Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s 2015 New Year’s resolution was to read an important book every two weeks and discuss it with the Facebook community.
Zuckerberg’s book club, A Year of Books, has focused on big ideas that influence society and business. For his 16th pick, he’s gone with “The Varieties Of Religious Experience” by William James (1842-1919).
During his tenure at Harvard, James became the most famous American philosopher and psychologist of his time, and is still “considered by many to be the most insightful and stimulating of American philosophers,” according to the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy from the University of Tennessee.
From 1901-1902, James gave a series of lectures at the University of Edinburgh on why humans adhere to religion, and these were collected as “The Varieties of Religious Experience.”
His writings explore the religious consciousness and the mechanics of how people use religion as a source of meaning, compelling them to move onward through life with energy and purpose.
Zuckerberg explains his latest book-club pick on his personal Facebook page:
When I read Sapiens, I found the chapter on the evolution of the role of religion in human life most interesting and something I wanted to go deeper on.
William James was a philosopher in the 1800s who shaped much of modern psychology.
Zuckerberg added that he’s currently on vacation with his wife Priscilla and that James’ lectures on religion seemed like “some light vacation reading!” Considering the heaviness of nearly all of his other book-club picks, it’s hard to tell if he’s being sarcastic.
A Year of Books so far:
- “The End of Power: From Boardrooms to Battlefields and Churches to States, Why Being In Charge Isn’t What It Used to Be” by Moisés Naím
- “The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined” by Steven Pinker
- “Gang Leader for a Day: A Rogue Sociologist Takes to the Streets” by Sudhir Venkatesh
- “On Immunity: An Inoculation” by Eula Biss
- “Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration” by Ed Catmull and Amy Wallace
- “The Structure of Scientific Revolutions” by Thomas S. Kuhn
- “Rational Ritual: Culture, Coordination, and Common Knowledge” by Michael Chwe
- “Dealing with China: An Insider Unmasks the New Economic Superpower” by Henry M. Paulson
- “Orwell’s Revenge: The 1984 Palimpsest” by Peter Huber
- “The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness” by Michelle Alexander
- “The Muqaddimah” by Ibn Khaldun
- “Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind” by Yuval Noah Harari
- “The Player of Games” by Iain M. Banks
- “Energy: A Beginner’s Guide” by Vaclav Smil
- “Genome: The Autobiography of a Species in 23 Chapters” by Matt Ridley
- “The Varieties Of Religious Experience: A Study In Human Nature” by William James
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