or tired—I just run through some book in my reading list, or pick one that left not finished yet. By one seat here and there, in a day or couple days, I able to finish them. It just a refresher before doing another else.

I also think it’s important to have faith that reading could be benefit to you. Just like Charlie Munger said—although I don’t remember the exact words—reading just like a sponge collecting worldly wisdom. By reading, a lot, you’ll compounded the knowledge you capture from everyone else and the world. This alone being a nice reason, right?


I am continuing last year’s tradition to list some notable books that read (or reread) last in 2018. The complete list available on my Goodreads account.

1. Berkshire Hathaway Letters to Shareholders by Warren Buffet

Berkshire Hathaway Letters to Shareholders

Let’s pay tribute to the one that really inspires and changes everything you believe in. Warren Buffett does that.

If you want to read only one investing or business book to read, I bet this book is the best choice. This book compiles Warren Buffett’s letters to the shareholders from 1965 to 2012 (706 pages), including 1965-1976 letters not available on Berkshire’s website.

How such boring book (annual letter, right?), can be recommended by so many business-savvy people?

Well, this is not just a regular boring annual letters. Buffet has its distinctive style in his writing. A honesty, blunt, and entertaining as well. He himself still such tremendous person to learn from—his investing style still a legend. By following his accounts on this book, it’s just like reading a real life case studies. There’re so much we can read.

2. Untuk Negeriku by Mohamad Hatta

An autobiography from one of Indonesian founding father. Mr. Hatta itself was an intellectual and the best economist of his time. What I am really surprised, Mr. Hatta itself a good storyteller. This should be a must read biography to everyone loves Indonesian history.

3. Takdir by Peter Carey

This book is a completely revised version of The Power of Prophecy; Prince Dipanagara and the End of an Old Order in Java, 1785-1855 (2007). A vivid biography of Indonesia’s foremost national hero, it tells the story of a remarkable figure whose life spanned his native Java’s troubled transition to the modern world. I read the Indonesian version.

4. The Smartest Guy in The Room by Bethany McLean

Again, I love company biography. And this one do.

This book tells the Enron-saga. You may know the story, or may be not. Enron scandal was a big business story of the time. This book tells the past-and-then Enron’s story from the start of energy to trading company, accounting scandal, then become the infamous fraud scandal.

5. Shoe Dog by Phil Knight

I am a bit surprised by this biography of Nike, Inc. founder Phil Knight. The story itself was not inspirational entrepenuership-kind of stories. Instead, this was a something to humble yet simple story.

An enthusiastic runner. A not so successful athlete. Phil become inspired to make a shoe business since young that brought him travel to Japan and around the world. From a simple trading company, Blue Ribbons Sport became the company we now known famously for, (as told) because of intricacies made up by his Japanese partner. Even the brand, the logo itself, was not so inspirational background. Phil stated he may not like the Nike’s swoosh logo that he paid for just $35 at the time. But he may be like later. (He gave the designer about 100 shares of Nike after it went public). So, if you want to read a good story. This one could be.

6. Bad Blood by John Carreyou

This is another company-biography that I liked this year. It tells the story of a startup called Theranos that promised to make a simple blood test device. The founder cannot fulfill her/their promises—instead faking all tests to the stakeholders—and when the truth broke out, its falls can’t be much faster. Then you read another biggest scandal since Enron.

Reading bad stories makes me believe one familiar line that crossed them all. It’s about ambition without a base. Greediness. Lies. Most of them are egomaniac. All of them seems not about value creations.

7. Financial Shenanigans by Howard M. Schilit

This is another book that changes my understanding about evaluating a company finance. By a lot margin. Tough, if you think more about it, this book can make your believe to negativity thing about corporation. The key is to find an equilibrium.

8. Competition Demystified by Bruce Greenwald et all

This is an undervalued book. I think everyone who wants a good understanding on evaluating a company’s business should read this book.

Based on his hugely popular course at Columbia Business School, Greenwald and his coauthor, Judd Kahn, offer an easy-to-follow method for understanding the competitive structure of industry and developing an appropriate strategy for your specific position. This book tells barrier are much needed to be understand but also offerrs significant glimpse to important others.

9. Moneyball by Michael Lewis

This story by my favorite storyteller tells a story of Billy Beane, the general manager of MLB’s Oakland A’s makes an impossible turn around by making it winning Major Leagues with a budget that’s smaller than that of nearly every other team. A really good story that I believe I learn many things. It’s also value stories.

11. The Security Analysis by Benjamin Graham and David Dodd; and The Year Without Pants by Steve Berkun

The Security Analysis was a reread. Just like last year. This time I read from page to page. I think I able to absorbs almost all his ideas.

The Year Without Pants tells the story of Steve’s experience working inside the early years of Automattic, the company behind open source startup that made WordPress that empower millions of websites, including this one.

By reading Steve’s account, I believe running a global remote company is interesting and could benefit to any companies. The specific detail I learn from his story, such as how communication happens inside and to outside the company makes itself worth a read. I also read more things about the management style, the reward/remuneration as well as the recruitment style inside Automattic. It’s all makes a good lesson to learn from.

12. Hiroshima by John Hersey

Okay, one more. This is a good old book. It was told using a narrative journalism technique. Please be aware, this books makes you feel suddenly sad knowing such tragedy.

12. Other Notable Non-Fictions

  • Hoegeng by Aris Santoso dkk. I have to read more about this famous police chief.
  • Small Fry, by Lisa Brennan-Jobs. A sad story. It’s opening my eyes that not all things are simple as that.
  • Para Raja dan Revolusi by Linda Christanty. It has so many accounts. Thank mbak Linda for telling this story.
  • Dokter Rakyat by dr. Andre Setiawan. Nice story.
  • It Doesn’t Have to be Crazy at Work by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson. Another gem.
  • Conspiracy by Ryan Holiday. You’ll love this if you are into media study; and/or Peter Thiel. Good story.
  • Mastering the Cycle by Howard Marks. Another gem.
  • The Tao of Charlie Munger by David Clark. Not the best book, but it’s about Charlie.
  • Malcolm X by himself. Wow.
  • In the Plex by Steven Levy. Story about Google’s in its early days.
  • Made to Stick by Chip and Dan Heath. If you are into copywriting.
  • Anything you Want by Derek Sivers. Good story.

Notable Fictions

  • Rara Mendut by Y.B. Mangunwijaya, an nice historical remake of early Javanese Kingdom of Mataram. I like Romo Mangun’s style.
  • The Ghost by Robert Harris, I like his writing again. Such a strong story told with a good style. I also learn a lot about writing ghost story.
  • Lelaki Harimau by Eka Kurniawan. Yep it’s good.
  • The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. A reread. I read it several times before I become a father. I still relates some more thing to this story. This story makes me want to visit Morocco and Spain.
  • Lukisan Kaligrafi by A. Mustof Bisri. A collection of short stories by Gus Mus, a respected cleric and known as budawayan (what’s the right word in English?).
  • Moemie by Marion Bloem. A nice history-novel about indo-people at the crosss road of civilization—between pre-and-post Indonesian independent era.

Good Books Surprises You

I’m really surprised I can manage to read that amount of book this year. By reading them all, tough few of the a fast-read, I thought they makes a lot of surprises. Good books always makes you feel you have to learn more.

This year I challenged myself to read 60 books. An 12 increases compared to last year. Hope I can make it ?

Thanks to all who can inspires us. I can’t mentioned you here but they always stays and be remembered. Thanks to my family who always supporting me doing the wonderthings we are doing the whole year.