Change yourself, change the world
I recently polled my network to find the “content” that played a significant contribution to how they see the world. I was overwhelmed by responses, so here is the compiled list of what came back.
Note: I only included books that people could vouch for (and not ones that they heard were good but haven’t read yet). Descriptions provided by Amazon (edited).
* Recommended by multiple parties or highly recommend
~ I’ve read it
^ I’ve read and vouch for it
Things to Read
Self knowledge and empathy
- * Brené Brown – Daring Greatly, gifts of imperfection
- * Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience Psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s famous investigations of “optimal experience” have revealed that what makes an experience genuinely satisfying is a state of consciousness called flow. During flow, people typically experience deep enjoyment, creativity, and a total involvement with life. In this new edition of his groundbreaking classic work, Csikszentmihalyi demonstrates the ways this positive state can be controlled, not just left to chance. Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience teaches how, by ordering the information that enters our consciousness, we can discover true happiness and greatly improve the quality of our lives.
- * The Ethical Slut and More than Two
- ^ Linchpin – Seth Godwin
- ^ The Truth – Neil Strauss
- ^ Ego is the Enemy – Ryan Holiday
- ^ The Happiness Trap
- ^ The 4 Hour Work Week – Tim Ferris
- Free Will – Sam Harris
- ^ Seneca – On the shortness of life
- the obstacle is the way
- ^ The War on Art — Stephen Pressfield
- The art of loving – Erich From
- Oliver Sacks’s The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat tells the stories of individuals afflicted with fantastic perceptual and intellectual aberrations: patients who have lost their memories and with them the greater part of their pasts; who are no longer able to recognize people and common objects; who are stricken with violent tics and grimaces or who shout involuntary obscenities; whose limbs have become alien; who have been dismissed as retarded yet are gifted with uncanny artistic or mathematical talents.
If inconceivably strange, these brilliant tales remain, in Dr. Sacks’s splendid and sympathetic telling, deeply human. They are studies of life struggling against incredible adversity, and they enable us to enter the world of the neurologically impaired, to imagine with our hearts what it must be to live and feel as they do.
- Sum: Forty Tales from the Afterlives. At once funny, wistful and unsettling, Sum is a dazzling exploration of unexpected afterlives — each presented as a vignette that offers a stunning lens through which to see ourselves in the here and now. In one afterlife, you may find that God is the size of a microbe and unaware of your existence. In another version, you work as a background character in other people’s dreams. Or you may find that God is a married couple, or that the universe is running backward, or that you are forced to live out your afterlife with annoying versions of who you could have been. With a probing imagination and deep understanding of the human condition, acclaimed neuroscientist David Eagleman offers wonderfully imagined tales that shine a brilliant light on the here and now.
- The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World. Nobel Peace Prize Laureates His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu have survived more than fifty years of exile and the soul-crushing violence of oppression. Despite their hardships — or, as they would say, because of them — they are two of the most joyful people on the planet.They looked back on their long lives to answer a single burning question: How do we find joy in the face of life’s inevitable suffering? They traded intimate stories, teased each other continually, and shared their spiritual practices. By the end of a week filled with laughter and punctuated with tears, these two global heroes had stared into the abyss and despair of our time and revealed how to live a life brimming with joy.
- * Martin L. Hoffman, Empathy and moral development: Implications for caring and justice. Contemporary theories have generally focused on either the behavioral, cognitive or emotional dimensions of prosocial moral development. In this volume, these three dimensions are brought together while providing the first comprehensive account of prosocial moral development in children. The main concept is empathy — one feels what is appropriate for another person’s situation, not one’s own. Hoffman discusses empathy’s role in five moral situations. The book’s focus is empathy’s contribution to altruism and compassion for others in physical, psychological, or economic distress. Also highlighted are the psychological processes involved in empathy’s interaction with certain parental behaviors that foster moral internalization in children and the psychological processes involved in empathy’s relation to abstract moral principles such as caring and distributive justice. This important book is the culmination of three decades of study and research by a leading figure in the area of child and developmental psychology.
- When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times — Pema Chodron. How can we live our lives when everything seems to fall apart — when we are continually overcome by fear, anxiety, and pain? The answer, Pema Chödrön suggests, might be just the opposite of what you expect. Here, in her most beloved and acclaimed work, Pema shows that moving toward painful situations and becoming intimate with them can open up our hearts in ways we never before imagined. Drawing from traditional Buddhist wisdom, she offers life-changing tools for transforming suffering and negative patterns into habitual ease and boundless joy.
