The best books about meritocracy 📚

Browse the best books on meritocracy as recommended by authors, experts, and creators. Along with notes on why they recommend those books.

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Book cover of Q

Q

By Christina Dalcher

Why this book?

What happens when you take the meritocracy to extremes and you can only access the best of food and housing etc when your Q is the highest? Dalcher creates an interesting future world, damning of social engineering and genetic manipulation, and reminds us that it was less than a hundred years ago that certain war-hungry fellas (and a few women) salivated over thoughts of a perfect Aryan race. A great page-turner but with a few ‘Deus ex Machina' plot twists with which I’m still struggling. Nevertheless a very worthy read.

From the list:

The best books set in a post apocalyptic future

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Book cover of The Tyranny of Merit: What's Become of the Common Good?

The Tyranny of Merit: What's Become of the Common Good?

By Michael J. Sandel

Why this book?

Tyranny is the landmark book that is moral philosophy’s contribution to the inflection point. Its fundamental concept of ‘contributive justice’ magnificently supersedes Rawls’ dated ‘distributive justice’. To give you a glimpse of two profound works, Rawls invoked some moral gymnastics involving a hypothetical withdrawal from society to a veil of ignorance about a hypothetical lottery of how a hypothetical national cake might be cut up. Sandel places us firmly back in our society and focuses on the agency needed for the moral duty to contribute to the baking of our national cake. Sandel, again at Harvard, is the most famous…

From the list:

The best books on how to renew our divided societies

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Book cover of The Aristocracy of Talent: How Meritocracy Made the Modern World

The Aristocracy of Talent: How Meritocracy Made the Modern World

By Adrian Wooldridge

Why this book?

Genetics, meritocracy, and social mobility are often conflated. I was in awe of the breadth and clarity of this historical overview of how meritocracy overturned millennia of inheritance and patronage. The last half of the book diagnoses what’s gone wrong with meritocracy and suggests how it can be fixed. Adrian Wooldridge is The Economist’s political editor, which shows in the book’s brilliant and entertaining style.  

From the list:

The best books about genetics and psychology

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Book cover of Lost for Words

Lost for Words

By Edward St Aubyn

Why this book?

A comedy that exposes “prize-based meritocracy” in the literary profession, where prizes lead to best-sellers, where sponsors influence outcomes to promote their own image instead of works of artistic merit, and where writers sell their souls, and bodies, for that elusive prize. The literary stereotypes are present: nymphomaniacal ingenues, insomniacal agonizers, paradoxical theorists, opportunistic editors, and self-published authors with money to burn – all weaving and bobbing around each other to gain personal advantage.

St. Aubyn presents this story in elegant prose, moving the plot brilliantly, while exposing the underbelly of the literary establishment, in which the result of all…

From the list:

The best books about the writing life

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