Books Read November 2014

Leaders Eat Last by Simon Sinek. I loved this book because it resonated with my hopes for the future of business. Sinek also brought in some of my favorite psychological ideas in a way that I found inspiring—I’ve read a lot of the same research and come across the same ideas, but I had not synthesized the data into a coherent worldview. I’d boil it down to the following: short-term profit maximization is proving unsustainable even harmful for society; instead, you should treat employees as people to enjoy sustained growth.

American Gods by Neil Gaiman. Based on numerous positive reviews I was really excited to read this book; unfortunately, I didn’t care much for it. In the preface Gaiman says that the book is long and meandering, and he hit the nail on the head. I thought the main plot was pretty interesting, but the tangents did not add anything for me. At times it felt like I was reading a book for English class because I just didn’t understand the message.

The Emperor’s Blades by Brian Stavely. I liked the book, but I’m not sure I’m ready for another series just yet.

Poor Economics by Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo. An accessible summary of research about poor people worldwide. I loved the realistic approach to helping people. Some of my favorite tidbits were that people donated significantly more money when the message focused on a single, identifiable person and that when given money, poor people tend to buy more interesting food rather than more of the same (in the studies people still ate around 1200 calories but they would incorporated more meat and indulgences like tea rather than eating another 500 calories of rice).

Language A to Z by John McWhorter. Great course by the Great Courses.

Customs of the World by David Livermore. Good course by the Great Courses.