Here is a selection of thought provoking books I’ve read in the last few weeks. These are not “practical” books in the sense that they give you a formula for how to do something better, but they are more philosophical in nature. Big picture, philosophical ideas are important and to the degree that they educate you and help you understand the world around you, they are critical to your long-term intellectual growth. I give an enthusiastic thumbs up to all of these books.
This brilliant book makes a case for a science of values that is almost unheard of nowadays. The only other writer of any note that has promoted this idea was Ayn Rand in the 40’s and 50’s (at least the only one I know of). This is a very thoughtful and well written work. Harris argues very persuasively for his point of view. Sam Harris is no friend of religion and while this book is not about religion, he devotes a whole chapter to attacking religious morality – be forewarned.
What Technology Wants by Kevin Kelly
When I read the jacket cover of this book I thought I wouldn’t like it. The reason I bought it was because of a recommendation; I’m sure glad I did. The topic is the evolution of technology and I found it to be deeply original and provocative. With chapters like “The Unabomber Was Right” and “The Amish Hackers” you know the read is going to be a bit of a different ride.
Where Good Ideas Come From: The Natural History of Innovation by Steven Johnson
Of all the books included in this article, Steven Johnson’s comes the closest to being practical. There is a lot of wisdom in his pages and I found it to be fairly profound and useful. It certainly made me think.
The Watchman’s Rattle: Thinking Our Way Out of Extinction by Rebecca Costa
This is the best book with a strange title I’ve ever read. I picked it up on a hunch and consider it an amazing find. 12 of 12 people who have reviewed it on Amazon have given it a 5 star rating and that includes me. This is another book that does not regurgitate the same old ideas. It’s a refreshingly new way to think about the complex problems facing the world today.
This book was a very interesting look at how we likely will interact with media in the future and is a very optimistic view of what technology is bringing to our world.
These last two books are thought provoking in a different way. They are true stories that make you think about our natural world and our place in it.
This book is definitely different. Robin seems totally at home in the rain forest dreaming and talking to trees and animals. It’s a look at nature from a perspective that’s unique and wonderful. Robin is a captivating story teller and you should check it out.
The Wild Trees: A Story of Passion and Daring by Richard Preston
I love trees and this is the story of the world’s biggest trees and the people who found them. It was a compelling and wonderful read.