Fifty Things That Made the Modern Economy
In this book, Tim Harford has jotted down fifty inventions and ideas that had massive impact on the way today’s world economy looks like. While you may find some of the ‘things’ obvious straight away, others are not so much e.g. barbed wire. Organised in separate chapters, this book is thoroughly enjoyable and a recommended read – like all other books by Tim.
The Art of Thinking Clearly: Better Thinking, Better Decisions
A collection of 99 cognitive biases and their solutions by Rolf Dobelli. For anyone who has to make important decisions in life – that is all of us. Teaches you the most common errors of judgement and how to avoid them.
The Handbook of Carbon Accounting
It is a useful, concise and easy to follow handbook on carbon accounting. It briefs the history of carbon accounting, methods and instruments employed by entities, such as carbon taxation, carbon markets and voluntary offsetting. Historical timeline of landmark conferences is also discussed – listing major achievements/pitfalls of each.
Author: Arnaud Brohe
How to Be Human: The Manual
This book is funny, insightful and entertaining. It covers topics on mind and body. Bringing insights from a neuroscientist and a monk, Ruby Wax has answered a number of questions on evolution, thoughts, emotions, the body, addictions, relationships, sex, kids, the future and compassion.
At the end there are tested exercises for mindfulness – both from the monk and Ruby herself.
Hello World: How to be Human in the Age of the Machine
Author – Hannah Fry – has penned this fantastic book which concerns our future. Focused around algorithms, data and the future of humanity in the age of machines. The power of data and algorithms is discussed along with how data is helping change our future. Implications of the power of algorithms and data in different walks of life – as diverse as justice, medicine, crime and art.
For anyone who has the slightest interest in automation, data-mining, machine learning and the future in the age of the machine.
Black Box Thinking – The surprising truth about success
Matthew Syed – a leading columnist – lays down the importance of failure – and learning from failures – for success. Book is full of real-life examples from industry, medicine, politics and sports. Author shares instances where failure is used as a means to learn and also cultures where errors are hidden. An easy-to-follow and an insightful book.
- When we engage with our errors, we improve.
- We progress faster when we face up to failure and learn from it.
- Pilots, Randomised Control Trials, pre-mortem are some other useful techniques are discussed too.
The Growth Delusion – The wealth and well-being of nations
One of the greatest books on the topic of growth. David Pilling builds a compelling case on GDP; its short-comings and possible additions to better record ‘economies’. Recording what really matters and which often gets ignored in the GDP altogether. Starts with the history of the GDP until it’s latest day rivals. A highly recommended book.
The author does not voice to totally scrap the GDP measuring wholly. He rather proposes structural adjustments so what we measure becomes more robust. Some of the suggestions from the concluding chapter of the book are:
- GDP Per Capita
- Median Income
- Tackling Inequality
- Net Domestic Production accounting
- Incorporating the well-being measures
- CO2 emissions and the health of planet
‘ Growth was a great invention. Now get over it.’
Prosperity without Growth
Tim Jackson explores the dimensions of sustainability – economy, environment and society. It proposes a route to a sustainable economy. The author ‘argues for a redefinition of prosperity in light of the evidence on what really contributes to people’s well-being.’
‘It was originally released as a report by the Sustainable Development Commission. The study rapidly became the most downloaded report in the Commission’s nine-year history when it was published in 2009. The report was later that year reworked and published as a book.
How wrong majority of us are about the world. How the progress made over the years just does not get the acknowledgement it deserves. In this masterpiece book Hans, with his team, shows exactly that with the support of facts and data. The book discusses ten instincts that distort our perspective―from our tendency to divide the world into two camps (usually some version of us and them) to the way we consume media (where fear rules) to how we perceive progress (believing that most things are getting worse). The book presents the biases and how we can cater them while forming a factual view of the world around us.
