100 books like The Measure of Reality

By Alfred W. Crosby,

Here are 100 books that The Measure of Reality fans have personally recommended if you like The Measure of Reality. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of The Great Transformation: The Political and Economic Origins of Our Time

Michael Zakim Author Of Accounting for Capitalism: The World the Clerk Made

From my list on modern capitalist economy.

Who am I?

As both a scholar and a citizen I have spent my adult life seeking to better understand the dynamics of power, especially power wielded in flagrantly unjust fashion in societies otherwise founded on notions of life, liberty, and happiness for all. This has led me to study the history of the economy, not just as a material but as a cultural system that encodes the categories of modern life:  self and society, private and public, body and soul, and needs and desires.

Michael's book list on modern capitalist economy

Michael Zakim Why did Michael love this book?

The Great Transformation, in which Karl Polanyi explores “the political and economic origins of our time,” is arguably the most important history of the economy ever written. 

Polanyi published his study during the dark times of the twentieth century in an attempt to trace the origins of modern fascism (a task that has lost none of its relevance in the twenty-first century). He located those origins in the industrial transformation of land, labor, and money – the foundations of social existence – into full-fledged commodities, that is to say, into ephemeral vehicles of profit. 

The resulting market society, touted by liberals as the source of universal freedom and equality, brought personal and communal disaster for those less advantageously positioned to compete in the new economy. The price, Polanyi argues, has been catastrophic.

By Karl Polanyi,

Why should I read it?

11 authors picked The Great Transformation as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In this classic work of economic history and social theory, Karl Polanyi analyzes the economic and social changes brought about by the "great transformation" of the Industrial Revolution. His analysis explains not only the deficiencies of the self-regulating market, but the potentially dire social consequences of untempered market capitalism. New introductory material reveals the renewed importance of Polanyi's seminal analysis in an era of globalization and free trade.


Book cover of The Commercial Revolution of the Middle Ages, 950-1350

Frederick Kaufman Author Of The Money Plot: A History of Currency's Power to Enchant, Control, and Manipulate

From my list on what money is, from beginning to Bitcoin.

Who am I?

I am an English professor, and for the past decade I’ve focused my attention on the fiction that is money. I’ve also been a magazine writer for many years and came to money by a circuitous route through writing about food, which led to writing about global hunger, which in turn led to writing about how food gets its price, which finally and lastly led me to the strange ways of Wall Street – options, futures, and the idea that money can be manipulated into a story, a narrative, or as we say in English departments, a plot.

Frederick's book list on what money is, from beginning to Bitcoin

Frederick Kaufman Why did Frederick love this book?

This is an academic book, but don’t let it scare you. As for me – it blew my mind! I had no idea of the level of economic sophistication and advance of Medieval Europe. Lopez explains in extraordinary detail the time period when our modern conception of money—as debt, as mortgage, as loans, and as an international object of commerce—was born.

By Robert S. Lopez,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Commercial Revolution of the Middle Ages, 950-1350 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Professor Robert Lopez provides an incisive analysis of the economic structure of the Middle Ages. He makes use of modern economic concepts to explain how an underdeveloped economic system gave birth to the commercial revolution through which Europe succeeded in developing itself. The book goes far beyond the familiar picture of medieval European society, with its magnificent cathedrals and imposing castles, to concentrate instead on the walled cities and open countryside, for it was here that the revolution was born. Deftly and concisely, Professor Lopez traces the history of this remarkable economic upheaval which saw the rise of merchants and…


Book cover of Rabbit Is Rich

Frederick Kaufman Author Of The Money Plot: A History of Currency's Power to Enchant, Control, and Manipulate

From my list on what money is, from beginning to Bitcoin.

Who am I?

I am an English professor, and for the past decade I’ve focused my attention on the fiction that is money. I’ve also been a magazine writer for many years and came to money by a circuitous route through writing about food, which led to writing about global hunger, which in turn led to writing about how food gets its price, which finally and lastly led me to the strange ways of Wall Street – options, futures, and the idea that money can be manipulated into a story, a narrative, or as we say in English departments, a plot.

Frederick's book list on what money is, from beginning to Bitcoin

Frederick Kaufman Why did Frederick love this book?

This is a novel from the “go-go ‘80s,” and delivers an insight into the money culture of modern middle class America. It’s a deep, comedic, and sad story of marriage, sex, gold, and dollars. The subtle characterizations gave me a strong sense of the human side of money, its emotional weight and valence—indeed, its pathos.

