Best Books I Read during Quarantine

Summaries, key takeaways and reviews of the best books I read during quarantine.

Originally a twitter thread.

Summaries, key takeaways and reviews of the best books I read during quarantine

A thread:

Full notes here:


Chaos Monkeys by @antoniogm 

The experiences of someone who had front row seat to the 3 most important institutions in modern capitalism

– Wall Street (Trader at Goldman Sachs)
– Startups (founder at Ycombinator company)
– Tech (Product Manager at Facebook)

Business books are hard because people involved with inside info don’t usually write books or if they do its usually trite.

And the people who write good books werent involved with inside info

@antoniogm is able to both share useful info and write a good book in Chaos Monkeys

He offers very interesting insights into what drives the people who work at these companies 

And is extrememly self-aware and candid about his own intentions.

Lots of useful nuggets slipped in from how to negotiate from a position of weakness, how to be charismatic etc.

His writing style reminds me of @CKlosterman :

They both tie in so many literary references in their writing that you can tell:

1. He is extremely well read
2. He could easily write another 5 books

I was actually alluding to Chuck in this tweet:

Finally, @antoniogm is another person that supports my thesis that if you enjoy reading someone’s tweets and they write a book, there’s a very good chance you would enjoy their book as well.

@AnnieDuke and @robinhanson are two other good examples of this.

Mahabharata in Polyester by Hamish McDonald

Summary: Mukesh Ambani’s father, Dhirubhai Ambani and the story of how he grew Reliance into one of the most succesful companies in India.

I’ve been extremely optimistic about the future of India for a long time: 

When I heard that Mukesh Ambani and Reliance was brining cheap internet to million of Indians with Jio I knew that this would be the beginning of a new chapter for India, I wanted to learn more

Lots of interesting tidbits about the history of modern post-colonial India and the scramble to build wealth once the British left.

Very interesting insights into how Dhirubhai managed both the government and the Indian press to grow his company.

I always say that Nigeri and India are very similar so I was curious to compare India’s journey after the British left to Nigeria’s post-colonial journey.

Ultimately, I didn’t finish the book because I realized I was more interested in Mukesh’s story than his father. Also, the subject matter is not as relevant to my current goals

I might revisit another time if the topic becomes more relevant to my goals.

I also have a lot of Indian friends, so a big motivation for reading this book was I wanted to tease them that I know more about Business in India than they do 😁

The Righteous Mind by Jonathan Haidt (@jonhaidt) is about why Good people are divided by Religion and Politics

The book explains why people disagree so passionately about the topics of religion and politics and why people are so convinced that their “team” is the “right team”.

It also helped me understand why some people are so obsessed with forcing other people to live life according to their beliefs.

takeaway: some cultures and people are individualistic and others are collectivist.

Iindividualistic: the happiness of the individual is more important than happiness of the group

Collectivist: The happiness of the group is more important than the happiness of the individual.

Whatever group you fall into (individualistic or collective) you’re likely going to see the other group as wrong and immoral.

But Haidt makes the point that actually both viewpoints have their benefits and the key is to see what you can learn from the other viewpoint.

Here’s a fun exercise for you:

Answer the question: “how would you describe yourself”

A: software engineer, writer, teacher, soccer player, hanging out with friends and family etc. 

you’re more individualistic

B: brother, son, Arsenal FC fan, and your religious and political affiliation 

You’re more collective

Try it with your friends and family and see how they answer!

The Attention Merchants: by Tim Wu (@superwuster)

Key takeaway: What you pay attention to is an asset and there are always people trying to buy and sell your attention so value it accordingly.

He also draws some very interesting comaparisons between how corporations market their brands and religious groups market their religions

Interesting story about McDonalds paying a school in Florida to advertise a happy meal in their report cards. 

In 1970s people were rejecting consumerism so Pepsi came out with marketting campaign: “drink Pepsi, the official drink of cool hippies who reject consumerism”

Wu calls it the “adaptability of capitalsim” that whatever people want, (even if it’s the end of capitalism!) there will always be someone ready to give it to them

The final thing that stood out and @superwuster deserves credit for is how well researched this book is.

I often found myself referring back to the appendix to check out his references. 

Lots of gems in there

Some other books I’ve read but I haven’t felt inclined to summarize and do a key takeaway for them yet.

Lmk if any of these look interesting to you and if I have time I will summarize it with key takeaways

You can follow @tomiwa1a.