James P Carse

The last book that fundamentally affected my way of thinking was ‘Antifragile’. It altered my perspective on ownership, planning, and in general, the approach to various events and things. It remains a favourite. But this book took my thinking to a different plane altogether, and has probably altered it irrevocably. Credit goes to James P Carse for at least two things – one for the thinking that clarified everything around us to this level of ‘simplicity’, and two, for explaining it in a manner that makes it easy to absorb.

“There are at least two kinds of games. One could be called finite, the other infinite.” From politics and wars to sports and business, finite games are all around us. They are played to be won, and are over when there is a victor. There is only one infinite game and its only purpose is continuing the play. In both, “whoever plays, plays freely.”

The author brings out the wonderful nuances that differentiate the two, through (just) semantics – rules and boundaries vs horizons, power vs strength, theatre vs drama, society vs culture, and so on. The applications are practically across all domains – sexuality, history, science, wealth, religion, society – and once one understands the concept, it is easy to see how it manifests across everything. (look vs see)

“What will undo any boundary is the awareness that it is our vision, and not what we are viewing, that is limited”. If I could give only one book to a person, this would be a contender.