I’ve become less enamored with my kindle recently. Maybe because I hauled a few boxes of old books out of storage and put them on shelves — which was made possible by moving into a new apartment that’s large enough to have shelves, and the fact that I don’t plan to move again in the near future. Being surrounded by actual, physical books inspired me to pull a few of these antiquated devices off the shelf.

Despite my evangelism of the kindle as a travel device, for someone who grew up reading on paper, there’s definitely a tactile element to reading that improves engagement and comprehension. It’s simply a different experience. (Oddly, I feel none of the same attachment to writing on paper. I think there’s a tiny sliver of us who were raised to read on paper but write on computers. I’m sure the younger generations feel little hesitance about using the electronic medium for both?)

In any case, with my love of books rekindled (as it were), a bit of insomnia a few weeks ago led to an amazon binge and the following summer reading list:

  • Why Nations Fail. Acemoglu and Robinson. I actually started this one on kindle, but I switched to paperback. I’m on track to finish it this week, with a review coming shortly after that. I’ve got some critiques, but my short assessment is that this should be required reading for anyone working in development, along with the more standard canon of Easterly, Sachs, and Collier.
  • Peaceland. Autesserre. This is an ethnography of aidworkers and peacebuilders in conflict zones. I’m a chapter into it and so far it’s pretty fantastic — much like Autessere’s previous book on the DRC.
  • Unruly Americans. Holton. This was sitting in a box unread for a couple years, but caught my eye as. It promises to be a good look at the politics and personal motivations of America’s Founding Fathers — with a particular focus on how their elite views clashed with those of average “unruly” Americans.
  • Great by Choice. Collins and Hansen. After three chapters, Collins’ latest work is failing to impress. I’m sticking with it because I’m a fan of Good to Great and Built to Last, but I’m starting to think that there are diminishing marginal returns of reading multiple books by a given author — like you’ve already seen their best ideas. (I experienced something similar with the third Malcolm Gladwell book I read, and the third Nassim Taleb book as well.)
  • Creating a Learning Society. Stiglitz and Greenwald. One of the perks of blogging is that I got a review copy of this one. As you can see from the photo, it’s pretty hefty. Let’s see if it lives up to the weight.
  • Complexity: A Guided Tour.  Melanie Mitchell. I’m not sure how this one will register. It looks good, but might be a bit too introductory level.

Did I say “summer” reading? This might take me into the fall…


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