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A GOOD READ: Read & be ready for TED
This is a big year for curious Vancouverites. This year, the TED (Technology, Education, Design) conference is being held March 17 to 21 at the Vancouver Convention Centre. Only 1,200 people were accepted to attend the conference but millions more will watch as the video feed is released to the public.
The conference will feature brilliant speakers who bring powerful ideas about science, business, and other disciplines to a global audience in 18 minutes or less. To celebrate TED’s big move to Vancouver, here are some compelling books that will help you dig deeper into the 2014 conference topics.
• Day 1: Liftoff! Start your reading with Chris Hadfield’s bestseller, An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth. Find out how the author’s unconventional philosophy — prepare for the worst and enjoy every moment of it — has helped him navigate sticky situations, such as being stuck on the outside of the Space Station and finding a snake in the cockpit of his plane. Yes, really.
• Day 2: Wish. We all have wishes for the future, a vision of how we want things to be for ourselves, our children, the world. On Day 2 of TED, speakers like Bill Gates, Sting and peace activist Zak Ebrahim will describe their visions for the best possible future. Science types can read up on the future of humanity in Physics of the Future: How Science Will Shape Human Destiny and Our Daily Lives by the Year 2100. Michio Kaku interviewed over 300 scientists who are already inventing the future in labs around the world. His book provides astonishing revelations about how humans will interface with technology in the near and middle future, and answers some of the big questions, including: who will be the winners and losers in this brave new world?
Looking forward to the future loses context without understanding our past. In To End All Wars: A Story of Loyalty and Rebellion, author Adam Hochschild focuses on the moral dramas of prominent citizens and political figures that opposed the war, and often paid a heavy price for standing up for their vision of peace.
• Day 3: Us. People are fascinating, complicated, brilliant, terrible and everything in between. Nurtureshock by science journalists Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman explodes myths about “common sense” approaches to child-rearing. Why do kids lie? How can you tell if a child is gifted? Key twists in the science provide some unexpected answers.
• Day 3: Why? Curiosity is one of the great virtues. It’s what humans do — we ask Why? We are creatures of ideas, and books like Jonah Berger’s Contagious: Why Things Catch On helps us understand why some concepts gain a foothold in our collective consciousness.
• Day 4: Hacked. Speaking of technology, You are Not a Gadget takes deeply personal offence to the death of privacy. Jaron Lanier is a Silicon Valley visionary who understands the structural foundations of the web and believes that a mob mentality is stifling the creativity of individuals as we move online. Many may disagree with the author’s controversial views on digital design and values but the questions raised are important and relevant.
• Day 5: Onward. The last sessions in TED 2014 focus on the future. What comes next? What’s important? Where do we go from here? Sometimes, these questions can’t be answered until a painful past is put to rest. Every British Columbian should read Speaking My Truth, a collection of raw reflections on the past and the future written by First Nations survivors of residential school abuse. These essays, edited by CBC journalist Shelagh Rogers, challenge us to empathize with survivors, and invite us to consider how we can move forward together to build a future that is big enough for us all.
Watch thousands of archived TED Talks at ted.com, and follow up on topics that captivate and inspire you with the very best information, books, DVDs and more available at your local library.
A Good Read is a column by Tri-City librarians that is published every Wednesday. Maryn Ashdown works at Port Moody Public Library.