- The Alchemist. Paulo Coelho’s masterpiece tells the mystical story of Santiago, an Andalusian shepherd boy who yearns to travel in search of a worldly treasure. His quest will lead him to riches far different — and far more satisfying — than he ever imagined. Santiago’s journey teaches us about the essential wisdom of listening to our hearts, of recognizing opportunity and learning to read the omens strewn along life’s path, and, most importantly, to follow our dreams.
- * “Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End” by Atul Gawande. Medicine has triumphed in modern times, transforming birth, injury, and infectious disease from harrowing to manageable. But in the inevitable condition of aging and death, the goals of medicine seem too frequently to run counter to the interest of the human spirit. Nursing homes, preoccupied with safety, pin patients into railed beds and wheelchairs. Hospitals isolate the dying, checking for vital signs long after the goals of cure have become moot. Doctors, committed to extending life, continue to carry out devastating procedures that in the end extend suffering. Being Mortal asserts that medicine can comfort and enhance our experience even to the end, providing not only a good life but also a good end.
- The Architecture of Adult Learning… and this summary https://youtu.be/A2-eaWK9uU0. It is never too late to start learning. This book presented the learning journey of a tecnology consultant, trained as an engineer, in learning to be a visual artist.
- Against empathy by Paul Bloom.
- Fresh of the boat and
- Double Cup love - Eddie Huang. Double Cup Love takes readers from Williamsburg dive bars to the skies over Mongolia, from Michelin-starred restaurants in Shanghai to street-side soup peddlers in Chengdu. The book rockets off as a sharply observed, globe-trotting comic adventure that turns into an existential suspense story with high stakes. Eddie takes readers to the crossroads where he has to choose between his past and his future, between who he once was and who he might become. Double Cup Love is about how we search for love and meaning — in family and culture, in romance and marriage — but also how that search, with all its aching and overpowering complexity, can deliver us to our truest selves.
- Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of Nike. It all begins with a classic crossroads moment. Twenty-four years old, backpacking through Asia and Europe and Africa, wrestling with life’s Great Questions, Knight decides the unconventional path is the only one for him. Rather than work for a big corporation, he will create something all his own, something new, dynamic, different. Knight details the many terrifying risks he encountered along the way, the crushing setbacks, the ruthless competitors, the countless doubters and haters and hostile bankers — as well as his many thrilling triumphs and narrow escapes. Above all, he recalls the foundational relationships that formed the heart and soul of Nike, with his former track coach, the irascible and charismatic Bill Bowerman, and with his first employees, a ragtag group of misfits and savants who quickly became a band of swoosh-crazed brothers. Together, harnessing the electrifying power of a bold vision and a shared belief in the redemptive, transformative power of sports, they created a brand, and a culture, that changed everything.
- * Paul Kalanithi — When Breath becomes Air. At the age of thirty-six, on the verge of completing a decade’s worth of training as a neurosurgeon, Paul Kalanithi was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer. One day he was a doctor treating the dying, and the next he was a patient struggling to live. And just like that, the future he and his wife had imagined evaporated. When Breath Becomes Air chronicles Kalanithi’s transformation from a naïve medical student “possessed,” as he wrote, “by the question of what, given that all organisms die, makes a virtuous and meaningful life” into a neurosurgeon at Stanford working in the brain, the most critical place for human identity, and finally into a patient and new father confronting his own mortality. What makes life worth living in the face of death? What do you do when the future, no longer a ladder toward your goals in life, flattens out into a perpetual present? What does it mean to have a child, to nurture a new life as another fades away? These are some of the questions Kalanithi wrestles with in this profoundly moving, exquisitely observed memoir.
- Quiet — Susan Cain
- Effortless Mastery: Liberating the Master Musician Within is a book for any musician who finds themselves having reached a plateau in their development. Werner, a masterful jazz pianist in his own right, uses his own life story and experiences to explore the barriers to creativity and mastery of music, and in the process reveals that ‘’Mastery is available to everyone,’’ providing practical, detailed ways to move towards greater confidence and proficiency in any endeavor. While Werner is a musician, the concepts presented are for every profession or life-style where there is a need for free-flowing, effortless thinking.
