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.
For the past year, Zuckerberg’s book club, A Year of Books, has focused on big ideas that influence global society and business. His 24th and final selection is Oxford physicist David Deutsch’s 2011 book “The Beginning of Infinity: Explanations That Transform the World.”
In it, Deutsch takes a sprawling look at the progress of humanity following the pivotal Scientific Revolution, explaining his worldview that human potential is infinite.
“It’s about everything: art, science, philosophy, history, politics, evil, death, the future, infinity, bugs, thumbs, what have you,” Columbia University philosopher David Albert writes for the New York Times.
For nearly anyone else, such an ambitious project would result in a mess, Albert says. “But Deutsch … is so smart, and so strange, and so creative, and so inexhaustibly curious, and so vividly intellectually alive, that it is a distinct privilege, notwithstanding everything, to spend time in his head.”
Zuckerberg explains on his personal Facebook page why he chose “The Beginning of Infinity” to conclude his book club:
Reading has given me more perspective on a number of topics — from science to religion, from poverty to prosperity, from health to energy to social justice, from political philosophy to foreign policy, and from history to futuristic fiction.
This challenge has been intellectually fulfilling, and I come away with a greater sense of hope and optimism that our society can make greater progress in all of these areas.
It’s fitting to end the year with “The Beginning of Infinity” by David Deutsch, about how the way we explain things unlocks greater possibilities.
And in case you wanted even more reading material, Zuckerberg noted in the comments section of his post that over his holiday break he’s also making time for a pair of sci-fi novels, Liu Cixin’s “The Dark Forest” and Ernest Cline’s “Armada.”
When a Facebook user asked him if he had to pick his favourite from this year’s list, he said that his list was too disparate to pick just one, but he highlighted the following as good places to start: Steven Pinker’s “The Better Angels of Our Nature,” Michelle Alexander’s “The New Jim Crow,” Yuval Noah Harari’s “Sapiens,” Liu Cixin’s “The Three-Body Problem,” and Iain M. Banks’ “The Player of Games.”
A Year of Books:
- “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
- “Portfolios of the Poor: How the World’s Poor Live on $2 a Day” by Daryl Collins, Jonathan Morduch, Stuart Rutherford, and Orlanda Ruthven
- “Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity, and Poverty” by Daren Acemoğlu and James Robinson
- “The Rational Optimist: How Prosperity Evolves” by Matt Ridley
- “The Three-Body Problem” by Liu Cixin
- “The Idea Factory: Bell Labs and the Great Age of American Innovation” by Jon Gertner
- “World Order” by Henry Kissinger
- “The Beginning of Infinity: Explanations That Transform the World” by David Deutsch
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