some books that i enjoy, in no particular order
Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell
In one of the most iconic books of all time, George Orwell paints a picture of a dystopian future with an almost omniscient and omnipresent government. The Orwellian state that he conjures has striking parallels with governments of past and present; 1984 is as good of political thriller as it is a warning sign about our future.
Factfulness by Hans Rosling
Factfulness is a welcome and optimistic return to reality in a world of doom, gloom, and misinformation. Hans Rosling describes the astounding improvements in global health and freedom that humankind has made in the last century, while cementing the need for continued action.
Good Economics For Hard Times by Abhijit V. Banerjee, Esther Duflo
An approachable, but nuanced approach to the modern economics problems of the 21st century. Probably the antithesis to the stereotype that economics is a flimsy science presented by self-described experts, no matter how much that may be true in the status quo.
Justice by Michael Sandel
Michael Sandel gives a great introduction to the large history of political philosophy, ranging from the works of Aristotle to Kant to Rawls, and ties it to ethical conundrums in the status quo.
Paradox by Jim Al-Khalili
Jim Al-Khalili playfully explores nine seemingly paradoxical problems, unravelling each of them with a toolkit of basic logic, math, and eventually, relativistic physics. It's a rare breed of book that lets the reader delve into complex ideas, without getting lost in the weeds.
Thing Explainer by Randall Munroe
The author of xkcd explains many, many complex things using only the 1000 most common words in the English language. It's equally informative as it is delightful, and I would be lying if I said I haven't borrowed his explanations when I explain things to kids.
The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami
I love many of Murakami's works, but The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle does a perfect job of juggling the past, present, and fatalistic future. I particularly enjoyed its exploration of the Kwantung army in WWII. Plus, I think it's also one of the more approachable books in his repertoire.