January 2015 Mark Zuckerberg CEO of Facebook posted the message below….
‘My challenge for 2015 is to read a new book every other week — with an emphasis on learning about different cultures, beliefs, histories and technologies.
I’m excited for my reading challenge. I’ve found reading books very intellectually fulfilling. Books allow you to fully explore a topic and immerse yourself in a deeper way than most media today. I’m looking forward to shifting more of my media diet towards reading books.’ He has called this A Year of Books.
To make it easy to follow Mark Zuckerberg’s selections we will be featuring them all on this blog post – and in time on a special category on the website.
Book 1 January: The End of Power by Moises Naim
The End of Power From Boardrooms to Battlefields and Churches to States, Why Being in Charge isn’t What it Used to be argues that in every field of endeavor – business, religion, politics, and all matters of war and peace – power is no longer what it used to be.
The author deftly delineates the shifting global dynamics in control, authority and expertise between the traditionally dominant megaplayers and the newly ascendant micropowers.
Book 2 January: The Better Angels of Our Nature A History of Violence and Humanity by Steven Pinker
This title was shortlisted for the Samuel Johnson Prize 2012 and argues that, contrary to popular belief, humankind has become progressively less violent, over millenia and decades. Can violence really have declined?
The images of conflict we see daily on our screens from around the world suggest this is an almost obscene claim to be making. Extraordinarily, however, Steven Pinker shows violence within and between societies – both murder and warfare – really has declined from prehistory to today.
Book 3 February: Gang Leader for a Day by Sudhir Venkatesh
Sudhir Venkatesh the young sociologist who became famous in Freakonomics (Why do drug dealers still live with their moms?) describes his time living with the gangs on the Southside of Chicago and answers another question: what’s it like to live in hell? In the Robert Taylor Homes projects on Chicago’s South Side, Sudhir befriends J.T., a gang leader for the Black Kings. As he slowly gains J.T.’s trust, one day, in order to convince Sudhir of his own CEO-like qualities, J.T. makes him leader of the gang…Why does J.T. make his henchmen, the ‘shorties’, stay in school? What is the difference between a ‘regular’ hustler and a ‘hype’ – and is Peanut telling him the truth about which she is? And, when the FBI finally starts cracking down on the Black Kings, is it time to get out – or is it too late?
Book 4 February: On Immunity: An Inoculation by Eula Biss
In this bold, fascinating book, Eula Biss addresses a chronic condition of fear – fear of the government, the medical establishment, and what may be in your children’s air, food, mattresses, medicines, and vaccines. Reflecting on her own experience as a new mother, Biss investigates the metaphors and myths surrounding our conception of immunity and its implications for the individual and the social body. She extends a conversation with other mothers to meditations on Voltaire’s Candide, Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring, Susan Sontag’s AIDS and Its Metaphors, and beyond. On Immunity is an inoculation against our fear and a moving account of how we are all interconnected – our bodies and our fates.
Book 5 March: Creativity, Inc. Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration by Ed Catmull
As a young man, Ed Catmull had a dream: to make the world’s first computer-animated movie. He nurtured that dream first as a Ph.D. student at the University of Utah, where many computer science pioneers got their start, and then forged an early partnership with George Lucas that led, indirectly, to his founding Pixar with Steve Jobs and John Lasseter in 1986. Nine years later and against all odds, Toy Story was released, changing animation forever. Since then, Pixar has dominated the world of animation, producing such beloved films as Monsters, Inc., Finding Nemo, The Incredibles, Up, and WALL-E, which have gone on to set box-office records and garner twenty-seven Academy Awards. The joyousness of the storytelling, the inventive plots, the emotional authenticity: In some ways, Pixar movies are an object lesson in what creativity really is. Now, in this book, Catmull reveals the ideals and techniques, honed over years, that have made Pixar so widely admired – and so profitable. Creativity, Inc. is a book for managers who want to lead their employees to new heights, a manual for anyone who strives for originality, and the first-ever, all-access trip into the nerve center of Pixar Animation Studios – into the story meetings, the postmortems, and the ‘Braintrust’ sessions where art is born. It is, at heart, a book about how to build and sustain a creative culture-but it is also, as Pixar co-founder and president Ed Catmull writes, ‘an expression of the ideas that I believe make the best in us possible.’
Book 6 March: The Structure of Scientific Revolutions by Thomas S. Kuhn
A good book may have the power to change the way we see the world, but a great book actually becomes part of our daily consciousness, pervading our thinking to the point that we take it for granted, and we forget how provocative and challenging its ideas once were-and still are. The Structure of Scientific Revolutions is that kind of book. When it was first published in 1962, it was a landmark event in the history and philosophy of science. And fifty years later, it still has many lessons to teach. With The Structure of Scientific Revolutions , Kuhn challenged long-standing linear notions of scientific progress, arguing that transformative ideas don’t arise from the day-to-day, gradual process of experimentation and data accumulation, but that revolutions in science, those breakthrough moments that disrupt accepted thinking and offer unanticipated ideas, occur outside of normal science, as he called it. Though Kuhn was writing when physics ruled the sciences, his ideas on how scientific revolutions bring order to the anomalies that amass over time in research experiments are still instructive in our biotech age. Newly designed, with an expanded index, this edition will be eagerly welcomed by the next generation of readers seeking to understand the history of our perspectives on science.
