10 good books I read in 2023. In no particular order:

1) The New Leviathans (2023) — John Gray

Political philosopher, Gray’s latest book is a sobering meditation on the precarious future of the liberal project, along with an exploration of those illiberal Leviathans growing across the world. Gray uncovers the eternal folly of the human animal in its many modern guises. I preordered this months in advance and wasn’t disappointed!

2) The Peter Principle (1969) — Laurence Peter & Raymond Hull

A timeless classic that explores the roots of management incompetence. It somehow manages to be a work of philosophy, organisational psychology and satire all at once!  The principle: “In a hierarchy every employee tends to rise to his level of incompetence.”

3) Unpopular Essays (1950) — Bertrand Russell

A collection of provocative essays written between 1937 and 1950, covering such topics as Philosophy’s Ulterior Motives, Ideas that have Harmed Mankind and my personal favourite, An Outline of Intellectual Rubbish. Russell never shies away from difficult subjects.

4) String Theory (2014) — David Foster Wallace.

A deep dive into the weird and wonderful world of tennis and the mindset of top players — how do they deal with the “Iago like voice of the self” to find focus? Roger Federer fans will also find an entire essay dedicated to him in the book.

5) Nature, Man and Woman (1958) — Alan Watts

I recently realised that this was the one book by Watts I hadn’t read. A beautiful meditation on our relationship to each other as human beings and to the entire realm of nature. Watts draws upon Taoist and Eastern philosophy as he brings his typical poetic style.

6) The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (1962) — Thomas Kuhn

Kuhn changed the way we understand the world by highlighting the existence of, and shifts in, “paradigms”. In this seminal work he explores how paradigm shifts happen in science — the lessons of course are widely generalisable.

7) The Ending of Time (1985) — Jiddu Krishnamurti

In a series of meditative conversations with physicist David Bohm, Krishnamurti explores how the notion of ‘self’ is bound up with time — a mental projection backwards and forwards caught-up in constant striving. The book is a transcript of audio talks available on YouTube — this is actually much better listened to!

8) The Rise of Victimhood Culture (2018) — Bradley Campbell & Jason Manning.

The authors explore the proliferation of ‘victimhood’ in modernity, outlining the structural factors that make it more likely to emerge. A different animal altogether, Victimhood culture is contrasted with Honour and Dignity moral cultures. Important reading for our times.

9) The Creative Act (2023) — Rick Rubin

Legendary Music Producer Rick Rubin draws upon decades of experience in the studio to meditate on creativity — how everyone truly is an artist, and how being creative really is a way of being. One of the best books on creativity I’ve read, it even has practical tips applicable to almost any field.

10) The Daily Laws (2021)— Robert Greene.

Hard hitting thoughts on how to find mastery and motivation in a noisy world. What I like about reading Greene is that even the [50%] that I feel is not fully-considered or hopelessly cynical, still makes me think. There is a clarity to the writing that is very powerful.

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Harsha PereraHarsha is a 1:1 coach and independent thinker based in London. He empowers people to find more clarity, confidence and focus in their lives — to cut through the noise, in a world so full of it. Harsha’s new book, Machine Ego: Tragedy of the Modern Mind, is now available in paperback and Kindle through Amazon.

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