What I’ve been reading

Hi everyone, well it’s been over a year now since I started this blog. The update rate has been pretty spotty, so I’ll jump back in with what I’ve been reading lately.

  • Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea by Barbara Demick. An extremely moving book. Wonderfully written in the style of a good novel. But the sad stories of the main characters are unfortunately true. It’s easy to make fun of Kim Jong Il and the unbelievably backwards government over which he presides. And it’s easy to use phrases like “living hell” when describing North Korea, but this book does a good job of putting that in human terms. Highly recommended.
  • The Rational Optimist by Matt Ridley. Another excellent book. Makes a powerful case for optimism, explaining that the reason humankind has progressed so much more than other animals is our exchange of ideas and innovation that results from the division of labor and specialization. Borrows many ideas from economics and overall is a very informative and enjoyable read. Also highly recommended.
  • Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition by Daniel Okrent. A fascinating look at the Prohibition movement. Very informative in detailing how the Prohibition amendment came to pass. Has some interesting insights with regard to special interest politics that are relevant in today’s world, and also ought to offer some lessons to today’s politicians as we fight an endless “drug war”. Recommended for anyone with an interest in history. BTW, I first learned about the book from the EconTalk interviewwith the author.
  • On the Brink: Inside the Race to Stop the Collapse of the Global Financial System by Hank Paulson, former US Treasury Secretary. I need to post a full review of this book because I have too many thoughts to capture in this post. Interesting insider’s look at the events surrounding the so-called financial crisis of 2008.
  • Options: The Secret Life of Steve Jobs by Fake Steve Jobs, aka Dan Lyons. I don’t know if Fake Steve’s sense of humor appeals to everyone, but I find him not only hilarious, but also quite insightful about the technology industry.