Alex Zhurakovskyi's Blog

Best books I've read in 2016

The Christmas and New Year craze is over and it is time to get back to work. In the first post of 2017, I want to summarize my reading of 2016 and give the personal top-10.


According to the statistics, I have read 49 books in 2016. My personal best so far. And very close to the meaningful maximum (I feel that a good book uncovers over time spent with it: one needs to absorb, live through the material, and process the data). As always, the list includes only non-chemistry books. The latter are too specialised and discussed elsewhere.


In no particular order:

Cultures and Organizations: Software of the Mind / Hofstede, Hofstede, Minkov

Absolute best and my personal favourite. Cultural differences have been identified, quantified and plotted. There is also an accompanying website where cultural metrics can be studied and compared. Some parts of the book are boring but overall it's a worthy read.

Economics: The User's Guide / Ha-Joon Chang

A great general economics sort-of-textbook. Easy to read and understand. I wish they had something like this when I was at school.

23 Things They Don't Tell You About Capitalism / Ha-Joon Chang

Another economics book by the same author — this time presenting some common (mis)conceptions. Even if you are not persuaded by the author, it is good to realise that economics axioms are often just hypotheses. Often unjustified ones.

Undercover Economist / Tim Harford

Coffee-time economics reading. Easy to absorb, frequently entertaining. Don't expect it to be too rigorous, though.

The Rise of Universities / Charles Homer Haskins

A tiny but very interesting book. This is a collection of lectures presented by Charles Haskins on the history of university education. Where and how did university emerge? What was the difference between a college and a university? What is trivium and how does it compare to quadrivium? The book has the answers.

Marketing for Scientists: How to Shine in Tough Times / Marc J. Kuchner

In XXI century, one cannot expect to just be a great professor and hope people will notice it. The competition is too steep. This books teaches how to show off your research and attract the necessary attention (and, through it, funding).

The Firm / Duff McDonald

A great narrative of the history and organisational culture of McKinsey and consulting in general.

Waddesdon Manor / Michael Hall

And now to something completely different. This book is a history of one of Britain's finest estates, the Rothschild's Waddesdon Manor. I bought it primarily for the stunning photos pucturing the building and its fine art materpieces.

Бизнес как игра / Сергей Абдульманов

One of the two Russian-only books in this list. Written by an owner of a huge retail chain selling board games, it describes the basics of doing business in Russia, common mistakes and best practices. Witty, absorbing and fun read.

Вся кремлевская рать. Краткая история современной России / Михаил Зыгарь

A history of Putin's Russia (2000–2015). The author collected and processed impressive amount of documents and personal interviews with Russian politicians and presented it in a nice and easy to read summary. It is impossible to tell how historically true it is but still worth a read.