As the world faces unprecedented challenges, we need bold new ideas. Explore the list of summer reads we thoughtfully selected that are sure to transport you to exciting places, provide illuminating insights, and connect you to inspiring people. More books will follow soon. Enjoy!
Gregory Afinogenov: Spies and Scholars: Chinese Secrets and Imperial Russia’s Quest for World Power
Information is the key to success -- and if any history lesson can teach how to use it, it’s this one. In this deep study Afinogenov presents the little-told story of how the rising Russian Empire used spies, traders and diplomats to obtain the centuries old state-building knowledge from China -- and how this helped them to take a seat at the superpowers’ table.
Anne Case, Angus Deaton: Deaths of Despair and the Future of Capitalism
To be successful in the free-market economy, one must understand its limits and learn where and how it doesn’t work. Economist Anne Case teams up with Nobel Prize winner Angus Deaton to examine how the flaws in capitalism may be fatal for America’s working class and which solutions can curb its excesses to make the economy work best for all.
William Gibson: Agency
Welcome to the world where Hillary Clinton is president! The latest version of humanity’s future by the pioneer of cyberpunk is filled with AI, time travels, post-apocalyptic settings and more. It can be taken as an enjoyable sci-fi yarn or a striking prognosis of what awaits humanity. Your choice!
Yuval Noah Harari: 21 Lessons for the 21st Century
An influential Israeli intellectual, Harari in his latest book eschews grand schemes of the future and the past, focusing on the challenges of the present. As technology advances faster than our understanding of it, hacking is weaponized, and the world feels more polarized than ever. Harari addresses the challenge of navigating life in the face of such constant and disorienting change and raises the important questions we need to ask ourselves in order to survive.
John Carreyrou: Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup
Theranos was a startup darling of media, investors and the general public… until everything went south. John Carryreu tells his inside story about the biotech’s rise and fall. He fully unveils the biggest corporate fraud since Enron. This is a must-read for every startup founder.
A fun book filled with insights into the search for altered states of consciousness. “Stealing Fire” delves into various ways people attempt to alter their brain chemistry seeking to go beyond happiness to ecstasy. Mind you, this is not only for fun, those altered states reportedly boost productivity and help you achieve top performance in work and daily life!
Steven D. Levitt, Stephen J Dubner: When to Rob a Bank: ...And 131 More Warped Suggestions and Well-Intended Rants
This is a collection of the best blog posts from the Freakonomics authors. If you love their approach, it’s nice to have everything in one place. You’ll discover what people lie about, and why; the best way to cut gun deaths; why it might be time for a sex tax; and, yes, when to rob a bank.
Of course you cannot miss a book about blockchain in a blockchain company reading list! This 2018 book envisions a new future for information exchange and data sharing. Moving away from the world where all our data is centrally held by the technology companies, it favours data being held by the individual -- through blockchain services and cryptographic security. Sounds definitely familiar for us!
Following his biography of Steve Jobs, The Innovators is Walter Isaacson’s revealing story of the people who created the computer and the Internet. Even if there isn’t a single line of code, the book is an eye-opener to the spirit and personalities who spearheaded the digital evolution. Isaacson's prose is very easy to read, making it not only a piece of knowledge but a pleasurable experience for some free evening.
Nassim Nicholas Taleb: Skin in the Game: Hidden Asymmetries in Daily Life
The latest book of the Black Swan author is a risk analysis. Citing examples ranging from Hammurabi to Donald Trump, Nassim Nicholas Taleb shows how the willingness to accept one’s own risks is an essential attribute of leaders, entrepreneurs, and flourishing people in all walks of life. Taleb is, as usual, opinionated and at times rude and angry, but also compelling.
Yuval Noah Harari: Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind
Another Harari on the list, this classic challenges the biggest question of history: where did we come from? Sapiens is a short retelling of the entire human history, from pre-anatomically modern humans through the agricultural and scientific revolutions to the present. Putting this enormous task into a single volume was not easy and Harari got his share of criticism from historians and sociologists alike… but it did not stop people like Bill Gates, Barack Obama, and Mark Zuckerberg from including the book in their summer reading lists.
Peter Hopkirk: The Great Game: The Struggle for Empire in Central Asia
This should be required reading for all diplomats and politicians. It's thrilling, fascinating and heart breaking in equal measure. Peter Hopkirk’s spellbinding account of the great imperial struggle for supremacy in the 19th century Central Asia has been hailed as essential to understanding how that era’s legacy is playing itself out today. More fun than anything you've read for a while.
Daniel Kahneman: Thinking, Fast and Slow
Not the easiest, but still valuable read, Kahneman’s book is a must for anyone interested in either human behavior or iNot the easiest, but still valuable read, Kahneman’s book is a must for anyone interested in human behavior or investing. This is a thorough analysis of how we think, how thinking models influence decisions, and how people and organizations could reason better. Some reviewers claim its value is in changing our mental habits. Even if that doesn’t happen in your case, you will still gain the vocabulary to spot biases and critique the assertion of others. Kahneman says: “Only by seeing ourselves as we truly are, we can go about the business of governing ourselves and our world.”