Our recommended reading for January including the nuclear bomb, the origins of your morning cup and airbnb’s unlikely rise
The Doomsday Machine by Daniel Ellsburg (Bloomsbury)
It’s too late now, but if we’d have got Trump for secret santa, we’d have definitely got him this book (afterall, you can’t gift wrap a good slap around the chops, can you?) As well as being a former consultant to the US Department of Defence and the White House, drafting up Secretary Robert McNamara’s plans for nuclear war, Daniel Ellsburg was the man behind the infamous Pentagon Papers leak, so knows more than most about the inner secrets of the American Government. His latest on American nuclear planning is a frankly terrifying, but crucial read carrying a shock and awe from the first graph of the prologue to the final pages. Packed with detail that is often difficult to believe but backed up by declassified documents, ‘The Doomsday Machine’ is a crucial wake up call to anyone not taking the current political climate seriously.
Radicals by Jamie Bartlett (William Heinemann)
Jamie Bartlett has become a go to guy when it comes to books on advancing technologies and their relationship to society. His 2014 book The Dark Net, was a fascinating and informative delve into underground online communities such as Tor and the dark web marketplace. His latest, Radicals, is no less fascinating. In contrast to a political status quo that’s unable to see six months ahead, Bartlett’s latest delves into the individuals and groups looking to change society through technological rebellion and civil disobedience, people that have considered a future where populations have swelled and millions of jobs have been lost. As illuminating as always, Radicals is a book to soak in and question the narrow scope of thought that we’re all accustomed to.
Why We Sleep by Matthew Walker (Allen Lane)
Bad news everyone, pretty much everything about the last two centuries has been out to ruin your sleep: Artificial light, working hours, the night shift, alarm clocks, alcohol, sleeping pills, coffee, screens, you name it, it’s probably messing with your sleep. More bad news is if you’re sleeping less than six hours a night, which coincidentally, more and more people are, you’re more likely to succumb to a whole myriad of diseases and bad things including dwindling creativity and poor work performance. Matthew Walker’s fantastic book on sleep isn’t necessarily a golden ticket to the land of nod, but it is a must-read for understanding sleep, its importance and the conditions needed to improve it. Time to give eight hours a night the same creedence as five-a-day.
The Airbnb Story by Leigh Gallagher (Ebury)
The numbers for Airbnb don’t lie: Private market valuation of 30 billion dollars, 140 million ‘guest arrivals’ worldwide, three million listings and in less than a decade the tech company has become the largest accommodation provider in the world. The Airbnb story is one of epic proportions and one that if the founders had not plowed through relentless rejection, would not have happened. Founded amid the 2007 International Design Festival in San Francisco, when all hotels were fully booked, co-founders Chesky and Gebbia had the idea to rent out air mattresses on the floor of their apartment. Notable people laughed, but look at them now. Leigh Gallagher, with the cooperation of the founders themselves, tells the story of the hotel slaying giant. A must-read for wannabe entrepreneurs.