Weekend Briefing No. 463
A Saturday morning briefing on innovation and society.
Welcome to the weekend, and Merry Christmas Eve.
This week’s briefing is focused on books. I love reading. This year, I read some amazing books, so I selected my top seven below. Leave a comment to let me know what your favorite book was this year.
Secondly, since it is Christmas Eve, in case you missed it a few weeks ago, here’s the link to my Christmas playlist again.
Lastly, if you’re into end-of-year reflection but unsure how to structure it, you may want to look at my framework. It will help you reflect on the wins and losses from 2022 as well as to make sure that your calendar reflects your values in 2023.
Did your brilliant friend forward this to you?
1,200—The longest book I read was Master of the Senate clocking in at 1,200 pages.
72—This year, I read 72 books.
8—My guilty pleasure was the Grey Man series. I read eight of those books this year. Don’t judge me.
You may be wondering how I have the time to read this much. My little secret is Audible. I listen to the audiobooks when I’m commuting, eating lunch, doing dishes and changing diapers. I’ve been listening to audiobooks for about two decades now and I’ve learned that audiobooks are incredibly polarizing. Some people love them some people hate them. All I can say is that it works for me and makes reading enjoyable and possible. If you want to give it a shot, I’ve got a referral link to one free month of Audible. Audible.
Surrender: 40 Songs, One Story
Surrender is the story of the remarkable life artist/activist Bono has lived, the challenges he’s faced, and the friends and family who have shaped and sustained him. There are stories from Bono’s early days in Dublin that include him joining a band and playing sold-out stadiums around the world with U2, plus his more-than-20 years of activism. At its heart, it’s the story of a man seeking to come to grips with his role as a band member, father and husband. Definitely get the audiobook, as his distinctive voice is interwoven with a very personal soundtrack, adding atmosphere and texture to each and every scene from moments of classic U2 hits to snippets by The Clash, Patti Smith, Verdi, Johnny Cash and Mozart. Knopf
The Years of Lyndon Johnson
The Years of Lyndon Johnson is a biography of Lyndon B. Johnson by Robert Caro. The four volumes that have been published run more than 3,000 pages in total, detailing Johnson's early life, education and political career. (A fifth volume is expected to deal with the bulk of Johnson's presidency and post-presidential years.) The series reveals in extraordinary detail the almost-superhuman drive, energy and ambition that set LBJ apart. It follows him from the Hill Country to the oval office (after the assassination of JFK). After reading all four volumes, I can clearly say that I don’t like JBL, but am still impressed by his story. Knopf
32% Return on a Banksy?
It sounds too good to be true. But, it's not only possible – it's happening – and thousands of investors are benefiting. Thanks to the fine art investing platform, Masterworks. These results aren’t cherry picking. This is the whole bushel. Masterworks has built a track record of 8 exits, the last 3 realizing +13.9%, +17.8%, and +21.5% net returns each – even while financial markets suffered. Stacked against the S&P 500, contemporary art prices outpaced it by 131% over the last 26 years, and remained resilient through both the dot-com bubble and Great Financial Crisis. Art can also help hedge market volatility, having the lowest correlation to equities of any asset class, according to Citi. Investing in blue-chip artworks by greats like Banksy, Basquiat and Picasso is now at the fingertips of nearly every investor. Weekend Briefing readers can skip the waitlist here. Masterworks (Sponsored)
Author Patrick Radden Keefe explores the intricacies of forging $150,000 vintage wines, examines whether a whistleblower who dared to expose money laundering at a Swiss bank is a hero or a fabulist, spends time in Vietnam with Anthony Bourdain, chronicles the quest to bring down a cheerful international black market arms merchant, and profiles a passionate death penalty attorney who represents the “worst of the worst,” among other bravura works of literary journalism. Doubleday
Why We’re Polarized
Why We’re Polarized reveals the structural and psychological forces behind America’s descent into division and dysfunction. This book offers a clear framework for understanding everything from Trump’s rise to the Democratic Party’s leftward shift to the politicization of everyday culture. America is polarized, first and foremost, by identity. Everyone engaged in American politics is engaged, at some level, in identity politics. Over the past 50 years in America, our partisan identities have merged with our racial, religious, geographic, ideological and cultural identities. These merged identities have attained a weight that is breaking much in our politics and tearing at the bonds that hold this country together, and they create feedback loops between polarized political identities and polarized political institutions that are driving our system toward crisis. Simon & Schuster
This is Amor Towels’ follow-up novel to A Gentleman in Moscow. In June 1954, 18-year-old Emmett Watson was driven home to Nebraska by the warden of the juvenile work farm where he had just served 15 months for involuntary manslaughter. His mother long gone, his father recently deceased and the family farm foreclosed upon by the bank, Emmett's intention is to pick up his 8-year-old brother, Billy, and head to California where they can start their lives anew. But when the warden drives away, Emmett discovers that two friends from the work farm have hidden themselves in the trunk of the warden's car. Together, they have hatched an altogether different plan for Emmett's future, one that will take them all on a fateful journey in the opposite direction—to the City of New York. Viking
The Man Who Broke Capitalism
In 1981, Jack Welch took over General Electric and quickly rose to fame as the first celebrity CEO. In this captivating, revelatory book, David Gelles argues that Welch single-handedly ushered in a new, cutthroat era of American capitalism that continues to this day. Gelles chronicles Welch’s campaign to vaporize hundreds of thousands of jobs in a bid to boost profits, eviscerating the country’s manufacturing base and destabilizing the middle class. Welch’s obsession with downsizing—he eliminated 10% of employees every year—fundamentally altered GE and inspired generations of imitators who have employed his strategies at other companies around the globe. Gelles shows how Welch’s celebrated emphasis on increasing shareholder value by any means necessary (including layoffs, outsourcing, offshoring, acquisitions, buybacks) became the norm in American business generally. Simon & Schuster
Four Thousand Weeks
The average human life span is absurdly, insultingly brief. Assuming you live to be 80, you have just over 4,000 weeks. Nobody needs telling there isn’t enough time. We’re obsessed with our lengthening to-do lists, our overfilled inboxes, work-life balance and the ceaseless battle against distraction. We’re deluged with advice on becoming more productive and efficient, and creating life hacks to optimize our days. But such techniques often end up making things worse. Drawing on the insights of both ancient and contemporary philosophers, psychologists and spiritual teachers, Oliver Burkeman delivers an entertaining, humorous, practical, and ultimately profound guide to time and time management. Rejecting the futile modern fixation on “getting everything done,” Four Thousand Weeks introduces readers to tools for constructing a meaningful life by embracing finitude, along with showing how many of the unhelpful ways we’ve come to think about time aren’t inescapable, unchanging truths. They are choices we’ve made as individuals and as a society―and that we could do things differently. Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Should We Work Together?
Hi! I’m Kyle. This newsletter is my passion project. When I’m not writing, I run a law firm that helps startups move fast without breaking things. Most founders want a trusted legal partner, but they hate surprise legal bills. At Westaway, we take care of your startup’s legal needs for a flat, monthly fee so you can control your costs and focus on scaling your business. If you’re interested, let’s jump on a call to see if you’re a good fit for the firm. Click here to schedule a 1-on-1 call with me.
The best advice I ever got was that knowledge is power and to keep reading. -David Bailey