Staged around Brexit, this book explores British politics in the recent years. Political editor, presenter and journalist: Robert Peston explores how our emotions play a part in democracy these days, how Trump came to power and what it means for the rest of the world. How social media is changing the conventional democracies and how cyber attacks have the potential of affecting elections abroad.
The history of Tories and Labour are discussed in depth. There is an interesting chapter on Artificial Intelligence, automation and the future of jobs because of technological disruptions.
The book ends with the following remarks:
“ The time is now for the government to do boldly and ambitiously what only governments can do, which is invest in the public services and the public goods that enrich us all.”
The Undercover Economist Strikes Back
The British economist – Tim Harford – takes-up macroeconomics in this book. He picks number of dimensions and explains the complexities around economics, from a macroeconomics point of view. Raises important questions and leaves valuable suggestions.
How did we get into this mess?
Collection of articles written for The Guardian over the past decade, 51 in total, by the elegant and witty George Monbiot who is an activist, journalist and an environmentalist. The chapters cover a range of socio-economics, politics and environmental challenges. A true master-piece.
Why there is No God
May I take the leverage to say that it might not disprove god. However, this concise read masterfully teaches how to think when it comes to the concept of god. It debunks 20 of the most commonly used arguments by theists. Each chapter tackles one myth: debunks it, links it to the human mind’s fallacies, provides well-structured counter arguments and states all sources and references.
Armin’s arguments make rational and logical sense, unlike fairy tales which religions intoxicate populations with. This book is for everyone interested in the concept of god. Armin has put out his arguments with an amazing simplicity. It is both for theists and atheists.
SuperFreakonomics: Global Cooling, Patriotic Prostitutes, and Why Suicide Bombers Should Buy Life Insurance
(Stephen J. Dubner and Steven Levitt)
In this sequel of their earlier book – Freakonomics – authors explore further topics. The first chapter covers the taboo topic of prostitution. In another chapter, there is detailed discussion on acts of selfishness and altruism. Another chapter discusses various – simple and easy – solutions to big problems. Global Warming is discussed at length before the book concludes with an epilogue discussing experiments on monkeys in which they are trained to use money to get a reward.
The Burning Question
(Mike Berners-Lee and Duncan Clark)
The authors have made an essential, detailed and a timely contribution to one of the most important debates happening today – climate change. Writers start with reasons why fossil use has been rising a few hundred years now and, more importantly, how it cannot go on in the future the same way. They then explain the frustrations that block efforts in reducing the fossil use. In much detail, authors have discussed all the possible reasons that are stopping us from putting a halt to the levers of fossil use. Lastly, there is a discussion on various steps we can take from now onwards to help confine the effects of climate change.
It is an elemental read for anyone interested in the climate change debate – which we all should be. It is an easy read, for both technical and non-technical readers.
Undoubtedly one of the greatest orators of our time, Christopher Hitchen’s last book, published posthumously after his death from cancer. He had been a courageous person throughout. Battled cancer his bravery.
In this short book, comprising of 8 essays, Hitchens describes his illness and his battle with cancer. As eloquently as Hitchens is, he discusses his fear of losing the ability of writing and speaking – two of his utmost masteries, his experience with chemotherapy, the meaning of life and collection from his final days.
Eight chapter is a collection of his unfinished works jotted down in the form of a chapter. As always with Hitchens arguments, this book, too, is guaranteed to send shivers up and down your spine.
Some people leave too early. Hitchens is one of them.
The Why Axis-Hidden Motives and the Undiscovered Economics of Everyday Life
(Uri Gneezy and John List)
An easy-to-follow book detailing number of experiments in behavioural economics. Useful insights in fields such as health, education, charities, violence, poverty etc. Authors argue that by embracing experimentation, companies can discover incentives that will bring more revenue than they thought it would. Also, by mere play of framing (and other similar interventions) the resources that were previous left on the table can be added to the resources. Not only that but simple interventions can bring dramatic improvements in health and education sector.
