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Trail guide: Memorial Day reading list

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Some light reading from the Innovation Trail.

You have a holiday weekend ahead. And what better thing to do with your time off than curl up with some nice fat economics tomes?

Wait, don't click away - we've made a primer for you, an Innovation Trail recommended reading list, and it's not just economics.

Believe us, this'll be fun. "The Wedding of the Waters: The Erie Canal and the Making of a Great Nation," by Peter Bernstein
 

Marie Cusick at WMHT in Albany is finishing up a story on a solar-powered canal boat. Fittingly, she recommends this very readable historical account, where Bernstein chronicles the uphill battle to build the canal, and paints a colorful picture of the state's past.

"Proofiness: The Dark Arts of Mathematical Deception," by Charles Seife

Editor Rachel Ward says this is a great primer for liberal arts majors who want to get comfortable with the language of research. There's a lot of hype in the field of innovation, and "Proofiness" helps you parse those studies and lists. A must-read if you want to develop a more critical lens.

"The Other Side of Innovation: Solving the Execution Challenge," Vijay Govindarajan, Chris Trimble

Rachel's just started this one, but the gist so far is that ideas are no good if they stay bottled up. The book looks at the stillborn research that never makes its way out of corporate labs or universities, to find its way into the real world.

"The Nature of New York," by David Stradling

WRVO's Emma Jacobs recommends this environmental history because it's a pretty readable account, jam-packed with a lot of  information. It also includes some terrific stories, including Teddy Roosevelt's madcap, late-night carriage ride out of the Adirondacks to be sworn in as President.

"Outliers," by Malcolm Gladwell

What's a list like this without an entry from everyone's favorite pop economist? Good background reading on what makes companies take off - other than raw talent.

"Powering the Dream: The History and Promise of Green Technology," by Alexis Madrigal

Did you know New York had electric cabs in the 1890s? Madrigal looks at some fascinating twists and turns in green tech - and, as importantly, why some of those inventions stuck around while others did not. [Standard disclaimer, Alexis was Emma's boss when she worked at WIRED.]

"Waiting on a Train" by James McCommons 

Innovation Trail alum Ryan Morden says of the book: "It's a travel journal of this guy riding all of America's passenger rail lines and writing about the beleaguered state of rail in this country. At a time when people are clamoring for a rail renaissance, this guy provides history, interviews with officials, and good snapshot of the uphill challenges the country faces in terms of getting to the rail dreams everyone talks about."

"Peter Stuyvesant of Old New York" by Anna and Russel Crouse

This one might be hard to dig up, Rachel admits, but if you come across it at a yard sale, it's a fun find. Written for adolescents in the 1950s, it explores the very early history of Manhattan and the Dutch colonists. Some of the attitudes are a little dated but it's a surprisingly straightforward portrait of a complicated New York hero.

"The Next 100 Years" and "The Next Decade" by George Friedman and "When a Billion Chinese Jump" by Jonathan Watts

These three books are helpful for getting outside of the upstate New York bubble, to get a perspective of where New York and  America fit in terms of economic and national security.

Hope you enjoy your holiday weekend!

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