The books I read so far this year (January through March 2024)

Apr 6, 2024


Reading time: 6 minutes

I realize I haven’t written any book reviews this year so far, even though I’ve been reading constantly, but more slowly than in the past. So in order to catch up I’ll just summarize the books I read so far this year here, and I’ll try my best to be brief and not ramble on forever like I normally do.

Oliver Schröm: Die Cum Ex Files

A German book, written by an investigative Journalist about the Cum Ex scandal, one of the biggest tax evasion scandals in German history. Even our current chancellor Olaf Scholz seems to have been involved to some degree, though he did (and does) his best to dodge all questions about it.

Very interesting read, and as it always seems to be the case with these kind of things, alarming how easy it was for corrupt bankers to fill their pockets with taxpayers money, and how little the authorities in charge did to stop it.

Joseph Menn: All the Rave

A book about the story of the first filesharing network of the young internet, Napster. Loved it! I always love reading stories about hackers and the history of the internet, and this one was one of the best, very well researched, thorough and gripping.

Steve Peters: The Chimp Paradox

This is one of the best popular science books about human psychology I’ve read in a long time. Steve Peters is a British psychologist, and his model of the human brain is that we have actually three brains in our head: The human brain, the chimp brain and the computer.

The human brain is our rational, logical side. The chimp brain is our impulsive, emotional, irrational side and the computer is the storage for our memories, experiences etc.

This is probably not for everyone, but for me this model and this way of thinking about my brain any my psyche resonated a lot, and I think I learned more about myself from this book than from any other I’ve read in the past.

Arthur C. Clarke: Childhoods End

This one I read because Joel wrote an enthusiastic review on his blog, and I thought that sounded like a fascinating story, so I got it too.

And fascinating it was. One day, spaceships start appearing over every major city on the planet (sounds familiar? Now we know where Roland Emmerich got the inspiration for Independence Day from). They are controlled by all-powerful beings that start to govern the fate of humanity.

i thought it was interesting and thought provoking, with a few nice unexpected twists. Everything good SciFi should be.

Mary Shelley: Frankenstein

I felt like reading a classic, and since I had never read Frankenstein, it was time to fill this gap in my knowledge.

It obviously reads very, very different from modern novels given the time period it was written in, but I can see why it’s a timeless classic. And the story is way more complex and profound than what is remembered in pop culture (mad scientist creates monster, monster kills people). Well worth the read.

Pekka Nykänen & Merina Salminen: Operation Elop

Stephen Elop was the last CEO of Nokia, it was under his direction that Nokia went from the biggest mobile phone manufacturer in the world to irrelevant and was eventually sold off to Microsoft.

This book describes the situation at Nokia during its final years. Nokia was already in trouble before Elop took the helm because they had neglected to keep up with the development in the industry, namely the introduction of smartphones and so their revenue was steadily declining in the mobile phone market while Apple and Samsung ran away with the profits.

Former Microsoft executive Stephen Elop was hired as CEO to get Nokia back on track… and through a series of terrible business decisions ran it into the ground instead.

The book came out in Finnish only, but the English translation is available for free under the CC license. The translation isn’t always the best, but the story is fascinating nevertheless, so I highly recommend checking it out.

Cal Newport: Slow Productivity

I’ve been a fan of Cal Newport for a few years now, I read most of his books and have been listening to his podcast almost since the beginning, so of course I had to get his latest book as well.

In it he expands on the ideas he developed on his podcast over the past couple of years, that the modern knowledge work environment isn’t very conducive to the worker’s mental health, and not even to pruducing actually great work.

He advocates to abandon what he calles the hyperactive hive mind style of work (constantly online! constantly available! always sending emails, slack messages, having zoom calls etc.) and instead focus on a more natural pace of working. His three core principles he proposes in the book are:

  1. Do fewer things
  2. Obsess over quality
  3. Work at a natural pace

I’ll definitely take insiration from this and try to restructure my work according to these principles, while trying to reduce the hyperactive work mode as much as possible.

Gillian Flynn: Gone Girl

Boy that book was a wild ride! I can’t talk about it too much without spoiling the story… but I went into it totally blind, I had no idea what it was about and I could not stop reading it. It is a deep dive into the mind of a narcissistic psychopath and something I will keep thinking about for a long time.