What I’ve Been Reading

A few recent reads:

1. The Myth of the Rational Voter by Bryan Caplan. Tons already written about this on the blogosphere. One of the most influential political science books in recent years. Here’s Bryan’s article length summary on Cato Unbound which is a good starting point. I liked this book. I’ll be writing more about it in a future post.

2. Who’s Your City? by Richard Florida. Richard is a provocative thinker and always presents fascinating insights on cities and how place affects our well-being. This book continues the tradition, as he discusses why, contrary to popular belief, place matters more than ever in the age of globalization, how and why clustering happens in certain geographies, and the relationship between where one lives and happiness. I highly recommend the book.

3. Predictably Irrational by Dan Ariely. This had some fun moments and insights, but frankly didn’t meet my expectations. I know by now that humans are irrational and we undergo all sorts of weird mental jujitsu when making decisions. I guess I have some fatigue with the behavioral science / pop econ genre at this point.

4. How’d You Score That Gig by Alexandra Levit. Here’s my blurb in the book: “First, Alexandra Levit broadens your imagination about what kinds of careers are possible, and then after tantalizing you, she provides specific tips for breaking into the field. Enormously valuable!” It’s a good resource for any young person wondering what s/he could do for a job…

5. Life Entrepreneurs: Ordinary People Creating Extraordinary Lives by Christopher Gergen and Gregg Vanourek. If you’ve heard me speak you’ve heard me talk about “entrepreneurship as life idea.” So I smiled when I got introduced to the authors of a new book on the topic. Christopher and Gregg take a slightly different tack than me — they emphasize the “purpose” part of life, I talk more about the nitty gritty of entrepreneurial approaches to activities. If you liked Bill George’s and Peter Sims’ True North, you’ll probably like this book as there’s some overlap.

6. Three Moves Ahead: What Chess Can Teach You About Business by Bob Rice. Bob and I share a publisher and shared an editor. He’s not only a very successful businessperson but also an accomplished chess player and founder of the Wall Street Chess Club. This book explores the chess-life analogy. He creatively explores how chess concepts and pieces (bishop, knight, etc.) map to business. The problem with the book is it tries to appeal to non-chess players, too, hence preventing him from going deep on chess examples. And though he smartly acknowledges the limits of a single analogy driving the book, there are still moments where the analogy is a stretch.

7. Improv Wisdom: Don’t Prepare, Just Show Up by Patricia Ryan Madson. This is the Stanford drama / acting teacher abstracting life lessons from the world of improv. Amazon reviews are all five stars and someone recommended this to me. I found her advice good and endearing but ultimately not very impactful or original.

This list was largely motivated by trying to keep up with friends’ books and whatever is hot off the press. This summer I’ll be reading more novels, and longer / older books.

6 Responses to What I’ve Been Reading

  1. Thanks for the shout out Ben – especially in the esteemed company of folks like Richard Florida (who is doing a great job tracking the important trends of the cultural creatives – and challenging us to make the right decisions about more than just our professional path).

    For readers interested in the entrepreneurial life path, there is now a Life Entrepreneurs personal assessment available on our site: link to lifeentrepreneurs.com

    Look forward to continuing the conversation about combining the purposeful path with the nitty gritty determination of the entrepreneur.

  2. Brett Owens says:

    Hey Ben – thanks for the book rec’s. Question for you, since I’m always impressed with the amount of reading you get done in addition to your 24/7 schedule – do you have any speed reading resources/courses you’d recommend?

    Thanks,
    Brett

  3. Ben Casnocha says:

    Brett: I address your question probably here: link to ben.casnocha.com

    I read quickly but I don’t “speedread” – so can’t recommend anything in this vein.

  4. Insightful book reviews. I am an avid reader, and am ashamed I didn’t recognize some of those books.

    Did you read “the dip” by Seth Godin – what’s your thoughts on that book?

    – Mike

  5. Ben Casnocha says:

    I read the Dip and didn’t find much in it, but apparentlz I am in the minority with that opinion.

  6. I am grateful to you for mentioning my book, Improv Wisdom. Nothing pleases a writer more than to learn that her book is finding its way to places and giving helpful advice. I appreciate your help in spreading the word.
    Best regards,
    Patricia Ryan Madson

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