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AUG. 12, 2022

Beach Reads

For these Weekly Thoughts, we put together a list of books that have inspired us or that we found interesting. Maybe some you have already read, but you might feel inspired to read again, or you might find something you have never heard of and get curious about.

Please take a look, and we hope you get inspired on your next trip to the bookstore (or on Amazon or to the library).

Let’s start with a classic in our field:

Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman

“This book is considered the bible of behavioral economics. It explains the two systems that operate in our mind – the fast and the slow, and how each system impacts our decisions and behaviors. It also explains the main behavioral biases in our brain when making decisions.”

Something geekier:

Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress by Steven Pinker

“The book is a data-driven analysis of how our world has evolved over the last few centuries. It demonstrates that on almost every measure, such as education, peace, prosperity, mortality, and even ecology, things have gotten much better and are still improving. I find this a very nice optimistic break from the constant media frenzy that always portrays that our world is in decline. It showcases that humankind is geared towards continuous improvement, and it brings a sense of hope that the future will be better than the past.”

Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams by Matthew Walker

“This is where I learned all I know on the importance of sleep. And sleeping to me is now extremely important. The author, a neuroscience professor, explains in detail the effect of the lack of sleep on our brains, bodies, creativity, and resilience. I liked it because it made me rethink my sleeping and caffeine habits.”

Something very current:

Prisoners of Geography by Tim Marshall

“Written in 2015, the book describes how the physical and geopolitical characteristics of 10 regions of the world affect their strengths and weaknesses and the decisions of their leaders. The first chapter, on Russia, is highly topical in that it helps to explain the current events in Ukraine. The other chapters about China, Western Europe, Africa, the Middle East or the Arctic are very interesting to understand why some regions have become very successful and others hardly progress in their development.”

Something more philosophical:

Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand

“Some love it, some hate it, I believe Atlas Shrugged can easily be considered the great American novel as it is a manifesto on philosophy, politics, and economics. There is no arguing that Atlas Shrugged and Ayn Rand in general have shaped the worldview of many devotees of liberty. I believe this novel is a brilliant illustration of all things that are made possible by the rational, thinking human mind and serves as an important lesson on the difference between intentions and outcomes.”

One More Ride on the Merry Go Round by Tiziano Terzani

“When Tiziano Terzani learns that he is terminally ill with cancer, he sets out on his final journey. In search of a cure, his path eventually leads him to the seclusion of the Himalayas and to himself. Terzani writes about his experiences with western-school medicine and about many alternative healing methods. He does so critically, without condemning or dismissing them as humbug and calling them completely unsuitable. He looks at all methods from different perspectives: historically, ethnologically, ethically, biologically, and medically. In doing so, he deals intensively with being human, living, dying and death. In the end, he finds his own personal therapy to deal with the illness and his fate.”

A sports memoir, that goes well beyond sport:

Open by Andre Agassi

“The book is an introspective journey of tennis legend Andre Agassi. It provides a picture of his career, together with the narrative of his personal growth and early-age life events. Even for those not following tennis, the biography turns very soon to the drivers Agassi found crucial for his success: obsession, emotional intelligence and the importance of family. I find this book very transferable outside of the sport’s sphere, with certain points of contact with the story and the ambitions of many.”

Something for the contrarian thinker:

From Zero to One by Peter Thiel

Peter Thiel, one of the PayPal and Palantir founders, speaks about the leap of faith that an entrepreneur takes when creating something that never existed before, without really knowing if the market for it exists yet. He argues about innovation, disruption and what makes a great founder. The book is more a collection of thoughts rather than a cohesive treatise, but it gives an interesting – and somewhat contrarian - view on the nature of capitalism and entrepreneurship.

For those wanting to improve their communications skills:

Thanks for the Feedback by Douglas Stone and Sheila Heen

“Feedback is any information you receive about yourself; it’s how you’re ranked, thanked, described, and advised. It can be hard to hear feedback, and much training has been devoted to how to better give it. The key, though, is learning how to better receive it. After all, the receiver is the one who controls whether or not feedback is understood, accepted, and adopted.
In Thanks For the Feedback, Douglas Stone and Sheila Heen, two of the co-authors of the bestseller Difficult Conversations, walk you through how to become a better receiver of feedback so that you can more effectively incorporate it into your life and in doing so, improve your job performance and strengthen your personal relationships.”

If you prefer historical fiction, the Century Trilogy by Ken Follett is an interesting history lesson on the 20th century in the Western world.

Finally, a book that you might have read as a child, but where you could find new meaning as an adult:

The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

“I received this book as a present many years ago, it is my favorite book and I have read it many times already. Each time I do, I discover a new meaning, and that is why I simply love this book. This book makes you understand life in all forms yet in the simplest way. I think it is a must-read for everyone; readers of all ages will have different take-aways from the book.”

We thank you for your continued support.

The FAM team