8 Great Books I’ve Read in my Trip to Bali

I just returned from an amazing trip to Bali, Indonesia, where I had the great fortune of discovering a fascinating culture surrounded by paradisiac places. Also, I had the time to catch up with my list of books long wanted to read and some new discoveries. I gave myself time to devour eight books (some of the them via audiobooks which is great for trips!) all of which turned out to be really great! So I thought of recommending them and sharing a little review now that I have them fresh in my mind.

techWhat Technology Wants. By Kevin Kelly

Wow, this book really blew my mind! It explores many ideas that were growing on me as I keep researching about technology and the future. Kevin Kelly, founder of Wired Magazine, took 7 years of his life to investigate technology, its history, its dynamics and its possible future. He introduces the concept of the “Technium” and describes how technology might very well be the seventh kingdom of life. He explores the similarities between biology and technology and the biggest trends of these interrelated phenomenon at a cosmic level. While his view towards technology and the future is markedly optimistic, he dedicates a lot of thinking to the dangers and negatives sides of technology. A must read for anyone interested in tech, humanity and the future.

hinduHinduism: A Very Short Introduction. By Kim Knott

This book is exactly what the title expresses. I’ve always been interested in the oriental religions and the trip to Hindu Bali was a great opportunity to dive into the basics of the religion (in fact I listened to the book as an audiobook while visiting amazing Hindu temples across the island). The book is a scholar approach to the religion, meaning that it doesn’t try to convince you of anything, it just describes it as objectively as possible. The book covers its origins, history, traditions, beliefs and transformations, considering the wide diversity of forms that Hinduism has taken in India and across the world along its history. I was fascinated by many of Hinduism’s main concepts (such as Dharma, Karma and Yoga) and though it can be confusing to grasp all its forms it helped me understand the Hindu society much better.

machineThe Second Machine Age: Work, Progress, and Prosperity in a Time of Brilliant Technologies. By Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee.

In this book MIT professors and researchers take on the challenges of a global society in front of the technological revolution that we are living and what it might bring in the next few decades. A rather optimistic view of what the exponentially accelerating technologies of today might mean for humanity, the book is a good food for thought for those interested in technology and the future. Personally I think they fall somewhat short on their views of the ultimate possible outcomes and on their recommendations in front of those outcomes. But nevertheless it’s a great and educated overview of the main technological drivers of change and its impacts on the economy and global society.

zaraThus Spoke Zarathustra: A Book for Everyone and No One. By Friedrich Nietzsche

This is a book I’ve had on my “reading-list” since teen-age, and I’ve finally gave myself time to read. A fascinating philosophical novel from one of the most incendiary thinkers of the last few centuries. The concept of the “ubermensch” or super-man is explored, which for those interested in post-humanism can turn to be really interesting. Other philosophical concepts such as “eternal recurrence” and “human will to power” are explored. For those interested in contrarian thinking, society and the big questions this book will be more than good food for thought.

ideasWhere Good Ideas Come From: The Natural History of Innovation. By Steven Johnson

This book is also exactly about what its title expresses.  Some fascinating concepts about how “creation” happens in the world. One of the ideas I appreciated the most is the thesis of the “adjacent possible”. I loved the parallels between natural creation in biology and cultural creation by humans, and the consideration of the two as just a continuum. Using amazing stories of entrepreneurs, scientist and inventors and concepts from psychology, sociology and science in general the book inspires new ideas and methods for bringing innovative things to life, both as individuals and organizations.

sapiensSapiens: A Brief History of Humankind. By Yuval Noah Harari

This is probably the best history book I’ve ever read. With the highest historical perspective and with the most unbiased possible view, the author tells the story of us (Homo Sapiens) from insignificant apes to rulers of the world. The books has just being published on September of 2014 and therefore includes the latest findings on genetic studies, geological and archeological discoveries and more. I’ve learned countless remarkable things that I didn’t know about us and our history. But most importantly the book makes you question your perceptions of ancient civilizations and as a consequence, of our own current civilization. Contrarian, bold, funny and completely mind-blogging. Highly recommended.

zeroThe Zero Marginal Cost Society: The Internet of Things, the Collaborative Commons, and the Eclipse of Capitalism. By Jeremy Rifkin

In this book Jeremy Rifkin analyzes several technological phenomenon developing at the moment and with that predicts a “third industrial revolution” and, boldly, the end of capitalism. Although repetitive at times and covering many things that I already knew, it gave me a couple of new interesting ideas about things that might happen in the next few decades.

hitchThe Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy. By Douglas Adams

Another book that I had for a long time on my reading list. Totally hilarious novel that touches topics that I love: travel, space, philosophy, technology, humanity… and “the meaning of life, the universe and everything”. Totally recommended. This is the first book of a series of five and I can’t wait to read the following books on the series.

You can find all of them in Amazon and some of them in Audiable.com. I hope you found the recommendations useful.

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