A Reading List for Self-Quarantine - By Bryan Jordan

A Reading List for Self-Quarantine - By Bryan Jordan. 

As many begin self-quarantining, now is a great opportunity to indulge in books that you haven’t considered before.

 (Elliott Erwitt)

Reading what you’re topically uncomfortable with is always a great way to confront the blackspots of your knowledge. Now with many countries beginning to enforce self-quarantine measures at just the beginning of the global pandemic, it’s to be expected that a lot more social isolation will be required in the future. With this in mind, it’s a great time to focus on yourself by reading about topics that you haven’t had time for. With this in mind, here are 12 of some of the most intriguing books I’ve read in the past year.

The Gene — Siddhartha Mukherjee

I have never read anything so radically life-changing. As a student studying computer engineering/neuroscience, this book details the biomolecular mesh that unionises these two fields into a common behaviour by analysing the mechanisms of genetics.

Napolean: The Man Behind the Myth — Adam Zamoyski

The creator of the First French Empire was not just a brilliant general, but also a revolutionary legislator and a catalyst for wide-reaching reform across many industries. As explored in this book, the single greatest insight from Napoleon’s life is to be on the offensive so you can shape your own path.

Novacene — James Lovelock

As both the inventor of the electron capture detector which led to the outlawing of CFCs and the creator of the Gaia Theory which describes the Earth and all living organisms as just one organism, James Lovelock has written his prediction for the future as being one where humans co-exist with far-reaching AI systems. He describes this age as the Novacene.

Superintelligence — Nick Bostrom

Brought into public attention for his argument about the simulation theory, Bostrom has since explained in intricate detail not just how a superintelligent AI system can arise, but also the consequences of such an accomplishment. In wake of businesses employing more AI systems and researchers improving these systems’ functionality, understanding what exactly we’re pursuing has never been more important.

Platform Revolution — Geoffery G. Parker

From the SaaS proliferation of the 2010s, many have failed to appreciate the new landscape that start-ups must navigate. In such an entangled, hyper-intensive marketspace, realising the magnetism and the mechanics of platforms will help strategists outmanoeuvre their competition

Running the War in Iraq — Gen. Jim Molan

When Australia pledged their top military leadership to the US during the Iraq War, Gen. Jim Molan was deployed to Baghdad, to become the Chief of Operations of the Multi-National Force. Unfortunately, many Australians aren’t familiar with Gen. Molan’s history and it’s fascinating to hear not just of his experience, but also those of his superiors like Gen. Petraeus or Donald Rumsfeld.

How Google Works — Eric Schmidt & Jonathan Rosenberg

With such an influx of business and managerial advice on social media that is sheer nonsense, it’s even more important to actively listen to established achievers. With titles of CEO, Chairman and Senior Vice-President of Products between the two authors, there’s no reason not to read this book if you have any interest in excelling in business.

Do No Harm — Dr Henry Marsh

As one of the UK’s most experienced neurosurgeons, Dr Henry Marsh recounts how the most valuable insight he’s learnt over the course of his career is deciding on when and when not to operate. By documenting some of his mistakes with patients, some fatal, he explains that any surgeon must balance improving their own skillset by confronting challenges, and also not unnecessarily placing a patient at risk.

The Tale of the Dueling Neurosurgeons —Sam Kean

Prior to Dr Harvey Cushing in the 1900s, advances in neuroscience and neurosurgery came mostly at the expense of medical misadventures. In this way, while the field has certainly evolved greatly with the advent of digital technologies, the book underscores how much of what we know about the brain is inferred by linear relationships and in turn, highlights how underdeveloped some methods really are.

The Words of Thomas Jefferson — Thomas Jefferson

It’s books like this that remind you how little you know about the world. I had always considered myself familiar with world history but when a friend bought this book for me, I was shocked at how unfamiliar I was about Thomas Jefferson. As the third US President, principal author of the Declaration of Independence, founder of the University of Virginia, there’s every reason to understand the man that has shaped so much of our modern world.

Algorithms to Live By — Brian Christian & Tom Griffiths

Having completed my software engineering subjects, it hadn’t occurred to project the algorithms I had learnt into my daily life until I came across this book. While some of the ideas may be intuitive, having an idea articulated means you can focus on it. As a result, the world and its interactions dissolve into functions and you can’t help but identify problems in a more discrete manner than before.

The China Choice — Hugh White

While the world focused on the Middle East during the 2000s and for most of the 2010s, China erupted onto the world scene at the end of the 2010s as a growing threat to the US as the leading superpower. Given the nature of the situation, this is a matter which will be out of your hands and instead, you can prepare for what may or may not eventuate.

The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump: 27 Psychiatrists and Mental Health Experts Assess a President — Brandy Lee

Published at the beginning of Trump’s presidency, this book shows the opinions of leading experts on why Trump is unfit to be in office. The book has to wrestle with the complexity of the ‘Goldwater Rule’ which pertains psychiatrists and psychologists from commenting on the mental health of individuals that aren’t their patients. Yet, as the ‘Hippocratic Oath’ endows physicians with a responsibility to protect society, these authors believe it’s their duty to prevent malignant normality from forming.

This America — Jill Lepore

As populism surges across the world, the motivation for adopting nationalism has become ever-more enchanting. Nonetheless, its roots in the US is confounded by the manner of which the country was founded — first as a state, and then as a nation. If that distinction is ill-defined to you as it was to me, then you’ll find this book a fascinating exploration of why nationalism has come to emerge as such a force in today’s world.

 

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