Book 7 April Rational Ritual Culture, Coordination and Common Knowledge Michael Suk-Young Chwe
Why do Internet, financial service, and beer commercials dominate Super Bowl advertising? How do political ceremonies establish authority? Why does repetition characterize anthems and ritual speech? Why were circular forms favored for public festivals during the French Revolution? This book answers these questions using a single concept: common knowledge. Game theory shows that in order to coordinate its actions, a group of people must form common knowledge. Each person wants to participate only if others also participate. Members must have knowledge of each other, knowledge of that knowledge, knowledge of the knowledge of that knowledge, and so on. Michael Chwe applies this insight, with striking erudition, to analyze a range of rituals across history and cultures
Book 8 April Dealing with China Hank Poulson
DEALING WITH CHINA takes the reader behind closed doors to witness the creation and evolution and future of China’s state-controlled capitalism. Hank Paulson has dealt with China unlike any other foreigner. As head of Goldman Sachs, Paulson had a pivotal role in opening up China to private enterprise. Then, as Treasury secretary, he created the Strategic Economic Dialogue with what is now the world’s second-largest economy. While negotiating with China on needed economic reforms, he safeguarded the teetering U.S. financial system. Over his career, Paulson has worked with scores of top Chinese leaders, including Xi Jinping, China’s most powerful man in decades. How can the West negotiate with and influence China given its authoritarian rule, its massive environmental concerns, and its huge population’s unrelenting demands for economic growth and security? Written in an anecdote-rich, page-turning style, DEALING WITH CHINA is certain to become the classic and definitive examination of unlocking, building, and engaging an economic superpower.
Book 9 May Orwell’s Revenge by Peter Huber
In an extraordinary demonstration of the emerging supermedium’s potential to engender new forms of creativity, Huber’s book boldly reimagines 1984 from the computer’s point of view. After first scanning all of Orwell’s writings into his personal computer, Huber used the machine to rewrite the book completely, for the most part using Orwell’s own language. Alternating fiction and non-fiction chapters, Huber advances Orwell’s plot to a surprising new conclusion while seamlessly interpolating his own explanations and arguments. The result is a fascinating utopian work which envisions a world at our fingertips of ever-increasing information, equal opportunity, and freedom of choice.
Book 10 May The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander
Once in a great while a book comes along that changes the way we see the world and helps to fuel a nationwide social movement. The New Jim Crow is such a book. Praised by Harvard Law professor Lani Guinier as “brave and bold,” this book directly challenges the notion that the election of Barack Obama signals a new era of colorblindness. With dazzling candor, legal scholar Michelle Alexander argues that “we have not ended racial caste in America; we have merely redesigned it.” By targeting black men through the War on Drugs and decimating communities of color, the U.S. criminal justice system functions as a contemporary system of racial control—relegating millions to a permanent second-class status—even as it formally adheres to the principle of colorblindness. In the words of Benjamin Todd Jealous, president and CEO of the NAACP, this book is a “call to action.”
Called “stunning” by Pulitzer Prize–winning historian David Levering Lewis, “invaluable” by the Daily Kos, “explosive” by Kirkus, and “profoundly necessary” by the Miami Herald, this updated and revised paperback edition of The New Jim Crow, now with a foreword by Cornel West, is a must-read for all people of conscience.
Book 11 June Muqaddimah by Ibn Khaldun
The first complete English translation of the introduction to a history of the world by the 14th-century Islamic scholar and statesman Ibn Khaldn. (from wikipedia) The Muqaddimah, also known as the Muqaddimah of Ibn Khaldun (Arabic: مقدّمة ابن خلدون, meaning in English: Ibn Khaldun’s Introduction) or Ibn Khaldun’s Prolegomena (Greek: Προλεγόμενα), is a book written by the Tunisian, Arab, North African Muslim historian Ibn Khaldun in 1377 which records an early view of universal history. Some modern thinkers view it as the first work dealing with the philosophy of history or the social sciences of sociology,demography,historiography,cultural history, social darwinism, ecologist, marxism, darwinian and economics. The Muqaddimah also deals with Islamic theology, political theory and the natural sciences of biology and chemistry.
Book 12 June Sapiens A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari
Nothing less than a history of humankind from when the first species known as “humans” evolved through to the modern day. Dealing with how and why humans became the dominant species, Yuval Noah Harari also seeks to show how our species adapted and changed throughout human history. Taking in everything from religion to science to capitalism – an exhilarating journey through human history.
Book 13 July The Player of Games by Iain M Banks
Don’t pigeon hole Iain M Banks Culture novels as just Sci-fi novels – they are just engrossing, political, thought provoking and mind opening. The Player of Games was a 2012 World Book Night selection. The Culture – a human/machine symbiotic society – has thrown up many great Game Players, and one of the greatest is Gurgeh. Jernau Morat Gurgeh. The Player of Games. Master of every board, computer and strategy. Bored with success, Gurgeh travels to the Empire of Azad, cruel and incredibly wealthy, to try their fabulous game…a game so complex, so like life itself, that the winner becomes emperor. Mocked, blackmailed, almost murdered, Gurgeh accepts the game, and with it the challenge of his life – and very possibly his death..
Book 14 July Energy by Vaclav Smil
As Einstein pointed out in his famous equation, E=MC2, all matter can be described as energy. It is everywhere; it is everything. In this engaging book, prolific author and academic Vaclav Smil provides an introduction to the far-reaching term and gives the reader a greater understanding of energy’s place in both past and present society. Starting with an explanation of the concept, he goes on to cover such exciting topics as the inner workings of the human body, and the race for more efficient and environmentally friendly fuels.