Finished these in recent weeks:
Misbehaving: the Making of Behavioral Economics by Richard Thaler
A history of the development of Behavioral Economics by and as observed by the author. One story from the book summed up my reaction to reading it - Thaler was giving a lecture to Phsychology department professors at a university he was visiting about the basics of traditional economics. The professors were effectively rolling on the floor laughing at many of the notions. Just an odd book which makes you wonder why ideas that have been accepted in certain fields for so long (for very good reason) have received such pushback in economics.
Scarcity: Why Having Too Little Means So Much by Sendhil Mullainathan and Eldar Shafir
Talks about the effects scarcity has on human behavior. They touch on scarcity of everything such as time (for successful businessmen) and food (those on diets) but mostly the books focuses on those living in poverty and how behavior is drastically changed (mostly for the worst) when money is tight. A lot of lessons to be learned here and applied to welfare systems which could make them more effective for less.
The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander
Really troubling read about the criminal justice system in this country and how it impacts minorities. The author argues racism is the underlying issue driving the problem but I wasn't really convinced. What seemed more likely is that it's a simple byproduct of socioeconomic status. If you're poor our system simply doesn't work for you (a major failing that needs to be addressed). Blacks are the poorest racial bloc in our country, even poorer than Latinos, while also being one of the smallest groups by population.
What I'm reading now:
Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World by Cal Newport
Deep work is the ability to focus without distraction on a cognitively demanding task. It's a skill that allows you to quickly master complicated information and produce better results in less time. Deep work will make you better at what you do and provide the sense of true fulfillment that comes from craftsmanship. In short, deep work is like a super power in our increasingly competitive twenty-first century economy. And yet, most people have lost the ability to go deep-spending their days instead in a frantic blur of e-mail and social media, not even realizing there's a better way.
In DEEP WORK, author and professor Cal Newport flips the narrative on impact in a connected age. Instead of arguing distraction is bad, he instead celebrates the power of its opposite. Dividing this book into two parts, he first makes the case that in almost any profession, cultivating a deep work ethic will produce massive benefits. He then presents a rigorous training regimen, presented as a series of four "rules," for transforming your mind and habits to support this skill.
What's in the pipe:
The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right by Atul Gawande
We live in a world of great and increasing complexity, where even the most expert professionals struggle to master the tasks they face. Longer training, ever more advanced technologies―neither seems to prevent grievous errors. But in a hopeful turn, acclaimed surgeon and writer Atul Gawande finds a remedy in the humblest and simplest of techniques: the checklist. First introduced decades ago by the U.S. Air Force, checklists have enabled pilots to fly aircraft of mind-boggling sophistication. Now innovative checklists are being adopted in hospitals around the world, helping doctors and nurses respond to everything from flu epidemics to avalanches. Even in the immensely complex world of surgery, a simple ninety-second variant has cut the rate of fatalities by more than a third.
In riveting stories, Gawande takes us from Austria, where an emergency checklist saved a drowning victim who had spent half an hour underwater, to Michigan, where a cleanliness checklist in intensive care units virtually eliminated a type of deadly hospital infection. He explains how checklists actually work to prompt striking and immediate improvements. And he follows the checklist revolution into fields well beyond medicine, from disaster response to investment banking, skyscraper construction, and businesses of all kinds.
12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos by Jordan Peterson
What does everyone in the modern world need to know? Renowned psychologist Jordan B. Peterson's answer to this most difficult of questions uniquely combines the hard-won truths of ancient tradition with the stunning revelations of cutting-edge scientific research.
Humorous, surprising and informative, Dr. Peterson tells us why skateboarding boys and girls must be left alone, what terrible fate awaits those who criticize too easily, and why you should always pet a cat when you meet one on the street.
What does the nervous system of the lowly lobster have to tell us about standing up straight (with our shoulders back) and about success in life? Why did ancient Egyptians worship the capacity to pay careful attention as the highest of gods? What dreadful paths do people tread when they become resentful, arrogant and vengeful? Dr. Peterson journeys broadly, discussing discipline, freedom, adventure and responsibility, distilling the world's wisdom into 12 practical and profound rules for life. 12 Rules for Life shatters the modern commonplaces of science, faith and human nature, while transforming and ennobling the mind and spirit of its readers.