Mark Zuckerberg’s “A Year in Books,” The End of Power, and our Need to Read with Deeper Dives


End of PowerWe know that power is shifting from brawn to brains, from north to south and west to east, from old corporate behemoths to start-ups, from entrenched dictators to people in town squares and cyberspace.
Moisés Naím, The End of Power: From Boardrooms to Battlefields and Churches to States, Why Being In Charge Isn’t What It Used to Be

“I’ve found reading books very intellectually fulfilling… Books allow you to fully explore a topic and immerse yourself in a deeper way than most media today.”
Mark Zuckerberg (quoted in Why would Mark Zuckerberg recommend The End of Power? by Steven Poole, in The Guardian

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So, Mark Zuckerberg is starting a book club – on-line. “A Year of Books,”  he is calling it. He wrote this on his Facebook page:

My challenge for 2015 is to read a new book every other week — with an emphasis on learning about different cultures, beliefs, histories and technologies…

If you peruse Google, you will discover many, many articles reflecting on, praising, and criticizing Mr. Zuckerberg’s book club, and a few articles about the first book selection itself. (The author did not know in advance of the selection – it sold out, in hard copy, pretty much immediately on Amazon).

I immediately read the sample pages of The End of Power, chose the book as my selection for the February First Friday Book Synopsis, and look forward to reading the entire book. I do agree – that the very concept of and exercise of power, like a whole lot of other things, is in the midst of great change. The author argues that power itself is in decline. Maybe so…

I looked, but could not find a photo of Mr. Zuckerberg actually reading a physical book...  so this will have to do
I looked, but could not find a photo of Mr. Zuckerberg actually reading a physical book… so this will have to do

I look forward to seeing Mr. Zuckerberg’s other selections for the year. He plans to include a total of 26 books. My wife reminded me that he does not have an actual job – so he can do this. (I don’t often disagree with my wife, but she is wrong about this. Mr. Zuckerberg has quite a demanding job, and he appears to be pretty good at it).

But, I really like this sentence from him: “Books allow you to fully explore a topic and immerse yourself in a deeper way than most media today.” And I like it that he, and Bill Gates, and Oprah, and quite a few others are telling us about the books they read – thus, subtly recommending that we all read more books.

It is true that reading a book is a deeper dive than most anything else. As much as I like the TED Talks, the books by Susan Cain, and Margaret Heffernan, and Malcolm Gladwell provide more to chew on than their TED Talks do.

For over 16 years, Karl Krayer and I have done our part in our little corner of the world with the First Friday Book Synopsis. I think I do a decent job of pulling out of books the most important transferable principles and lessons. But, you will never get as much from one of my synopses as you will get from reading the book for yourself.

So, thanks to Mr. Zuckerberg. And, in a few weeks, I’ll be sharing my takeaways from The End of Power. And, more book takeaways will be coming all year long…

You know that well-meaning intention you have of reading more books in the new year. Maybe this “Year of Books” will prod you just a little to get moving toward that goal.

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