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Book Giveaway: The 2017 800-CEO-READ Business Book Awards: Big Ideas & New Perspectives Book Giveaway


We wrap up the job of giving away all the books on the longlist of the 2017 800-CEO-READ Business Book of the Year this week.

We recognize 40 book on our longlist—five books in eight different categories—and this week, we'll be giving away the books in the Big Ideas & New Perspectives category. Those five books are listed below, along with the publisher's description. (Check back with In the Books Wednesday for our take on the books.) Each of this week's winners will receive all five books in the category.

Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow by Yuval Noah Harari, Harper

Yuval Noah Harari, author of the critically-acclaimed New York Times bestseller and international phenomenon, Sapiens, returns with an equally original, compelling, and provocative book, turning his focus toward humanity’s future, and our quest to upgrade humans into gods.

Over the past century, humankind has managed to do the impossible and rein in famine, plague, and war. This may seem hard to accept, but, as Harari explains in his trademark style—thorough, yet riveting—famine, plague and war have been transformed from incomprehensible and uncontrollable forces of nature into manageable challenges. For the first time ever, more people die from eating too much than from eating too little; more people die from old age than from infectious diseases; and more people commit suicide than are killed by soldiers, terrorists and criminals put together. The average American is a thousand times more likely to die from binging at McDonald's than from being blown up by Al Qaeda.

What then will replace famine, plague and war at the top of the human agenda? As the self-made gods of planet Earth, what destinies will we set ourselves, and which quests will we undertake? Homo Deus explores the projects, dreams and nightmares that will shape the twenty-first century—from overcoming death to creating artificial life. It asks the fundamental questions: Where do we go from here? And how will we protect this fragile world from our own destructive powers? This is the next stage of evolution. This is Homo Deus.

With the same insight and clarity that made Sapiens an international hit and a New York Times bestseller, Harari maps out our future.

Machine, Platform, Crowd: Harnessing Our Digital Future by Andrew McAfee & Erik Brynjolfsson, W. W. Norton & Company

From the authors of the best-selling The Second Machine Age, a leader’s guide to success in a rapidly changing economy.

We live in strange times. A machine plays the strategy game Go better than any human; upstarts like Apple and Google destroy industry stalwarts such as Nokia; ideas from the crowd are repeatedly more innovative than corporate research labs.

MIT’s Andrew McAfee and Erik Brynjolfsson know what it takes to master this digital-powered shift: we must rethink the integration of minds and machines, of products and platforms, and of the core and the crowd. In all three cases, the balance now favors the second element of the pair, with massive implications for how we run our companies and live our lives.

In the tradition of agenda-setting classics like Clay Christensen’s The Innovator’s Dilemma, McAfee and Brynjolfsson deliver both a penetrating analysis of a new world and a toolkit for thriving in it. For startups and established businesses, or for anyone interested in what the future holds, Machine, Platform, Crowd is essential reading.

The Power of Onlyness: Make Your Wild Ideas Mighty Enough to Dent the World by Nilofer Merchant, Viking

A leading business strategist explains how to identify your passion, use social media to find others who share a common purpose, and act together to bring about change.

Most of us long to make a dent in the universe, to leave a world that’s different and better than the one we’re born into. Until now the only way to pursue this goal systematically was by joining an institution—a big company, the military, the church—and rise in the ranks. But today we’re living at the leading edge of an entirely new era when ordinary people can, by using social technologies, connect with others to achieve extraordinary things without the backing of powerful people and organizations.

In The Power of Onlyness, Nilofer Merchant, a respected thought leader in business and entrepreneurship who won the Thinkers 50 Award in 2013 as someone who will “strongly influence the way managers manage and lead organizations going into the future,” offers a guidebook for making a difference. It shows how to embrace what makes you and your particular passion truly unique, tap into that passion, find and enlist allies, and get real results by guiding and galvanizing a crowd of like-minded peers. It explains how to make the crucial leap from “me” to “us,” how to avoid starting a movement where everyone feels good but nothing actually happens, and how to get things done in people-powered collaborations that create lasting change.