By John Updike,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Rabbit Is Rich as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Winner of the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, and the National Book Critics Circle Award
 
The hero of John Updike’s Rabbit, Run, ten years after the events of Rabbit Redux, has come to enjoy considerable prosperity as the chief sales representative of Springer Motors, a Toyota agency in Brewer, Pennsylvania. The time is 1979: Skylab is falling, gas lines are lengthening, and double-digit inflation coincides with a deflation of national self-confidence. Nevertheless, Harry “Rabbit” Angstrom feels in good shape, ready to enjoy life at last—until his wayward son, Nelson, returns from the West, and the image of an old…


Book cover of A Grammar of Motives

Frederick Kaufman Author Of The Money Plot: A History of Currency's Power to Enchant, Control, and Manipulate

From my list on what money is, from beginning to Bitcoin.

Who am I?

I am an English professor, and for the past decade I’ve focused my attention on the fiction that is money. I’ve also been a magazine writer for many years and came to money by a circuitous route through writing about food, which led to writing about global hunger, which in turn led to writing about how food gets its price, which finally and lastly led me to the strange ways of Wall Street – options, futures, and the idea that money can be manipulated into a story, a narrative, or as we say in English departments, a plot.

Frederick's book list on what money is, from beginning to Bitcoin

Frederick Kaufman Why did Frederick love this book?

This is one of those lost academic works of genius of the 1950s, in which Burke, an English Professor, uses the idea of “grammar” to explain the motivations of characters in dramatic situations. This book inspired me to write about money as a quite literal “plot”—a way people tell stories about themselves and the universe.

By Kenneth Burke,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Grammar of Motives as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Mr. Burke contributes an introductory and summarizing remark, "What is involved, when we say what people are doing and why they are doing it? An answer to that question is the subject of this book. The book is concerned with the basic forms of through which, in accordance with the nature of the world as all men necessarily experience it, are exemplified in the attributing of motives. These forms of though can be embodied profoundly or trivially, truthfully or falsely. They are equally present in systematically elaborated or metaphysical structures, in legal judgements, in poetry and fiction, in political and…


Book cover of The Politics of Bitcoin: Software as Right-Wing Extremism

David Gerard Author Of Attack of the 50 Foot Blockchain: Bitcoin, Blockchain, Ethereum & Smart Contracts

From my list on cryptocurrency and finance crimes.

Who am I?

I started writing about bitcoin and cryptocurrency for the funny dumb crook stories. It was ridiculous and arrogant in a particular way that needed and needs puncturing. Somehow this turned into a second job as a finance journalist specialising in the area. The crypto promoters are reprehensible, but their self-sabotaging foolishness makes their comeuppance extremely satisfying. I feel I’m making the world a better place with this.

David's book list on cryptocurrency and finance crimes

David Gerard Why did David love this book?

For Attack, I knew I had to explain the libertarian origins of bitcoin, and Golumbia’s book supplied my reference list for chapter 2. I recommend this book to anyone who wants to understand why bitcoin.

The political currents that went into bitcoin include several strains that are now accepted as the normal Silicon Valley political position—the “Californian ideology.” Bitcoin shares an ancestry with Silicon Valley startup culture, internet free speech movements, the right wing of transhumanism, and the neoreactionary political movement.

It’s a short book, but it does its homework thoroughly. Cryptocurrency still follows the bitcoin political template in 2023.

By David Golumbia,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Politics of Bitcoin as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Since its introduction in 2009, Bitcoin has been widely promoted as a digital currency that will revolutionize everything from online commerce to the nation-state. Yet supporters of Bitcoin and its blockchain technology subscribe to a form of cyberlibertarianism that depends to a surprising extent on far-right political thought. The Politics of Bitcoin exposes how much of the economic and political thought on which this cryptocurrency is based emerges from ideas that travel the gamut, from Milton Friedman, F.A. Hayek, and Ludwig von Mises to Federal Reserve conspiracy theorists.

Forerunners: Ideas First is a thought-in-process series of breakthrough digital publications. Written…


Book cover of Bitcoin: The Future of Money?

Keith M. Martin Author Of Cryptography: The Key to Digital Security, How It Works, and Why It Matters

From my list on cryptography and how we secure the digital world.

Who am I?

I am a cryptography professor, which sadly doesn’t mean I spend my time breaking secret messages (at least not every day). I first studied cryptography simply because it was fun and interesting. It still is – but today it is unbelievably important, underpinning the security of almost everything we do in the digital world. I believe that developing a notion of 'cyber common sense’ is a vital life skill since so much of what we do is digital. A basic understanding of cryptography and its societal impact provides a superb foundation for making sense of digital security, so I’ve selected some of my favourite reads to get you started.

