Here are some books for the end of the year… fifty years of ideas that have helped me understand the world differently:
Gödel, Escher, Bach — Before meta was cool, Douglas Hofstadter won a Pulitzer Prize for this intricately created examination of math, art and music.
Caste — My book of the year. Wilkerson helps us see how persistent and hidden the indoctrination of race and status lie in our culture.
Understanding Comics — Another meta book, and a masterpiece of explanation and insight.
The Red Queen — There are a ton of very cool books on evolutionary theory and this one is particularly good.
Knocking on Heaven’s Door — Lisa Randall’s explanation of physics will change the way you look at the world.
Guns, Germs and Steel — Another classic, it has earned its spot in the canon. An explanation (not without controversy) of how the world ended up as it did. This is what the study of geography is actually about.
The Beginning of Infinity — After you read Randall, this book will take those ideas and expand them. A lot.
What Technology Wants — Kevin Kelly has changed my mind over and over again, and this one is the one I think about the most often.
The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas — A short story from Ursula LeGuin that you will never forget.
Debt — An astonishing look at 5,000 years of human history by the late David Graeber.
The Jazz of Physics — A great book, even (especially) for people who think they don’t like either.
When Things Fall Apart — Each of Pema’s books is special, and the audio books in particular. This is a fine place to start.
Books are an extraordinary device, transitioning through time and space, moving from person to person and leaving behind insight and connection. I’m grateful every single day for the privilege of being able to read (and to write).
And writing doesn’t always have to take the form of books. Check out this prize-winning video: