Books I can recommend

Here’s a brief list of books I recommend. I’ve read each of these books from cover to cover. This page was last updated in July 2021.

The Selfish Gene
by Richard Dawkins

This book explains how genes are basically immortal survival machines. To clarify: Genes build bodies in order to make copies of themselves and survive over long periods of time. Our bodies will eventually die. But¬†if our genes can¬†get us to have children, then they¬†live on. Genes are a set of instructions for how to build a body. And the better the instructions, the more¬†immortal the genes will be. Genetics explains much of our behavior. Such as why we have sex, and why sex feels good. Why¬†the¬†offspring of pair-bonded parents (love as we call it) do better in some social animals.¬†Why ducks get a handful of children per pregnancy, while humans get just one. And why there’s altruism and collaboration¬†baked into many successful species. I read this book at the age of 17. At that time I still believed that there must be some sort of a God to explain the¬†perplexities of nature. Needless to say, this book shook me to my core.

Flash Crash: A Trading Savant, a Global Manhunt, and the Most Mysterious Market Crash in History
by Liam Vaughan
A few years ago financial markets in New York had a steep, sudden decline. On the other side of the world in the UK, there was a lonely Indian guy named Navinder Sarao (or Nav) who lived in a shitty neighborhood surrounded by crack addicts and criminals. Nearly no one knew that he was an incredibly wealthy stock trader. The author did a lot of investigative research and spoke to everyone except for Nav himself (he’s very private and somewhat autistic). I couldn’t stop reading this book, I read it all day, and during my short work breaks. It was digestible and well-written.

The Psychology of Money: Timeless lessons on wealth, greed, and happiness
by Morgan Housel
Full of interesting history lessons about stock markets and wealth and the biases about it in the media and our psyche.

Investing for Dummies
Forget about The Intelligent Investor and read Investing for Dummies. All the vital information is well explained. I’ve carried the lessons with me all my life. This should be the first book that an investor picks up. It wouldn’t even hurt for some experienced investors, or people who have no interest in investing at all, to read this book. Disclaimer: I read the Dutch version as a teenager. The English version is written by a different author and I’ve never read it. Still, I trust the¬†for Dummies brand to always do a good job!

P.S. Dit is vertrouwelijk
by Gerard Spong & Peter R De Vries (Dutch)
A Dutch book that contains an exchange of letters between a criminal lawyer and a crime reporter, both well known in their respective fields. Their emails are written so poetically, making mundane topics enjoyable to read. They ask each other questions and share their perspectives on topics such as being threatened by criminals, and which climate they prefer (the lawyer prefers cold while the journalist prefers tropical).

Hoe ik toch huisjesmelker werd
by Hans de Geus (Dutch)
This book is written by a Dutch economist and explains why housing prices have skyrocketed in the last 20 years. It’s mostly due to the financialization of housing, whereby properties are considered investments, rather than a basic human need.¬†Declining interest rates have put more gasoline on the fire. And to top it off there’s been a few specific government policies that have increased prices further, such as hefty subsidies for mortgage-backed homeownership. Every Dutch taxpayer is essentially subsidizing homeowners, which in turn has driven prices up even further. A double whammy that caused¬†extreme wealth inequality. Long ago, the author himself applied to get a mortgage to finally buy his own house. But the banks rejected him¬†due to his shaky income as a freelance economics reporter. He learned he could still get a mortgage, if he didn’t live in the house himself, but rented it out instead. That’s because banks consider rental income¬†to be a steady and stable income stream. Fearing that he’d die poor sans retirement, leaving nothing to his children, the author went on to buy several rental properties.

July 20, 2021

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