What We Think
September 14, 2020
JP Fabri's Book Recommendations
Reading plays a very important part of my life and I find it as one of the most rewarding activities one can have. It is always a struggle to find the time however I found having a reading goal helps to sustain this and to ensure that I find enough time to read. As a person, I like to read a number of different books at the same time always having a mix between current affairs, personal development, classics and others. Over the past few months I have read a good number of books however the following are the 5 have really left an impression on me.
Keynes the Return of the Master by Robert Skidelsky
Although this was written in 2009 after the global financial crash; I returned to re-read the book in the face of the global slowdown and recession that COVID has created. Although the crises are different, Keynes remains one of the main economic theorists of our time. As we navigate the debris of the pandemic, , the principles of John Maynard Keynes -- that economic storms are a normal part of the market system, that governments need to step in and use fiscal ammunition to prevent these storms from becoming depressions, and that societies that value the pursuit of money should reprioritize -- are more pertinent and applicable than ever. In this book, Skidelsky – Keynes’ great biographer brilliantly synthesizes Keynes’ career and life, and offers nervous capitalists a positive answer to the question we now face: When unbridled capitalism falters, is there an alternative?
On the Shortness of Life by Seneca
I always try to read a classic philosophical text, mainly of the Stoic school. The Stoic writings of the philosopher Seneca offer powerful insights into the art of living, the importance of reason and morality, and continue to provide profound guidance to many through their eloquence, lucidity and timeless wisdom. The book deals with life’s biggest mystery; death. We all fear death, but life is long if you know how to use it. Putting things off is the biggest waste of life: it snatches away each day as it comes, and denies us the present by promising the future: live immediately. In any situation in life you will find delights and relaxations and pleasures if you are prepared to make light of your troubles and not let them distress you.
The Wisdom of Insecurity by Alan Watts
COVID has brought to the fore the feeling of insecurity and I have turned to the 1951 classic book by Alan Watts, the foremost interpreter of Eastern thought, in particular Zen Buddhism to the West. Watts argues that the root of our human frustration and daily anxiety is our tendency to live for the future, which is an abstraction. Spending all our time trying to anticipate and plan for the future and to lamenting the past, we forget to embrace the here and now. We are so concerned with tomorrow that we forget to enjoy today. Drawing from Eastern philosophy and religion, Watts shows that it is only by acknowledging what we do not—and cannot—know that we can learn anything truly worth knowing.
Democrazia senza Partiti by Adriano Olivetti
I was introduced to the writings of Adriano Olivetti by an acquaintance of mine and was instantly captivated. Adriano Olivetti was an Italian engineer, politician and industrialist whose entrepreneurial activity thrived on the idea that profit should be reinvested for the benefits of the whole society. Adriano Olivetti was known worldwide during his lifetime as the Italian manufacturer of Olivetti typewriters, calculators, and computers. Olivetti was an entrepreneur and innovator who transformed shop-like operations into a modern factory. In and out of the factory, he both practiced and preached the utopian system of "the community movement," but he never managed to build a mass following. In this book he explains this notion of community movement and its importance to sustaining democracy as opposed to the system monopolized by political parties.
How will you measure your life? By Clayton M Christensen
Clayton M. Christensen is best known as the innovation guru through his bestselling book The Innovator’s Dilemma which popularized the concept of Disruption theory. How Will You Measure Your Life is a book that makes you pause and reflect on your work, your relationships, and your values. Christensen wrote this book at a time of intense personal reflection — he had just recovered from the same type of cancer that had taken his father’s life. I liked how he and his co-authors used various theories and examples from the business world to present the parallels in our everyday life, career, and families. This is a book which I highly recommend as it gives perspective to life. Unfortunately, Christensen had a relapse of cancer and passed away in February 2020.
These are the books that really left an impression on me during the past few months. Obviously, COVID had a role in my choice of books however this has also allowed me to explore new areas and philosophies.