Keith's book list on cryptography and how we secure the digital world

Keith M. Martin Why did Keith love this book?

Most digital technologies crucially rely on cryptography for their security, but few are entirely built from cryptography. Bitcoin is – simply – cryptography. The idea that money can be created from cryptography is a little bit mind-blowing, even for a cryptographer like myself. Dominic Frisby wrote one of the first, and finest, books about the leading cryptocurrency Bitcoin. He explores not just the incredible story of the founding of Bitcoin, but also gives an accessible explanation of how it works and what role it might play in our wider financial system. If you have let the term 'cryptocurrency’ wash over you but remain just a tiny bit curious, this book is your best route towards enlightenment. Whether you then decide to invest in any cryptocurrency is another matter altogether!

By Dominic Frisby,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Bitcoin as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Following the economic crisis of 2008, the website `bitcoin.org' was registered by a mysterious computer programmer called Satoshi Nakamoto. A new form of money was born: electronic cash. Does Bitcoin have the potential to change how the world transacts financially? Or is it just a passing fad, even a major scam?

In Bitcoin: The Future of Money?, MoneyWeek's Dominic Frisby's explains this controversial new currency and how it came about, interviewing some of the key players in its development while casting light on its strange and murky origins, in particular the much-disputed identity of Nakamoto himself.

Economic theory meets whodunnit…


Book cover of The Infinite Machine: How an Army of Crypto-hackers Is Building the Next Internet with Ethereum

Brady Dale Author Of SBF: How The FTX Bankruptcy Unwound Crypto's Very Bad Good Guy

From my list on cryptocurrency, aka, magic space money.

Who am I?

I’ve been writing about cryptocurrency since 2015, and full-time since 2017. I’ve worked for the biggest crypto news site in the world, CoinDesk, but now I write about it every day for a more mainstream audience. Cryptocurrency fits at a nexus at the kind of things I’m drawn to: It’s technological, it’s economic and it freaks people out. Unlike a lot of people who write about crypto, I’ve actually played around with the stuff. I’m not an investor, but I have used it. Using it is really the only way anyone gets to the point of grokking it, and I grok the stuff.

Brady's book list on cryptocurrency, aka, magic space money

Brady Dale Why did Brady love this book?

The Infinite Machine is the beach-read Ethereum book.

Ethereum is the second-largest blockchain out there. It’s the one that’s sometimes referred to as The World Computer, because it can function like an actual computer, but no one owns it. Thousands of people are running it.

If that sounds very abstract and weird, well: it is. Cami Russo walks readers through how that functionality got used in the early days, plus a couple of the really big screw-ups made with this complex global machine. 

It’s a fun book, for as abstract as it all is. She manages to go out and find a bunch of the relevant characters from those early events and bring them to life. 

Most of the talk about cryptocurrency in the mainstream is about Bitcoin, but, the truth is, most of the activity that drives that conversation happens on Ethereum. If you want to understand the weird…

By Camila Russo,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Infinite Machine as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Written with the verve of such works as The Big Short, The History of the Future, and The Spider Network, here is the fascinating, true story of the rise of Ethereum, the second-biggest digital asset in the world, the growth of cryptocurrency, and the future of the internet as we know it.

Everyone has heard of Bitcoin, but few know about the second largest cryptocurrency, Ethereum, which has been heralded as the "next internet."

The story of Ethereum begins with Vitalik Buterin, a supremely gifted nineteen-year-old autodidact who saw the promise of blockchain when the technology was in its earliest…


Book cover of Money: The True Story of a Made-Up Thing

Brady Dale Author Of SBF: How The FTX Bankruptcy Unwound Crypto's Very Bad Good Guy

From my list on cryptocurrency, aka, magic space money.

Who am I?

I’ve been writing about cryptocurrency since 2015, and full-time since 2017. I’ve worked for the biggest crypto news site in the world, CoinDesk, but now I write about it every day for a more mainstream audience. Cryptocurrency fits at a nexus at the kind of things I’m drawn to: It’s technological, it’s economic and it freaks people out. Unlike a lot of people who write about crypto, I’ve actually played around with the stuff. I’m not an investor, but I have used it. Using it is really the only way anyone gets to the point of grokking it, and I grok the stuff.

Brady's book list on cryptocurrency, aka, magic space money

Brady Dale Why did Brady love this book?