‘Anyone working in business, politics, education or philanthropy can use the approach Gneezy and List describe in The Why Axis to reach a deeper, more nuanced understanding of human behaviour and a better grasp of what motivates people and why.’
21 Lessons for the 21st Century
(Yuval Noah Harari)
In his third book, Harari takes up some of the biggest questions we are faced today. From technological revolutions to destabilising political systems, from the role of religions to what benefits meditation brings, Harari investigates these questions and puts them so succinctly that few parallels hold for his mastery.
Anyone who is interested in the ‘present’ and wants to understand how NOW is changing the FUTURE, should consider this book a must-read.
The 21 topics which be brilliantly covers are:
- Science Fiction
Tattooist of Auschwitz
A novel based on a true story of lovers who survived Auschwitz and later married and lived together till death parted them. Lale Sokolov, a Slovakian jew, the hero of the story, spend three years in Auschwitz as a tattooist. He fell in love with a girl whose number he tattooed. The lines of this story will make you cry. Between the lines you will find hope.
TED Talks – The Official TED Guide to Public Speaking
Chris Anderson – who currents heads TED – shares insights into effective public speaking. Although the book is centred around the TED stages, these insights are equally applicable to any public speak forum. As you read through different chapters, Chris makes his point with real-life examples from TED.
Chris shares the techniques to nail a presentation (also what to avoid). He, throughout, compares the pros and cons of techniques which speakers apply. The book ends with a chapter on how more important the art of public speaking will be in the future, amid suspicions around IA and robots taking over.
The logic of life
Another marvel by the author of The Undercover Economist. In this book, Tim Harford, again, asks questions about phenomenon which happen all around us everyday yet remain unnoticed. He is of the view that there exists a rational behind everything, we only need to dig deep to find it out. Addiction, game theory, divorce, gender imbalance, boss’s salary, neighbourhoods, importance of big cities, racism, politics and more are few of the topics which Tim’s brilliancy have covered.
Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything
(Stephen J. Dubner and Steven Levitt)
A must-have for economics enthusiasts. Least, it makes you question things. Topics as trivial as cheating, real estate agent, parenting, drug dealing, naming a child and more, are discussed in an easy to follow lexicon.
Prisoners of Geography-Ten Maps that tell you everything you need to know about global politics
Up-to-date geo-political commentary on the follow regions:
- Western Europe
- The Middle East
- India and Pakistan
- Korea and Japan
- Latin America
- The Arctic
Nineteen Eighty Four/1984
Big Brother is watching you!
Environmental Economics – A very short introduction
What is economy, what is environment, how are they related, why control pollution, how to control, how much to control, what instruments exist, what’s the value of environmental pollution control, what are the special policy-making challenges in climate change, why a global understanding is needed – All these points concisely explained.
Doughnut Economics-Seven Ways to Think Like a 21st-Century Economist
In this ground-breaking book Kate highlights 7 essential ways the 21st-century economists should think like. The list is not restricted to these seven alone however in the words of the author herself, “it will be a good start”.
- Change the goal
GDP is a flawed goal, specially for the 21st century when the goal should be to live within the safe and just space of earth’s carrying capacity )shown in light green in the diagram above). We have already exceeded many of the planetary boundaries (shown in red) and still continue to do so. That calls for change of goal of where we want to arrive.
- See the big picture
Instead of viewing the economy as self-contained, it is time we realise that is it instead embedded in wider social and environmental systems.
- Nurture Human Nature
Rational Economic Man does not exist. We look and behave very different to the sketch of ours drawn by previous century economists which they call a rational economic man. We are social adaptable humans and are influenced external factors when it comes to making economic decisions.
- Get Savvy with systems
The economic is not a mechanical equilibrium as it is often depicted to be. It is complex and adaptive. Kate recommends to learn systems thinking and integrate it in our economic thinking. It is worth mentioning to make a reference to the book ‘Limits to Growth’ and system thinkers who authored this revolutionary book in 1972: Donella H. Meadows, Dennis L. Meadows, Jørgen Randers William and W. Behrens III.
