What I read last week
The Idea Factory (Jon Gertner)
I’ve always heard about the inventions that came out of Bell Labs, but I had never really took the time to really learn about this storied institution. In Gertner’s book, I found the depth that I was looking for and more through play-by-play stories on numerous famous technologies. It’s fascinating that an organization like AT&T, which is now merely a diffuse and inept conglomerate, could somehow put together the talent, capital, and infrastructure to yield some of humanity’s greatest inventions. One can only hope that such a confluence will ever appear again. I highly recommend this book if you’re looking for a well-researched take on the ingredients of innovation.
Cat’s Cradle (Kurt Vonnegut)
This was a pretty interesting read. Despite being a story about the end of the world, the satire and dry wit made for more of a whimsical read than what I was expecting. The characters in this book are completely bizarre, and Vonnegut lays bare his opinions on religion, science, and society. The writing is easy to follow, but the plot quickly launches into a ridiculous mix of events, culture, and people. At times, the writing felt somewhat modern and relevant, and it was strange reminding myself that this story was written over half a century ago. A great read if you’re looking for a caricature of the human condition.
What I’m reading this week
Shoe Dog (Phil Knight)
A memoir by the co-founder of Nike. This novel covers both the inside events surrounding the development of the company as well as many candid details of the founder’s life. Recommended by John Kim and Sachin Jain.
The Stranger (Albert Camus)
A novel focusing on the philosophical themes of existentialism and absurdism. This metaphor-heavy story explores the journey of a dispassionate man who becomes involved in a cold murder.