Brajeshwar

6-min read

Books of 2023

WIP. Instead of writing at the end of the year, starting this year, I will write as I read the books.

H

How to Be Perfect: The Correct Answer to Every Moral Question by Michael Schur is a fun book that opens with a good question, “Should I punch my friend in the face for no reason?” Yes, it also has the Trolley Problem1. A starter book on how to lead an ethical life. The books simplifies the ideas of virtue ethics2, deontology3, utalitarianism4, contractualism5, ubuntu6, and existentialism7, making it easy for the readers. Of course, the idea of “moral perfection” is both impossible to attain, and a bad idea to even attempt. Observe, learn, have the mindset to be better, embracing our inevitable failures while still trying to be an all-around better person.

And NO! Don’t punch your friend. Go be a good person.

T

I wanted to read this book for quite a while. I finally got to read a young girl’s diary, which she wrote during her last years. Anne Frank was just a teenager when she went into hiding with her family during the onslaught of the Nazis during World War II8. For two years (1942-1944), she and her family fled their home and went into hiding. Cut off from the outside world; they faced hunger, boredom, the constant cruelties of living in confined quarters, and the ever-present threat of discovery and death. In her diary, she wrote vivid impressions of her experiences – thoughtful, moving, and surprisingly humorous. The writings are the self-portrait of a smart, sensitive, and quite mature young girl whose promise was cut short.


Every year, I re-read one or more of the best books I have ever read. I have a wishlist of books yet to be bought and read.


Want to Read

  1. Greenlights by Matthew McConaughey
  2. The Courage To Be Disliked: How to free yourself, change your life and achieve real happiness by Ichiro Kishimi, Fumitake Koga (kindle, bought)
  3. How Asia Works: Success and Failure In the World’s Most Dynamic Region
  4. Impact Mapping: Making a big impact with software products and projects
  5. Build: An Unorthodox Guide to Making Things Worth Making by Tony Fadell
  6. Quit: The Power of Knowing When to Walk Away by Annie Duke
  7. The Power Law: Venture Capital and the Making of the New Future by Sebastian Mallaby
  8. The End Of The World Is Just The Beginning: Mapping The Collapse Of Globalization by Peter Zeihan
  9. Windfall: The Booming Business of Global Warming by McKenzie Funk
  10. The Book You Wish Your Parents Had Read: (and Your Children Will Be Glad That You Did) by Philippa Perry
  11. Poor Economics: Rethinking Poverty & the Ways to End it by Abhijit V. Banerjee, Esther Duflo https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/20752757-poor-economics
  12. Product-Led Growth: How to Build a Product That Sells Itself
  13. Seeing Like a State - How Certain Schemes to Improve the Human Condition Have Failed by James C. Scott
  14. The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins
  15. The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire is a six-volume work by the English historian Edward Gibbon.
  16. How to Stop Worrying and Start Living is from the popular author Dale Carnegie of the How to Win Friends and Influence People fame.
  1. The trolley problem is a series of thought experiments in ethics and psychology, involving stylized ethical dilemmas of whether to sacrifice one person to save a larger number. The series usually begins with a scenario in which a runaway tram or trolley is on course to collide with and kill a number of people down the track, but a driver or bystander can intervene and divert the vehicle to kill just one person on a different track. Then other variations of the runaway vehicle, and analogous life-and-death dilemmas are posed, each containing the option to either do nothing, in which case several people will be killed, or intervene and sacrifice one initially “safe” person to save the others. 

  2. Virtue ethics is an approach to ethics that treats the concept of moral virtue as central. Virtue ethics is usually contrasted with two other major approaches in ethics – consequentialism and deontology – which make the goodness of outcomes of an action (consequentialism) and the concept of moral duty (deontology) central. 

  3. Deontology is the normative ethical theory that the morality of an action should be based on whether that action itself is right or wrong under a series of rules and principles, rather than based on the consequences of the action. 

  4. Utilitarianism is a family of normative ethical theories that prescribe actions that maximize happiness and well-being for all affected individuals. 

  5. Contractualism refers either to a family of political theories in the social contract tradition (when used in this sense, the term is an umbrella term for all social contract theories that include contractarianism). 

  6. Ubuntu is a Nguni Bantu term meaning “humanity”. It is sometimes translated as “I am because we are” (also “I am because you are”), or “humanity towards others” (Zulu umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu). In Xhosa, the latter term is used, but is often meant in a more philosophical sense to mean “the belief in a universal bond of sharing that connects all humanity”. 

  7. Existentialism explores the problem of human existence and centers on human thinking, feeling, and acting. Existentialist thinkers frequently explore issues related to the meaning, purpose, and value of human existence, and the role of personal agency in transforming one’s life. In the view of an existentialist, the individual’s starting point is phenomenological, grounded in the immediate direct experience of life. 

  8. World War II or the Second World War, was a world war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. It involved the vast majority of the world’s countries — including all of the great powers — forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis powers. World War II was a total war that directly involved more than 100 million personnel from more than 30 countries. 

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