Over the past few years, I have made it a habit to bring back a book (or two) for my children from every business trip as a way to encourage them to read. I remember when I was young, one of my favorite weekend activities was to go to the library or stroll through the aisles of our local bookstores and be lost in a literary fairyland of my own. I vividly recall the excitement of finding a good read by chance – something that I have retained through adulthood. The joy of experiencing these moments of serendipity is a sentiment that is hard to replicate by any AI recommendation engine running an online store. Not to mention, independent bookstores often serve as a backbone for every community, a safe place for kids to come after school, and a gathering place for friends and neighbors to connect on the weekends.
If books are food for the soul – bookstores and libraries are great halls for a feast. My 9-year old, an avid reader, expressed his love of books as many children would: “A world without books is like having a donut without icing: Not satisfying.” I would tend to agree.
To me, words are like musical notes. It takes a great composer to put them together in a way that forms a beautiful harmony; just as it takes the talent of a great writer to craft words and sentences to create an impactful story that leaves a lasting impression in the minds of its readers.
Regardless of what you like to read – non-fiction, a novel, a biography or poetry – the crafting of a story, the choice of diction, the ability to provide details where one can be lost in thought alongside the writer – this is why we read, and why, like music, not only can words encourage deeper thinking, they can change minds, and along with that, they can change the world.
The books that changed my perspectives
Of everything I have read, there are two that literally changed my life. The first was The Last Lecture written by Randy Rausch, professor of Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon University, and it was about the last lecture that the professor delivered after being diagnosed with terminal cancer. His message: ”We cannot change the cards we are dealt, just how we play the hand,” was about living. He talked about the importance of overcoming obstacles, of enabling the dreams of others, of seizing every moment, because “time is all you have…and you may find one day that you have less than you think.”
The second book, The 100-Year Life was written by Lynda Gratton, Professor of Management Practice at the London Business School (LBS), and Andrew Scott, Professor of Economics at LBS. It urges us to rethink how we approach living, learning, and working in order to create a fulfilling life of longevity. Both of these books made me reconsider my priorities at different moments of my life – and helped me focus on what is important to me personally, and what I need to develop professionally. Think about those books that changed your life.
Reading not only helps us gain new perspectives and expand our horizon, it also helps us take a break from our ever-connected digital lives – where perhaps less useful information is constantly being pushed to us. Books allow us the luxury of immersing ourselves in moments that go as far as our minds allow us to wander – and travel abroad without the physical burden of a voyage. As J.K. Rowling said: “If you don’t like to read, you haven’t found the right book.” No matter what genre you prefer, there is a book out there for you – waiting to take you on its journey. All that one needs is a curious mind.
It is with that passion for books that Arun, Bradley, and I are starting a new podcast series called “Judge Me By My Cover.” We hope that you will enjoy our conversations with book lovers and accomplished authors on FinTech, Innovation, Longevity, Technology, and much more. We would also like to hear about what you’re reading, so please drop us a line.
Here are a few titles that have changed the way we look at the world:
- 100-Year Life by Lynda Gratton and Andrew Scott
- 21 Lessons for the 21st Century and Homo Deus and Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari
- AI Superpowers by Kai-Fu Lee
- Alone Together by Sherry Turkle
- Automating Inequality by Virginia Eubanks
- Bank 2.0 and Bank 4.0 by Brett King
- Creating a World Without Poverty: Social Business and the Future of Capitalism by Muhammed Yunus
- Deep Thinking by Garry Kasparov
- Digital Human by Chris Skinner
- Factfulness by Anna Rosling Ronnlund, Hans Rosling, and Ola Rosling
- Fair Shot by Chris Hughes
- Freakonomics by Steven Levitt
- Generation X by Douglas Copeland
- Heartland by Sarah Smarsh
- I am Malala by Christina Lamb and Malala Yousafzai
- Nomadland by Jessica Bruder
- Team Human by Douglas Rushkoff
- The Art of Travel by Alain de Botton
- The Castle and the Sandbox by Kosta Peric
- The Common Good by Robert Reich
- The Fourth Age by Byron Reese
- The Last Lecture by Randy Rausch
- The Moment of Lift by Melinda Gates
Join us on our tour of the world of words and the books that contain them.
Listen in to our brand new episode of our podcast series “Judge Me By My Cover” on iTunes and Spotify – with Simon Cocking, Editor of Irish Tech News, on books, fintech trends for 2019, and more.
If you would like to have your company featured in the Irish Tech News Business Showcase, get in contact with us at [email protected] or on Twitter: @SimonCocking