Filled with accounts of ordinary people that exploited the possibilities of this new era, The Power of Onlyness demonstrates how the power of one can be tapped into to enlist the power of many. People like Ryan Andresen, a teenager who came out as gay and swayed the Boy Scouts of America to include “different” kids like him. Or Kimberly Bryant, who established Black Girls Code to provide young and pre-teen girls of color opportunities to learn in-demand skills in technology and computer programming; or Jamie Heywood, who began Patients Like Me as a web community which is now a home for 350,000 users to report their experiences of 2,400 different conditions. These change agents had to blaze their own trails because they possessed no map, and their stories illuminate a path for the rest of us.

Scale: The Universal Laws of Growth, Innovation, Sustainability, and the Pace of Life in Organisms, Cities, Economies, and Companies by Geoffrey West, Penguin Press

From one of the most influential scientists of our time, a dazzling exploration of the hidden laws that govern the life cycle of everything from plants and animals to the cities we live in.

The former head of the Sante Fe Institute, visionary physicist Geoffrey West is a pioneer in the field of complexity science, the science of emergent systems and networks. The term “complexity” can be misleading, however, because what makes West’s discoveries so beautiful is that he has found an underlying simplicity that unites the seemingly complex and diverse phenomena of living systems, including our bodies, our cities and our businesses.

Fascinated by issues of aging and mortality, West applied the rigor of a physicist to the biological question of why we live as long as we do and no longer. The result was astonishing, and changed science, creating a new understanding of energy use and metabolism: West found that despite the riotous diversity in the sizes of mammals, they are all, to a large degree, scaled versions of each other. If you know the size of a mammal, you can use scaling laws to learn everything from how much food it eats per day, what its heart-rate is, how long it will take to mature, its lifespan, and so on. Furthermore, the efficiency of the mammal’s circulatory systems scales up precisely based on weight: if you compare a mouse, a human and an elephant on a logarithmic graph, you find with every doubling of average weight, a species gets 25% more efficient—and lives 25% longer. This speaks to everything from how long we can expect to live to how many hours of sleep we need. Fundamentally, he has proven, the issue has to do with the fractal geometry of the networks that supply energy and remove waste from the organism’s body.

West’s work has been game-changing for biologists, but then he made the even bolder move of exploring his work’s applicability to cities. Cities, too, are constellations of networks and laws of scalability relate with eerie precision to them. For every doubling in a city’s size, the city needs 15% less road, electrical wire, and gas stations to support the same population. More amazingly, for every doubling in size, cities produce 15% more patents and more wealth, as well as 15% more crime and disease. This broad pattern lays the groundwork for a new science of cities.

Recently, West has applied his revolutionary work on cities and biological life to the business world. This investigation has led to powerful insights into why some companies thrive while others fail. The implications of these discoveries are far-reaching, and are just beginning to be explored.

Sensemaking: The Power of the Humanities in the Age of the Algorithm by Christian Madsbjerg, Hachette Books 

Based on his work at some of the world's largest companies, including Ford, Adidas, and Chanel, Christian Madsbjerg's Sensemaking is a provocative stand against the tyranny of big data and scientism, and an urgent, overdue defense of human intelligence.

Humans have become subservient to algorithms. Every day brings a new Moneyball fix—a math whiz who will crack open an industry with clean fact-based analysis rather than human intuition and experience. As a result, we have stopped thinking. Machines do it for us.

Christian Madsbjerg argues that our fixation with data often masks stunning deficiencies, and the risks for humankind are enormous. Blind devotion to number crunching imperils our businesses, our educations, our governments, and our life savings. Too many companies have lost touch with the humanity of their customers, while marginalizing workers with liberal arts-based skills. Contrary to popular thinking, Madsbjerg shows how many of today's biggest success stories stem not from "quant" thinking but from deep, nuanced engagement with culture, language, and history. He calls his method sensemaking.

In this landmark book, Madsbjerg lays out five principles for how business leaders, entrepreneurs, and individuals can use it to solve their thorniest problems. He profiles companies using sensemaking to connect with new customers, and takes readers inside the work process of sensemaking "connoisseurs" like investor George Soros, architect Bjarke Ingels, and others.

Both practical and philosophical, Sensemaking is a powerful rejoinder to corporate groupthink and an indispensable resource for leaders and innovators who want to stand out from the pack.

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