My top 5 books of 2017

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Not too long ago, I was barely reading a book a year. Now, reading has become one of my favorite activities. In the last couple of years, I have finally discovered the joy of reading. To do better than last year, I started with a goal of 26 books this year (1 more than last year) but was able to surpass and read 36 books this year without much effort. I wanted to share my top five of the year. This is not by specific genre, so will be a mixture of fiction and non-fiction.

1. The Gene by Siddhartha Muhkarjee

I received this book as a Christmas gift and was the book I started the year with. I was taken aback by Mukharjee's brilliant ability to write about science as an exciting and engaging story. I have a bachelor's degree in Biochemistry and a Masters in Chemistry and as such many of the concepts were not new to me. What got me hooked from the beginning was the author's storytelling ability. I wish my teachers had been able to explain concepts in the way he did. It was beautiful how simply he could explain cell division, and DNA replication. Then with equal ease, he could tie how it fit with the history of gene.

2. The everything store by Brad Stone

The entrepreneur in me loves reading about history and biography of innovators. Brad stone gives a up close view of Jeff Bezos and Amazon in this easy to read book. The book surely was motivating. A good book to read especially when you feel stuck or you are not making much progress. A good reminder also of sacrifices you should be willing to make when you have a vision as large as Amazon's. While, I enjoyed the book, one thing was clear to me. I would never want to work at Amazon or create a company with similar culture. Of course, that also comes with the understanding that I am ok trading off some of the success for more time with friends and family.

3. Misbehaving, the making of behavioral economics by Richard Thaler

I love reading about decision science and this was a perfect book for anyone who enjoys the topic. If you have read, Thinking fast and slow or Predictably irrational, a lot of the concepts are similar. But the book is still filled with thought provoking experiments and really got me think. I found myself stopping to think and analyze every couple pages, which I loved. Thaler has countless examples of how we are supposed to think/act and how we actually do. I do not know if I got any better at some of those logics, but never the less, thoroughly enjoyed the book. On my list to read again!

4. Beartown Fredrik Backman

I like to read fiction and non-fiction book at the same time. Usually reading non-fiction during morning/day and fiction at night. I read Fredrik's first book, A man called Ove last year and he has quickly become my favorite writer. Beartown was another exceptional book by Backman. Set around a small town tied together by Hockey, this is an engaging read taking on love and culture. Backman brilliantly takes us on a tour of a this small town and humanity at the same time. Even though Backman's books are translated from Swedish, his beautiful expressions are still crystal clear. I found myself highlighting so many phrases that made an impact.

5. Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

I first found out about Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie couple years ago from her TED video titled a power of single story and have been following her writing since. This story of a Nigerian student settling in the US, hit close to home for me. I could relate to the lot experiences with those of mine when I first came to this country from Nepal.

My full 2017 reading list is on Goodreads

13 Key take aways from One up on Wall Street


Last year I took two Finance classes as a part of my MBA curriculum which got me more interested in understanding investment principles. I had recently decided that I felt more comfortable having a financial advisor manage my investments but this class got me excited about investments again. We had spent a fair amount of or time in Investments class talking about Peter Lynch, I ended up picking up his book, One up on all street. Surprisingly, I found his book quite entertaining and insightful. I felt like, I learned more about investments from this little book than what I had learned in a 8 week course. Here are few general principles that stuck with me.

  1. If you are not willing to spend time doing research, put your money in the market instead of picking individual stocks

  2. If you can not beat the market, put your money in a good mutual fund.
  3. If you can’t find any companies that you think are attractive, put your money into the bank until you discover some.
  4. Invest in fundamentals and not news and rumors
  5. You do not need to be able to pick all winners to have a successful investment portfolio. Most of the times 6/10 is enough
  6. Dont get too attached to any stocks, when the fundamentals /story is no longer good, its time to let it go
  7. Invest in what you know and understand. This a principle Warren Buffet follows and recommends as well.
  8. Price drops in companies with strong fundamentals should be viewed as buying opportunity.
  9. According to Peter Lynch, some of these are characteristics of company worth looking into: The company has a boring name , company is a spin off, the company is a fast growing company in a no/low growth industry, the company produces a product that people keep buying-in good times and bad, Insiders are buying shares, low percentage of shares are held by institutions, the company is buying back shares.
  10. When insiders are buying, its usually a good sign. Of course, do you research and check for all fundamentals and relate news.
  11. Nobody can predict interest rates, the future direction of the economy, or the stock market. Dismiss all such forecasts and concentrate on what’s actually happening to the companies in which you’ve invested.
  12. Everyone has the brainpower to make money in stocks. Not everyone has the stomach. If you are susceptible to selling everything in a panic, you ought to avoid stocks and stock mutual funds altogether.
  13. Market does not always behave rationally.

By no means this is investment advice but simply take aways I found useful from the book.