* 4 mins reading
“The man who does not read has no advantage over the man who cannot read.” – Mark Twain
Have you heard about the anti-library? I have one.
I regret not starting to read at an earlier age. I just didn’t know better. Now, when I see a kid sitting outside reading, I envy her.
As the end of 2017 is just around the corner, it has been my tradition since 2014 to recommend one book out of all the books I read since the beginning of the year.
As of the writing of this post, I’ve read 36 books. And I’m in the middle of reading six more: “Twelve Against the Gods” by William Bolitho, “Culture and Imperialism” by Edward Said, “Science in the Soul” by Richard Dawkins, “Stein on Writing” by Sol Stein, “Jesus: A Biography, from a Believer” by Paul Johnson, “The Daily Stoic” by Ryan Holiday. I have seven new books on my Kindle, eleven sample books, and my Amazon Wish List is reaching 600 and counting. Oh and “Skin in the Game” by Nassim Nicholas Taleb is on a pre-order for delivery on February 27, 2018. While all these are on my plate, I keep asking my friends if they read, “What Happened” by Hillary Clinton, and “Hacks: The Inside Story of the Break-ins and Breakdowns That Put Donald Trump in the White House” by Donna Brazile. Nassim Taleb calls this collection of unread books an anti-library, read books are far less valuable than unread books.
My anti-library is not for ego-boosting. In fact, it’s not cool. I trudge around stressing about catching up on my reading. Time is slipping away and knowledge is passing me by. It’s frustrating.
It’s frustrating, because like I said last year: what to read? What to focus on? And how can you decide? – if every second something interesting gets published.
Selecting one book for public recommendation, out of the myriad of choices, is difficult, because our reading experience and interests are subjective. What fascinates me might be downright boring to my friends, let alone the public.
I believe a great book is the one that connects the content to our own experience. It makes you shout “Yes…this is how I felt.”, “This is what I mean!” – It validates us. And, I don’t mean that in the sense of “Confirmation Bias”, where we find extra evidence for our points of view. Rather, it does so by completing a puzzle in our own mind. As if we had known for some time that something was true, but we couldn’t see the finished picture. The author rearranges the words that we have been trying to sort through, and everything comes into focus, making our thoughts more orderly, and our mind more structured.
I consider Trump’s winning of the U.S. election in 2016 as one the most important events in US presidential history. It left half of America dumbfounded. The political statistician who was named one of The World’s 100 Most Influential People by Time magazine, Nate Silver, was left flogging himself and wailing at his odds and polls, and the Clinton and Bush dynasties charred wrecks on the side of the road. Understanding the reasons behind that victory is vital for all Americans, especially after causing the country to be increasingly and bitterly divided.
Thus, my 2017 book recommendation is: Win Bigly: Persuasion in a World Where Facts Don’t Matter by Scott Adams.
Now, let me tell you how I discovered this book.
While I was working out, I glanced at the TV, which was on CNN and saw the cover of the book. Based on the cover and news channel, I assumed that the book would be mocking President Donald Trump. Plus, I didn’t know who the author was until I came closer to the TV to see it – Scott Adams (the creator of the Dilbert comic strip).
So I thought to myself, “Oh ok, he’ll be making fun of Trump. I like to improve my sense of humor in writing. I’m sure I’ll learn a few tricks.”
Without reading the reviews on Amazon (which I rarely do), I bought the book as soon as I got home.
The moment I started to read it, I was hooked.
It turned out that Scott Adams is an Ultra-Left who wrote an unbiased book explaining his version of why President Trump won the presidential election.
Now, I’m not like Scott Adams (a cartoonist), Nassim Taleb (a philosopher), or Michael Moore (a filmmaker) who predicted Trump’s win. But I did recognize early on in the election that Trump was an anti-fragile. In my blog post “Chicago and the Assyrian Vote” dated May 3, 2016, I wrote, ”What the people didn’t realize is that Trump is the definition of anti-fragile. The more the media tries to slaughter him, the stronger he gets.”
I did vote for Trump, but I predicted Hillary’s win, as you can see from my Facebook post below, from October 2016. In my “What is Political Prostitution?” blog post written around the same time, I explained why I would have voted for Trump either way, even if he ran on a Democratic ticket.
Back to the book recommendations.
If I were to pick the first and second runners up, they would be “Overthrow” by Stephen Ninzer and “The Prisoner in His Palace” by Will Bardenwerper.
Also, “The Taliban Shuffle” by Kim Barker is great, “The Clash of Civilizations” by Samuel Huntington is fascinating, “Born a Crime” by Trevor Noah is amazing, “Weapons of Math Destruction” by Cathy O’Neil is thought provoking.
I hope you enjoy the book.
Finally, if you are interested to see the complete list, everything I read is pinned on Pinterest 2017 Books board.
For 2016 recommendations, 14,997 Pages and One Book.
For 2015 recommendations, 300,000 Pages and one book, where I also explained how I select the books I read.
For 2014 recommendations, 400,000 Pages in Baghdad, where I also I wrote about the ugly side of reading 100 books.
In Happiness from Lalastan, I wrote about how the Privileged Rich West seems to live in a bubble of their imagination and the stupidity of certain claims about Happiness.
In Life Goal of Reading 10,000 Books, I explained the reason for trying to cross the Rubicon of my cognitive limits.
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