- Business Model of You. The global bestseller Business Model Generation introduced a unique visual way to summarize and creatively brainstorm any business or product idea on a single sheet of paper. Business Model You uses the same powerful one-page tool to teach readers how to draw “personal business models,” which reveal new ways their skills can be adapted to the changing needs of the marketplace to reveal new, more satisfying, career and life possibilities. Produced by the same team that created Business Model Generation, this book is based on the Business Model Canvas methodology, which has quickly emerged as the world’s leading business model description and innovation technique.
How to make the world work (Leadership / Behaviour Change / Decision Making)
- * crucial conversations
- Barry Schwartz’s Paradox of Choice
- ^ Made to Stick – Chip & Dan Heath
- ^ Switch – Chip & Dan Heath
- ^ Tribes – Seth Godin
- ^ Negotiate to Win
- High Five by Ken Blanchard. High Five! starts with otherwise exemplary exec Alan Foster losing his job because — you guessed it — he isn’t a team player. Unemployed, bored, and demoralized, he decides to coach his fifth-grade son’s failing hockey team into better shape. But it’s not until he enlists the help of Miss Weatherby, an aging African-American retired teacher and champion girls’ basketball coach that things really start to turn around. As we follow the struggle of the increasingly well-oiled Warriors machine as they drill, strategize, and bond their way through the season, we learn some of the fundamental lessons of what makes good teams — and good team-building by coaches and managers. Among them are “repeated reward and repetition,” the guiding notion that “none of us is as smart as all of us,” and four key traits that shall here remain undisclosed (hint: their acronym spells PUCK).
- Superforecasting: The Art and Science of Prediction — Philip E Tetlock. Everyone would benefit from seeing further into the future, whether buying stocks, crafting policy, launching a new product, or simply planning the week’s meals. Unfortunately, people tend to be terrible forecasters. In Superforecasting, Tetlock and co author Dan Gardner offer a masterwork on prediction, drawing on decades of research and the results of a massive, government-funded forecasting tournament. Weaving together stories of forecasting successes (the raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound) and failures (the Bay of Pigs) and interviews with a range of high-level decision makers, from David Petraeus to Robert Rubin, they show that good forecasting doesn’t require powerful computers or arcane methods. It involves gathering evidence from a variety of sources, thinking probabilistically, working in teams, keeping score, and being willing to admit error and change course. Superforecasting offers the first demonstrably effective way to improve our ability to predict the future — whether in business, finance, politics, international affairs, or daily life — and is destined to become a modern classic.
- Think fast and slow — Daniel Kahneman, takes us on a groundbreaking tour of the mind and explains the two systems that drive the way we think. System 1 is fast, intuitive, and emotional; System 2 is slower, more deliberative, and more logical. The impact of overconfidence on corporate strategies, the difficulties of predicting what will make us happy in the future, the profound effect of cognitive biases on everything from playing the stock market to planning our next vacation―each of these can be understood only by knowing how the two systems shape our judgments and decisions. Engaging the reader in a lively conversation about how we think, Kahneman reveals where we can and cannot trust our intuitions and how we can tap into the benefits of slow thinking. He offers practical and enlightening insights into how choices are made in both our business and our personal lives―and how we can use different techniques to guard against the mental glitches that often get us into trouble.
- Nassim Taleb (all)
- ^*To sell is human
- The Year Without Pants — Scott Berkun. A behind-the-scenes look at the firm behind WordPress.com and the unique work culture that contributes to its phenomenal success. 50 million websites, or twenty percent of the entire web, use WordPress software. The force behind WordPress.com is a convention-defying company called Automattic, Inc., whose 120 employees work from anywhere in the world they wish, barely use email, and launch improvements to their products dozens of times a day. With a fraction of the resources of Google, Amazon, or Facebook, they have a similar impact on the future of the Internet. How is this possible? What’s different about how they work, and what can other companies learn from their methods?
- Ray Dalio — Principles. Principles are concepts that can be applied over and over again in similar circumstances as distinct from narrow answers to specific questions. Every game has principles that successful players master to achieve winning results. So does life. Principles are ways of successfully dealing with the laws of nature or the laws of life. Those who understand more of them and understand them well know how to interact with the world more effectively than those who know fewer of them or know them less well. Different principles apply to different aspects of life — e.g., there are “skiing principles” for skiing, “parenting principles” for parenting, “management principles” for managing, “investment principles” for investing, etc and there are over-arching “life principles” that influence our approaches to all things. And, of course, different people subscribe to different principles that they believe work best.
