Hey Pops!

Rather than get you a physical book, I figured I'd round up a collection of books that I enjoyed, as well as a few that I spotted at the Amazon Bookstore in University Village - ones that stood out to me as "oooh, Dad might like this one!"

The titles below are all links to the Kindle page - so go check these out!



The One World Schoolhouse

This is Sal Khan's book about Khan Academy - if you're interested in the origins of Khan Academy, check it out! (I also have a couple of print copies if you prefer that.)

Creativity, Inc.

This book is by one of the heads of Pixar; my whole posse at Starbucks really enjoyed it - it's about how to build and run wonderful teams at work, and includes lots of Pixar lore.

The Man in the High Castle

I haven’t read it (yet) but it’s on my short list: this is supposed to be one of the best Phillip K Dick books out there, and Amazon recently made it into a TV series. (Plus, it's free!)

Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation

I read this one on the flights to/from our honeymoon - this was a fascinating book about the origins and history of how and why we cook what we do!

Collapse The World Until Yesterday

I remember you reading Jared Diamond a long time ago - dunno if you saw these two books - I really enjoyed Collapse back when I worked at Argosy, and I’m currently working through The World Until Yesterday.

Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief

Read this one a few years ago, and found it fascinating. HBO made it into a documentary last year.


Bonus: this one’s free! I read this as a kid and didn’t get it, but in 2011 I re-read it and really enjoyed a lot about it.

Skippy Dies: A Novel

Ok ok so the title is a total spoiler - but this is a fictional story about a boy’s boarding school in Dublin.

Ready Player One

I really enjoyed this book - it’s science-fiction, about a future where everybody uses virtual reality for school, work, etc - and the inventor of the system dies and leaves behind a puzzle with a massive prize.

The Godfather This book is one of my all-time favorites, dunno if you’ve read it, buuuuuuuut here’s your chance if you haven’t!

All the King’s Men

Alongside The Godfather, this one’s another really great American political novel. I really enjoyed this one, too:

All the King’s Men traces the rise and fall of demagogue Willie Stark, a fictional character loosely based on Governor Huey “Kingfish” Long of Louisiana. Stark begins his political career as an idealistic man of the people but soon becomes corrupted by success and caught between dreams of service and an insatiable lust for power, culminating in a novel that Sinclair Lewis pronounced, on the book’s release in 1946, “one of our few national galleries of character.”

Dancing with the Devil in the City of God: Rio de Janeiro on the Brink

Juliana Barbassa moved a great deal throughout her life, but Rio was always home. After twenty-one years abroad, she returned to find the city that once ravaged by inflation, drug wars, corrupt leaders, and dying neighborhoods was now on the precipice of a major change.

Rio has always aspired to the pantheon of global capitals, and under the spotlight of the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympic Games it seems that its moment has come. But in order to prepare itself for the world stage, Rio must vanquish the entrenched problems that Barbassa recalls from her childhood. Turning this beautiful but deeply flawed place into a predictable, pristine showcase of the best that Brazil has to offer in just a few years is a tall order—and with the whole world watching, the stakes couldn’t be higher.

Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea

Taking us into a landscape most of us have never before seen, award-winning journalist Barbara Demick brings to life what it means to be living under the most repressive totalitarian regime today—an Orwellian world that is by choice not connected to the Internet, in which radio and television dials are welded to the one government station, and where displays of affection are punished; a police state where informants are rewarded and where an offhand remark can send a person to the gulag for life. 

Demick takes us deep inside the country, beyond the reach of government censors. Through meticulous and sensitive reporting, we see her six subjects—average North Korean citizens—fall in love, raise families, nurture ambitions, and struggle for survival. One by one, we experience the moments when they realize that their government has betrayed them. 

The Language of Food: A Linguist Reads the Menu

Why do we eat toast for breakfast, and then toast to good health at dinner? What does the turkey we eat on Thanksgiving have to do with the country on the eastern Mediterranean? Can you figure out how much your dinner will cost by counting the words on the menu?

In The Language of Food, Stanford University professor and MacArthur Fellow Dan Jurafsky peels away the mysteries from the foods we think we know. Thirteen chapters evoke the joy and discovery of reading a menu dotted with the sharp-eyed annotations of a linguist. Jurafsky points out the subtle meanings hidden in filler words like "rich" and "crispy," zeroes in on the metaphors and storytelling tropes we rely on in restaurant reviews, and charts a microuniverse of marketing language on the back of a bag of potato chips.

Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity, and Poverty

Is it culture, the weather, geography? Perhaps ignorance of what the right policies are?

Simply, no. None of these factors is either definitive or destiny. Otherwise, how to explain why Botswana has become one of the fastest growing countries in the world, while other African nations, such as Zimbabwe, the Congo, and Sierra Leone, are mired in poverty and violence?

Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson conclusively show that it is man-made political and economic institutions that underlie economic success (or lack of it). Korea, to take just one of their fascinating examples, is a remarkably homogeneous nation, yet the people of North Korea are among the poorest on earth while their brothers and sisters in South Korea are among the richest. The south forged a society that created incentives, rewarded innovation, and allowed everyone to participate in economic opportunities. The economic success thus spurred was sustained because the government became accountable and responsive to citizens and the great mass of people. Sadly, the people of the north have endured decades of famine, political repression, and very different economic institutions—with no end in sight. The differences between the Koreas is due to the politics that created these completely different institutional trajectories.