Thinking January 31, 2018

Reading List: Christopher Schutte

favourite books

Christopher Schutte will take the stage at TIDE Amsterdam on February 5 to speak about space as an invisible interface. We raided Christopher’s bookshelf to see what has inspired his thinking. Most of these books are on his personal ‘re-read list’ – we hope they will inspire you, too.

Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman

This book features insights into the pitfalls of human rationality that might just transform how you think about intelligence, relationships and how you design. It’s important to share ideas and collaborate in teams because we can be blind to the obvious, and we are also blind to our blindness.

Stealing Fire by Steven Kotler and Jamie Wheal

This book kindled further the idea that people not only want experiences but want transformative experiences and seek to maximize human potential. A trillion-dollar economy is challenging us to rethink how we perform, connect to each other and live more satisfying lives. Psychology, neurobiology, technology and pharmacology are intertwined in this guidebook for hacking your body and mind. The possibilities are personal and networked, as we are transforming ourselves through shared experiences.

Lovemarks by Kevin Roberts

Lovemark brands are relational, personal, iconic and passionately infused with a love story and mystery. The book by the CEO of Saachi & Saachi talks about understanding consumers’ dreams—to know what they want and when they want it and to create great experiences, which make your brand a part of their lives. Chapter 9 dives into our sensorial experience and really brings home the idea of getting the ‘sensory priorities’ of your brand right.

Sapiens by Yuvah Noah Harari

‘Why have humans managed to build astonishingly large populations when other primate groups top out at 150 individuals?’ I was immediately hooked after reading this provocative question, and don’t think I’m going to tell you the answer here in three sentences! I will tell you, though, that people have a certain talent for gossip and creating networks of universally accepted “imagined realities.” Most of the knowledge we possess is tentative, yet shared myths enable millions of people to collaborate globally. This is an amazing lens with which to see our world. Doubting our shared myths means change and finding new meaning and gaining completely new knowledge to again adapt our social order. The acceleration of everything means we will need to reconcile our lives constantly with the status quo or live like designers that embrace change as an opportunity.

Anti-Fragile by Nassim Nicholas Taleb

Taleb looks at complex systems from fragile, to resilient, to those that are antifragile. If we create systems that are antifragile, they get stronger with change and take advantage of volatility. This idea is incredibly powerful when applied to people and navigating change. The whole idea can be traced back to the stoics and Nietzche’s maxim, “what does not kill me makes me stronger.” This book teaches us to embrace change, to appreciate volatility, and to avoid hindsight illusions about predicting the future.

Abundance by Peter H. Diamandis

Beyond the pessimism and sensationalism of today’s news media, finally, a book that offers no less than the evidence that we are living in the most transformative and thrilling period in human history. Abundance steers us out of the status quo zero-sum mindset and reminds us of the infinite possibilities when we tap into our own creativity and empathy to see the world with a different mindset.

Being a Dog by Alexandra Horowitz

To a dog, there is no such thing as “fresh air.” Every breath of air is loaded with information. Dogs know about their world mostly by what arrives through scent. This book lets you see the world with a beginner’s mind as it unpacks the experience of a dog’s worldview as never before. Upon finishing it, you’ll reconsider your under-used sense of smell and how your own conscious experiences are shaped by your own biology and perceptions. One fascinating question is answered: “How does your dog always know what time you’ll get home from work?” Enjoy reading—I won’t spoil the surprise.

Einstein’s Dreams by Alan Lightman

This book is my “tell,” now a classic and translated ​​into 30 different languages. At moments when feeling overwhelmed by the news or events in my life, or when I’m in need of an inspirational “soft reset,” I turn to this book. Lightman presents a collage of stories dreamed by Einstein about time and relativity. In one world, time is circular, so that people are fated to repeat triumphs and failures over and over. In another, there is a place where time stands still, visited by lovers and parents clinging to their children. In yet others, time moves more slowly with its distance from gravity, so some people have built their houses on stilts or in the mountains to defend themselves from the fragility of life. Each new dream world has its own rules and reality—each an adjacent possibility that will open your mind to alternative possibilities of awe, beauty, and imagination.