Capability Building (Design, Innovation and Strategy)
- ^*Creativity Inc
- Books by Clayton Christensen and Don Norman
- Well designed by Jon Kolko.
- Beautiful users by Ellen Lupton.
- Zero to 1
- Good Strategy Bad Strategy
- Eindhoven Academy of Design’s Strategic Creativity series.
- Hoover’s Vision: Original Thinking for Business Success. This books is an eye-opening, hands-on, look at how entrepreneurs and innovative leaders come up with new ides. Hoover offers practical how-to techniques and advice on how to focus on each step required for building a great enterprise. Starting with observing the world around us and seeing patterns where others see only fragments, Hoover shows how to weave together a passionate vision that is clear, consistent, unique, and worthwhile.
- Great by choice — Jim Collins. Ten years after the worldwide bestseller Good to Great, Jim Collins returns with another groundbreaking work, this time to ask: why do some companies thrive in uncertainty, even chaos, and others do not? Based on nine years of research,buttressed by rigorous analysis and infused with engaging stories, Collins and his colleague Morten Hansen enumerate the principles for building a truly great enterprise in unpredictable, tumultuous and fast-moving times. This book isclassic Collins: contrarian, data-driven and uplifting.
Future of Humanity
- * Future Shock — Alvin Toffler
- Welcome to the Era of Transhumanism
- Michio Kaku’s. Physics of the Future
- The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History. Over the last half-billion years, there have been Five mass extinctions, when the diversity of life on earth suddenly and dramatically contracted. Scientists around the world are currently monitoring the sixth extinction, predicted to be the most devastating extinction event since the asteroid impact that wiped out the dinosaurs. This time around, the cataclysm is us. In prose that is at once frank, entertaining, and deeply informed, New Yorker writer Elizabeth Kolbert tells us why and how human beings have altered life on the planet in a way no species has before. Interweaving research in half a dozen disciplines, descriptions of the fascinating species that have already been lost, and the history of extinction as a concept, Kolbert provides a moving and comprehensive account of the disappearances occurring before our very eyes. She shows that the sixth extinction is likely to be mankind’s most lasting legacy, compelling us to rethink the fundamental question of what it means to be human.
- Building Social Business: The New Kind of Capitalism that Serves Humanity’s Most Pressing Needs. Muhammad Yunus, the practical visionary who pioneered microcredit and, with his Grameen Bank, won the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize, has developed a new dimension for capitalism which he calls “social business.” The social business model has been adopted by corporations, entrepreneurs, and social activists across the globe. Its goal is to create self-supporting, viable commercial enterprises that generate economic growth as they produce goods and services to fulfill human needs. In Building Social Business, Yunus shows how social business can be put into practice and explains why it holds the potential to redeem the failed promise of free-market enterprise.
- Doing Good Better: How Effective Altruism Can Help You Help Others, Do Work that Matters, and Make Smarter Choices about Giving Back. An up-and-coming visionary in the world of philanthropy and a cofounder of the effective altruism movement explains why most of our ideas about how to make a difference are wrong and presents a counterintuitive way for each of us to do the most good possible. While a researcher at Oxford, William MacAskill decided to devote his study to a simple question: How can we do good better? MacAskill realized that, while most of us want to make a difference, we often decide how to do so based on assumptions and emotions rather than facts. As a result, our good intentions often lead to ineffective, sometimes downright harmful, outcomes.
- * Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow. Over the past century humankind has managed to do the impossible and rein in famine, plague, and war. This may seem hard to accept, but, as Harari explains in his trademark style — thorough, yet riveting — famine, plague and war have been transformed from incomprehensible and uncontrollable forces of nature into manageable challenges. For the first time ever, more people die from eating too much than from eating too little; more people die from old age than from infectious diseases; and more people commit suicide than are killed by soldiers, terrorists and criminals put together. The average American is a thousand times more likely to die from binging at McDonalds than from being blown up by Al Qaeda. What then will replace famine, plague, and war at the top of the human agenda? As the self-made gods of planet earth, what destinies will we set ourselves, and which quests will we undertake? Homo Deus explores the projects, dreams and nightmares that will shape the twenty-first century — from overcoming death to creating artificial life. It asks the fundamental questions: Where do we go from here? And how will we protect this fragile world from our own destructive powers? This is the next stage of evolution. This is Homo Deus.