- Design to distribute
Instead of excepting the growth to bring about equality, we must design the economy to be distribute itself. Growth will not even it up. We must design it to do that.
- Create to regenerate
Again, do not follow the linear model which we have been doing since industrial revolution. Model of Take-Make-Use-Lose. Growth won’t clean up the environmental damage it creates. Instead the economy needs to be regenerative by design.
- Be agnostic about growth
By being agnostic Kate means that we should instead focus on prosperity, be it with or without growth.
This book is food for thought.
Thank you for being late-An Optimist’s guide to thriving in the age of accelerations
(Thomas L. Friedman)
Politics, environment, communities, technology, artificial intelligence and more. This book covers a wide array of topics and how they may evolve and respond in the future. How to prepare for the future which is accelerating at a rate not previously known to mankind. When Friedman talks, its his rich experience and knowledge speaking.
The discussion on artificial intelligence and technological changes is eloquently done in great depth. Friedman shows that we can overcome the multiple stresses of an age of accelerations. We need to slow down and if we dare to be late and use the time to reimagine work, politics, and community. It is an essential guide to the present and the future.
He concludes by returning to where his whole life started, his hometown. In doing so, he describes the elements that let his hometown make exemplary progress and gave birth to numerous successful Americans. Among others, openness is a distinguishing feature.
(Yuval Noah Harari)
In this another bestseller by Y. N. Harari writes about the future, as he envisions it in the light of the recent developments, specially in the realm of science and information.
War, plague and disease are dealings of the past. Today, humankind, Harari says, is dwelling into bigger questions of immortality and artificial intelligence. Humankind is already on the shift from beings to algorithms and data points. “The most common reaction of the human mind to achievement is not satisfaction, but craving for more.”
Harari says that while it was easy to predict with certainty in 1800 how 1900 would look like. But today, it can not be said how how next 50 years would look like, let alone the next century. Reason being that things are moving today at a speed unprecedented in the history.
“Soon, books will read you while you are reading them.”
Many institutions which we worship today, might not even exist in the near future.
It would not be an exaggeration to call it an intelligent book. Highly recommended.
I now await for his upcoming book which is to deal with the present. Past has already been covered in his book ‘Sapiens’. Future, we have heard in this book. Present ; we await.
The Examined Life
In this memoir, the author who is a psychoanalyst, describes several experiences of his practice with his patients. Each mentioned experience is unique in its own way. Everyday stories with which we all can relate. Intriguing and at times frustrating.
When Breath Becomes Air
Started by the Author, Paul, and finished by his wife Lucy after Paul’s death. Paul was an aspirant writer, a neurosurgeon and a deep thinker. He was in his fourth decade of life when he was diagnosed with Cancer. He faced illness with such courage that his story should serve as a guidance for those in pursuit of understanding life, meaning in life and death. The courage Paul’s wife, the strength of his family and his own determination and understanding of paradox of mortality is exemplary.
Very rarely such heart-breaking and courage-gathering books come out.
The Under Cover Economist
Author discusses various topics of economic interest. He discusses topics such as bargaining power, price targeting, efficieny of markets, environmental issues which economics regard as externalities, the power of information, stock markets, game theory and its usage in several auctions, cases of corruption in developing and/or poor countries and globalization.
A recommended insight for economics enthusiasts.
Immortality – The quest to live forever and how it drives civilization
( Stephen Cave )
In this grasping book Stephen Cave discusses how the concept of immortality tends to play in our daily lives. It has driven civilizations. From the Greek thinkers to the Egyptians to the present age of scientific endeavours, immortaility has been at the core of our ventures. It takes the shape of several narratives and each being popular in its own way in space and time. However, each of them appears to be equally flawed, as per the conclusions of the writer.
