2017 Holiday Reads From The Desk of Mark Bell

November 22nd, 2017 | posted in: Uncategorized

by: Mark Bell

As we head into the holiday season (BLACK FRIDAY IS UPON US!), we put forth some ideas for gift giving from an extraordinary year of publishing.  These six books top our list.  (Click on the picture or the name of the book to be taken directly to Amazon.com but we also encourage you to support your local book purveyors!)


Principles, Ray Dalio. I think I got my first copy, velo bound with plastic front, about 15 years ago. In many ways the book strikes me as much now as it did then. Part cultural handbook for a firm with one of the strongest cultures in the world, and part words of wisdom for thinking about a radically honest life. Even if you are not interested in finance the book while have an impact. If you are interested in the fabric and cultural of the largest hedge fund the world has ever seen, you will find it doubly important. This once secret book is not to be missed.

Black Edge: Inside Information, Dirty Money, and the Quest to Bring Down the Most Wanted Man on Wall Street, by Sheelah Kolhatkar.   Three years ago we saw the first conviction for insider trading for employees from SAC capital.  Its legendary founder was banned from running outside money (until next year). As dramatic as any fiction, this is the story of the Justice Department’s investigation into SAC. Likely the most talked about hedge fund book of the year.

Life 3.0: Being Human in the Age of Artificial Intelligence, by Max Tegmark. The disruptive and pervasive force of technology is about to enter a new chapter. In Life 3.0, MIT professor Max Tegmark engages with what is surely one of the most important topics of our time, thinking machines. The impact that artificial intelligence will have not only on our economy, but on most every aspect of human interaction, from love to war, is touched on in this volume which provides the opening chapter for what is sure to be the conversation for the next generation.


Lincoln in the Bardo, by George Saunders. A shower of acclaim has rained down on this fictional story of the President and his son in the Civil War. The shadows of the Civil War are again present with us as the country reflects on other times of schism. In Saunders book, the Civil War is still early, but the hopes that just a year into the conflict that it might be short-lived appear ephemeral. This is one of those books that has it all, history, war, peace, and love. Maybe one for well beyond this year.

Just Mercy, by Bryan Stevenson. Like Saunders’ imaginative historical fiction, Stevenson has raked in awards for this nonfiction account of race and justice in America. Called the To Kill A Mockingbird or our time, the book illuminates our ability to be radically unjust even as we seek justice.

Leonardo da Vinci, by Walter Isaacson. It is often said that it is better to be lucky than good. Isaacson is both good, in that it is a lucid account of one of the great creative minds in history; and also lucky in that it coincides with the blockbuster sale at Christie’s of the last known work of da Vinci. What the sale says about the markets, bubbles, and exuberance of our time remains to be seen. In any case, Isaacson shows us that Leonardo’s genius is for all time and despite continuous over exposure, he remains one of the most extraordinary human beings of all time.