Steven Johnson’s Wonderland is out this week. It’s vintage Johnson, a fascinating and surprising guide to the history of innovation. Johnson is focusing on the role of delight and play in producing new ideas – from the desire for Indian calico to the tinkering of MIT’s computer gamers. Strongly recommended. (US) (UK)
I loved Maria Konnikova’s The Confidence Game – Konnikova is a great storyteller and completely in touch with the psychological literature. This book explains why we fall in love with con-men. Topical. And it’s an excellent book. (US) (UK)
And one from the archives – I spoke on a panel last week with the remarkable Paul Seabright and was reminded just what a superb book Company of Strangers is. Seabright asks the question – how did we evolve from being violent, suspicious apes to a species capable of amazing feats of cooperation and trade? And how close to the surface are the violent, suspicious apes? (US) (UK)
A reminder that my new book Messy would make the perfect Christmas present – and that my new radio series Fifty Things That Made the Modern Economy is in full swing and you can subscribe, free, to the podcast if you wish.
Meanwhile, under the circumstances, you might want to invest in a copy of Leonard Cohen’s The Future (US) (UK) – “Give me absolute control over every living soul, and lie beside me baby, that’s an order…”