More Books to Get You Thinking

As a librarian, one of my favorite things to do is browsing through the shelves of books, row after row - some new, glossy and inviting, others well thumbed and timeless in their appeal to generations of readers. Here are some titles that caught my attention this week. I picked them out because they share a common theme of providing an analysis of some of the most pressing socio economic problems in contemporary societies.

Is it possible to have a world where the meaning of poverty can only be found in dictionaries? In his new book titled Creating a World without Poverty: Social Business and the Future of Capitalism, Nobel Peace Prize winner, Muhammad Yunus shows that this is indeed possible. He creates a groundbreaking new business model that uses the concept of social business to address the pervasive problem of poverty and hunger that exists in large parts of the world. Social business is defined by the author as an organization that self sustains and thrives through offering employment opportunities to those with no income with a goal to maximize social benefits such as healthcare access or education rather than just monetary profits. Yunus also launched the idea of micro credit where banks could extend loans without collateral to small entrepreneurs who would not otherwise qualify for traditional bank loans to create productive employment opportunities for them. The program has met with resounding success wherever it was introduced and earned Yunus a Nobel Peace Prize in 2006.
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In the book The Race between Education and Technology, Harvard professors Claudia Goldin and Lawrence Katz present a pioneering analysis that links the large income and wage inequalities in the US to its lagging educational levels. Using detailed statistical data the authors show how America’s dramatic growth in the past century could be attributed to its investment in human capital through its system of public schools and colleges. In the post 1970 period as technology growth surged, the US was unable to keep pace with the steadily increasing demand for an educated workforce. The authors discuss how charter schools, the Head Start program and an improved system of financial aid for colleges could help the US improve its levels of educational achievements and restore a more balanced income structure.
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The Economists' Voice: Top Economists take on Today's Problems edited by Joseph Stiglitz, Aaron Edlin and J. Bradford DeLong is a unique collection of essays covering a wide spectrum of current contentious issues that are frequently at the center of many heated discussions. What are the implications of outsourcing for domestic wages and employment in the U.S.? Should social security be privatized? What are the real costs of Wars? What kinds of changes in the structure of the tax system are needed to ensure robust economic growth? How do we provide incentives to pharmaceuticals to direct R&D towards producing vaccines for neglected diseases? The essays are authored by leading experts in the field and provide a lucid analysis of the issues for readers to reflect on.
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There are many more exciting titles on our shelves so be sure to check back for more books to get you thinking!
-Nita Mathur

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