Our Holiday Book Guide!

It’s the holiday season and you may be on the lookout for gifts for family, friends, and colleagues.  If you’ve got a policy wonk on your list, EntreWorks Consulting is here to help.   I’ve made my list of new and notable books—all of which I read at some point in 2018.  Take a look and if any of these mini-reviews entice you, go out and buy a copy—preferably at a local independent bookstore or other small business.  Best wishes for happy holidays filled with good reads!

  • Jay Shambaugh and Ryan Nunn (eds.).  Place-Based Policies for Shared Economic Growth.  This edited volume comes from the Hamilton Project.  I don’t always agree with every idea from this team, but I respect them for taking on tough issues and offering concrete and realistic policy recommendations.   This volume examines issues related to the Geography of Prosperity, which is also the title of its introductory chapter. That chapter itself is well worth reading, as it ably  distills the major challenges facing distressed regions today.  Other essays examine related issues and causal factors such as racial segregation, the role of higher education, and new government grant programs for lagging regions.  The volume is available as an e-book too.
  • Viktor Mayer-Schonberger and Thomas Ramge, Reinventing Capitalism in the Age of Big Data.  We hear a lot about how robots are coming for our jobs, but I’ve always felt that, beyond the hype, the rise of AI will have a more nuanced impact on our economic lives.  This book, which doesn’t shy away from big questions, offers a fascinating take on how big data and AI will transform capitalism.  It’s hard to briefly summarize their case, but let me try:  they argue that data will ultimately supplant money as the market’s key driver and as the source of wealth creation.  In data rich markets, data supplants money as the conveyor of information and value.  If you buy this premise, you can imagine that the transition to data rich markets will be interesting, and perhaps terrifying.  The authors offer their own guidance on how we can manage the transition, and capture the benefits of rich data, which should ultimately yield richer and more efficient markets.
  • Mike Madison, Fruitful Labor:  The Ecology, Economy, and Practice of a Family Farm.  I’ve been fortunate to work on an agriculture-related project this year, and have thus been attracted to related books.  I thoroughly enjoyed Fruitful Labor, which was a fascinating real-life guide to what it’s like to actually run a family farm. It didn’t convince me to take up farming, but it did increase my already high admiration for what America’s farmers do to put food on our tables.
  • Maria E. Meyers and Kate Pope Hodel.  Beyond Collisions:  How to Build Your Entrepreneurial Infrastructure.   This one was published in late 2017, but I read it in 2018 and am thus including it hereJ  I’ve plugged this book before, but it deserves two plugs!   This is an excellent playbook and how-to guide on building local networks and ecosystems to help people start and grow new ventures.  Easy to read and full of great tips and insights.
  • Harold Wolman, Howard Wial, Travis St. Clair and Ned Hill. Coping with Adversity:  Regional Economic Resilience and Public Policy.  I’ve plugged this one before as well, but again, it deserves the attention. This is a comprehensive look at how communities deal with economic shocks, such as a major plant closure.  They find that the most resilient communities share a number of characteristics:  they are home to a better educated workforce, enjoy more industry diversity among their export oriented sectors, and provide a perceived business-friendly climate.