Here are a few books I’ve read since writing Top 10 Most Important Books. My favorites come first.
Part travel book and part history book, A Death In Brazil traces back to when the Portuguese landed to the current day leadership of Lula, teaching you about the Brazilian psyche and culture. The author’s floral style and use of imagery is engaging and makes this book hard to put down. It competes with An African In Greenland as the best travel book I’ve read.
Excellent book on the history of humans before 1500 AD. It theorizes that differences in human population are not due to genetics or race but to different environments that affected adoption rates of plant and animal domestication, and technology. It attempts to answer why Europeans dominated the globe instead of more “primitive” societies like the Incas or Australian Aborigines.
The horror! The horror! Short but very beautifully written.
Nemesis is the final book in Chalmers Johnson trilogy about American imperialism (the previous books are Blowback and The Sorrows Of Empire). If you only read one of the three books, it should be this one, which makes the case that militarization will lead to more American aggression; there will be further attacks on America through blowback of our foreign policy; the executive branch will seek increasing power to erode the Constitution; and bankruptcy will be an end result in what the author argues will be good for democracy.
Kunstler paints a vivid picture of what will happen as the cheap fossil fuel era comes to an end. While it is alarmist in nature with geopolitical commentary on the Middle East I think is off the mark, this book does make you think about it the future and how a magic wave of free-markets and technology won’t save us. Basically, we’re fucked. For a preview of the topics in this book, I highly recommend you read Kunstler’s blog.
Richard Dawkins makes a convincing argument that evolution selects for genes, not individuals, and that we are all simply robots for gene propagation. A couple of the middle chapters were tough to get through but this book offered a fresh but hopeless view on human life. This is where the concept of memes is first introduced.
A book by marketing guru Seth Godin, you can kill it in one hour at the bookstore. It had some helpful tips but nothing spectacular.
Small pocket guide that I would like to have with me if I find myself away from ATM machines and McDonalds.
This book should be called Money, Money, and Kiss because there is no sex. Gene Simmons will teach you that money is the most important thing in the world (seriously) and how you need to be thinking about it at all times. He details how he monetized the Kiss brand in every way he could think of, like how he tried to make Kiss toilet paper. This book is not very good, but it did have a few gems, such as, “If you are not starving, you are still in the game,” and, “A man is called a catch because he’s trying to get away.” You can probably read this in one sitting at the bookstore.
This is a travel book about a man who makes a foolhardy trip on foot across Afghanistan a couple months after 9/11. I don’t like his writing style and it seemed like he was more concerned about the accomplishment of finishing the trip than doing it for the stated reason of retracing the steps of some ancient Afghan ruler. The highlight of the book is when he witnesses an Afghani wipe his ass with gravel after taking a shit. Not recommended unless you have an interest in the Middle East.