Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has made a tradition of dramatic New Year’s resolutions, and this year he decided that he’d read a book every two weeks.
He wanted his selections to focus on “different cultures, beliefs, histories, and technologies.”
“Books allow you to fully explore a topic and immerse yourself in a deeper way than most media today,” Zuckerberg wrote on his personal Facebook page. “I’m looking forward to shifting more of my media diet towards reading books.”
To achieve this, he started the A Year of Books book club, in which he discusses the books he’s reading with members of the Facebook community.
We’ve put together a list of his picks and why he thinks everyone should read them.
'The Muqaddimah,' which translates to 'The Introduction,' was written in 1377 by the Islamic historian Khaldun. It's an attempt to strip away biases of historical records and find universal elements in the progression of humanity.
Khaldun's revolutionary scientific approach to history established him as one of the fathers of modern sociology and historiography.
'While much of what was believed then is now disproven after 700 more years of progress, it's still very interesting to see what was understood at this time and the overall worldview when it's all considered together,' Zuckerberg writes.
First published in 2014, 'Sapiens' is a critically acclaimed international best-seller by Hebrew University of Jerusalem historian Harari. He uses his book to track the evolution of Homo sapiens from hunter-gatherers into self-empowered 'gods' of the future.
'Following the Muqaddimah, which was a history from the perspective of an intellectual in the 1300s, 'Sapiens' is a contemporary exploration of many similar questions,' Zuckerberg writes.
Alexander is a law professor at Ohio State University and civil rights advocate who argues in her book that the 'war on drugs' has fostered a culture in which non-violent black males are overrepresented in prison, and then are treated as second-class citizens once they are freed.
'I've been interested in learning about criminal justice reform for a while, and this book was highly recommended by several people I trust,' Zuckerberg writes.
Zuckerberg launched his book club with this lofty title from Naím, former executive director of the World Bank and senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
It's a historical investigation of the shift of power from authoritative governments, militaries, and major corporations to individuals. This is clearly seen in what's now become a Silicon Valley cliché, the disruptive startup.
'The trend towards giving people more power is one I believe in deeply,' Zuckerberg writes.
'Creativity, Inc.' is the story of Pixar, written by one of the computer animation giant's founders.
Catmull intersperses his narrative with valuable wisdom on management and entrepreneurialism, and argues that any company should consciously avoid hampering their employees' natural creativity.
'I love reading first-hand accounts about how people build great companies like Pixar and nurture innovation and creativity,' Zuckerberg writes.
Zuckerberg admits that this 800-page, data-rich book from a Harvard psychologist can seem intimidating.
But the writing is actually easy to get through, and he thinks that Pinker's study of how violence has decreased over time despite being magnified by a 24-hour news cycle and social media is something that can offer a life-changing perspective.
It should be noted that Bill Gates also considers this one of the most important books he's ever read.
If you'd like to save some time, check out our summary of the book.
Zuckerberg says that Biss' investigation into the benefits of vaccination is necessary to read, considering the anti-vaccination movement in the US and parts of Europe.
'The science is completely clear: vaccinations work and are important for the health of everyone in our community,' Zuckerberg writes, adding that this book was highly recommended to him by scientists and public health workers.
'This book explores the reasons why some people question vaccines, and then logically explains why the doubts are unfounded and vaccines are in fact effective and safe,' he says.
'The Player of Games' was first published in 1988 and is the second in the 'Culture' series. It explores what a civilisation would look like if hyper-advanced technology were created to serve human needs and surpass human capabilities.
Zuckerberg writes that he went with a sci-fi pick as a 'change of pace.' The novel is also one of Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk's favourite books due to its entertaining way of exploring plausible advancements in technology.
Venkatesh is a Columbia University sociology professor who, in a radical sociological experiment, embedded himself into a Chicago gang in the '90s.
Zuckerberg says that Venkatesh's story is an inspiring one of communication and understanding across economic and cultural barriers.
'The more we all have a voice to share our perspectives, the more empathy we have for each other and the more we respect each other's rights,' Zuckerberg writes.
If there was ever a philosophy book to read by a physicist, it's probably 'The Structure of Scientific Revolutions.'
Since its initial publication in 1962, this look at the evolution of science and its effect on the modern world has become 'one of the most cited academic books of all time,' according to Stanford. Zuckerberg thinks that being aware of how scientific breakthroughs are the catalysts for social progression can be a 'force for social good.'
Kuhn's book is best known for introducing the phrase 'paradigm shift,' representing instances in scientific history when a perspective was fundamentally shifted, like when quantum physics replaced Newtonian mechanics.
Huber, a fellow at the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research, published this unofficial sequel to George Orwell's '1984' in 1994, a time when internet and telecommunications technology was opening up new methods of communication. The novel imagines a world in which citizens use the technology that once enslaved them to liberate themselves.
'After seeing how history has actually played out, Huber's fiction describes how tools like the internet benefit people and change society for the better,' Zuckerberg writes.
Originally published in 2006, 'Energy' starts with a basic explanation of what energy is and then moves on to more complex subjects, including the quest to create more efficient and environmentally friendly fuels. It's by University of Manitoba professor Smil, one of Bill Gates' favourite authors.
'It explores important topics around how energy works, how our production and use might evolve, and how this affects climate change,' Zuckerberg writes, noting he also plans on reading Smil's book 'Making the Modern World.'
Zuckerberg has been intensely fascinated with Chinese culture over the past several years. He's been learning to speak in Mandarin Chinese and has stated that one of his long-term goals is convincing the Chinese government to let its people use Facebook.
'Dealing with China' by the former US Treasury Secretary explores China's recent rise in global influence and how it affects the entire world.
'Over the last 35 years, China has experienced one of the greatest economic and social transformations in human history,' Zuckerberg writes. 'Hundreds of millions of people have moved out of poverty. By many measures, China has done more to lift people out of poverty than the whole rest of the world combined.'
Zuckerberg thinks this book by UCLA economist Chwe can help its readers learn how to best utilise social media.
'The book is about the concept of 'common knowledge' and how people process the world not only based on what we personally know, but what we know other people know and our shared knowledge as well,' Zuckerberg writes.
Chwe's idea may sound complicated, but it's essentially a breakdown of the psychology behind people's interactions with others in public settings, and how they use these communities and rituals to help form their own identities.
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