Mark Zuckerberg’s book club: These are the 15 books you need to read to catch up over the summer

Lynsey Barber
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Get your Zuckerberg inspired reading ready

Mark Zuckerberg is more than half way through his ambitious goal of reading a book every two weeks - a new years challenge he set himself at the start of 2015 - and they're quickly piling up.

Keeping up with his accompanying book club on Facebook may not have been at the top of everyone's own resolutions for 2015, but with pool-side holidays and lazy summer weekends coming up in August, it's the perfect opportunity to catch up on what's got the brain juices of one of the world's biggest tech entrepreneurs flowing.

These are the 15 books Zuck has read so far, and why, in his own words, he thinks they're worth a look. He has been a little bit more tight-lipped about his verdict after reading them, but if you're not quite sure where to start, we've collected their Good Reads rating and ranked them to help you decide.

1. Genome

Matt Ridley

"This book aims to tell a history of humanity from the perspective of genetics rather than sociology. This should complement the other broad histories I've read this year, as well as follow Energy well in focusing on science.

I've wanted to read Matt Ridley's books for a while. His recent book The Rational Optimist about how progress and the economy evolve is also near the top of my ever-growing pile of books to read."

2. Energy

Vaclav Smil

"This book is about physical rather than social sciences. It explores important topics around how energy works, how our production and use might evolve, and how this affects climate change.

Vaclav Smil's works have been highly recommended by Bill Gates and others. I'm also planning to read his book Making The Modern World when I get a chance."

3. The Player of Games

Iain Banks

"This is a change of pace from all the recent social science books. Instead, it's a science fiction book about an advanced civilization with AI and a vibrant culture.

In other news, my pile of books to read is growing faster than I can get through it while running a large company."

4. Sapiens: A Brief History

Yuval Harari

"This book is a big history narrative of human civilization -- from how we developed from hunter-gatherers early on to how we organize our society and economy today.

Following the Muqaddimah, which was a history from the perspective of an intellectual in the 1300s, Sapiens is a contemporary exploration of many similar questions. I'm looking forward to reading these different perspectives."

5. Muqaddimah

Ibn Khaldun

"It's a history of the world written by an intellectual who lived in the 1300s. It focuses on how society and culture flow, including the creation of cities, politics, commerce and science.

While much of what was believed then is now disproven after 700 more years of progress, it's still very interesting to see what was understood at this time and the overall worldview when it's all considered together."

6. The New Jim Crow

Michelle Alexander

"This social justice book outlines the many ways the US criminal justice system discriminates against minorities, disadvantages them and prevents everyone from having equal opportunity.

I've been interested in learning about criminal justice reform for a while, and this book was highly recommended by several people I trust."

7. Orwell's Revenge

Peter Huber

"Many of us are familiar with George Orwell's book 1984. Its ideas of Big Brother, surveillance and doublespeak have become pervasive fears in our culture.

Orwell's Revenge is an alternate version of 1984. After seeing how history has actually played out, Huber's fiction describes how tools like the internet benefit people and change society for the better."

8. Dealing With China

Hank Paulson

"This book is about Paulson's experience working with Chinese leaders over two decades as US Secretary of the Treasury and as head of Goldman Sachs.

Over the last 35 years, China has experienced one of the greatest economic and social transformations in human history. Hundreds of millions of people have moved out of poverty. By many measures, China has done more to lift people out of poverty than the whole rest of the world combined.

I've been personally interested as a student of Chinese culture, history and language. I'm looking forward to reading Paulson's perspective on what China's rise means for the world."

9. Rational Ritual

Michael Chwe

"The book is about the concept of "common knowledge" and how people process the world not only based on what we personally know, but what we know other people know and our shared knowledge as well.

This is an important idea for designing social media, as we often face tradeoffs between creating personalized experiences for each individual and crafting universal experiences for everyone. I'm looking forward to exploring this further."

10. The Structure of Scientific Revolutions

Thomas Kuhn

"It's a history of science book that explores the question of whether science and technology make consistent forward progress or whether progress comes in bursts related to other social forces.

I tend to think that science is a consistent force for good in the world. I think we'd all be better off if we invested more in science and acted on the results of research. I'm excited to explore this theme further."

11. Creativity, Inc.

Ed Catmull

"This book is written by the founder of Pixar and is about his experience building a culture that fosters creativity.

His theory is that people are fundamentally creative, but many forces stand in the way of people being able to do their best work.

I love reading first-hand accounts about how people build great companies like Pixar and nurture innovation and creativity. This should be inspiring to anyone looking to do the same, and hopefully there will be lessons we can apply to connecting the world!"

12. On Immunity

Eula Biss

"Vaccination is an important and timely topic. The science is completely clear: vaccinations work and are important for the health of everyone in our community.

This book explores the reasons why some people question vaccines, and then logically explains why the doubts are unfounded and vaccines are in fact effective and safe.

This book was recommended to me by scientists and friends who work in public health. It’s also a relatively short book — one that you should be able to read in a few hours. I encourage you to check it out and to join the discussion."

13. Gang Leader for a Day

Sudhir Venkatesh

"I'm still working my way through The Better Angels of Our Nature, which is an amazing book so far -- about how violence has declined throughout history due to effective governance, the growth of commerce and the spread of ideas.

I see a lot of Facebook's work in these themes. The more we all have a voice to share our perspectives, the more empathy we have for each other and the more we respect each other's rights. Similarly, the more we benefit from global commerce and the services others provide us, the greater our incentive is to keep each other safe as it improves our lives.

Gang Leader for a Day is loosely related to the themes Better Angels in that it explores what life is like for those who don't live under effective governance. I'm looking forward to reading this and finishing up Better Angels."

14. The Better Angels of Our Nature

Steven Pinker

"It's a timely book about how and why violence has steadily decreased throughout our history, and how we can continue this trend.

Recent events might make it seem like violence and terrorism are more common than ever, so it's worth understanding that all violence -- even terrorism -- is actually decreasing over time. If we understand how we are achieving this, we can continue our path towards peace.

A few people I trust have told me this is the best book they've ever read. It's a long book, so I plan on taking a month to read it rather than two weeks. I'll add a third book in two weeks that will be a shorter read to complement this."

15. The End of Power

Moisés Naím.

"Our first book of the year will be The End of Power by Moisés Naím. It's a book that explores how the world is shifting to give individual people more power that was traditionally only held by large governments, militaries and other organizations. The trend towards giving people more power is one I believe in deeply, and I'm looking forward to reading this book and exploring this in more detail."

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