People who spend their life focused squarely on one area ultimately become both narrow minded and pretty dull. It is easy to become consumed by the constant news stream of crypto pouring across our screens through Twitter, Reddit, Telegram, Delta and other websites.
Switching off and broadening your horizons is never a bad idea. Here are five of my favourite non-fiction books that I've read so far this year and you can find a list of all the books I've read (well, in years where I haven't been too lazy to write them down) recently here.
Dark Trade: Lost in Boxing by Donald McRae (9/10)
If you have even a passing interest in boxing then you will enjoy this book, but even those bereft of fascination for sport will find the characters brought to life in wonderful fashion in a book that is engrossing from start to finish. McRae manages to get a raft of boxers from the late 80s/90s to speak openly about their experiences, drawing on a cast that includes Mike Tyson, James Toney, Chris Eubank, Oscar de la Hoya and Naseem Hamad.
Darkness stalks the pages, with a sense of profound sadness and helplessness clouding all those featured. First published in 1996, McRae manages to both illuminate and interest, turning his own personal journey into a voyage through a near decade of fighters.
Conspiracy: Peter Thiel, Hulk Hogan, Gawker and the Anatomy of Intrigue by Ryan Holiday (8.5/10)
I had read about the Thiel/Hogan vs Gawker lawsuit at the time but was oblivious to the particulars of the case. An ethically troubling case on all sides, Holiday does well to capture the intrigue and plotting that went into the Thiel vendetta whilst examining some of the more troubling aspects of the oblivious target, Gawker Media.
Holiday's one flaw is the continual need to write in a style that conveys repeatedly that this is the most important thing that has ever happened in the world ever but despite that, is a book well worth reading.
Black Edge by Sheelah Kolhatkar (8.5/10)
Kolhatkar recounts the prosecution for insider trading of the billionaire trader and owner of SAC Capital, Steven A. Cohen by the US Justice Department. Whilst never quite reaching the heights of something like Barbarians at the Gate or The Greatest Trade Ever, it is a well written account of an ultimately depressing story which highlights the difficulty prosecutors face against someone with the resources of Cohen. Fans of the TV show Billions will notice the similarities in overarching storyline and details.
American Kingpin by Nick Bilton (9/10)
Focusing on Ross Ulbricht and the illegal operation he founded, The Silk Road, Bilton writes a compelling and at times sympathetic account of the now defunct marketplace for illegal goods. Highly recommended.
The Looting Machine by Tom Burgiss (8.5/10)
All the books featured here have a consistent theme, in that they are serious accounts of important stories but written in as accessible a manner as any novel. Burgiss's account is no different, written for a general audience but bringing in depth knowledge to the table to highlight the corruption, the violence and the exploitation which has left many African countries and their citizens destitute while the rulers live in unimaginable luxury. Burgiss also skillfully ties the issues facing Africa to the end result that Western citizens see, from electronic goods to petrol to diamonds.