I commit to reading at least 24 books every year. That’s 12 physical books and 12 audiobooks. If you are good at both math and calendars you’ll recognize that I am reading one of each type every month. If you are into donuts or eggs you may think they have been a big influence on my goal setting. And you would be right.
This year I modified my plan a little. I gathered 12 physical books from my own library that I had not yet read to create my 2023 reading list.
As I sifted through my stack of books to determine which one to read first one of them grabbed my attention for several reasons. And while you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, if this book cover was a person it would be a hottie with a karate body.
Factfulness by Hans Rosling, with Ola Rosling and Anna Rosling Rohnnlund started with a strong first impression. Its cover was an excellent advertisement for the book itself. At the top of the cover is an attention-grabbing quote:
“One of the most important books I’ve ever read – an indisputable guide to thinking clearly about the world.”-Bill Gates
Not only is Gates a fairly successful businessman who boasts an impressive money collection, he is also a voracious reader, who takes vacations alone every year simply to read and think. That is next-level nerdery. So when he drops such a strong endorsement I am picking it up.
But if I wasn’t already sold the subhead would have sealed the deal. It explained the book as ‘Ten reasons we’re wrong about the world- and why things are better than you think.’
Not only do I love a good you’re-thinking-about-this-all-wrong message, but I’m also an optimist. So to hear that the world is better than we think is totally up my alley. (I don’t actually have an alley. But nobody says ‘That is totally up my circle driveway.’)
There was also a New York Times Bestseller sunburst on the cover, which sealed the deal.
I dug into the book and couldn’t have loved it more. The basic premise of Factfulness is that we need to look for the current facts about the world. And not just facts about the world as we think we know them, or as we used to know them. Because the world is improving at a rapid rate. And life on the planet is now better for nearly everyone on nearly every measure. Which makes this book like the Magic Eraser of gloom-and-doom.
The Roslings drop incredible amounts of data that prove their point. But it is presented in easy-to-digest charts. These charts include 16 Bad Things That Are Decreasing and 16 Good Things That Are Increasing. And even Alex Trebek would say these are no trivial things.
The book debunks the myth of the gap between the haves and have-nots. It provides a much more useful way to classify people into meaningful groups, and to see that all groups are not in permanent situations, but instead on a positive trajectory of improvement. Best of all, it shows how each group is likely to arrive at the next level sooner than you think.
Factfulness introduces 10 basic instincts that all humans naturally rely on to formulate their worldview. (This includes Sharon Stone.) But these instincts repeatedly lead to inaccurate conclusions. The book teaches you how to disarm those instincts to prevent conclusion-jumping and ultimately see the world as it really is.
If you are looking for a better outlook on the world and the human condition, pick up Factfulness. It provides a perspective-altering look at the world that will change the way you think about everything from the news to vaccinations, to gender equality and education. Gift this book to the most cynical people you know. Because the world is good and getting better. Because humans are making it happen. In fact, the only thing that is truly lagging behind is our ability to see the positive planetary change. And the Roslings are committed to changing that too.
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+For more of the best life lessons I have learned check out my book, What Does Your Fortune Cookie Say? from Ripples Media.