Andrew Yang is an entrepreneur and author running for President as a Democrat in 2020. In 2011 he founded Venture for America, a national entrepreneurship fellowship, and spent the last 6 years creating jobs in cities like Cleveland, Detroit, Baltimore, and Pittsburgh. When Andrew Yang realized that new technology like artificial intelligence threatened to eliminate one-third of all American jobs, he knew he had to do something. In The War on Normal People, Andrew Yang explains the mounting crisis and makes the case for implementing a universal basic income: $1,000 a month for every American adult, no strings attached. Please enjoy my interview with Andrew Yang.

How do you describe your occupation?

Presidential Candidate in 2020 as a Democrat.

What is something about you that people might find surprising?

I enjoy watching mixed martial arts.  I grew up on kung-fu movies and it stuck with me.

What are you reading at the moment and what made you want to read it?

Just finished AI Superpowers by Kai-Fu Lee.  Wanted to understand the trends in Artificial Intelligence.  Unfortunately, he confirmed some of my biggest concerns.

What was your favourite book as a child and why?

Trumpet of the Swan by E.B. White.  I love underdog stories.

When did you fall in love with reading?

As early as I can remember, perhaps first grade.  I loved going to the library and reading biographies of Indian Chiefs.  Though they always ended the same way.

What was the last book you purchased, and why did you buy it?

Squeezed by Alissa Quart.  I wanted a deeper understanding of the lived experience of unaffordability in America.

What are perfect reading conditions for you?

Outdoors in the sun on a folding chair.

What book have you found most inspiring, what effect did it have on you?

Built to Last by Jim Collins and Jerry Porras.  It made me realize that organizations, not their products, were the most important things one could create.  I’ve now started several organizations in part as a result of reading that book.

What’s the most obscure book you own; how did you discover it?

In researching for my latest book I bought a bunch of books about post-industrial cities, including Remembering Youngstown: Tales from the Mahoning Valley by Mark Peyko.  Now I feel like I’m insulting Mark and his book by calling it obscure.

What’s the best book you’ve read in the last 6 months?

Time Dollars by Edgar Cahn and Jonathan Rowe really helped open my mind to possibilities of social renewal through facilitating new means of exchange of value.

What is your proudest achievement?

Being a good father and husband while trying to make a difference in the world.

one hundred years of solitudeIf you were trying to impress a visitor, which book that you own would you leave on the coffee table?

Unfortunately, it would be my latest book The War on Normal People which lays out the trends in displacement of labor and the themes of my presidential campaign.

If an alien landed in your garden; which three books would you gift them to showcase humanity in the best possible way?

Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami, One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, and The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein.

What is the book that you feel has had the single biggest impact on your life? What impact did it have?

The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera pushed me to try to imbue my life with meaning.

Are there any books you haven’t mentioned that you feel would make your reading list?

I always loved East of Eden by John Steinbeck as a snapshot of a time and place in American history.

Which book sat on your shelf are you most excited about reading next and why?

I’m excited to read Give People Money by Annie Lowrey about Universal Basic Income.  Annie’s very smart and I’m sure to learn a lot.

If you’d like to learn more about Andrew Yang, you can find him on his website and on Twitter.