- Staying Alive
A Little History of Economics
( Naill Kishtainy )
A travel through the history of economics beginning with the search of Greek philosphers regarding how the society works until the Financial Crisis of 2007 and the aftermaths till the year 2017. It introduces various economists through the last 2000 years, their work and the criticism their work received. Discusses the Great Depression, post-world-war policies, Financial crisis, communism, socialism, capitalism and other topics of great interest in understanding the working of a society. An easy to understand read for enthusiasts of history.
To my understanding, economics is a fairly new branch of study in terms of its development. Throughout time, different thinkers have contributed to it in response to the problems of their times. There is no one size fit all in economics that would work for every area. Economics has far more to do with the historical and cultural associations than mere mathematical equations and simple supply and demand. The new areas of Behavioural Economics, Information Economics are steps in the right direction towards further developing the broader field of economics. There are issues with the current capitalist system. It has surely widened the gap between the rich-few and the many. However, I am still optimistic that by bringing about changes in the current capitalistic system, we can provide a better live standard (and happiness) to the world population. Communism, in my opinion, has failed to deliver on all the chances it was given. Under communism, if the state owns everything and everyone gets the same, then there is no point of working hard or being productive and efficient. There surely are problems with the version of capitalism we are growing up with which need attention. One of the greatest problems is the inequality that exists today.
Recommended for enthusiasts of economics or people interested in running of society in general.
The Art of Happiness-A handbook for living
( HH Dalai Lama and Howard C Cutler )
What I concluded from this book is that the purpose of life is happiness, nothing less atleast.
Through conversations, stories, and meditations, the Dalai Lama tells in this book how to defeat day-to-day anxiety, insecurity, anger, and discouragement. Cutler and Dalai Lama explore many facets of everyday life, including relationships, loss, and the pursuit of wealth, to illustrate how to ride through life’s obstacles on a deep and abiding source of inner peace. A handbook of life in true sense.
The Uses and Abuses of History
( Margaret Macmillan )
In this captivating read the author has described the role of history and how it has been used. Further, how it should not be used. Margaret says histroy is not only conforting, it is also a source of one’s identity.
He concludes by suggesting “… my only advice is to use it, enjoy it, but always handle history with care”. My blog, regarding Why Histroy?, inspired by one of it’s chapters, is here.
How To Win Friends and Influence People
( Dale Carnegie )
In a nutshell it says…
Fundamental techniques in handling people.
- Don’t criticize, condemn of complain.
- Give honest and sincere appreciation.
- Arouse in the other person in eager want.
Ways to make people like you.
- Become genuinely interested in other people.
- Remember their names.
- Be a good listener. Encourage others to talk about themselves.
- Talk in terms of other people’s interests.
- Make the other person feel important-and do it sincerely.
Win people to your way of thinking.
- The only way to get the best of an argument is to avoid it.
- Show respect for the other person’s opinions. Never Say, you are wrong.
- If you are wrong, admit it quickly and emphatically.
- Begin in a friendly way.
- Get the other person saying ‘ yes, yes’ immediately.
- Let the other person do a great deal of the talking.
- Let the other person feel that the idea is his or hers.
- Try honestly to see things from the other person’s point of view.
- Be sympathetic with the other person’s ideas and desires.
- Appeal to the nobler motives.
- Dramatize your ideas.
- Throw down a challenge.
Be a leader
- Begin with praise and honest appreciation.
- Call attention to people’s mistakes indirectly.
- Talk about your own mistakes before criticising other person.
- Ask questions instead of giving direct orders.
- Let the other person save face.
- Praise the slightest improvement and praise every improvement.
- Give the other person a fine reputation to live up to.
- Use encouragement. Make the fault seem easy to correct.
- Make the other person feel happy about doing the thing you suggest.
