Book Notes Digest #9

March 15, 2020

Hey all,

Wow, what a week.

I don’t have much to add other than I hope everyone is staying safe and sane.

If you need a positive nugget to brighten your day, my excessive library checkouts have been extended indefinitely—meaning I have plenty to keep me busy over the next couple of weeks 👍

I’ve been pushing forward with my writing goal and published two new blog posts over the last few weeks. The first is an answer to whether getting an MBA is worth it. The second is a summary of the book Range, my favorite read from 2020 so far. I’d love to hear your thoughts if you have any!

And if you’d like to share these emails out more broadly, you can use this link where anyone can subscribe: https://booknotes.substack.com/

Best,

Matt


1 - Scarcity

Amazon

Here are my main takeaways from Scarcity, which certainly seem relevant these days:

Scarcity of resources can either deliver us out of a jam, or doom us to failure. When we have limited time, our focus is tunneled on a single goal, at the expense of other priorities. This means that we can crank out 11th hour presentations, but it also means that we justify multitasking or even ignoring important responsibilities.

Having slack or abundance means we don't have to make tough trade-offs, but it also means we can wasteful with our time and resources.

We should be careful about judging others because scarcity causes actions that aren't in-line with values. For those dealing with poverty, this scarcity tax means that there is a constant worry about survival, that those with more resources never have to deal with.

2 - Range

Amazon

An amazing book about the importance of broad experience and the risks of hyper-specialization. I wrote a more in depth review here.

3 - The Three Body Problem

Amazon

A mix of Chinese history, hardcore science, and an exploration of the merits of humanity as a whole, makes this a captivating work of science fiction. If you haven't read it, I don't want to give away too much of the plot, but here are three ideas that really stood out:

  • The Three Body Problem generally; I know almost no physics, but would like to learn more!

  • Using games with high intellectual barriers as sorting functions

  • The idea of "Contact as symbol" - contact with extraterrestrials is merely a switch—regardless of the details of our interactions, the results will be the same.

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