Inspired by Gaurav’s Blog, here’s my list of boks to read this year, with little information about the books plucked from Amazon.
Switch Chip Heath and Dan Heath
Switch asks the following question: Why is it so hard to make lasting changes in our companies, in our communities, and in our own lives? The primary obstacle, say the Heaths, is a conflict that’s built into our brains. Psychologists have discovered that our minds are ruled by two different systems—the rational mind and the emotional mind—that compete for control. The rational mind wants a great beach body; the emotional mind wants that Oreo cookie. The rational mind wants to change something at work; the emotional mind loves the comfort of the existing routine. This tension can doom a change effort—but if it is overcome, change can come quickly.
Mastery Robert Green
What did Charles Darwin, middling schoolboy and underachieving second son, do to become one of the earliest and greatest naturalists the world has known? What were the similar choices made by Mozart and by Caesar Rodriguez, the U.S. Air Force’s last ace fighter pilot? In Mastery, Robert Greene’s fifth book, he mines the biographies of great historical figures for clues about gaining control over our own lives and destinies. Picking up where The 48 Laws of Power left off, Greene culls years of research and original interviews to blend historical anecdote and psychological insight, distilling the universal ingredients of the world’s masters.
Born in Africa Martin Meredith
Africa does not give up its secrets easily. Buried there lie answers about the origins of humankind. After a century of investigation, scientists have transformed our understanding about the beginnings of human life. But vital clues still remain hidden.
In Born in Africa, Martin Meredith follows the trail of discoveries about human origins made by scientists over the last hundred years, recounting their intense rivalry, personal feuds, and fierce controversies as well as their feats of skill and endurance.
I’m feeling lucky Douglas Edwards
In its infancy, Google embraced extremes—endless days fueled by unlimited free food, nonstop data-based debates, and blood-letting hockey games. The company’s fresh-from-grad-school leaders sought more than old notions of success; they wanted to make all the information in the world available to everyone—instantly. Google, like the Big Bang, was a singularity—an explosive release of raw intelligence and unequaled creative energy—and while others have described what Google accomplished, no one has explained how it felt to be a part of it. Until now.
The Language Instinct Steven Pinker
In this classic, the world’s expert on language and mind lucidly explains everything you always wanted to know about language: how it works, how children learn it, how it changes, how the brain computes it, and how it evolved. With deft use of examples of humor and wordplay, Steven Pinker weaves our vast knowledge of language into a compelling story: language is a human instinct, wired into our brains by evolution.
The making of the atomic bomb Richard Rhodes
Few great discoveries have evolved so swiftly—or have been so misunderstood. From the theoretical discussions of nuclear energy to the bright glare of Trinity, there was a span of hardly more than twenty-five years. What began as merely an interesting speculative problem in physics grew into the Manhattan Project, and then into the bomb, with frightening rapidity, while scientists known only to their peers—Szilard, Teller, Oppenheimer, Bohr, Meitner, Fermi, Lawrence, and von Neumann—stepped from their ivory towers into the limelight. Richard Rhodes gives the definitive story of man’s most awesome discovery and invention. Told in rich human, political, and scientific detail, The Making of the Atomic Bomb is a narrative tour de force and a document with literary power commensurate with its subject.
The Borderlands of Science, Michael Shermer
In The Borderlands of Science, Michael Shermer takes us to the place where real science, borderline science–and just plain nonsense–collide. Shermer argues that while science is the best lens through which to view the world, it is often difficult to decipher where valid science leaves off and borderland, or “fuzzy” science begins. To solve this dilemma, he looks at a range of topics that put this boundary line in high relief. For instance, he debunks the many “theories of everything” that try to reduce the complexity of the world to a single principle. He examines the work of Darwin and Freud, explaining why one is among the great scientists in history, while the other has become nothing more than a historical curiosity. And he reveals how scientists themselves can be led astray, as seen in the infamous Piltdown hoax–the set of ancient hominid bones discovered in England that after decades turned out to be an enormous forgery.
Why people believe weird things Michael Shermer
In this age of supposed scientific enlightenment, many people still believe in mind reading, past-life regression theory, New Age hokum, and alien abduction. A no-holds-barred assault on popular superstitions and prejudices, with more than 80,000 copies in print, Why People Believe Weird Things debunks these nonsensical claims and explores the very human reasons people find otherworldly phenomena, conspiracy theories, and cults so appealing. In an entirely new chapter, “Why Smart People Believe in Weird Things,” Michael Shermer takes on science luminaries like physicist Frank Tippler and others, who hide their spiritual beliefs behind the trappings of science.
The Third Chimpanzee Jared Diamond
We human beings share 98 percent of our genes with chimpanzees. Yet humans are the dominant species on the planet — having founded civilizations and religions, developed intricate and diverse forms of communication, learned science, built cities, and created breathtaking works of art — while chimps remain animals concerned primarily with the basic necessities of survival. What is it about that two percent difference in DNA that has created such a divergence between evolutionary cousins? In this fascinating, provocative, passionate, funny, endlessly entertaining work, renowned Pulitzer Prize–winning author and scientist Jared Diamond explores how the extraordinary human animal, in a remarkably short time, developed the capacity to rule the world . . . and the means to irrevocably destroy it.
A random walk down wall street Burton G Malkiel
Especially in the wake of the financial meltdown, readers will hunger for Burton G. Malkiel’s reassuring, authoritative, gimmick-free, and perennially best-selling guide to investing. With 1.5 million copies sold, A Random Walk Down Wall Street has long been established as the first book to purchase when starting a portfolio. In addition to covering the full range of investment opportunities, the book features new material on the Great Recession and the global credit crisis as well as an increased focus on the long-term potential of emerging markets. With a new supplement that tackles the increasingly complex world of derivatives, along with the book’s classic life-cycle guide to investing, A Random Walk Down Wall Street remains the best investment guide money can buy.
The God Virus Darrel W Ray
What makes religion so powerful? How does it weave its way into our political system? Why do people believe and follow obvious religious charlatans? What makes people profess deep faith even as they act in ways that betray that faith? What makes people blind to the irrationalities of their religion yet clearly see those of others? If these questions interest you, this book will give you the tools to understand religion and its power in you, your family and your culture.
Just six numbers Martin Rees
Just six numbers govern the shape, size, and texture of our universe. If their values were only fractionally different, we would not exist: nor, in many cases, would matter have had a chance to form. If the numbers that govern our universe were elegant–1, say, or pi, or the Golden Mean–we would simply shrug and say that the universe was an elegant mathematical puzzle. But the numbers Martin Rees discusses are far from tidy. Was the universe “tweaked” or is it one of many universes, all run by slightly different, but equally messy, rules?
Sleeping with your Smart Phone Leslie Perlow
Can’t resist checking your smartphone or mobile device? Sure, all this connectivity keeps you in touch with your team and the office—but at what cost? In Sleeping with Your Smartphone, Harvard Business School professor Leslie Perlow reveals how you can disconnect and become more productive in the process. In fact, she shows that you can devote more time to your personal life and accomplish more at work. The good news is that this doesn’t require a grand organizational makeover or buy-in from the CEO. All it takes is collaboration between you and your team—working together and making small, doable changes.
I don’t usually plan my reading this way, but these are some of the books I have chosen before hand to read to keep the reading going. Tell me what is on your book list this year?