Book notes: How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia by Mohsin Hamid

How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia book summary by Marlo Yonocruz

How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia by Mohsin Hamid


“The astonishing and riveting tale of a man’s journey from impoverished rural boy to corporate tycoon, it steals its shape from the business self-help books devoured by ambitious youths all over “rising Asia”. It follows its nameless hero to the sprawling metropolis where he begins to amass an empire built on that most fluid, and increasingly scarce, of goods: water. Yet his heart remains set on something else, on the pretty girl whose star rises along with his, their paths crossing and recrossing, a lifelong affair sparked and snuffed and sparked again by the forces that careen their fates along.

How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia is a striking slice of contemporary life at a time of crushing upheaval. Romantic without being sentimental, political without being didactic, and spiritual without being religious, it brings an unflinching gaze to the violence and hope it depicts. And it creates two unforgettable characters who find moments of transcendent intimacy in the midst of shattering change.” -Amazon

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Opening thoughts:

Another Tim Ferriss recommendation. Apparently, this book is supposed to have a unique twist to conventional self-help books in that it tells the fictional story in the first person. I believe I heard him reference this book twice in his podcasts so I decided to put it on my list. I chose it for my February list just to add to the variety of my reading this month.

Key ideas/notes:

  • Chapter 1: Move to the city
  • Chapter 2: Get an education
    • Lucky to be the 3rd born and getting an education
  • Chapter 3: Don’t fall in love
    • While the pursuit of love and the pursuit of wealth have many things in common, wealth can attract fine physical specimens willing to give their love in exchange, while achieving love tends to do the opposite
    • Love dampens the fire in the steam furnace of ambition, robbing you of essential propulsion in an already fraught, uphill battle
  • Chapter 4: Avoid idealists
  • Chapter 5: Learn from a master
    • For a self-help book to be effective, the advice must be helpful and the person must know what help is needed
  • Chapter 6: Work for yourself
    • When you imagine, you create. It’s in being read that a book becomes a book
    • If you want to be filthy rich, sooner or later you have to work for yourself
  • Chapter 7: Be prepared to use violence
    • Becoming wealthy requires a degree of un-squeamishness
  • Chapter 8: Befriend a bureaucrat
    • We exist in a financial universe that is subject to massive gravitational pulls from states
  • Chapter 9: Patronize the artists of war
  • Chapter 10: Dance with debt
    • This allows you to invest, which allows you to gain leverage
      • Leverage is a pair of wings
      • Leverage is a way for small to be big, and big to be huge
  • Chapter 11: Focus on the fundamentals
  • Chapter 12: Have an exit strategy
    • You are ready because for all else you have loved the people around you
    • You have been beyond yourself so you have the courage and dignity and calmness in the face of terror

Closing thoughts:

Another great book finished. Not a note-heavy book as you can see, but I thoroughly enjoyed the narrative and the life lessons taught. I couldn’t really take notes aside from the big-ideas contained in the chapter titles. While I did take notes on the main developments of the story, I did not feel that including them here would add any value to someone who hasn’t read the book in its entirety. The true value of this book comes from reading/listening to it yourself and immersing yourself in the development of the story and protagonist (you). The idea is that “self-help” books ,while they may be helpful, come from outside one’s self. Putting yourself back in the “self” of self-help, if that makes sense.

Be warned, this book is pretty graphic, vulgar, and provocative so definitely not for kids. I appreciated the change up from the typical self-improvement, business, and entrepreneurial-focused books I typically read. That being said, I do feel like it does delivery good value on the entrepreneurial-side while also giving some solid takeaway lessons from the story.

This is one of those books I would re-listen to passively on a long car or bus ride and just take in the story for what it’s worth and remind myself of the life lessons the author is trying to instill.


Practical steps on how to become “filthy rich in rising Asia” told through a first person narrative.



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