What I’ve been reading

The Assembly Line, by Milt Tenopir. Tenopir was the offensive line coach at Nebraska under the great Tom Osborne, and was thus the architect of some of the greatest rushing attacks — no, greatest offenses — the game has ever seen, particularly in their heydey in the mid-1990s. (400 yards rushing and 52 points per game is not too shabby.) The book focuses on how Tenopir and Osborne focused on a few blocking schemes like the inside and outside zone and the counter trey and added multiple run actions and many, many options off of those looks. It’s nothing revolutionary, but in football, what’s great rarely is.

Paris to the Moon, by Adam Gopnik. I didn’t put a lot of thought into this before I bought it, but all I wanted was some easy-to-read travel reading as I’ll be heading back to France in the coming months. The other factors were that I generally like Gopnik’s writings in the New Yorker and the book won some kind of awards or whatnot, and that was that. So far, so good, though it does read a bit like it was from an earlier time (were the late 1990s really so long ago?). Overall, I recommend it, but I’m still plowing through.

The New New Thing: A Silicon Valley Story, by Michael Lewis. I love anything Lewis writes — and this is no exception — but I wouldn’t put this book on the same level as The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine, Moneyball, and Liar’s Poker. It’s a thoroughly entertaining story about dotcom maven Jim Clark, which is a story surprisingly relevant today given the surge of new would-be internet billionaires from the likes of Groupon, LinkedIn, Facebook and so on. The book drags a bit, however, as it follows Clark in his expensive and time consuming quest to build a (nearly) fully automated mechanical yacht.

Undoubtedly Lewis couldn’t resist the beauty of this metaphorical conceit — and there are lots of fun set-pieces — but it always feels like a diversion, like I’m waiting to get back to the mainland where Clark is (or is not) building the new, new thing on the back of a napkin or going on initial public offering road shows with bankers who see in Clark nothing but a meal ticket to a bigger bonus. Like everything Lewis has written, it’s worth your time, but not part of his must-read canon.

The Most Important Thing: Uncommon Sense for the Thoughtful Investor, by Howard Marks. This book by Howard Marks, the founder and Chairman of Oaktree Capital Management and a legendary distress debt investor, is decent: a collection of Marks’s letters to investors, it’s useful wisdom in a crazy time for the markets, but there is, of course, little magic to be gleaned, not that there could be.

  • Jabacholzky

    Been looking everywhere for a copy of the “The Assembly Line” but I can’t find it for any less than $75. Anybody know of a place that has a reasonable price?

  • Jeff Anderton

    Have u ever read any of Michael Covel’s books covering the topic of Trend Following?

  • Shakinthesouthland

    Tenopir’s book is basically the bible for OL if you ask me.

  • Yeah, it seems like a few of the books you recommend are out of print or tough to find. Chris, do you have a go-to spot for tough-to-find books?