The most important book you’ll read this year

Many of you will have heard of Hans Rosling. He was an eminent Swedish public health physician and lecturer who came to public attention through a number of TED talks he gave, explaining how little most of us (in the Western world, anyway) really know about the world.

Sadly, Rosling died in February 2017, but his legacy lives on in his book Factfulness: Ten Reasons We’re Wrong About The World, co-written with his son Ola and daughter-in-law Anna.

As a book, its aim is very simple. To explain why the world is in a better place than you think and to emphasise that most of what you know is wrong. Rosling achieves this by asking a series of multiple-choice questions, most of which you fail miserably on. Continue reading “The most important book you’ll read this year”

The ultimate tests of being rich and smart

John Waters
I was listening to an episode of the excellent Radio 4 series A Good Read recently, featuring Kathy Burke and Tom Allen.

Allen chose a book by the film director John Waters – Role Models – and during the ensuing discussion mentioned the following quote, which for me hits the nail on the head.

“Being rich is not about how much money you have or how many homes you own; it’s the freedom to buy any book you want without looking at the price and wondering if you can afford it.”

I’ve found myself buying and reading books more voraciously this year than ever before – partly because I want to keep learning and I’d prefer to get a book over a new item of clothing or some other less useful thing.

This quote from Charlie Munger – Warren Buffett’s right-hand man – is also a mantra I take to heart.

“I constantly see people rise in life who are not the smartest, sometimes not even the most diligent, but they are learning machines. They go to bed every night a little wiser than they were when they got up and boy does that help, particularly when you have a long run ahead of you.”

So do yourself a favour and go and buy a book and start reading today.

The real definition of ‘travel’

Travel stuff
CC image via flickr: Iain Croll

Travel used to be considered exotic and only something hugely-adventurous people would do. In 1968, Simon Raven wrote “Travel: A Moral Primer” for The Spectator.

In it, he detailed the true definition of travel in the ‘then’ modern age, especially for students. Although very much of its time, some of the advice still rings true almost 50 years on.

“Travel is when you assess your money and resources and then set out, alone or with chosen friends, to make an unhurried journey to a distant goal… leaving only a post restante address [if that], and giving no date for your return.”

Raven goes on to list 7 important maxims to ensure your travel is as ‘real’ as possible. They are frightfully dated, but this one is particularly good and one I wish we could all live by in 2017.

“Courtesy requires that your parents should be told you are actually going, but you should imply it is a brief, safe trip… Keep your real route and destination strictly to yourself.”