Monday, July 02, 2007

Reading list

I am not sure how it happened, but my book-picking skills have been in top form of late. So since so many liked the last list, here once again I have hit the jackpot with a series of really good books. So without further adieu, here are some of the books I am recommending right now:

Finance related:

The Black Swan: the Impact of the Highly Improbable by Nassim Nicholas Taleb. Wow. Not only does Taleb explain what I have wanted to say (some things just happen out of the blue and by their very nature are unpredictable) but he does so in a funny, entertaining, and remarkably sticky. Taleb sets much of what we rely on on its head. For instance, you will never think of stats the same way—you will find yourself thinking more about tails (uh, not like that;), well maybe?). Not only does this way of thinking have huge financial implications (consider managing a large fund, you may be hedged against things you can think of, but not other Black Swan events), it also should have implications in many many walks of life. For instance, before BonaResponds goes to a disaster area, we concede we can not prepare for what we did not know. Rather than plan for an infinite number of eventualities, we plan to be flexible enough to adapt to whatever happens. The same is true in most businesses, armies, governments, and even many personal dealings. VERY good and important book. BTW Be sure to read the Prologue. Even if the rest of the book were not included, I would have been happy with my purchase BEFORE page 1.

The Economic Naturalist: in Search of Explanations for Every Day Enigmas by Robert Frank (Cornell Economist). Good stuff. Reminds me of Freakonomics, but I think I like this one better (maybe because its Cornell, maybe because of the key role students played in the book, or maybe because the short essays better fit my limited attention span. For instance why are most beverage containers round but most dairy case items (milk and OJ for instance) predominantly sold in square containers. Or why do brides buy wedding dresses while grooms rent tuxes. Good stuff!

Non financial reading:

Innocent Man by John Grisham. Not sure where to start on this one. It is Grisham’s non fiction work on two men (the focus, and hence title, is on one of them) who were improperly convicted of a very violent rape and murder. In some ways it is this era’s To Kill a Mocking Bird or Black Like Me. Not From the treatment of prisoners, to the fallibility of police and courts, the book is eye-opening and disturbing. As an aside, I now see why when I was interviewed to be on a jury, one of the questions the lawyers asked was whether I had read the book.

Duel in the Sun: Alberto Salazar, Dick Beardsley, and America’s Greatest Marathon. It is hard to imagine a time when US marathoners dominated, but this was it. The book tells the engrossing story of the two going stride for stride from Hopkington to downtown Boston on a hot sunny day in April 1982. In exploring these 26.2 miles, the book also gives much background on each runner and shows what led to the race and what happened afterwards that so dramatically changed the lives of each runner and the sport itself.


1 comment:

traineeinvestor said...

Thanks for the review of Black Swan. I have just about finished my current batch of books, and will add that one to the next reading list.

A good book on investing which marginally challenged some of my thinking is Ken Fisher's "The Only Three Questions That Count".