Mar 28 2006

Spring Break Reading

I hit a critical point on the vacation curve and last week took off to Mexico with my family for a respite. This one was a real break – no phone, no e-mail, no business contact of any kind. Along with relaxing on the beach and building sand castles with my daughter (mostly for the purpose of knocking them down right away), I was able to get quite a bit of reading time in. With that in mind I wanted to pass along two of these titles in case you’re looking to add to your reading list. The first is Jeffrey Sachs’ The End of Poverty. Sachs is an economist who has advised a number of developing nations on macroeconomic policy. He’s now the director of theEarth Institute at Columbia and a special advisor to the UN (advising on the UN’s Millennium Project). The book is extremely accessible – written for non-academics. For me, it challenged some of the notions I hold of Africa as a ‘lost continent’ and laid out Sachs’ version of how to Africa may be lifted out of poverty. I love macroeconomics (my college major) and in particular issues related to the relationships between economies. This book is very interesting reading. One word of warning – the last 1/5th of the book is essentially an advertisement for Sachs’ version of how to achieve the Millennium Development goals and got a bit tedious. The first 80% of the book was outstanding. The other recommendation is Captain Joshua Slocum’s Sailing Alone around the World. The book is, as you might guess, about Slocum’s journey around the world. He was the first to accomplish this feat solo – leaving Boston in 1895 in a 30’ wooden sloop and returning to Rhode Island more than 3 years later in mid-1898. The book is great – starting with the title (you can imagine that if this book was titled today it would be called “A historic voyage” or “Voyage of a lifetime” or something cheesy like that). Slocom’s style of prose is also reflected in the title – he’s to the point and comically matter-of-fact.