What I learned from reading 50 books in 2012

Books have been only one of many sources of inspiration this year, but a very powerful one, in trying to properly understand the economic, ecological, cultural and social systems that I am part of, whether in my own home or at a global level.

They also make great gifts.  In fact, my favourite present that I gave last year was 3 copies of the same book, for the happy recipient to read and pass on.

So with Christmas shopping approaching, I thought this week I would list out the 50+ books that I have read this year (pretty much in the order I read them) and accompany each one with a couple of sentences that don’t so much sum up the book, but represent my neatest personal take-away from it (have also linked the titles through to their Amazon page).

All these books I read fully, so can vouch for them being worthwhile.  But the extra special ones I have marked with a **.  This post contains the first few, and links to a new page on my website with the full list.

Feel free to share this post with anyone looking for Christmas present ideas.  Happy reading!

**Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us

Autonomy, mastery and purpose are the keys to motivation. Intrinsic drive is the only way.  Fantastic – I think I’ll leave my job then.

Obliquity: Why Our Goals Are Best Achieved Indirectly

The world is too complex for rational decision-making to be effective (as much as we believe the opposite).  Better to iterate and adapt rather than predict.  Oblique approaches more commonly produce successful outcomes.

Anything You Want

Do things for better reasons than just making money.  You’ll have a better time and you’ll probably make more money.


**Finite and Infinite Games

A “finite game” has a winner and an end, the goal is to veil yourself and triumph.  An “infinite game” has no winner and no end, the aim is to be authentic and keep playing.  Choosing nonwinnable games is more rewarding, and rare.  A pretty consistent message so far…

**Uncertainty: Turning Fear and Doubt Into the Fuel for Brilliance

Fear and anxiety make you want to move quickly from freedom to constraint, to close off options and stop exploring (or it prevents you from starting).  The more you can tolerate ambiguity, the more you can come up with better ideas and creations.

Betterness: Economics for Humans (Kindle Single)

Betterness is the next level of human exchange.  21st century competitiveness is not about kicking the next guy’s arse, but kicking your old habits.



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