2016 was a bizarre year. Donald Trump won the Presidential election. The Chicago Cubs won the World Series. Uber grew its revenue and still lost $3 billion. It’s been 1,000 days since a major American suburb has poisonous water--and nothing has been done. General Electric re-made itself–again. A 74-year-old socialist almost won a major party’s Presidential nomination. The long-awaited digital revolution is finally happening. Solar power is now cheaper than fossil fuels. Thirty years of social change seemed to hit at once.
Like I said. 2016 was a bizarre year. Thankfully, books can help us make sense of what’s happening and what’s driving the trends. In a recent interview with the New York Times, President Obama remarked that reading allowed him to better digest the constant bombardment of information pointed at the office. It slowed the assault, helped separate the signal from the noise, and gave him perspective. Here are the books I read in 2016 along with a quick recap of the context they provide to the ever changing landscape. If reading recommendations are your thing, here are my recommendations for 2014 and 2015.
In Dawn of Innovation Charles Morris argues that America’s economic dominance wasn’t driven by science, technology or ingenuity, but our commitment to mass production (scale). “The dominating American characteristic across all major industries,” he writes, “was the push for scale—adapting the production methods, the use of machinery, and the distribution to suit the product.” Viewing the world through this lenses reveals two myths; applying it to modern times illuminates the biggest issue facing modern governments—How to scale innovation in a knowledge economy.
Contrary to what I want to believe 2015 is nearing an end and that means it is time to create my annual list of recommended books. If 2014 was my personal apocalypse, 2015 was the most demanding, unpredictable, and rewarding year of my life. Reading-wise I found myself diving head first into the civil rights movement and graphic novels, only to circle back to sports, entrepreneurship and science fiction. Hopefully you find something on this list worth reading; I know I did. If reading recommendations are your thing, check out last year’s The Best 38 Books I read in 2014 and The Best 27 Articles I Read in 2014.
It’s the end of the year, which means it is time for ugly sweater parties and “best of lists”. 2014 was a pretty eclectic year in reading for me. For a short time I got obsessed with the journalism of Jon Ronson and then the novels of David Benioff, only to meander down to Presidential biographies. One thing you won’t find is a lot of business books. Even though I write a lot about business you won’t find many business books on this list. The reason is simple. You’ll learn more about strategy and leadership from LBJ than you will from any business advisor.
If you missed my earlier post on 2014’s best articles you can find it here.
Now to the books.