1. 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.
— George R. R. Martin
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 harm one’s intellectual and spiritual development.
The individual has always struggled 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.
— Friedrich Nietzsche
Schopenhauer’s quote 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 leads to a certain narrowness and finally to a certain effeminacy.”
2. How Much Reading is Too Much?
What about the idea of reading one book every week? Here is what this author thinks.
3. Three Heuristics to Help You Pick Your Next Book
Most people today 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.
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.
4. Looking for a Good Book? Check Out These Suggestions
The below list is divided into several categories for convenience. We even included a Don’t Bother section. I hope the reader finds the selection rich and valuable and the accompanying reviews helpful.
The Toyota Way – 14 Management Principles From the World’s Greatest Manufacturer
By Jeffrey K. Liker
“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.
The Six Sigma Way – How GE, Motorola, and Other Top Companies Are Honing Their Performance
By 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.
Organisational Culture and Leadership
By 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.
Process Consultation: Its Role in Organisational Development
By Edgar H. Schein
HBR at 100 — The Most Influential and Innovative Articles from Hard Business Review’s First Century
By Harvard Business Review
Culture and Organizations: Software of the Mind
By Geert Hofstede and Gert Hofstede
Strategic Management and Organisational Dynamics: The Challenge of Complexity to Ways of Thinking About Organisations
By Ralph D. Stacey
A fantastic textbook that has about six editions in print. It is a must-read for managers and complexity theory or business management enthusiasts.
The Ten Commandments of Lean Six Sigma: A Guide for Practitioners
By Jiju Anthony, Vijata Sunder M, Chad Laux, Elizabeth A. Cudney
Mintzberg on Management — Inside Our Strange World of Organizations
By Henry Mintzberg
You’re About to Make a Terrible Mistake — How Biases Distort Decision-Making and What You Can Do to Fight Them
By Olivier Sibony
Big Ideas, Cultural Studies, and Self-Management
Antifragile: Things That Gain From Disorder
By Nassim N. Taleb
“Antifragile” is a thought-provoking read that challenges traditional notions of risk and stability. The author argues that being “resilient” or “robust” to shocks in a complex and uncertain world is insufficient. True success comes from being “antifragile”- 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.
Thinking, Fast and Slow
By 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 – The Hidden Role of Chance in Life and in the Markets
By Nassim N. Taleb
“Fooled by Randomness” is a fascinating exploration of the role of chance in life and business. The book shows how randomness can significantly determine outcomes and 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
By 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
By Stephen R. Covey
“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 and worth reading to form your opinion.
Six Frames for Thinking About Information
By 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.
Six Thinking Hats
By 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
By Edward de Bono
Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind
By Yuval Noah Harari
“Sapiens” 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 history, biology, and anthropology to provide a fascinating and thought-provoking examination of what it means to be human. “Sapiens” is a must-read for anyone interested in the story of our species.
Origins Reconsidered: In Search of What Makes Us Human
By Richard Leakey and Roger Lewin
“Origins Reconsidered” is a fascinating exploration of the evolution of human beings, written by acclaimed paleoanthropologist Richard Leakey and science writer Roger Lewin. The book challenges traditional theories about human evolution, offering a new perspective on our origins and what sets us apart from other animals. It is a must-read for anyone interested in the mysteries of human evolution.
Godel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid
By Douglas Hofstadter
“Gödel, Escher, Bach” is an intellectual tour de force, intertwining the realms of mathematics, art, and music. With precision and depth, the book delves mainly into Turing’s, Church’s, and Gödel’s groundbreaking theorems on logic and incompleteness. Through these diverse lenses, Hofstadter explores themes of self-reference, recursion, and the interplay between order and creativity. The book rewards readers with profound insights into the limits of formal systems, the nature of perception, and the beauty of interconnected patterns.
The Greatest Story Ever Told… So Far
By Lawrence Krauss
“The Greatest Story Ever Told… So Far” is a thrilling and insightful book by theoretical physicist Lawrence Krauss. This compelling work explores the history of science and the remarkable achievements made in understanding the universe, from the earliest days of human thought to cutting-edge research in particle physics. This book is a must-read for anyone interested in science and the mysteries of the universe.
A Universe from Nothing
By Lawrence Krauss
For a contemporary review of cosmology, we highly recommend A Universe from Nothing. The book is accessible and engaging, exploring inflation, the Big Bang, dark matter, dark energy, the geometry of the universe and other equally fascinating topics.
Cycles of Time: An Extraordinary New View of the Universe
By Sir Roger Penrose
This book is a mind-bending exploration of the nature of time and the universe. Penrose delves into the mysteries of cosmology, quantum theory, and the nature of reality, presenting a radical new theory of time and space, taking readers on an exhilarating journey through modern physics. “Cycles of Time” is a must-read for anyone interested in the deepest mysteries of existence.
The Riddle of Gravitation — From Newton to Einstein to Today’s Exciting Theories
By Peter G. Bergmann
“The Riddle of Gravitation” is a compelling exploration of one of the most fundamental mysteries in physics. With clarity and precision, Bergmann delves into the enigmatic nature of gravity, presenting thought-provoking theories and scientific advancements concisely. His ability to distil complex concepts into accessible language makes this book a valuable resource for both novices and experts.
Order Out of Chaos — Man’s New Dialogue With Nature
By Ilya Pregogine, Isabelle Stengers
“Order Out of Chaos” by Ilya Prigogine is an excellent book exploring self-organization and complexity in physical, chemical, and biological systems. Prigogine’s work shows how seemingly chaotic systems can spontaneously organize into highly ordered structures, which can have significant implications for fields such as thermodynamics, ecology, and economics. “Order Out of Chaos” is a fascinating read for anyone interested in complexity theory and the history of scientific thought.
Superstrings and the Search for the Theory of Everything
By F. David Peat
“Superstrings and the Search for the Theory of Everything” is an informative, insightful, and engaging book on Superstrings and Twistor theory. A highly accessible book on two complex areas of research in modern physics — a must-read for physics enthusiasts intent on understanding the fundamentals of string theory.
Computer Science, Quantum Computing, and Artificial Intelligence
Turing and the Universal Machine — The Making of the Modern Computer
By John Agar
“Turing and the Universal Machine — The Making of the Modern Computer” comprehensively explores Alan Turing’s pivotal role in shaping modern computing. The book adeptly traces Turing’s contributions, detailing the evolution of the universal machine concept. A scholarly work that illuminates the foundations of computer science.
The Feynman Processor — Quantum Entanglement and the Computing Evolution
By Gerard J. Milburn
The Annotated Turing — A Guided Tour through Alan Turing’s Historic Paper on Computability and the Turing Machine
By Charles Petzold
Engines of Logic — Mathematicians and the Origin of the Computer
By Martin Davis