Kyosti's Picks

 

 
Mortimer Adler
 
Suggested Reading: How to Read a Book
   
 Mortimer Adler's How To Read A Book explains why different forms of literature require a wholly different approach. You need one or two for fiction (novels, plays, poetry) and several others for fact, a.k.a. expository material, the main categories being theoretical books (how things are) and practical books (how things are done). You should read this one if you ever read anything at all, including postings on this site. Besides of being enormously instructive, the book is beautifully written and a delight to read as such.
   
George Orwell
 
Suggested Reading: 1984
 
George Orwell's 1984 is the other one of his great classics, together with Animal Farm. It is difficult enough to write a decent fictional story. It is difficult enough to write a decent treatise on tyrannical regime. In 1984, Orwell does a magnificent job on both. That must have been exponentially more difficult.
   
Joseph Heller
 
Suggested Reading: Catch 22
 
Joseph Heller's Catch-22 is for people with a weird sense of humor. It is a difficult task (yet another...) to make people laugh. I screamed. The setting is World War II and the story is about an American bombing squadron in the Mediterranean. However, it is really not about war. It is more about avoiding it.
 
   
Stephen Jay Gould
 
Suggested Reading: Wonderful Life
 
Stephen Jay Gould's Wonderful Life was named after the classical Frank Capra/James Stewart movie. Its main point is that the direction of life on Earth has been drastically altered by chance events that occur now and then. If time were turned back long enough, things would look very different in the replay and there would certainly be no human beings around. Gould also points out that life isn't getting any richer. On the contrary, what we see are variations of fewer and fewer basic themes.
   
Rupert Sheldrake
 
Suggested Reading: The Presence of the Past
 
Rupert Sheldrake's The Presence Of The Past is Something Else. During his career as a biologist Sheldrake became convinced that things happen too fast in the nature to be attributed to phenomena like chance mutations. Instead, he claims that memory is inherent in the nature. Because of a phenomenon called morphic resonance, things are more likely to occur the more often they have occurred already. Sheldrake challenges quite a few of the foundations of modern science. His book is very well written and it includes of a lot of practical examples. Even if you believe in nothing that he says, you learn the principle of taking nothing for granted.
   
Tor Norretrander
 
Suggested Reading: User Illusion
 
Tor Norretranders' User Illusion compares the conscious mind with the graphical user interface of computers. A link on a web page conceals an enormous amount of complexity behind it. (Compare with pic.) The same is true of our conscious thoughts. Vision alone produces information in the area of 10 million bits per second. The measurements have been inconclusive but our conscious thinking seems to be able to handle some tens of bits per second at the most. Consciousness is only kind of a real-time executive summary of the most important things in and around us that we should be aware of... well, almost real time. We are conscious half a second late.
   
Milo Frank
 
Suggested Reading: How To Get Your Point Across
 
Milo Frank's How To Get Your Point Across teaches clinical communication. You want something. You can get it from somebody else. With these in mind, you choose your approach. You make your pitch interesting to the receiver. At the crucial moment, you spend no more than 30 seconds in delivering the punch line because that's the maximum amount of time that the human mind can stay focused.
   
Richard Koch
 
Suggested Reading: The 80/20 Principle
 
Richard Koch's The 80/20 Principle shows that some things make all the difference, some things make some, but most things mean nothing at all. The book has sections of how to apply the principle in personal life and in the society but the main emphasis is on business applications: “The 80/20 Principle is the best-kept secret in business.” If you read just one business book in your life, make it this one. 
 
 
 

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