Celebrity Picks: Tim O'Reilly's Favorite Reads of 2017

Chris Schluep on November 15, 2017

Photo credit: Peter Reilly, Faces of Open Source

When Tim O'Reilly speaks, Silicon Valley listens. So maybe we should listen, too. His new book WTF?: What's the Future and Why It's Up to Us does not mean what you might initially suppose. True, WTF? can represent a sense of dismay, but in O'Reilly's book title it represents a spirit of optimism--What's The Future?-- specifically, his belief that technology will change our lives for the good if we focus on that goal.

What books inform Tim O'Reilly? See his picks below, and look here for the latest celebrity favorites.

Tim O'Reilly's favorite reads of 2017

A good book is a tool for living. It helps us see the world and ourselves more deeply. Here are three unexpected books that will make you smarter and better and happier more effectively than any self-help book!

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Who Gets What - and Why by Alvin E. Roth
Jonathan Hall, the chief economist at Uber, turned me on to this book. Roth got his Nobel prize in Economics for his research on marketplaces and what makes them tick. Jonathan told me that it was his bible at Uber, and he'd learned so much from it. I devoured it, and it shaped my understanding of Uber, Lyft, and Airbnb, Facebook, Google, and Twitter, and ultimately led me down a path to understanding what the rise and fall of technology platforms teaches us about the marketplace failures of our current economy.

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Principles by Ray Dalio
I love the way Ray wove lessons from his own life and work into a broader guide to better decision-making. Our society is in dire need of what Ray variously calls "an idea meritocracy" and "believability-weighting." I hope that his book will spark wide scale experiments in how to put these principles to work. Not everyone can use Ray's principles to manage a hedge fund, but if we were using them to frame - and answer - the great questions that bedevil our nation today, we'd all be far better off.

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How Adam Smith Can Change Your Life by Russ Roberts
I expected this book to be an explanation of free-markets and the ideas from The Wealth of Nations, and was delighted to discover that instead, it was about Adam Smith's first great work, The Theory of Moral Sentiments, which is about the impulses that drive people to do good for others. And like the book to which its title gives homage, Alain de Botton's How Proust Can Change Your Life, this book makes accessible a great work that might otherwise go unread, and that has so much to teach us about happiness and human nature.

P.S. It's hard to pick just three. I love suggesting books to others (would love to do some favorite novels another time, or poetry!) so if they ever offer this again, I'd be glad to do it again.

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