- Elon Musk. Vance uses Musk’s story to explore one of the pressing questions of our age: can the nation of inventors and creators who led the modern world for a century still compete in an age of fierce global competition? He argues that Musk — one of the most unusual and striking figures in American business history — is a contemporary, visionary amalgam of legendary inventors and industrialists including Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, Howard Hughes, and Steve Jobs. More than any other entrepreneur today, Musk has dedicated his energies and his own vast fortune to inventing a future that is as rich and far-reaching as the visionaries of the golden age of science-fiction fantasy.
- Do humankind’s best days lie ahead? By the Munk debates.
- The Technological Singularity (The MIT Press Essential Knowledge Series)’ by Murray Shanahan.
- ‘the Rise of the Robots: Technology and the Threat of Mass Unemployment’ by martin Ford.
- if you want to know more about the future of humanity you should have a look at Arthur C clarke was a futurist and his works ‘chldhoods end’ and ‘the city and the stars’ are both interesting scenarios
- Another important book — Naomi Klein ‘this changes everything ‘ — right at the forefront of thinking on how we change the world for the better at this difficult time and quite positive too…
- Islands in the Cyberstream: Seeking Havens of Reason in a Programmed Society. Joseph Weizenbaum is best known in the English-speaking world for his 1976 popular critique of artificial intelligence, Computer Power and Human Reason. His reputation in Europe continued to flourish, however, as he wrote and spoke for German-speaking audiences until his death in 2008. Islands in the Cyberstream: Seeking Havens of Reason in a Programmed Society is an extended interview with Weizenbaum, originally published in German in 2006. Imaginitive, iconoclastic, and always insightful about the role of computing in society, this book is a great introduction to the thought of Joseph Weizenbaum as it has evolved over the decades.
- A Hacker Manifesto. A Hacker Manifesto deftly defines the fraught territory between the ever more strident demands by drug and media companies for protection of their patents and copyrights and the pervasive popular culture of file sharing and pirating. This vexed ground, the realm of so-called “intellectual property,” gives rise to a whole new kind of class conflict, one that pits the creators of information — the hacker class of researchers and authors, artists and biologists, chemists and musicians, philosophers and programmers — against a possessing class who would monopolize what the hacker produces.
- ‘The Silk Roads: A New History of the World’ is the best example of this deep history by peter Frankopan.
- “From the Ruins of Empire: The Revolt Against the West and the Remaking of Asia’ by pankaj mishra explores the what became an unpleasant reality of western expansion in the east.
- ‘Destiny Disrupted: A History of the World Through Islamic Eyes’ by Tamin Ansary provides us with a version of history that we thought we knew well, told from a civilisation that the west has ignored.
- * ‘Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind’ and ‘homo deus’ both by Yuval Noah harari tell the tale of homo sapiens from the start to the modern day and predictions for the future. the story of our species rather than a particular civilisation or culture. Wonderfull achievements
- . ‘Prisoners of Geography: Ten Maps That Tell You Everything You Need to Know About Global Politics’ , ‘
- * Guns, Germs and Steel: A short history of everybody for the last 13,000 years’
- Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity and Poverty’ tell you about the history of civilisations.
- After Tamerlane: The Rise and Fall of Global Empires, 1400–2000. Tamerlane, the Ottomans, the Mughals, the Manchus, the British, the Japanese, the Nazis, and the Soviets: All built empires meant to last forever; all were to fail. But, as John Darwin shows in this magisterial book, their empire-building created the world we know today. From the death of Tamerlane in 1405, to America’s rise to world “hyperpower,” to the resurgence of China and India as global economic powers, After Tamerlane is a grand historical narrative that offers a new perspective on the past, present, and future of empires.
- Jorge luis borges writes great short stories — Fictions is a good book and I think there is an English translation
- Everything Is Illuminated is Jonathan Safran Foer’s bestselling novel of a search for truth. A young man arrives in the Ukraine, clutching in his hand a tattered photograph. He is searching for the woman who fifty years ago saved his grandfather from the Nazis. Unfortunately, he is aided in his quest by Alex, a translator with an uncanny ability to mangle English into bizarre new forms; a “blind” old man haunted by memories of the war; and an undersexed guide dog named Sammy Davis Jr, Jr. What they are looking for seems elusive — a truth hidden behind veils of time, language and the horrors of war. What they find turns all their worlds upside down.
- Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov. Awe and exhiliration — along with heartbreak and mordant wit — abound in Lolita, Nabokov’s most famous and controversial novel, which tells the story of the aging Humbert Humbert’s obsessive, devouring, and doomed passion for the nymphet Dolores Haze. Lolita is also the story of a hypercivilized European colliding with the cheerful barbarism of postwar America. Most of all, it is a meditation on love — love as outrage and hallucination, madness and transformation.
- Beloved by Toni Morrison
- Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche
- The Yiddish Policeman’s Union by Micheal Chabon
- Johnny Got His Gun by Dalton Trumbo
- The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
- Night by Elie Wiesel
- The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Leguin
- The Night Watch by Sarah Waters
- Maus by Art Speigelman
- Fun Home by Alison Bechdel
- The Ministry of Moral Panic by Amanda Lee Koe
- The Art of Charlie Chan Hock Chye by Sonny Lee
- Any collection of poetry by Cyril Wong (Tilting Our Plates to Catch the Light is gorgeous)
- Cooling off day by Alfian Sa’at (also poetry)
- Charged by Chong Tze Chien (a play, and one of the best pieces about racism in Singapore that I’ve read) Anything by Leo Katz, such as: http://www.press.uchicago.edu/…/chicago/W/bo11518130.html
- ‘The Master and Margarita’ by Mikhali Bulgakov (the devil comes to Moscow — if you know your Russian history then this is a a very profound piece of work)
- The Outsider’ by Albert Camus.
- Rosie project
- Blinkist app allows you to read summaries of books. Maybe you can use it to filter before reading full books
- Epic rap battles of history
- Every frame a painting on YouTube
- ** Alan Watts Lectures
- Podcast Krista tippett called ‘on being’
- Pixar in a Box
- 250 Ivy League courses for free
- The Consequences of Ideas
Things to watch
- ^* Her
- ^ Your Name
- ^ Fight Club
- ^ Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
- Swiss Army Man
- A streetcat called Bob
- ^* Lost in Translation
Misc musings and things that didn’t fit elsewhere
- Blockchain technology and governance policies
- Rise of automation and AI
- Steven pinker (all)
- Michael pollan (all)
- A Philosophy of Walking
- The Man Who Planted Trees — Jean Giono. A timeless eco-fable about what one person can do to restore the earth. The hero of the story, Elzéard Bouffier, spent his life planting one hundred acorns a day in a desolate, barren section of Provence in the south of France. The result was a total transformation of the landscape-from one devoid of life, with miserable, contentious inhabitants, to one filled with the scent of flowers, the songs of birds, and fresh, flowing water.
- The Living Mountain’ by Nan Shepard. A classic eulogy to the beauty and magnificence of the mountains. A lyrical testament in praise of the Cairngorms, this prose meditation testifies to the author’s love of the hills and her knowledge of them in all their moods. First published in 1977, 30 years after it was written, it is a work deeply rooted in Nan Shepherd’s knowledge of the natural world, and a poetic and philosophical meditation on our longing for high and holy places. Drawing on different perspectives of the mountain environment, Shepherd makes the familiar strange and the strange awe-inspiring. Her sensitivity and powers of observation put her into the front rank of nature writing.
- Why the Law Is So Perverse — Leo Katz. Conundrums, puzzles, and perversities: these are Leo Katz’s stock-in-trade, and in Why the Law Is So Perverse, he focuses on four fundamental features of our legal system, all of which seem to not make sense on some level and to demand explanation. First, legal decisions are essentially made in an either/or fashion — guilty or not guilty, liable or not liable, either it’s a contract or it’s not — but reality is rarely as clear-cut. Why aren’t there any in-between verdicts? Second, the law is full of loopholes. No one seems to like them, but somehow they cannot be made to disappear. Why? Third, legal systems are loath to punish certain kinds of highly immoral conduct while prosecuting other far less pernicious behaviors. What makes a villainy a felony? Finally, why does the law often prohibit what are sometimes called win-win transactions, such as organ sales or surrogacy contracts?