Herd Words: 9 Books that Inspired Alpaca VC’s Team in 2023

Alpaca VC

December 21, 2023

In today’s always-on world where short-form content dominates the social and traditional media landscape, consuming a book can offer a welcome departure: the chance to dig deep into new realms, explore the nuanced ideas at play in shaping today’s world and update one’s thinking on life and work accordingly. We’re excited to share nine books that inspired Alpaca VC’s team this year. We hope they’ll do the same for you. 

Boundless: A New Mindset for Unlimited Business Success by Vala Afshar and Henry King

Recommended by Ryan Freedman

The official rundown: “In Boundless, two leaders in transformation and customer success deliver an inspiring and exciting new approach to succeeding in an increasingly decentralized and digital-first world. In the book, you’ll learn how to demolish organizational silos once and for all, allowing resources to flow across networks, ecosystems, and communities. The authors explain the seven principles underlying their unique and effective “Boundless” paradigm: connection, integration, decentralization, mobility, continuity, autonomy, and shared success (source).”

Outlive: The Science and Art of Longevity by Peter Attia

Recommended by Ryan Freedman

The official rundown: “For all its successes, mainstream medicine has failed to make much progress against the diseases of aging that kill most people: heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, and type 2 diabetes. Too often, it intervenes with treatments too late to help, prolonging lifespan at the expense of healthspan, or quality of life. Dr. Attia believes we must replace this outdated framework with a personalized, proactive strategy for longevity, one where we take action now, rather than waiting (source).”

The Blue Zones Secrets for Living Longer: Lessons From the Healthiest Places on Earth by Dan Buettner

Recommended by David Goldberg

The official rundown: “In The Blue Zones Secrets for Living Longer, Buettner returns to Sardinia, Italy; Ikaria, Greece; Okinawa, Japan; Costa Rica’s Nicoya Peninsula; and Loma Linda, California to check in on the super-agers living in the blue zones and interprets the not-so-secret sauce of purpose, faith, community, down-time, natural movement, and plant-based eating that has powered as many as 10 additional years of healthy living in these regions. And Buettner reveals an all-new blue zone—the first man-made blue zone yet explored (source).” 

How the World Really Works: The Science Behind How We Got Here and Where We’re Going by Vaclav Smil

Recommended by Aubrie Pagano

The official rundown: “We have never had so much information at our fingertips and yet most of us don’t know how the world really works. This book explains seven of the most fundamental realities governing our survival and prosperity. From energy and food production, through our material world and its globalization, to risks, our environment and its future, How the World Really Works offers a much-needed reality check—because before we can tackle problems effectively, we must understand the facts (source).”

Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World by Adam Grant

Recommended by Aubrie Pagano

The official rundown: “Using surprising studies and stories spanning business, politics, sports, and entertainment, Grant explores how to recognize a good idea, speak up without getting silenced, build a coalition of allies, choose the right time to act, and manage fear and doubt; how parents and teachers can nurture originality in children; and how leaders can build cultures that welcome dissent. Learn from an entrepreneur who pitches his start-ups by highlighting the reasons not to invest, a woman at Apple who challenged Steve Jobs from three levels below, an analyst who overturned the rule of secrecy at the CIA, a billionaire financial wizard who fires employees for failing to criticize him, and a TV executive who didn’t even work in comedy but saved Seinfeld from the cutting-room floor. The payoff is a set of groundbreaking insights about rejecting conformity and improving the status quo (source).”

Am I Being Too Subtle?: Straight Talk From a Business Rebel by Sam Zell

Recommended by Daniel Fetner

The official rundown: “Self-made billionaire Sam Zell consistently sees what others don’t. From finding a market for overpriced Playboy magazines among his junior high classmates, to buying real estate on the cheap after a market crash, to investing in often unglamorous industries with long-term value, Zell acts boldly on supply and demand trends to grab the first-mover advantage. And he can find opportunity virtually anywhere—from an arcane piece of legislation to a desert meeting in Abu Dhabi (source).”

Fire Weather: A True Story from a Hotter World by John Vaillant

Recommended by Andrew Peng

The official rundown: “With masterly prose and a cinematic eye, Vaillanttakes us on a riveting journey through the intertwined histories of North America’s oil industry and the birth of climate science, to the unprecedented devastation wrought by modern forest fires, and into lives forever changed by these disasters. John Vaillant’s urgent work is a book for—and from—our new century of fire, which has only just begun (source).”

The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America by Richard Rothstein 

The official rundown: “Exploding the myth of de facto segregation arising from private prejudice or the unintended consequences of economic forces, Rothstein describes how the American government systematically imposed residential segregation: with undisguised racial zoning; public housing that purposefully segregated previously mixed communities; subsidies for builders to create whites-only suburbs; tax exemptions for institutions that enforced segregation; and support for violent resistance to African Americans in white neighborhoods. A groundbreaking, ‘virtually indispensable’ study that has already transformed our understanding of twentieth-century urban history (Chicago Daily Observer), The Color of Law forces us to face the obligation to remedy our unconstitutional past (source).”

Dark Star Safari: Overland from Cairo to Cape Town by Paul Theroux

Recommended by Noah Williams

The official rundown: “A rattletrap bus, dugout canoe, cattle truck, armed convoy, ferry, and train. In the course of his epic and enlightening journey, wittily observant and endearingly irascible Paul Theroux endures danger, delay, and dismaying circumstances. Gauging the state of affairs, he talks to Africans, aid workers, missionaries, and tourists. What results is an insightful meditation on the history, politics, and beauty of Africa and its people (source).”

Do you have a book we should be reading in 2024? Reach out and let us know