What to Read
Reading, for some, is an essential activity and an integral aspect of their daily routine. Aside from its therapeutic benefits, reading provides access to the greatest minds, ideas, and concepts humankind has generated over the last three millennia.
Surely, nobody wants to miss that, or do they?
A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies. The man who never reads lives only one.
Philosophers have had a variety of views on the value of reading books.
Some, like the ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle, believed reading is essential for developing critical thinking and gaining knowledge. Others, like the French philosopher Michel de Montaigne, felt that too much reading could lead to losing one’s voice and individuality. The German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche believed that books could be dangerous if they lead to the uncritical acceptance of others’ ideas.
Arthur Schopenhauer, the German philosopher, believed that books were a valuable source of knowledge and inspiration. Still, he also thought too much reading could be detrimental to one’s intellectual and spiritual development.
The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. But no price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself.
Here is a quote from Schopenhauer that encapsulates his views on the value of reading: “To read too many books is harmful. In most men, it first inspires a certain arrogance and vainer; then it leads to a certain narrowness and finally to a certain effeminacy.”
How Much Reading is Too Much?
What about the idea of reading one book every week? Here is what this author thinks.
- It can provide structure, motivation to read more regularly, and a sense of achievement when one book is over.
- It can lead to developing a reading habit, which is beneficial for personal development and education.
- It can add stress and pressure to the reading experience, taking away its enjoyment and pleasure.
- It can cause disappointment and frustration if the objective is not met. Reading is a pleasure for most people, a journey rather than a destination.
- It can lead to focusing on quantity over quality, causing one to read books that are not of interest or relevance. Some of the best books are massive, and you can never truly appreciate them with a hasty read.
- It might be hype that one day will fade away.
Three Heuristics to Help You Pick Your Next Book
Most people in this day and age balance their time between a full-time job and their family with activities like reading confined to at most a couple of hours a day, perhaps less. Therefore, making your next read worthwhile is vital, especially if you avoid giving up on a book midstream.
The following are three heuristics that this author often uses when deciding on his next book.
- Sampling the text is the surest way to test the author’s writing style and authority and the content’s accessibility. My favourite approach is to read a paragraph or two from three random pages and see how I feel about it. Glossing over the table of contents is sometimes a good idea, although many books have cryptic chapter titles that will not convey much about their contents.
- Researching the author is vital for assessing authority, credibility, and writing style. Something that has worked very well for me is picking up books recommended by other authors whose books I loved. The reason why this works is straightforward: like-minded people will generally have similar tastes.
- Looking up online reviews from credible sites such as Goodreads.com is the final step in the book selection process. I avoid online shopping sites since the assessments they publish are always more favourable than non-online shopping sites.
Reading is a very personal and subjective endeavour; most people read for pleasure because they are genuinely interested in the topic they are reading about. While the selection below reflects this author’s taste, I trust that people with similar views and preferences will find the selection helpful.
Looking for a Good Book? Check Out These Suggestions
The below list is divided into three groups: business, general interest, and the Don’t Bother section. I hope the reader finds the selection rich and valuable and the accompanying reviews helpful.
“The Toyota Way” is a must-read for anyone interested in understanding the intricacies of Lean Manufacturing and its implementation. It provides a detailed analysis of the 14 Toyota Production System (TPS) management principles and how they foster operational excellence and continuous improvement.
Thinking, Fast and Slow — Daniel Kahneman
“Thinking Fast and Slow” is a thought-provoking and informative read that delves into the intricacies of human decision-making. The book thoroughly examines the cognitive biases and heuristics that shape our thought processes and highlights the importance of critical thinking. It is a must-read for anyone interested in understanding the human mind and its decision-making processes.
“Fooled by Randomness” is a fascinating exploration of the role of chance in life and business. The book shows how randomness can play a significant role in determining outcomes and how it can lead to misconceptions about cause and effect. A must-read for anyone interested in understanding the complexities of decision-making.
The Black Swan – The Impact of the Highly Improbable — Nassim N. Taleb
“The Black Swan” is a seminal work in the field of epistemology, which delves into the intricacies of rare and high-impact events, known as Black Swans, and their effects on decision-making processes. The author presents a robust critique of the “narrative fallacy” and the “ludic fallacy” and advocates for a robust understanding of probability and randomness through the lens of “skin in the game” heuristics. A must-read for anyone interested in understanding human predictions’ limits and chance’s role in complex systems.
