The Internet has made echo chambers and filter bubbles harder and harder to escape. Each of us tends to spend most of our time reading articles, opinions, and books that confirm our preconceptions, while we receive very little exposure to ideas that challenge us. In the interest of helping you (and me) break out of these bubbles, here’s a challenge for you: The list below contains ten books, five written from a largely Conservative point of view, and five from a largely Progressive/Liberal point of view. I challenge you to read at least one book from the point of view most opposite to your own.
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click one of the product links and buy it, I’ll receive a small commission.
A Challenge to my Liberal Friends:
Read At Least One of These Books
|Seeing Like a State: How Certain Schemes to Improve the Human Condition Have Failed
In this wide-ranging and original book, James C. Scott analyzes failed cases of large-scale authoritarian plans in a variety of fields. Centrally managed social plans misfire, Scott argues, when they impose schematic visions that do violence to complex interdependencies that are not—and cannot—be fully understood.
|A Matter of Interpretation: Federal Courts and the Law
In exploring the neglected art of statutory interpretation, Scalia urges that judges resist the temptation to use legislative intention and legislative history. In his view, it is incompatible with democratic government to allow the meaning of a statute to be determined by what the judges think the lawgivers meant rather than by what the legislature actually promulgated.
|Side Effects and Complications: The Economic Consequences of Health-Care Reform
In Side Effects and Complications, preeminent labor economist Casey B. Mulligan brings to light the dire economic realities that have been lost in the ideological debate over the ACA, and he offers an eye-opening, accessible look at the price American citizens will pay because of it.
|The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion
Drawing on his twenty five years of groundbreaking research on moral psychology, Jonathan Haidt shows how moral judgments arise not from reason but from gut feelings. He shows why liberals, conservatives, and libertarians have such different intuitions about right and wrong, and he shows why each side is actually right about many of its central concerns.
|Order without Law: How Neighbors Settle Disputes
In Order without Law Robert C. Ellickson shows that law is far less important than is generally thought. He demonstrates that people largely govern themselves by means of informal rules-social norms-that develop without the aid of a state or other central coordinator. Integrating the latest scholarship in law, economics, sociology, game theory, and anthropology, Ellickson investigates the uncharted world within which order is successfully achieved without law.
A Challenge to my Conservative Friends:
Read At Least One of These Books
|The Climate Casino: Risk, Uncertainty, and Economics for a Warming World
Bringing together all the important issues surrounding the climate debate, William Nordhaus describes the science, economics, and politics involved—and the steps necessary to reduce the perils of global warming. Using language accessible to any concerned citizen and taking care to present different points of view fairly, he discusses the problem from start to finish.
|Success and Luck: Good Fortune and the Myth of Meritocracy
Robert Frank describes how, in a world increasingly dominated by winner-take-all markets, chance opportunities and trivial initial advantages often translate into much larger ones–and enormous income differences–over time; how false beliefs about luck persist, despite compelling evidence against them; and how myths about personal success and luck shape individual and political choices in harmful ways.
|Taking Rights Seriously
Ronald Dworkin argues that many constitutional rights and clauses have strong moral components to them, and as such it is these moral principles judges should interpret. This is in contrast to originalism, which tries to enforce the policy preferences of the founders, not just the concepts they left us with. Throughout, Dworkin is clear in his assumptions, direct in his writing, and tries to engage the reader in a serious conversation (rather than speaking over the readers’ heads.)
|Scarcity: The New Science of Having Less and How It Defines Our Lives
In this book based on cutting-edge research, the authors show that scarcity creates a distinct psychology for everyone struggling to manage with less than they need. Busy people fail to manage their time efficiently for the same reasons the poor and those maxed out on credit cards fail to manage their money. Scarcity reveals not only how it leads us astray but also how individuals and organizations can better manage scarcity for greater satisfaction and success.
|The Rise and Fall of American Growth: The U.S. Standard of Living since the Civil War
In the century after the Civil War, an economic revolution improved the American standard of living in ways previously unimaginable. Electric lighting, indoor plumbing, motor vehicles, air travel, and television transformed households and workplaces. But has that era of unprecedented growth come to an end? Weaving together a vivid narrative, historical anecdotes, and economic analysis, The Rise and Fall of American Growth challenges the view that economic growth will continue unabated, and demonstrates that the life-altering scale of innovations between 1870 and 1970 cannot be repeated.
Hat tip: Cass R. Sunstein