3 books that might change your mind – 2019 edition

Here are 3 books I read this year that changed how I view the world –

1. Alchemy by Rory Sutherland (my review, Amazon): This was the book of the year. It’s impact on me was as follows – every time I hear someone say “that makes sense and should work” or something similar, I stop in my tracks and remind myself that things that the idea that things that make sense should work is a falsehood.

Rory Sutherland’s work has pushed me to be more curious and more accepting of ideas that aren’t logical. After all, logical solutions work better for logical problems vs. psycho-logical problems. Thus, Alchemy has put in a reminder as strong as any that things that work don’t need to make sense and that a dash of alchemy is often what we need to solve problems.

In that sense, its impact on me was profound.

2. The Diet Myth by Tim Spector (my review, Amazon): Tim Spector’s work drilled in a simple lesson – there is no such thing as the perfect diet because it is an interaction between the person’s gut microbes and the food. Everyone reacts to different things differently.

His advice as a result was simple – focus on natural, plant based, foods, Milk and food with living bacteria (yoghurt, cheeses), etc., are recommended. You won’t go wrong with diet that worked for your grandmother. Everything works great in moderation.

There were many other notes in the book that were eye-opening – e.g. his notes on junk food and the research on antibiotics.

Nutrition research is hard to do and books on nutrition are generally riddled with flawed science and incredibly loose correlations (I browsed a book the other day that estimated that eating xg of Beef increased life span by y years based on 2 bar charts). Tim Spector’s book does a great job rising above the pseudoscience with a thoughtful take on the research. It is a great buy and a must read.

3. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline (my review, Amazon): Ready Player One was fascinating because it took me from being a virtual reality non-believer to plausibly consider a future where we might just live in a virtual reality simulation.

It also had a different sort of impact. As of this writing, I’ve reviewed 252 books on my book review blog. The number of science fiction books I read until I read Ready Player One in the beginning of 2019 was 0. And, despite the fact that this was a quiet year in terms of books for me (hence the 3 books recommended versus the usual 5), I read 4 works of science fiction and enjoyed reading all of them.

Thank you, Ernest Cline.

More resources:

Past editions of “5 books that might change your mind” – 2018, 201720162015201420122011

Categorized book recommendations of all 230+ books (mostly non-fiction) I’ve read in the past decade – RohanRajiv.blog