Whenever I finish an interesting book, I force myself to write a summary of it here. These are often meant for myself (as I find the exercise invaluable for connecting concepts and themes) and for sharing book recommendations with friends. Historically, I've used the Goodreads platform but I find it a bit too vain and the UI is outdated.
This page is under construction, more to come soon - MB.
- The War on Normal People (February 2020)
Andrew Yang launched universal basic income to the national stage with his presidential campaign. This book exceeded my expectations - impressing that automation will have profound impacts on the workforce and structure of American society, without coming across as alarmist or apocalyptic. The book certainly cemented my belief that Mr. Yang's ideas shouldn't be lumped in with the socialist left (Bernie/AOC/DSA), as he maintains a fairly pro-capitalist mindset which should resonate with most Americans. Highly recommended.
- China's Second Continent: How a Million Migrants Are Building a New Empire in Africa (January 2020)
A fascinating look at China's global ambitions during this time of American's decline and waning influence. Howard French is a gifted storyteller, weaving interviews with ordinary individuals across Africa into a narrative of the changes taking place on the continent.
- How to American: An Immigrant's Guide to Disappointing Your Parents (January 2020)
Funny, touching, authentic. Recommended reading for fans of the _Silicon Valley_ series.
- Self-Portrait in Black and White: Unlearning Race (January 2020)
Beautifully written and thought-provoking, no matter where you stand on political and philosophical divides. Thomas Chatterton Williams captivates as he explores self-conception, identity, and parenthood through the lens of amorphous and inconsistent racial constructs. Highly recommended.
- Cosmopolitanism: Ethics in a World of Strangers (November 2019)
- The Gun (October 2019)
CJ Chivers's masterful history of the AK-47, dispelling pervasive myths about its initial design and spread. All the while, Mr. Chivers maintains a humanist viewpoint on the firearm's destabilizing effects throughout the world.
- The Stranger (October 2019)
One of Albert Camus's most famous works. A quick read, but full of depth.
- The Handmaid's Tale (September 2019)
This dystopian story is over three decades old, yet sadly still relevant. Worth a read.
- Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind (September 2019)
I don't have inflated expectations for pop-sci/pop-history books, but this one still managed to underwhelm. Sensationalist and inaccurate, I read half of it and won't be returning.
Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly (June 2019)
The late Anthony Bourdain's breakout book, featuring his brash but loveable way of explaining the culinary industry and the world at large. A must-read for those only familiar with Bourdain through his TV shows.
Inadequate Equilibria: Where and How Civilizations get Stuck (May 2019)
AI theorist Eliezer Yudkowsky mixes decision theory, philosophy, and macroeconomics to demonstrate where we can (and can't) spot systemic inefficiencies.
Superintelligence: Path, Dangers, and Strategies (May 2019)
Highly recommended. This book, published in 2014, is foundational to the field of AI safety and ethics. Nick Bostrom does an exceptional job communicating theories about an abstract, technical, and futuristic field.
80,000 Hours: Find a fulfilling career that does good (April 2019)
Excellent guide. Lessons from the Effective Altruism movement, applied to career advice.
Doing Good Better: How Effective Altruism Can Help You Help Others, Do Work that Matters, and Make Smarter Choices about Giving Back (April 2019)
Highly recommended. Learn how to have the greatest positive impact in your life.
Weapons of Math Destruction (February 2019)
A popular, but in my opinion fundamentally flawed, warning about mathematical modeling.
The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon (November 2018)
An insightful look into one of today's most influential companies and the relentless founder behind it.
Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of NIKE (November 2018)
An exciting story, a tale of adventure as a young man seeks to find his true calling, scraps together a company around it, then reaches for ever greater heights.
Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging
Journalist Sebastian Junger's inquiry into the country's growing problems with depression, political polarization, and lack of community.
Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future
A biography of the man diving headfirst into humanity's most difficult challenges.
Out of the Mountains: The Coming Age of the Urban Guerrilla
David Kilcullen is a counterinsurgency expert who has served in advisory roles for the Department of Defense, NATO, and the White House. This book, published in 2013, is an exploration into the future of counterinsurgency strategy and conflict studies more broadly.