OpenCraft Book Club

Anyone want to share what they’ve been reading lately?

I’m currently reading Entangled Life: How Fungi Make Our Worlds, Change Our Minds & Shape Our Futures by Merlin Sheldrake, which my partner got me for Christmas, and really enjoying it. I had no idea how interesting fungi are nor how little I knew about them. It reminds me of two of Ed Yong’s books which both permanently changed how I think of the natural world (An Immense World and I Contain Multitudes).
One of two highlights from what I read in 2023 was A City on Mars by the Weinersmiths. I’ve always been a huge fan of SpaceX, “going to mars”, rocket launches, and all that stuff. And this book celebrates that while also taking a very critical look at the reality of sending humans into space. I learned that I had been way too caught up in the hype and very uninformed about the serious problems facing that idea. It actually changed my views in a big way.
The other highlight of books I read in 2023 for me was Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World. The author does an excellent job of showing that a lot of [often well-intentioned] philanthropists, thought leaders, and business leaders do things that are presented as making the world better, but often just entrench the status quo even more, and fail to solve the most important systemic issues. As a particularly relevant example, a lot of people in the tech industry have this idea “that if you can just sprinkle technology on a problem, you can solve it” - which leads to wasted projects like “One Laptop Per Child”, or (arguably) thinking that MOOCs will revolutionize education (when fundamental problems like the ongoing literacy crisis or the way American schools are funded so unequally are way more critical). This book also really changed my mind about a lot of topics, and I’m still processing it.