January 02, 2016

The 50 Books Project

The idea was to make sure that my complete bandwidth in 2015 was put into books, other than the usual time spent on work and other sundries. And Oh Boy! It was indeed a fabulous year. So much learning - both indoors and outdoors - just by observing people and playing the cards suitably. I can safely vouch for the fact that 2015 was indeed one of the best years of my Life wherein I started understanding Life and the various nuances associated with it. I think this year wouldn't have been possible, had it not been for the escapade in end-2014 that took me to Amritsar and Nepal. The days spent in the Golden Temple at Amritsar and the Monastery in Lumbini(Nepal) made me realize what I was doing wrong and more importantly -- what had to done; and prepp'ed me suitably (This needs a blog post in itself, but we will save it for later!).


Target was to read 50 books this year - and restrict it to Non-Fiction so that I learn something in the due course. Started off the year with a few readings on Strategy, but soon Economics pulled me in and before I knew it, I was neck-deep into my field of interest -- namely Behavioural Economics. Read a dozen odd books on this topic and my thirst has only increased since then. A Masters degree in Economics or Philosophy would be really nice, but let's see where the journey takes me to. A few courses on Coursera also added the much needed fire to this otherwise subdued interest.

So, the first question would be, which was my best read in 2015? Michael J. Sandel's book on "Justice" was probably the best for it completely opened my eyes to the idea of Justice and how it is different from Law. The cross-correlation between Justice, Law and Ethics has intrigued me for quite sometime as I see people behave in ways that are not totally rational and how the frameworks in the society are established to safeguard the interest of the collective and establish a certain order and decorum. Reading this treatise on Justice and understanding the behavioral aspects of Economics made me realize how we humans are not entirely rational and certain, if not all, make decisions that are not in the best interest of the society, or in other words - are not value maximizing decisions or transactions, and how the society has to deal with it.

Clayton M. Christensen's books on Innovation were a pleasant surprise to me and helped me theorize certain innovation cycles as I see them unfold in the industry. "The Paradox of Choice" by Barry Schwartz and "Sources of Power : How People Make Decisions" by Gary Klein were other notable reads. My readings since November, were mainly on the digital medium, as I had many TO_BE_READ articles and wanted to reach a count of zero unread articles in my feed reader. As the year came to an end, I found solace in Bhagvad Gita by Eknath Easwaran. This is a 3 part series, and am already quite intrigued by Volume-1.

So, next question is : Did I finish reading 50 books? Well, technically, I read close to 38 books (click here for the list) , but on top of this, I read close to 15 text books relating to various management disciplines. To add to this, my feed reader(I use Feedly) presents close to 400 articles from my various subscriptions on a daily basis, out of which I end up reading dozen odd long form articles on weekdays and double that on weekends. So, well yeah! A year of good reading indeed.

Go Exploring!

So what's in for 2016? I will prefer to do as per the flow(as has been my style in travelling as well), but I think I am going to keep the track on Bhagwad Gita on and finish the trilogy. I also intend to read some titles by our former President S.Radhakrishnan. And read more of Behavioural Economics. "Irrational Exuberance" still evades me and few other titles related to innovation, entrepreneurship and leadership are in my TODO. I would also like to read Aristotle and Plato this year; while 'Meditations' by Marcus Aurelius has been in my TODO for a few years now. I also have to catchup on the pending reads on Anthropology and Neuro-Psychology. A few reads related to Design and Visualization would keep my appetite going while understanding Law and Justice will keep me closer to many practical realities.

So, let's see where 2016 takes me. Some in my wishlist, though :

  1. Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman
  2. Phishing for Phools - The Economics of Manipulations and Deception by George A Akerlof , Robert J Schiller 
  3. The Hard Thing about Hard Thing: Building a Business When There are No Easy Answers by Ben Horowitz
  4. Against the Gods: The Remarkable Story of Risk by Peter L. Bernstein
  5. Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End by Atul Gawande
  6. Saving Capitalism from the Capitalists by Raghuram Rajan
  7. Misbehaving: The Making of Behavioural Economics by Richard H Thaler
  8. The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do, and How to Change by Charles Duhigg 
  9. Irrational Exuberance by Robert J. Shiller
  10. Who Gets What - And Why The Hidden World of Matchmaking and Market Design by Alvin E. Roth
  11. Your Strategy Needs a Strategy: How to Choose and Execute the Right Approach by Martin Reeves
  12. Theory of Justice by Rawls 
  13. What Money Can't Buy by Michael J. Sandel
  14. 10 Judgements That Changed India by Zia Mody

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