I’ve been meaning to post this for a while, but life’s been far too busy. Anyway, I read 44 books in 2014. This was short of my yearly goal of 50, but I’m not too disappointed considering the traveling, MBA coursework, and busyness with work. I’ll just comment on the best books I read, but feel free to check out all of the books I read using the Goodreads link at the bottom of the page.
This was an enlightening book that explores the psychology of how we react when we have less than what is sufficient. Whether what we lack is time, money, or other resources, a significant part of our intelligence is related to cognitive scarcity.
7. Cradle to Cradle
A fabulous book that challenges our current conceptions of product life cycles. It was one of those books to which I kept saying, “Yes. Yes. Yes!” as I read it. An easy read, but the obstacles to application often seem insurmountable due to the capitalistic influence of globalization on the way we design and make things.
6. The New Jim Crow
I love this book. Not because it makes me happy with America, but because it exposes the existence of an “underground racism” that permeates the American criminal justice system. Having worked in prisons, I know from experience how dead on she is.
5. Angle of Repose
Stenger uses truth and fiction to explore the marriage of two people in the early 1900s. A timeless read about the challenges of commitment and relationships.
4. Portfolios of the Poor
This is a really helpful, data-based book that focuses on how the poor use money and survive on less than $2 a day. One key takeaway is that the poor are not poor because of weak money management skills; their ability to manage multiple sources of money is incredible and surpasses that of most Westerners. They are poor, rather, because of their chance societal positioning which is reinforced by lack of access to regular and consistent cash flows and reliable sources of money.
3. Washington: A Life
Honest, excellent biography of Washington.
2. Thinking in Systems
One of the best books I’ve read in a long time that reaches across disciplinary boundaries to tell a coherent story about how things work. The best part is that it doesn’t just tell a story; it shows you how to tell even better stories.
1. The Social Construction of Reality
A simply spectacular book that I will read again at least once. It’s an important book because it explores the foundations of epistemology as they relate to sociology and how this affects everything we know in life. Berger’s sociology of knowledge concerns “itself with everything that passes as ‘knowledge’ in society” (13). We exist in worlds we didn’t choose and what we know (and how we know it) has inevitably been informed by those worlds. Understanding this dialectic of how we are formed by our society and also form it is to central living meaningfully and thoughtfully within the institutions of society while at the same time questioning and challenging its underlying assumptions.
“All social reality is precarious. All societies are constructions in the face of chaos.” (102)
“Man is biologically predestined to construct and to inhabit a world with others. This world becomes for him the dominant and definitive reality. Its limits are set by nature, but once constructed, this world acts back upon nature. In the dialectic between nature and the socially constructed world the human organism itself is transformed. In this same dialectic man produces reality and thereby produces himself.” (182)