Last year, Mark Zuckerberg launched a book club on Facebook with a reading list that focused on “different cultures, beliefs, histories, and technologies.” Zuckerberg’s goal was to read and recommend a book every two weeks. While he didn’t meet his goal, thanks to the birth of his daughter Max, he did come pretty close to it.
The book club idea came about because of the Facebook CEO’s mission to connect people around the world and share ideas to create a better future. Zuckerberg ended 2015 with 23 selections in his A Year of Books reading group.
Here are the top 21 books Mark Zuckerberg wants you to read, along with his reasons for picking them.
#1 – ‘The New Jim Crow’ by Michelle Alexander
Mark Zuckerberg explained that he chose to read ‘The New Jim Crow’ because he has “been interested in learning about criminal justice reform for a while, and this book was highly recommended by several people I trust.”
In it, Alexander argues that the “war on drugs” fostered a culture where nonviolent black men are overrepresented in prison. The law professor at Ohio State University also notes that these men are treated as second-class citizens when they are released.
#2 – ‘Why Nations Fail’ by Daron Acemoglu and James A. Robinson
MIT economist Daren Acemoglu and Harvard political scientist James Robinson published their overview of 15 years of research in 2012. In the book, the authors seek to define the difference between extractive governments and inclusive governments.
According to the men, an extractive government uses controls to enforce the power of the few, while an inclusive government works to create open markets that let citizens spend and invest their money freely. They also argue that economic growth doesn’t always mean a country will be health in the long-term.
Zuckerberg explained in the Facebook group that he picked this book so he could understand more about the origins of global poverty.
#3 – ‘The Rational Optimist’ by Matt Ridley
In ‘The Rational Optimist,’ Matt Ridley argues that the concept of markets is the source of human progress. The book is often considered the most popular and most controversial of Ridley’s books.
In it, the popular-science writer adds that progress is accelerated if markets are kept as free as possible. He argues that the evolution of ideas that free markets offer will let humans improve their living conditions, despite threats of climate change and overpopulation.
Zuckerberg noted that he read this book because it contradicts ‘Why Nations Fail.” He wrote, “I’m interested to see which idea resonates more after exploring both frameworks.”
#4 – ‘Portfolios of the Poor’ by Daryl Collins, Jonathan Morduch, Stuart Rutherford, and Orlanda Ruthven
These four researchers spent 10 years studying the financial lives of Bangladesh, India, and South Africa’s poorest people. They published their findings in ‘Portfolios of the Poor,’ noting that extreme poverty flourishes in areas where people lack access to financial institutions to store their money.
This finding is different than the suggestion that extreme poverty is found where people live dollar to dollar or in an area with a high amount of poor purchasing decisions.
In explaining his decision to read ‘Portfolios of the Poor,’ Mark Zuckerberg wrote, “It’s mind-blowing that almost half the world – almost 3 billion people – live on $2.50 a day or less.” He added, “I hope reading this provides some insight into ways we can all work to support them better as well.”
#5 – ‘World Order’ by Henry Kissinger
Zuckerberg explained that Kissinger’s ‘World Order’ is “about foreign relations and how we can build peaceful relationships throughout the world.” The Facebook CEO added, “This is important for creating the world we all want for our children, and that’s what I’m thinking about these days.”
The book by the former US Secretary of State is an analysis of how different parts of the world understand the concept of empire and political power. Kissinger explains how these centuries-old concepts were brought together by the global economy, causing tensions and war.