AntiFragile by Nicholas Taleb Nassim
"Counterintuitive insights on the nature of all things. Why nature is our greatest teacher of evolution? It gains from chaos. Humans don't work like that as we accept comfortable positions in life (taking advice from expert "Fragilistas" that make us fragile (although it may not appear that way). Like your doctor, who is the third leading cause of death in America. Ideas on preparing forward by building optionality into your life (dismissing expert news) allow us to benefit from inevitable "black swan" events that are unpredictable and catastrophic to most."
Who Owns the Future by Jaron Lenier
"All about rebuilding the middle class by humanizing the digital economy. A critical and credible take on creating commerce for all vs. redistributing wealth. The book was written in 2011, and much of what Jaron predicted is coming true. Specifically, how a free digital economy is destroying jobs as new centers of power (Google, Facebook, Snapchat, et al.) make money on our use of their ecosystems and are socially engineering us to stay in them. But what makes their systems valuable does not get an equitable stake (you and me). He lays it all out on how to get paid for making any content (as long as others are viewing it). It's entirely possible with the blockchain, which makes crypto ever more relevant. Importantly, the idea that our world can be automated via tech is a farse; without human influence, it will have no soul. Sorry, Ray Kurzweill and the whole singularity movement. No thanks."
A Short History of Progress by Richard Wright
"Where are we going? This is the central theme of the book. It's an incredibly illuminating book on impending doom and how man destroys everything. He goes through the history of humans from prehistoric times until the present and how we have destroyed the planet and the lives of millions (approaching billions), all in the pursuit of progress. He examines several civilizations from Neanderthals, Easter Island (an important microcosm), Sumerians, Romans, and Egyptians. Each crippled their existence by overproducing, exhausting resources, and then waging war to expand and gain more. There are no everlasting examples of civilizations, and they all fall victim to their progress. It took 3 million years to go from a stone arrowhead to smelted iron, but only 3,000 years to go from smelt to a nuclear bomb. Where are we going?"
Big Bang by Simon Singh
"The Origins of The Universe. One of my favorite books that walks through the history of science. I love learning about the cosmos and space but am more interested in how humans figured it out. It's a fascinating account of science's struggle to overcome dogma and human's persistence for truth. But, as important, are the pitfalls of incumbency (egos that stifled scientific progress), to which Einstein both abhorred and fell victim. Incredibly interesting and great for anyone who would like to know the Big Bang theory in layman's terms."
12 Rules for Life by Jordan Peterson
"Life is a bitch. Historical, spiritual, and personal antidotes for leading a life of purpose and ultimate happiness. It's more than a self-help book; it's a serious eye-opener on building a relationship with oneself, others, and the world in times of immediate gratification. Fun is fleeting, and joy is work; I welcome this confrontation with what more I can do to be and influence "good.""
Check out all of our guest picks for July here and stay tuned to Pier Five for more stories and interviews with the coolest people around.