So this book only has one chapter on cryptocurrency (and it dismisses it), but it’s still a worthwhile addition to this list, and here’s why:

Money does a great job showing readers what a protean thing money really is and has always been. Every time money is about to make a giant change in human history, people think that change is completely crazy and will never work. And then it happens, and before long people seem to believe that money could have never worked any other way.

Does it sound relevant now?

While Goldstein eloquently explains and then dismisses Bitcoin in these pages (in fact, it’s one of the best dismissals I’ve ever read), it’s still a worthy entry for anyone who wants to wrap their heads around why so many people have invested so much in fundamentally changing how money works here in the 21st Century.

Once you know…

By Jacob Goldstein (narrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Money as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The co-host of the popular NPR podcast Planet Money provides a well-researched, entertaining, somewhat irreverent look at how money is a made-up thing that has evolved over time to suit humanity's changing needs.

Money only works because we all agree to believe in it. In Money, Jacob Goldstein shows how money is a useful fiction that has shaped societies for thousands of years, from the rise of coins in ancient Greece to the first stock market in Amsterdam to the emergence of shadow banking in the 21st century.

At the heart of the story are the fringe thinkers and world…


Book cover of The Basilisk Murders: A Sarah Turner Mystery

David Gerard Author Of Attack of the 50 Foot Blockchain: Bitcoin, Blockchain, Ethereum & Smart Contracts

From my list on cryptocurrency and finance crimes.

Who am I?

I started writing about bitcoin and cryptocurrency for the funny dumb crook stories. It was ridiculous and arrogant in a particular way that needed and needs puncturing. Somehow this turned into a second job as a finance journalist specialising in the area. The crypto promoters are reprehensible, but their self-sabotaging foolishness makes their comeuppance extremely satisfying. I feel I’m making the world a better place with this.

David's book list on cryptocurrency and finance crimes

David Gerard Why did David love this book?

The Basilisk Murders is a mystery centred on the Bay Area “transhumanist” subculture—another offshoot of the Californian Ideology that gave rise to bitcoin, and with much of the same style of grandiose bad thinking, ill-directed idealism, and an undercurrent of fraud.

The characters are also into their bitcoins. It’s a rollicking read, and you don’t have to know anything about these people beforehand to learn and understand why they do what they do.

By Andrew Hickey,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Basilisk Murders as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"Was this going to be the end? I wondered as I sprinted down yet another flight of stairs. Was I going to get caught, and get killed, by a geek serial killer?" When Sarah arrives at a tech conference she's meant to be covering for her magazine, she thinks it'll be a few days away from her marriage problems on a tropical island. Instead, she's surrounded by sleazy men who want to build a computer God, thousands of miles from home and her wife. She hates where she is, and the people who are around her. But when someone starts…


Book cover of The Happiness Curve: Why Life Gets Better After 50

Dave Liu Author Of The Way of the Wall Street Warrior: Conquer the Corporate Game Using Tips, Tricks, and Smartcuts

From my list on hacking your career that aren’t boring.

Who am I?

I am a 30-year veteran who has achieved success in three industries: Wall Street, Silicon Valley, and Hollywood. I rose to the top of Wall Street, arguably one of the most grueling professional work environments in the world. I want to share the tips that helped me reach financial success with anyone who feels disadvantaged in the corporate game (i.e., women, people of color). My book leans heavily on research into cognitive biases and human nature, but focuses almost exclusively on actionable ideas. It is high on practical, often offbeat, tactics with an emphasis on gamesmanship, and is accessible to any reader, working at any job, due to its humorous, irreverent, satirical tone.

Dave's book list on hacking your career that aren’t boring

Dave Liu Why did Dave love this book?

The Happiness Curve is a fabulous exploration of the science of happiness, its natural highs and lows, and how individuals can navigate the midlife slump to find greater satisfaction and purpose in life.

This is a book that will help put everything into perspective. It will help you figure out what makes people happy and why that changes over time. By learning its secrets, perhaps you can find happiness too!

By Jonathan Rauch,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Happiness Curve as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"In this warm, wise, and witty overview, Jonathan Rauch combines evidence and experience to show his fellow adults that the best is yet to come.” ―Steven Pinker, bestselling author of Enlightenment Now

This book will change your life by showing you how life changes.

Why does happiness get harder in your 40s? Why do you feel in a slump when you’re successful? Where does this malaise come from? And, most importantly, will it ever end?

Drawing on cutting-edge research, award-winning journalist Jonathan Rauch answers all these questions. He shows that from our 20s into our 40s, happiness follows a U-shaped…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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