Here are some books I’ve read since finishing the books on my Quarantine Reading List.

First, Break All the Rules by Marcus Buckingham

  • I got interested in this book after reading about the two-factor theory of motivation in Clay Christensen’s How Will You Measure Your Life? and this book seemed to be the one to read to learn more about it. Also, since Students are Employees, I think that some management lessons might be transferable to the education environment.
  • One interesting point: treat every employee differently. They all have different strengths, interests, motivations… and so there is no one size fits all. This is definitely something applicable to schools.

Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging by Sebastian Junger

  • This book was brought to my attention by an EconTalk Podcast episode with the author. It starts with the question, why did some Europeans decide to go live with American Indians, while the reverse almost never happened?
  • It’s a quite thought-provoking read, though I’m less convinced than Junger about the extent to which some of the lessons can be applied to the modern world.

Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us by Daniel H. Pink

  • Great book on the science of human motivation. Daniel Pink argues that much of the economy runs on extrinsic motivation (motivation 2.0), while for many jobs a reliance on more autonomy and intrinsic motivation (motivation 3.0) would get better results and lead to happier employees. Maybe too optimistic at points, but it still seems highly applicable in the education context.

Amusing Ourselves to Death by Neil Postman

  • This is the third book by Neil Postman I read this year. I greatly enjoyed The End of Education and Education as a Subversive Activity, and so when I saw Patrick Collison recommending it, I decided to read this one as well, even though it doesn’t directly relate to what brought me to Postman in the first place.
  • The central thesis is “The medium is the message.” He argues that the medium of television has shaped public discourse for the worse. A similar analysis can probably be made about the effects of the internet, though for all its faults, online discourse has also allowed a deepening of the discourse. You just need to know where to look.

The End of History and the Last Man by Francis Fukuyama

The Benedict Option by Rod Dreher

  • I got interested in Rod Dreher after I stumbled on a post of his extensively quoting from and praising a SSC post. Which I found quite fascinating since he is a conservative christian. The Benedict Option provides an interesting look at the thinking of conservative christians on the losing side of the culture war.

Enlightenment Now by Steven Pinker

  • Seemed fitting after The Benedict Option.
  • The main lesson to take away from this book is that you better understand how and why the world works before trying to fix and change it.

The Great Delusion by John J. Mearsheimer

  • I saw this debate with Fukuyama and Mearsheimer. I found Mearsheimer’s phrasing of how liberalism is predicated on people not being able to agree on first principles pretty interesting.
  • I was mainly interested in his take on the history of the current liberal order, which is what the first part of the book is about, but the introduction to the realist school of thought of international relations was quite interesting as well.

Identity by Francis Fukuyama

  • Fukuyama again, writing about the challenges to the current liberal order.

The Myth of The Rational Voter by Bryan Caplan

  • It’s by Bryan Caplan, so it had to be interesting.
  • Political institutions are quite dysfunctional and the standard answer given is that we need more democracy. So, I was wondering what Caplan’s arguments against this would be. Thought-provoking, and a must read for anyone hoping to improve democratic institutions with more democracy.
  • Some similar arguments are also made by David Friedman here.

The Innovator’s Dilemma by Clayton M. Christensen

  • I read in The Everything Store that Jeff Bezos is a big fan of this book. It’s quite interesting.

How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big by Scott Adams

  • Good self-help book.

Manufacturing Consent by Edward S. Herman and Noam Chomsky

  • I’ve been curious about Chomsky for a while. The thesis sounds conspiratorial, but the mechanisms through which consent is ‘manufactured’ are quite credible. I am planning to read more of his books.
  • See also this book review on SSC, and also this critique of the book review.

Triumph of the City by Edward Glaeser

Seasteading by Joe Quirk and Patri Friedman

  • It’s a beautiful idea in principle (imagine your house could float away from your street, your street from your city, or your city from your country), but I’m skeptical in practice. It too often sounds like a solution in search of problems.
  • I’m still glad people are looking into this.