Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has made a tradition of dramatic New Year’s resolutions, and this year he decided that he’d read a book every two weeks.
He wanted his selections to focus on “different cultures, beliefs, histories, and technologies.”
“Books allow you to fully explore a topic and immerse yourself in a deeper way than most media today,” Zuckerberg wrote on his personal Facebook page. “I’m looking forward to shifting more of my media diet towards reading books.”
To achieve this, he started the A Year of Books book club, in which he discusses the books he’s reading with members of the Facebook community.
We’ve put together a list of his picks and why he thinks everyone should read them.
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‘Why Nations Fail’ by Daren Acemoğlu and James Robinson
“Why Nations Fail” is an overview of 15 years of research by MIT economist Daren Acemoğlu and Harvard political scientist James Robinson, and was first published in 2012.
The authors argue that “extractive governments” use controls to enforce the power of a select few, while “inclusive governments” create open markets that allow citizens to spend and invest money freely, and that economic growth does not always indicate the long-term health of a country.
Zuckerberg’s interest in philanthropy has grown alongside his wealth in recent years, and he writes that he chose this book to better understand the origins of global poverty.
‘The Rational Optimist’ by Matt Ridley
“The Rational Optimist,” first published in 2010, is the most popular and perhaps the most controversial of popular science writer Matt Ridley’s books.
In it, he argues that the concept of markets is the source of human progress, and that progress is accelerated when they are kept as free as possible. The resulting evolution of ideas will consistently allow humankind to improve its living conditions, despite the threats of climate change and overpopulation.
Zuckerberg says that he picked up this book because it posits the inverse theory of “Why Nations Fail,” which argues that social and political forces control economic forces. “I’m interested to see which idea resonates more after exploring both frameworks,” Zuckerberg writes.
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