Your 2023 crypto reading list

If you’re looking for ways to spend the holidays, why not curl up with a good book that will both entertain — and teach you a little bit more about crypto?

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Reading is my passion. Crypto is not. 

However, I find reading so important that I’ve still made a point of stressing the need to read books (ideally fiction) in order to be better at your job — even if your job is in the crypto industry. In fact, I’ve written a whole column begging the crypto industry to read. (My favorite response to said column: “How is crypto going to read a book, it doesn’t have eyes.”)

For this end-of-year crypto reading last wrap-up, I will be making several concessions by adding in some non-fiction to my recommendations — as well as some light warnings of books that crypto people should stay away from.

Top of my list for best crypto books in 2023 is Number Go Up, the story of both Tether and Sam Bankman-Fried, written by Bloomberg journalist Zeke Faux. As I wrote in my review, the best types of non-fiction books are those that read like fiction — and this is one of them. While Faux began the book with the idea of finally uncovering all of Tether’s secrets, his failure to do so led him to a much more timely story — putting him in the room with Bankman-Fried right up until his arrest last November. I’d compare Number Go Up to the more scintillating non-fiction books, right up there with Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.

Moving forward, my second book recommendation for 2023 is an oldie, but a goody: Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson. Even though this hefty novel was written in 1999, Stephenson’s science-fiction tale of a twisted World War II includes some of the first imagining of how a digital gold currency would work. And if you like Cryptonomicon, I’d recommend that you go even further back to his 1992 Snow Crash, where he used the word “metaverse” for the first time. Even though, unfortunately, Stephenson made his own (possibly misguided) foray into actual cryptocurrency with a metaverse blockchain project, that doesn’t take away from the importance of his earlier writings.

My third book recommendation is a bit more unusual to find in a crypto reading list — Vera Wong’s Unsolicited Advice for Murderers by Jesse Q. Sutanto. I’ve written already about my frustrations with the new prevalence of using cryptocurrency and NFTs as plot devices in murder mysteries, but this story of an elderly tea expert in Chinatown solving a murder is a delightful read. You’ll be less surprised than I was when you discover NFTs lie at the heart of the murder, because this book is on a crypto reading list already.

Last but not least, I’d be remiss if I didn’t include a brief note on the two crypto books that I read this year that I would not recommend to any crypto person. The first is Michael Lewis’ Going Infinite, which I panned as an overly enthusiastic portrait of Bankman-Fried that glosses over all of the bad parts. The second is My First Crypto Sex Party, which is the latest in a line of very silly crypto erotica — the book is 27 pages too long, and it’s only 27 pages long.

And then, just because I loved it so much, the last book on my crypto book list is Biography of X, by Young Lions award winner Catherine Lacey. It has nothing to do with cryptocurrency, blockchain or any metaverse, but as I’ve written before, sometimes just reading a good novel will make you better at other parts of your life.


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