Sam Breed

Product Developer, Investor

2016 Reading List

A non-exhaustive list of the books I'm reading in 2016

2016 Reading List

  1. How to Make Sense of Any Mess — Abby Covert
  2. Daemon — Daniel Suarez†
  3. Burr – Gore Vidal
  4. Fire in the Valley – Michael Swaine and Paul Freiberger
  5. Antifragile – Nassim Nicholas Taleb
  6. The Ascent of Money – Niall Feguson
  7. The (Mis)Behavior of Markets – Beniot Mandelbrot
  8. Barbarian Days – William Finnegan
  9. Sapiens – Yuval Harari
  10. Learning to Live Finally: The Last Interview – Jacques Derrida
  11. The Killing Moon – N.K. Jemisin
  12. Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency – Douglas Adams
  13. Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said – Philip K. Dick
  14. Cat’s Cradle – Kurt Vonnegut
  15. American Gods – Neil Gaiman
  16. Influx — Daniel Suarez†
  17. The Illuminatus! Trilogy — Robert Shea and Robert Anton Wilson
  18. Kissinger: 1923-1969 The Idealist — Niall Ferguson
  19. Brian Eno: Visual Music — Christopher Scoates
  20. The Three-Body Problem — Cixin Liu
  21. Civilization — Niall Ferguson
  22. Inherent Vice — Thomas Pynchon†
  23. 7 Days In Ohio — Nathan Rabin
  24. Time Travel — James Gleick
  25. Against the Gods: The Remarkable Story of Risk — Peter L. Bernstein
  26. The Sovereign Individual — James Dale Davidson and Lord William Rees-Mogg
  27. Fooled By Randomness — Nassim Nicholas Taleb
  28. The Black Swan — Nassim Nicholas Taleb
  29. Superforecasting – Philip E. Tetlock and Dan Gardner
  30. Digital Gold – Nathaniel Popper
  • Strikethrough Abandoned and back on the shelf 🙅‍
  • In Progress 🙇
  • Finished! 💁‍


Fire in the Valley

I often think about what I missed by not being “in tech” (or rather “in the Bay Area”) when I was a bit younger. I graduated high school in 2004, meaning that if I had my shit together I could have gotten the fuck out of Tampa and high-tailed it to the west coast just in time to be on the ground floor to something cool. I had very little idea how much location factors in to participating in the digital economy.

Instead I went to college and said “fuck computers."

This book isn't about the years after the first dotcom bubble, it's about an earlier time when fortunes were made just as quickly, but there was no internet to fuel the personal computer revolution. Just a bunch of hard working, often scheming, nerds and true believers making the hardware and the fabulists selling a dream of a digital future. They created a scene where there was none, and seemed to have fun doing it. They probably weren't self-aware of that the minutia of their day to day "work stuff" becoming the geeky history of how personal computers helped spawn the modern tech industry.

I rarely admire or envy baby boomers, but the people and events described in this book make a clear exception to that policy.

After high school, I knew I was “good” with computers—whatever that means, I'm still trying to find out— but really I just lacked the vision to understand that I could hustle my way into tech if I wanted to. I didn’t manage to do that until 2009, and only then after deciding to at the end of 2008.

Recently I read the [New Yorker profile about Sam Altman]( and couldn’t help but feel the familiar hot sting of envy even thinking about the scene at Stanford in 2005. Right place at the right time, the way I figure it.

Like Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniack at the Homebrew Computing Club—I can’t read about that and not wish for that type of kismet in my life.

This book stirs up some strong feels.

Barbarian Days

I didn't grow up around surfing, despite being somewhat near the beach. The Gulf Coast is known for its calm white-sand, warm-water beaches. Not really a place for good waves. The Atlantic coast of Florida is a little better, but this is just the type of thing that's elusive for kids in the suburbs. I was lucky enough to have a mom willing to drive me an hour to the skatepark (and I still skate to this day, so it wasn't for nothing), but driving 2 or 3 hours to the opposite side of the state to try out a new board sport wasn't in the cards. Surfing was something that only happened in the fictional Saved by the Bell universe of Southern California.

Continuing on a theme, this feels like another nostalgic take on a subject (and time) that passed me by. It's too late for me to commit to another brutal, dangerous hobby. My wife agrees with me.

Sometimes I'm in awe of what a trip books are: it isn't my expression, but the notion that you stare at a bunch of symbols on a page and experience vivid, emotional, waking hallucinations with zero physical effort or deleterious side-effects is fucking flabbergasting.

This book places you in the water, on the board. It makes me pine for those types of memories, but I'm happy to share a sliver of the experience without getting wet.

Related: 2015 reading list

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