Reading List 2012

I am trying my damnedest to get a tenuous grip on the extraordinary-revolutionary-earthflipping change that surrounds us and which is accelerating madly. Below is an idiosyncratic reading list I’ve pulled together. In addition to nonfiction, there are a handful of well-researched ultra-sane sci-fi novels by the likes of David Wilson and Neal Stephenson. Also you’ll find a couple of my favorites on the financial crisis; and a Cold War collection that is here because it is the ultimate study of leadership with consequences amidst uncertainty and ambiguity. A few others touch on decision-making and the typically faulty interpretation of cause and effect—and the power of being wrong. (And, of course, there’s a duo on the eclipse of men!)


Herewith, 55 books with my “14 Musts” in boldface:

The Singularity Is Near: When Humans Transcend BiologyRay Kurzweil

How to Create a Mind: The Secret of Human Thought Revealed—Ray Kurzweil

Redesigning Humans: Choosing Our Genes, Changing Our Future—Gregory Stock

Wetware: A Computer in Every Living Cell—Dennis Bray

Power, Sex, Suicide: Mitochondria and the Meaning of Life—Nick Lane

Wired for War: The Robotics Revolution and Conflict in the 21st Century—P.W. Singer

America the Vulnerable: Inside the New Threat Matrix of Digital Espionage, Crime, and WarfareJoel Brenner

Cyber War: The Next Threat to National Security and What to Do About It—Richard Clarke & Robert Knake

Worm: The First Digital World War—Mark Bowden

Fab: The Coming Revolution on Your Desktop—From Personal Computers to Personal FabricationNeil Gershenfeld

Makers: The New Industrial Revolution—Chris Anderson

The New Industrial Revolution: Consumers, Globalization and the End of Mass Production—Peter Marsh

The Department of Mad Scientists: How DARPA Is Remaking Our World, from the Internet to Artificial Limbs—Michael Belfiore

Makers—Cory Doctorow

AmpedDaniel Wilson

Robopocalypse—Daniel Wilson

Freedom—Daniel Suarez

Kill Decision—Daniel Suarez

REAMDE—Neal Stephenson

Cryptonomicon—Neal Stephenson

Race Against the Machine: How the Digital Revolution Is Accelerating Innovation, Driving Productivity, and Irreversibly Transforming Employment and the EconomyErik Brynjolfsson & Andrew McAfee

The Coming Jobs War—Jim Clifton

Future Perfect: The Case for Progress in a Networked Age—Steven Johnson

Open Services Innovation: Rethinking Your Business to Grow and Compete in a New Era—Henry Chesbrough

The Power of Co-Creation: Build It With Them to Boost Growth, Productivity, and ProfitsVenkat Ramaswamy & Francis Gouillart

Creating Innovators: The Making of Young People Who Will Change the World—Tony Wagner

Everything Bad Is Good For You: How Today’s Popular Culture Is Actually Making Us SmarterSteven Johnson

Women and Gaming: The Sims and 21st Century Learning—James Paul Gee & Elisabeth Hayes

Reality Is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World—Jane McGonigal

Extra Lives: Why Video Games Matter—Tom Bissell

The Social Conquest of EarthE.O. Wilson

Games Primates Play: An Undercover Investigation of the Evolution and Economics of Human Relationships—Dario Maestripieri

The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined—Steven Pinker

The End of Men and the Rise of WomenHanna Rosin

The Richer Sex: How the New Majority of Female Breadwinners Is Transforming Sex, Love and Family—Liza Mundy

The Signal and the Noise: Why So Many Predictions Fail—But Some Don’t—Nate Silver

Ubiquity: The Science of History … Or Why the World Is Simpler Than We ThinkMark Buchanan

The Ambiguities of Experience—James March

The Shareholder Value Myth: How Putting Shareholders First Harms Investors, Corporations, and the PublicLynn Stout

Age of Greed: The Triumph of Finance and the Decline of America, 1970 to the Present—Jeff Madrick

Extreme Money: Masters of the Universe and the Cult of Risk—Satyajit Das

Enough. True Measures of Money, Business, and LifeJohn Bogle

Not For Profit: Why Democracy Needs the HumanitiesMartha Nussbaum

Antifragile: Things That Gain from Disorder—Nassim Nicholas Taleb

Practice Perfect: 42 Rules for Getting Better at Getting BetterDoug Lemov, Erica Woolway & Katie Yezzi

The Little Book of Talent: 52 Tips for Improving Your Skills—Daniel Coyle

Better By Mistake: The Unexpected Benefits of Being Wrong—Alina Tugend

Being Wrong: Adventures in the Margin of Error—Kathryn Schulz

Addiction By Design: Machine Gambling in Las Vegas—Natasha Schüll

Redesigning Leadership (Design, Technology, Business, Life)—John Maeda

The Plentitude: Creativity, Innovation, and Making Stuff—Rich Gold

The Years of Lyndon Johnson: Master of the Senate—Robert Caro

Berlin 1961: Kennedy, Khrushchev, and the Most Dangerous Place on Earth—Frederick Kempe

Ike’s Bluff: President Eisenhower’s Secret Battle to Save the World—Evan Thomas

Eisenhower 1956: The President’s Year of Crisis—Suez and the Brink of War—David Nichols


Choosing Civility: The 25 Rules of Considerate ConductP.M. Forni

[The list is also available as a PDF.]