Book Bits: 23 July 2022

The Upside of Uncertainty: A Guide to Finding Possibility in the Unknown
Nathan Furr and Susannah Harmon Furr
Review via Financial Times
Uncertainty in life is, ironically, certain. The past two years amid a pandemic have been no exception. Whether you’re a chief executive steering a business through the negative effects of lockdowns, a furloughed employee or, worse, someone who has faced job loss, at times the uncertainty for many has felt crippling.
However, Nathan Furr, a strategy and innovation professor at Insead business school in Paris, and Susannah Harmon Furr, an entrepreneur, believe we can reframe uncertainty in a way that helps us use it to our advantage.
According to the authors, our brains are wired to fear uncertainty’s downsides, but since it is not going away “learning to face the unknown well is critical to our ability to survive and thrive”. Based on both research and interviews, the book provides a practical framework that can be applied to help us find the possibilities from uncertainty and act on them.

The Metaverse: And How it Will Revolutionize Everything
Matthew Ball
Q&A/review with author via VentureBeat
Ball is an optimist about the metaverse, but he constantly brings up complicated arguments about what could slow it down or speed it up. The need for real-time communication and low-latency technology is just one of the challenges we face. His book puts some meat behind the buzzword.
And so his arguments are rooted in reality, and his optimism is tempered with the murkiness of real life. Naturally, in our interview, I peppered Ball with questions about whether gaming would lead the way or not.

Buy This, Not That: How to Spend Your Way to Wealth and Freedom
Sam Dogen
Summary via publisher (Portfolio)
Sam Dogen, creator of the Financial Samurai blog, knows that you need to spend money to make money. He’s taught over 90 million readers how to invest wisely in all facets of life, from education to parenting to relationships to side hustles, even choosing where to work and play. Now, in his first book, Buy This, Not That, the Financial Samurai takes the guesswork out of financial planning and shows you exactly what to buy, how much to spend, and how to optimize every dollar you earn so you can maximize wealth building and live life on your terms.

The Return of the State: And Why it is Essential for our Health, Wealth and Happiness
Graeme Garrard
Review via The Enlightened Economist
Graeme Garrard’s The Return of the State, and why it is essential for our health, wealth and happiness, wears its heart on its jacket sleeve. The title will put off some readers and attract others – it will end up preaching to the converted.
The book – just under 200 pages long – starts out with a necessarily brief account of the swing of the pendulum in the centuries-long political debate between those who think more state is the problem and those who think it’s the solution. I began by thinking this could be a useful introduction to, say, undergraduates who hadn’t come across this history before. I also liked the fact that the book weaves in the role of powerful non-state actors – not just today’s mega-corps but also international mafia and the gazillions of dirty money sloshing around the financial system. The role of the illegal economy is overlooked in mainstream economics – probably because there’s no time series data to download and run regressions on.

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