Connor Smyth

Books Update: It’s Been a While Pt. 2

Unconventional Success

David F. Swenson

416 pages

Unconventional Success: A Fundamental Approach to Personal Investment

This is the first book I have read to introduce me to the world of personal finance. I found it very valuable but I also felt that much of it could be skipped over. I would recommend reading chapters 1, 2, 3, 6, and 11 for sure. I would recommend only optionally reading chapters 4 and 5 if you want to learn more specifically about the topics than the other chapters touched on. Everything else can be skipped in my opinion.


Michelle Obama

426 pages


I loved every minute of Michelle Obama’s ‘Becoming’. She is an extraordinary story teller and tells you about her life in ways that Barack was even unable to for the same events. I think everyone should read it, I cannot praise it enough!

Flash Boys

Michael Lewis

304 pages

Flash Boys: A Wall Street Revolt

My second Michael Lewis book this year (and ever, the first was Moneyball). I took interest in this one due to the very little research I had done into the ways high frequency trading firms were using fiber optic lines. I also took interest because the main person in the story is Canadian and worked at RBC (the same bank my mom works at). I enjoyed the story a lot and saw some people that I felt were a lot like me in the way that they are passionate about technology. Overall, a good and quick read.

The Interior Design Handbook

Frida Ramstedt

240 pages

The Interior Design Handbook: Furnish, Decorate, and Style Your Space

Having just moved into a new apartment I thought it would be an excellent time to learn a bit about interior design. My girlfriend knows much more about the topic than I do so I wanted to learn a little myself so that I could be able to speak her language in a sense when we had discussions about things. I learned a lot and enjoyed the rules of thumb guidance.

The Grid

Gretchen Bakke

288 pages

The Grid: Electrical Infrastructure for a New Era

A fascinating book and well worth the read. The author tells the history of the American electrical system in all of its flaws and glories, then describes how the modern grid works and how surprisingly little it has changed. Finally, they finish off with what the grid might look like in the future. If you have an engineering or curious mind then I would highly recommend this book.

Shape Up

Ryan Singer

133 pages

Shape Up: Stop Running in Circles and Ship Work that Matters

If you want to know how to make better products then I would highly recommend this book. It’s very short but packed with a lot of knowledge. In it, the author describes Basecamp’s very unique approach to building things. I have already turned some of my colleagues onto it and I know they enjoyed reading it as well.

The Emperor of All Maladies

Siddhartha Mukherjee

571 pages

The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer

This book tells the history of cancer as well as tells the author’s story of treating patients with cancer. I first was turned onto the author after learning about his other book ‘The Gene’ and decided that I would give this one a try first before tackling that one. This one did not disappoint. Medical history and medicine is a field where I have very little knowledge so this book taught me a lot.

Programming Pearls

Jon L. Bentley

239 pages

Programming Pearls

This book provided me with a lot of useful heuristics when approaching programming problems. The author uses delightful anecdotes and then teaches you why certain ways of solving problems work best. I strongly believe that in order to be better at solving problems you need to have a wide array of heuristics to pull from and this book will certainly add to your repertoire.

A Promise Land

Barack Obama

768 pages

A Promised Land

Wow! What a book! I finished reading this over the winter holidays and I thought it was great. He does a great job of taking you behind the curtain to see things like how bad the financial crisis was, the beginning of what has become the enormous partisan split in the American government, and the hard work it takes by everyone in public service to keep things intact. I actually like this so much that I read the last 100 pages on my last day of vacation.