Darkness Visible-A Memoir of Madness
A brief read; collection of 10 short accounts of author’s encounter with depression. The crux is elequently presented below in own words of the author:
“…But one need not sound the false or inspirational note to stress the truth that depression is not the soul’s annihilation; men and women who have recovered from the disease–and they are countless–bear witness to what is probably its only saving grace: it is conquerable.“
The Breaking of Nations-Order and Chaos in the Twenty-first Century
Robert talks about premodern, moderen and postmodern states. Europe and USA are discussed at length. Convincing insights into foreign policy, diplomacy and historical events of the past century in Europe in particular.
Sapiens – A Brief History of Humankind
( Yuval Noah Harari )
Yuval Noah is a master story teller. In this book he about three main revlutions of humankind history. Cognitive Revolution (70,000 years ago), the Agricultural Revolution (10,000 years ago), and the Scientific Revolution (500 years ago). These revolutions have empowered humans to do something no other form of life has done, which is to create and connect around ideas that do not physically exist (think religion, capitalism, and politics). These shared “myths” have enabled humans to take over the globe and have put humankind on the verge of overcoming the forces of natural selection.
Why Nations Fail
( Daron Acemoglu and James A. Robinson )
It’s neither the geography nor entirely culture because of which countries are poor. Its institutions and policies that determine how well off a country are on an economic scale.
Nudge-Improving Decisions about Health, Wealth, and Happiness
( Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein )
Simple nudges in behaviour can bring about grand changes. A must read that will change perspective on how we look at our world around.
Flashpoints-Emerging crisis in Europe
( George Friedman )
History of pre-war Europe, 31 war years and post-war Europe. German dominance in EU is discussed in detail.
( Helen Kennerley )
A basic self-help book for people with low to mild anxiety for managing their day to day lives.
After the Prophet
( Lesley Hazleton )
Discusses the sunni-shia divide and ends with the power struggle between Shia Iran and Sunni Saudi Arabia in the 21st century.
( John W. Creswell )
AR is master of personal development. In this book he discussed the methods of achieving big. Take away is the modelling technique.
7 habits of highly effective people
( Stefen Cowey )
1. Be proactive
2. Begin with the end in mind
3. First things first
4. Think Win
5. Understand first
6. Whole is greater than sum of parts
7. Build physical, mental, social, emotional and spiritual dimensions.
The sane society
( Enrich Fromm )
Social Ills and how to overcome them. “That millions of people share the same forms of mental pathology does not make these people sane.”
Creativity-unleashing the forces within
( Osho )
– Become a Child Again
– Be ready to learn
– Find Nirvana in the ordinary
– Be a dreamer
Working with people
( Scott A Bonar )
Targeted at professionals working in realms of conservation.
( Anton Fischer )
Benefits and dangers associated with tourism.
( R kerry Turner )
Philosophy of science
( Samir Okasha )
“ The heart has its reasons which reason knows not of. “
The tipping point
( Malcolm Gladwell )
The moment when a phenomenon crosses a threshold and spreads like wildfire.
“ If a window is broken and left unrepaired, people walking by will conclude that no one cares and no one is in charge. Soon, more windows will be broken, and the sense of anarchy will spread from the building to the street on which it faces, sending a signal that anything goes. In a city, relatively minor problems like graffiti, public disorder, and aggressive panhandling, they write, are all the equivalent of broken windows, invitations to more serious crimes. “
You can heal your life
( Louise L Hay )
Summary lies in its title.
( Daniel Goleman )
Along with hard work, attention is the key.
The Soul of a Butterfly
( Muhammad Ali with Hana Yasmeen Ali )
Anecdotes from his life, each closes with a lesson learned. “ You don’t really lose when you fight for what you believe in. You lose when you fail to fight for what you care about. “
( Paulo Coelho )
Takeaway: “People are capable, at any time in their lives, of doing what they dream of.”
Communism. A history of the intellectual and political movement
( Richard Pipes )
Failed to understand it.
( Raj Pershad )
Thinking Fast and Slow
( Daniel Kahneman )
Blend of findings and experiments from fields of psychology and how they can be applied in economics.