2017 was a great year for reading. I've read far more than the previous years and about more diverse topics. I've branched out from my habit of reading business books and started reading much more about history/philosophy/biographies.
This year I read around 20 books. In a different post, I will go through how I managed to read so much and very easily (and no, it doesn't involve fast-reading). But for now, these are my favourite 5 that I'd highly recommend anyone for the next year.
Nudge by Thaler & Sunstein
This book is a must-read if you are interested in decision making or are a decision maker in your organisation. The core idea is that the design architect (the person or institution that design a process) can greatly influence the choices that people will make. The authors argue that sometimes it should be better to "nudge" people into the right decision. Controversial and REALLY well argued, you will definitely like it if you have enjoyed "Thinking, fast and slow" or "Predictably Irrational".
Antifragile by Nassim Nicholas Taleb
Get this book on Amazon - Score: 8/10
Anti-fragile is one of those books that will make you rethink certain aspects of your life. At the centre of this book is the idea that some things benefit from shocks, volatility and randomness. Taleb argues that in a world dominated by random events it's foolish to try to predict them but we should design our lives and institutions to embrace randomness and thrive in it. Although it's rather verbose at times, Taleb is definitely not shy about his opinions but argues them in a very compelling way.
Amusing Ourselves to Death by Neil Postman
The problem is not that television presents us with entertaining subject matter, but that all subject matter is presented as entertaining, which is another issue altogether. To say it still another way: Entertainment is the supra-ideology of all discourse on television. No matter what is depicted or from what point of view, the overarching presumption is that it is there for our amusement and pleasure.
For a book written in 1984, you will find it extremely modern. Postman's ranting against television has made me think a lot about my relationship with technology, news and information in general (which has then led to my ranting against technological addiction on the Fireside). Nothing will do more to help cure your information addiction that the healthy dose of reality provided in these pages.
Homo Deus by Yuval Noah Harari
All large-scale human cooperation is ultimately based on our belief in imagined orders. These are sets of rules that, despite existing only in our imagination, we believe to be as real and inviolable as gravity.
If you enjoyed "Sapiens", then you will definitely like its sequel "Homo Deus". Much darker than "Sapiens", this books is based on the core idea that the original human project centred on survival in the face of famine, plague and war. However, as we overcome these challenges, we now replace them with a new agenda, focused on immortality, bliss and divinity. Harari's gift for brilliant and logical reasoning will truly make you think in ways you have never thought.
Guns, Germs and Steel by Jared Diamond
Get this book on Amazon - Score: 10/10
This is the perfect present for your racist friend. In this exceptionally detailed book, the author answers the question that Yali, a charismatic New Guinean politician, asked him in the 70's. Yali wanted to know, “Why is it that you white people developed so much cargo … but we black people had little cargo of our own?”—in other words, why have European societies been so militarily, economically, and technologically successful in the last 500 years, while other societies have not approached such a level of achievement? The answer will literally blow your mind.
Hope you enjoy it!
Which books have changed the way you think or blown your mind away in 2017?