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TPG Book Club

by HumanRobot @, Cybertron, Tuesday, April 02, 2013, 07:01

I was inspired by Jeff's post below. I'd love recommendations and for folks to chime in with things! Here's what I've read since last summer:

The Signal and The Noise by Nate Silver -- Silver is likely most famous for his election blog and he also had a significant role in the Moneyball movement. Overall, I found this book accessible to a broad audience while simultaneously covering analytics and predictive sciences concepts in depth with a strong, realistic flavor. I enjoyed the various applications Silver stepped through and he also highlights a couple ideas on how to become an analytics superstar: focus on data rich areas where there analytics have yet to be applied. I think somebody who's read a Gladwell book and not come away horribly confused could step right into this book and come away with a lot of useful knowledge and thought. The book is a recent release, so the examples are all current which is very nice.

Nassim Nicholas Taleb -- Taleb has written three excellent books: Fooled By Randomness, The Black Swan, and Anti-Fragile. These aren't so much independent books as they are iterations. For the most part, they are very good books and I would recommend that they are almost mandatory reading who is seriously into analytics as a professional or a hobbyist. The basic themes of the series have to do with Analytics Gone Too Far, Don't Fall Into The Traps of Modernity and Modern Science, and What Analytics Can't Do. These are extremely important things to think about and Taleb does an excellent job of highlighting these. The downside of this series is that Taleb is extremely dense and fairly indulgent at times. Just to be clear, these aren't prescriptive analytics books at all. These books are fairly inaccessible, just shy of the border with text books. Occasionally, Taleb seems to fall into the Gladwellian trap where he remembers he had a cutesy framing for his book and tries to draw a couple broader points back into that framework. He's especially guilty of this in Anti-Fragile. If you're just going to read one, I'd suggest Black Swan. Personally I think Anti-Fragile badly needs an editor, although I enjoyed it.

Neal Stephenson -- I picked up and read Cryptonomicon and Quicksilver. Cryptonomicon is probably in my top 5 favorite books. How have I missed this guy for so long?

The Idea Factory -- Not an analytics book, but I've taken to reading books about technology. This book is the biography of AT&T'd Bell Labs from the 1930s up until the modern day and focuses on several of the key innovations like the transistor, fiber optic cable, cell phone towers, and satellite based communications to come out of that place. Bell Labs is near and dear to my heart since my father worked there for over 30 years. After reading this book, I'm pretty jealous.

The Geography of Jobs -- This was a pretty interesting book about the geographic evolution of America's economy and job market. Moretti discusses the implications of the burgeoning innovation based economy and the gradual movement towards major innovation hubs within the country. He also discusses how innovation hubs that do not adapt (like Detroit) gradually start to die out.

The Man Who Thought Different -- A Steve Jobs biography. There's not much sugar coating here and I thought Blumenthal did a good job framing Jobs's life within the context of an address he gave Stanford.

The Information -- Just started reading this book. Very excited for it.


Others on my to-read list:

The Mathematical Theory of Communication

Thinking Fast and Slow

Snow Crash



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