“The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” offers a comprehensive approach to attaining effectiveness. However, the effectiveness of personal development books can be debated. Some find value in their insights and strategies, while others argue they oversimplify complex issues. Nevertheless, this book is a classic in the field and worth reading to form your own opinion.
The Six Sigma Way – How GE, Motorola, and Other Top Companies Are Honing Their Performance — P. S. Pande, R. P. Neuman, R. R. Cavanagh
“The Six Sigma Way” is a good guide for implementing Six Sigma methodologies to improve processes and performance. It provides a thorough and practical understanding of the Six Sigma approach, including the DMAIC (Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, Control) methodology and tools such as statistical process control, design of experiments, and process mapping.
Six Frames for Thinking about Information — Edward de Bono
“Six Frames for Thinking about Information” offers a unique perspective on information processing and its connection to decision-making, utilizing concepts such as “lateral thinking”, “perception”, and “conceptual space”. This is a thought-provoking, insightful, albeit concise (and probably quick) read for those looking to improve their information management.
Organisational Culture and Leadership — Edgar H. Schein
Schein’s work comprehensively examines organisational culture and its impact on leadership. The author delves deep into the various manifestations of culture, including artifacts, espoused values, basic underlying assumptions, and how they shape the behaviour of individuals within the organization. The book also delves into the role of the leader in shaping and maintaining organizational culture, highlighting the importance of aligning the leader’s actions with the culture they are trying to cultivate.
Six Thinking Hats — Edward de Bono
“Six Thinking Hats” offers a unique approach to problem-solving and decision-making by dividing it into six modes, providing a holistic and effective approach. The book is well-written and offers practical implementation examples. A must-read for anyone looking to improve their decision-making skills.
How to Have Creative Ideas – 62 Exercises to Develop The Mind
Edward de Bono
Geert Hofstede and Gert Hofstede
Jiju Anthony, Vijata Sunder M, Chad Laux, Elizabeth A. Cudney
Antifragile — Things That Gain From Disorder — Nassim N. Taleb
“Antifragile” is a thought-provoking read that challenges traditional notions of risk and stability. The author argues that in a complex and uncertain world, it is not enough to simply be “resilient” or “robust” to shocks. True success comes from being “antifragile” — that is, thriving in the face of volatility and uncertainty. The author argues for “antifragility” and presents compelling examples and anecdotes to illustrate his ideas. A must-read for those interested in economics, finance, and complexity.
“QED: The Strange Theory of Light and Matter” is a fascinating and accessible book that provides an in-depth look into quantum electrodynamics (QED). The book covers the history of QED and the development of Feynman’s diagrams, which revolutionized the field. It also explores the implications of QED on our understanding of the universe and the nature of light and matter. Feynman’s ability to make the complex easy to understand is a testament to his brilliance as a physicist and a communicator.
“Programming the Universe” is a fascinating read that explores the concept of using information and computation to understand the universe. Lloyd’s writing is clear and accessible to a broad audience. The book delves into the relationship between physics, mathematics, and information theory and presents the idea that the universe is a vast quantum computer. It’s a unique and original take on the nature of reality that will challenge readers’ preconceived notions and spark their imaginations.
Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind — Yuval Noah Harari
“Sapiens” by Yuval Noah Harari is a comprehensive and captivating exploration of the history of humankind. Harari expertly traces the evolution of our species, from the emergence of Homo sapiens to the present day. He weaves together a wealth of information from various fields, including history, biology, and anthropology, to provide a fascinating and thought-provoking examination of what it means to be human. With its clear and engaging writing style, “Sapiens” is a must-read for anyone interested in the story of our species.
Richard Leakey and Roger Lewin
Godel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid
The “Don’t Bother” Section
Seven Brief Lessons on Physics — Carlo Rovelli
You might enjoy this tiny book if you are stuck in an airport for a couple of hours (but no more). I picked it up only because I have read the other two (utterly fascinating) books by the same author, but I was thoroughly disappointed with its flimsy content devoid of any new insights.