Books of 2023
Like every one else, I caved in and bought Elon Musk by Walter Isaacson. You can love, hate, despise, or be inspired by him; you can be on his side or against him, and you may even have no idea who this guy is. But you cannot ignore Elon Musk, especially for entrepreneurs and founders, you must study and learn from him.
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.
How Not To Be Wrong: The Hidden Maths of Everyday by Jordan Ellenberg.
Impact Mapping by Gojko Adzic is one of those books that should have been a blog article but stretched out to become a book. Impact Mapping is defined as, “a simple yet incredibly effective method for collaborative strategic planning that helps organisations make an impact with software.” The book is worth a one-time read, internalize it, and make it part of your thought-process and/or deductive methods to plan and strategize. I would suggest junior and upcoming contributors who gets involved in software products to learn it. And of course, keep the poster and cheatsheet with you for easy reference.
The Courage To Be Disliked is a book by Ichiro Kishimi and Fumitake Koga teaching you how to free yourself, change your life and achieve real happiness. The book is definitely not for everyone, well, not for most people at all. It uses a logic-based approach at happiness and life. The book talks you through the dialogue between a “philosopher” and a “youth”.
The Future We Choose: Surviving the Climate Crisis by Christiana Figueres and Tom Rivett-Carnac.
I finally got to read a The Diary of a Young Girl, 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.
The Untethered Soul by Michael Singer was referred to me by quite a few people. It is good but a falls below my expectation. Perhaps, I may re-read in the future and learn more from it. I have read enough of philosophical, spiritual, and books of similar tones that the ideas and philosophies are beginning to sound very similar worded in different ways.
UNSCRIPTED: Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Entrepreneurship by M.J. DeMarco. You can get a free PDF version from Archive.org. Have read good reviews and recommendation but wasn’t something I liked - worth a quick run-through of a read or skip to the end.
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. ↩
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. ↩
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. ↩
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). ↩
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”. ↩
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. ↩
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. ↩