Bibliophile President Alvi shares best reads of 2020

ISLAMABAD, Jan 31 (APP): President Dr Arif Alvi Sunday while sharing his best 10 reads of 2020, called for promotion of book reading culture in the country.

The president, in a video message, advised the people particularly the youth to develop the habit of book reading to enhance their exposure and help suppress the biases. He said he studied books on current affairs and computer sciences and tried to disseminate his knowledge to the masses through his speeches.

The president shared a list of 10 of the books he studied last year encompassing the subjects including Islamic history, capitalism, history of subcontinent, upheaval and exploitation in nations, human psychology, riots in India, metric society, physics and artificial intelligence. He said besides the books recommended by him, the people should also read the useful material of their choice.

The president said when it comes to obtaining huge knowledge published in form of books, he considered his life too short to comprehend it all. He also showed the notes of various books he took during the reading which he hoped would compile at a later stage. “I do nothing else but read books during travel, be it is by car or air. I study book as I go home. Though I get a little chance to read books in office, I do it when there is some gap,” he remarked.

The president, who had also shared his best reads of 2019, put at top a book “Revelations” by Meraj Mohiuddin presenting a wide variety of scholarly viewpoints on the story of Holy Prophet Muhammad (Peace be Upon Him) and Qur’anic revelation. He also strongly recommended “Art of Thinking Clearly” by Rolf Dobelli on human psychology and reasoning.

The book points out around 100 biases found in humans, meant for self-examination and methods to avoid them. Other books recommended by the president included “Capital and Ideology” by Thomas Piketty (on economic inequalities and suggesting outlines for fairer economic system), “Anarchy” by William Dalrymple (on rise of East India Company and economic prosperity in subcontinent), “Upheaval: Turning Points for Nations in Crisis” by Jared Diamond (history of different nations like Japan, Soviet Union and their efforts to overcome crises), “Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity, and Poverty” by Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson (exploitative society which begets change and leads to revolution).

He said currently, the same battle is going on in Pakistan against the corrupt rulers and system. President Alvi also recommended “The Metric Society: On the Quantification of the Social” by Steffen Mau (measurement and evaluation in the society), and “The Big Picture by Sean M. Carroll, Sean B. Carroll (scientific worldview and exploration of God).

The tech-savvy president suggested the people to study “Life 3.0: Being Human in the Age of Artificial Intelligence” by Deckle Edge (how science is advancing and becoming a challenge for humanity) and “Superintelligence” by Nick Bostrom (growing influence of machines and possible replacement of humans by super intelligence).

Other than his 10 best reads, the president also suggested “The End of India” by Khushwant Singh (communal violence in Gujarat in 2002 and rise of religious fundamentalism in India), Gujarat Files by Rana Ayub, Allama Iqbal’s “The Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam” and MJ Akbar’s Riot After Riot: Reports on Caste and Communal Violence in India.”

Other books recommended by the president included “Protocol” by Capricia Penavic Marshall, “Makers of Modern Sindh” by Dr Muhammad Ali Shaikh (on life of Sindh’s prominent figures), “A Promised Land” by Barack Obama and “Jinnah and Tilak: Comrades in the Freedom Struggle” by AG Noorani and “Tuba” by Shah Baligh-ud-Din, “The Last Mughal by William Dalrymple and “World Enough and Time” by Sultan Muhammad Shah Aga Khan.

Later on Twitter, the president said that books, reading and search for knowledge were real fulfillment of his heart’s desires. “No better hobby I can think of, to be closer to God & to understand the Whys & Hows of my existence. It is a pursuit that yields happiness & better understanding of human thought & actions,” he remarked.

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