Beyond Reading: Fall 2016 Edition

With autumn leaves falling, football in full swing, and Thanksgiving upon us, it’s a great time to push the pause button and relax with some reading. Our pePartners team shares its short list of books that we think you might enjoy as we move into Q4.

We kick off our recommendations with a book that’s a little bit wonky but that we think you’ll find useful, particularly given the disparate plans being floated by the U.S. presidential candidates. Michael Lind’s Land of Promise: an Economic History of the United States presents a fascinating analysis of the economic benefits and disadvantages of the Jeffersonian and Hamiltonian traditions on the US economy.

Next up is The End of Alchemy: Money, Banking and the Future of the Global Economy: 2016, by Mervyn King.  King was the governor of the Bank of England at the height of the 2007-9 financial crisis. King takes a cogent look at the creation of paper money and the creation of banks that issue credit and argues that this is financial alchemy. This has propelled economic growth for two centuries but has also produced a string of economic disasters—including hyperinflation, banking collapses, and the 2007-9 financial crises.  King gives a highly lucid account of the history and future of banking, presents new interpretations of the economic forces at work, and points the way forward for the global economy.  According to Lawrence Summers’ review in “The Economist,”

“Mervyn King may well have written the most important book to come out of the financial crisis. Agree or disagree, King’s visionary ideas deserve the attention of everyone from economics students to heads of state.”
―Lawrence H. Summers

Thirdly, we suggest you check out The Third Wave: An Entrepreneur’s Vision of the Future, by Steve Case of AOL fame. Case believes the third wave of the Internet —in which entrepreneurs will transform the way we live and do business— will be more complex, institutionally oriented, and socially meaningful. He also predicts that it will be decentralized, taking business away from Silicon Valley. This book is a must-read and a true original!

When you’ve had your fill of books that focus on externals, we recommend turning inward with Search Inside Yourself: The Unexpected Path to Achieving Success, Happiness (And World Peace), by Chade-Meng Tan. This book, which seems to have become mandatory reading at Google, is laced with self-deprecating, tongue-in-cheek humor.  It is fun to read, but is also a serious reminder of why mindfulness makes us so much more productive.  Meng is the perfect combination of a perfectionist, a programmer extraordinaire, and a Bodhisattva, or person who embodies compassion and wisdom.  A Bodhisattva achieves enlightenment but chooses to forgo nirvana to help those of us who are suffering in our much more normal state of being.  Here suffering comes in the form of a lack of productivity, innovation, and overall professional success.

Another book that asks readers to look inward at our own choices is Smarter, Faster, Better, by Charles Duhigg.  Duhigg challenges us to think about the impact of overloading ourselves with activity.  He argues that this natural tendency actually reduces productivity and creativity.  I’ve applied his suggestions and find myself designing a much more productive life all around.  In his view, it is not about having the perfect calendar and filling every minute of our days with busyness. Instead, he suggests, productivity hinges on making the right choices: where we put our attention, how we set goals, how we motivate ourselves, who we surround ourselves with.

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