October’s dead tree reading list

I love books. I always said when I grew up I wanted to have my very own library. And now I have. I’ve got a ladder and everything.

Granted, my need for a ladder is greater than most.

Anyway, inspired by Sarah Lay and Dave Briggs, here’s my Dead Tree Reading List for this month:


Risk: The Science and Politics of Fear (Dan Gardiner): At work I’ve been thinking lately about how we handle risk. Does our perception of risk create organisational paralysis? Often potential risks prevent us from innovating and trying new things. Do we need to get more used to taking risks?

Most books on risk look at the gap between statistical likelihood and perception of risk; this one goes into the psychology and politics of fear, so hopefully is a good basis on which to look at these questions.

My Invented Country (Isabel Allende): In this book, Allende explores her own perceptions and understandings of her home country, Chile. I admit I’m a little obsessed with South America, but I picked this up as it reminded me of Benedict Anderson’s concept of nation as imagined community.

We Think (Charles Ledbeater): This book explores how the web is changing our world, creating a culture in which more people than ever can participate, share and collaborate. That’s why the web is such a potent platform for creativity and innovation and has the potential to transform our democracy. I love this stuff.

Here Comes Everybody (Clay Shirky): This looks at organising without organisations. The social web gives us the tools to make group action a reality. That, in turn, could change our whole world.

The latter two are part of the growing body of literature (digital as well as dead tree) on the potential of the social web to transform the way we live our lives.

By lowering transaction costs and allowing people to self-0rganise, the web makes possible a whole raft of activity that was previously impossible or simply uneconomic.

So, for example, if you love reading and regularly buy books, you’ll know that new books are expensive. Even when you buy secondhand books, you get charged a fortune for postage and packing.

The social web makes alternatives possible. ReadItSwapIt is a book exchange website which allows users to simply swap the books they no longer want for ones they do want – for free.

Once you’ve finished a book, just register it with ReadItSwapIt and then find a book that you want to read. If someone has a book you like, you can arrange to post them to each other. All you pay is the cost of postage.

In my years of living in poky flats with shelf-space at a premium, I operated a strict(ish) one-in, one-out system using ReadItSwapIt that kept my bursting-at-the-seams shelves at some kind of equalibrium (and saved me a fortune).

A fine example of the way the web can transform the way we do business with each other, if you ask me.

Anti-Disclaimer: Links above aren’t affiliate ones, so I don’t make any money if you buy the books. However, I am probably obliged by my employers to point out there are more free books than you can shake a stick at available at your local, council-run library.

3 thoughts on “October’s dead tree reading list

  1. Hi,
    I agree with your comments on risk. We need to take more risks in work and in our general living. Organisations normally avoid risk and staying with the tried and trusted feeds our insatiable appetite for comfort.

    As I age I am aware of the tendency to narrow my experience into an everincreasingly confined rut. I make a concious effort to break out, take risk, shake the tree and see what falls.

    Perhaps we all need to break the mould or at least chip at it a little each day.

    Good luck with your reading and don’t forget some action along with all that reading.

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