The best books for understanding the world we live in

The Books I Picked & Why

Thinking in Systems: International Bestseller

By Donella Meadows

Thinking in Systems: International Bestseller

Why this book?

Systems are everywhere. They are an inescapable part of life. One of the best things we can do to improve ourselves and the world is develop our understanding of them.

Thinking in Systems is my go-to start point for everything systems. The writing is clear, and the stories are meaningful. Donella Meadows does an amazing job of breaking down systems, exposing their connections, and building them back up to show us how we can solve the problems that are important to us.

This book opened my eyes in so many ways, by showing me connections between what I do and the results I get that I never knew existed. If you’ve ever looked around and wondered why the world is the way it is, this book will give you the tools to find answers.


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On Dialogue

By David Bohm

On Dialogue

Why this book?

I often think that so many problems in the world could be solved with better communication. More and more we stick with people who think like us, because the challenge of bridging ideological gaps seems too great.

So, how to talk to people who have values that are in opposition to yours? How can you connect with people whose experiences have given them a life that you can’t relate to? In On Dialogue, David Bohm gives us a way to tear apart the fear and hesitation of the no-man’s land between ourselves and people we don’t understand.

There are always people with whom we don’t know how to communicate. We can’t let that stop us from trying. Bohm’s book will give you the tools to do just that.


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Holistic Wealth: 32 Life Lessons to Help You Find Purpose, Prosperity, and Happiness

By Keisha Blair

Holistic Wealth: 32 Life Lessons to Help You Find Purpose, Prosperity, and Happiness

Why this book?

We are all going to lose someone we love. We are all going to go through the pain of people we care about dying. We are all going to contemplate our mortality at some point and wonder if what we’re doing has much of a point, if we could do better, and if we could make life a little less painful somehow.

Keisha Blair lost her husband when they were both in their thirties, when their son was 8 weeks old. She shares what she learned about building from that wreckage in Holistic Wealth. The book puts the pain of loss front and center, and then offers insights from stories and interviews on how to take care of our money, our relationships, and our spirituality, and thus ourselves.


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Come as You Are: The Surprising New Science that Will Transform Your Sex Life

By Emily Nagoski

Come as You Are: The Surprising New Science that Will Transform Your Sex Life

Why this book?

Emily Nagoski’s overall message is that we’re all built differently—physically and mentally—and we can all carve out a path that works for us.

So knowing how you’re built is useful for making choices in love and sex that work for you. Nagoski looks through a range of lenses at everything from basic anatomy, to all the wonderful, satisfying ways we can love and be loved as sexual beings. There’s no one way to do it, any of it, and thus the good news is there are lots of ways we can enjoy being in our bodies. While no one book could ever capture the diversity and complexity of human sexuality, Come As You Are helped me to better understand the world I live in. I learned more about my body after reading this book than I did from nearly forty years living in it.


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The Country of First Boys: And Other Essays

By Amartya Sen

The Country of First Boys: And Other Essays

Why this book?

Most people, I think, when they start to understand the world better, they start to see the endless ways that it could be improved. Some of us though, we get stuck in the ideas of improvement, and never figure out how to just get on with it.

Amartya Sen won a Nobel Prize and has other thought-provoking books. But I like this one. The Country of First Boys is a series of essays that are technically about various issues in India, but which are easily extrapolated to depressingly common situations in most other countries. Central to the essays is the theme of not letting the idea of a perfectly just society get in the way of the business of reducing injustice. We can debate utopia until we take our last breath, but in the meantime, Sen inspires us that there is much we can do now to improve the world we live in.


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