Top Picks from My 2022 Reading List

This year whizzed by with an excessive workload and a flurry of post-pandemic business meetings. While it’s always heartening to start meeting people again, it comes at the expense of travel time and other system losses. My reading habit has taken a hit as a result, as I could only read 25 books this year. But a few of these books have already made a dent in my worldview and might well be worth having a look at: 

Hope over Fate by Scott Macmillan: This authorized biography sheds light on the life and work of Sir Fazle Hasan Abed, founder of BRAC. Although the book is a biography, it vividly portrays the founding story, growth, and evolution of BRAC over a period spanning 40 years. The author, who had worked closely with Sir Abed before his demise, adeptly provides detailed background on the ways BRAC had evolved in tune with the emerging socioeconomic needs of the country. This book can be an inspiring read for both development practitioners and entrepreneurs.

Direct by Kathryn Judge: A very interesting book on the growing dominance of powerful middlemen like Amazon and Walmart, leading to a tectonic shift in consumer behavior and resource utilization. While these middlemen have contributed to the ease of purchases, cost-competitive pricing, and enhanced choices for end customers, the growth of these behemoths has obliterated small and medium enterprises and led to resource wastage due to unnecessary purchases. The author, who teaches at Columbia Law school, espouses an alternative prognosis of a world beyond the clutches of these middlemen. 

An Odyssey: The Journey of My Life by Nurul Islam: This memoir is a fascinating read, narrated by the first Vice Chairman of Bangladesh’s Planning Commission. As a witness to Bangladesh’s history between the 1950s and the middle of the 1970s, he shared his unique perspectives on the sociopolitical and economic landscape of both pre-and post-liberation Bangladesh.

Gambling on Development by Stefan Dercan: A must-read if you’re interested in development economics and want to understand the forces driving broad-based poverty alleviation. The author has stellar credentials, currently teaching economic policy at Oxford University, and previously serving DFID (currently FCDO) as its Chief Economist.  I was particularly drawn to this book since it had a chapter dedicated to Bangladesh’s inclusive growth story. Development practitioners should definitely read this book. 

The Rise and Fall of the Neoliberal Order by Gary Gerstle: If you intend to read just one book next year to better understand the shifts in the global geopolitical landscape, you should be reading this one. The author professes how the shift in the global neoliberal order—in the wake of China’s economic rise—has resulted in a retreat from trade-led globalization. The rise of demagogues like Trump was also well explained by the author in the context of the upending of the neo-liberal world order. 

 The Power Law by Sebastian Mallaby: is a brilliant book on how and why the venture capital industry has spawned in the US and expanded across the world. While the startup-driven technology revolution has played a pivotal role in altering the global growth trajectory, the role of VCs in enabling this revolution is oftentimes underappreciated. A very interesting read for those looking to understand the advent and growth of the global venture capital industry. 

When Mckinsey Comes to Town: This well-researched book provides a vivid perspective on the outsized impact of Mckinsey on organizations, sectors, and different economies. Although Mckinsey is publicly committed to creating positive societal impact, the ‘firm’ has oftentimes been engaged in controversies and PR disasters for taking up controversial consulting engagements. This book sheds light on the darker side of the world’s foremost consulting firm. 

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