I’d been meaning to do this earlier, but what better day to publish the list of books I enjoyed reading in 2013 than the first day of 2014. Following the convention used by Aaron Schwartz in his Review of Books, books that I thoroughly recommend are in bold, and those I haven’t finished yet are marked with an asterisk.
Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman
An excellent book based on Kahneman’s research spanning over decades, including his work on Prospect Theory for which he won a nobel prize. The central thesis of the book is the dual process model of the brain: System 1 (i.e. intuition) which is fast and intuitive and System 2 (i.e. reasoning) which is slow and deliberate. A must read for anyone with an interest in psychology, irrationality or behavioral economics.
Predictably Irrational by Dan Ariely
A great introduction to irrationality and cognitive biases through experiments and entertaining anecdotes. The book is a bit more lighthearted and accessible than Thinking Fast and Slow and so a better book for those new to the genre.
Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell
Outliers takes a deep dive into the outliers within fields and what contributed to their rise to the top through interesting anecdotes. One of the central themes of the book is Gladwell’s now well known 10,000 hour rule, which claims that the key to success in any field, is to a large extent, deliberate practice in that field for about 10,000 hours.
The Little Book of Talent: 52 Tips for Improving Your Skills by Daniel Coyle
A quick read with actionable tips on skill development including building habits and deliberate practice. Goes pretty well with Outliers.
The Trial by Franz Kafka
A fascinating story about bureaucracy and the law. It was a bit surreal and absurd at times, but that’s just a tribute to how well written it is. As “Kafkaesque” as it gets.
My Autobiography by Sir Alex Ferguson*
Sir Alex Ferguson reveals all about his illustrious career at Manchester United which saw him manage the club for over quarter of a century. I loved the behind-the-scenes look into his rivalries, key players and management psychology. A must read for any sports fan.
Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain by Betty Edwards*
If you think that you can’t draw, pick up a copy of this book. The key premise of this book is that drawing is not a talent but a skill, and Edwards takes you through the process of how you can pick up the skill. I’ve only read through half of it and have already noticed my drawing skills improve immensely.
Meditations by Marcus Aurelius (reread)
Probably the most influential book I’ve ever read. Marcus Aurelius’ personal reflections are full of wisdom and serve as a great introduction to Stoic philosophy.
No Exit and Three Other Plays by Jean-Paul Sartre
A quick but lovely read. Sartre’s depiction of hell is as profound as it is witty.
How to Win Friends & Influence People by Dale Carnegie (reread)
A book I try to read every year. Sound advice on how to make people like you and influence their thinking.