books

“Reading thoughtfully written books leads to new perspectives, better or different ideas, the accumulation of which is the foundation of eventual wisdom. “

The above quote articulates why I love to read and, because book lovers love to share, here is what has moved me the last year:

  • “All the Light We Cannot See” This novel sums up what it means to be human. Most of us want to live and love in peace, yet lives are all too often swept up in events created by mad men, which leads to my second recommendation.
  • “The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined” A long history of man’s inhumanity to man. At times almost too depressing to read. But an amazing history of human violence and hope that we are getting less violent. This is hard to believe when you watch the news, this will add perspective. Bill Gates has tweeted this about the book: “If I could give each of you a graduation present, it would be this — the most inspiring book I’ve ever read”
  • “Sapiens” This book seems to be on everyones list. It is a history of our species and how we have evolved through shared myths and stories. A great education.
  • “Ubiquity”  explores “critical states” and “power laws” in nature and in human created systems like stock markets. This is written by a physicist journalist and very readable. Half the book explains where critical states exist in nature: earthquakes, avalanches, magnets etc. He then goes on to show how human systems exhibit the same characteristics. This book has lead me to is most recent book “Forecast” which is a deeper exploration of how financial markets are consistent with “critical states.”  Both books have profoundly changed my understanding of the uncertainty and risks inherent in the stock market and the bias that exists in academic literature on the subject.
  • “Tribe” by Sabastian Junger is a book about the human need to belong. It is short at 182 pages, I have read it twice and it’s lessons have helped me understand more about the human need for belonging than almost anything else I have read.
  • “Humility Is The New Smart: Rethinking Human Excellence In The Smart Machine Age” is an excellent primer on our fast changing world and what it may mean to the nature of work. AI is here and we will be best served if we learn to work with it. This is a must read for parents of college students, better yet, the college student should read this!
  • “Boys in the Boat” I can’t say enough about how good this book is, it is one I keep recommending. At it’s core it is a book about resiliency. If we think we or our kids have it tough, the story of Joe Ranz and what he overcame in life will make almost any difficulty pale in comparison. We know the outcome of the story, but the writing and the story will keep you turning the pages.
  • Finally, a book by a local Buffalo, author, Douglas Funke, “Pondering Relativity:  An Illustrated Guide For Building Understanding Of Einstein’s Relativity” which is exactly what it says it is in the title. It has made relativity accessible and interesting and maybe the best compliment, it has made me interested in what seemed for me for years an inaccessible topic.