There are a few books that have left a deep impression on me and have shaped how I think about the world. I’m sharing these here because I have found them of lasting value.
I didn’t find any of them on my own, they were recommended to me by teachers, mentors, and friends. That’s why I’m sharing them here in turn, because they might resonate with you as well. The books are listed in no particular order.
Keith Johnstone, “Impro: Improvisation and the Theatre” (1979). Ostensibly a book about theatrical improvisation but it’s much more than that. Rich with deep insights into presence, flow, and human interactions.
W. Brian Arthur, “The Nature of Technology: What it Is and How it Evolves” (2009). Gave me a framework to think about the evolution of technology.
Donella H. Meadows, “Thinking in Systems: A Primer” (2008). Accessible and thoughtful introduction to ‘systems thinking’.
James C. Scott, “Seeing Like a State: How Certain Schemes to Improve the Human Condition Have Failed” (1998). Introduces the concept of “legibility”, an indispensable lens when thinking about states as well as the effects of technology.
Judith Shklar, “Liberalism of Fear” (1989). An essay-length meditation on the terrifying and necessary nature of coercive state power.
Karl Polanyi, “The Great Transformation - The Political and Economic Origins of Our Time” (1944). A fundamental argument about the intertwined nature of markets and the state.