Weekly Non-Fiction Reading List 4.5.2
I’ve done it! I’ve officially read over 100 books already in 2021 (105 to be exact). This week, I finished 9 books from some great authors on a wide range of subjects. I read books about the psychology behind why we don’t recognize risk as well as some more books on investing. I read an incredible book about social media platforms and how they affect social justice issues as well as an amazing book on being a skeptic. Enjoy!
Each of the links to the books are affiliate links, so if you use my link to purchase any of these books, some comes back to support what I do (and it also helps fund my reading habit).
Metrics rule our lives. Whether it’s how we measure success at work, with our children in school, with crime rates, or anything else. The problem is that metrics are not only deceiving, but they are often manipulated. This book from Jerry Muller is a fantastic book explaining the history of why we started turning to metrics as a way to measure performance and success, but more importantly, he explains all of the issues with doing this. In the second half of the book, he gives specific examples about schools, medicine, companies, the military, and others that are using bad metrics and how it affects us all. I truly believe everyone should read books about how data is measured, and this is a great one to start with.
Everybody Lies: Big Data, New Data, and What the Internet Can Tell Us About Who We Really Are by Seth Stephens-Davidowitz
I’ve had a Generalized Anxiety Disorder most of my life, and I’m extremely fortunate that it’s been under control for a while now. Although my anxiety doesn’t take over my life anymore, I’m still rather risk averse. Meanwhile, I see people living these care-free lives as if nothing could ever go wrong, and it typically ends in disaster. I’ve always asked, “Why do people not recognize risk in a healthy way?” That’s exactly why I picked up this book from Michele Wucker. I heard about it a while ago and just now read it, and It’s such an amazing book.
In the first part of the book, Wucker does a great job breaking down all of the different cognitive reasons why we don’t recognize dangers. This can be at work, in life, or when it comes to global issues. She has a great chapter on denial, and I also enjoyed her chapter on why we kick the metaphorical can down the road. In the second half of the book, Wucker discusses more specific issues like climate change and also provides a lot of solutions for how we can avoid the “gray rhino” and make better decisions moving forward.
The Optimism Bias: A Tour of the Irrationally Positive Brain by Tali Sharot
Willful Blindness: Why We Ignore the Obvious at Our Peril by Margaret Heffernan
The Elephant in the Brain: Hidden Motives in Everyday Life by Kevin Simler and Robin Hanson
The Education of a Value Investor: My Transformative Quest for Wealth, Wisdom, and Enlightenment by Guy Spier
I’m still extremely skeptical about the whole practice of “value investing”, but with that being said, this was a really great book. Most of this book is a memoir of how the author went from a greedy 20-something who ruined his reputation to someone who learned some amazing life lessons. Personally, I’m a not a huge fan of capitalism, but I invest so I can use the gains to help others. Guy Spier learned a lot through his journey, and you can tell he tries his best to do what’s right for himself, his family, his clients, and others. If I had to break it down, I’d say maybe 20% of the book discusses value investing strategies, but most of it is his personal journey. If you want to align your investments and money management with your core values, I highly recommend this book.
The Behavioral Investor by Daniel Crosby
How I Invest My Money: Finance experts reveal how they save, spend, and invest by Joshua Brown, Brian Portnoy, and Carl Richards
Once again, Michael Shermer solidifies himself as one of my favorite skeptics and favorite authors. I held off on reading this particular book for a long time because I don’t typically like books that are collections of articles or essays, but I was surprised by this one. Usually, books like this seem to jump from topic to topic and feel a bit disorganized, but this book had a great flow to it. Books on skepticism are extremely important to help keep our heads clear as we navigate outlandish claims that are made on a daily basis, and this book covers a wide range of topics. From aliens to religion and psychics to immortality, this book has it all.
More from Shermer:
I’m always reluctant to read books about criticisms of social media platforms because it’s an extremely important topic, but many authors don’t do the topic justice. I’ve read quite a few books that seem to drag on and not really make strong arguments, but Jillian York did an amazing job with this book. She has years of experience in activism and holding social media companies accountable, and she’s also an amazing story teller. I’m not as familiar with global issues as I’d like to be, so sometimes the stories are confusing, but Jillian was able to explain them in a comprehensive way that I could understand.
This book dives into a variety of topics that I hadn’t even thought of. Sure, we often talk about how addictive social media is or how the platforms use our data, but this book has a variety of new angles. It discusses how governments manipulate the platforms to silence activists, how sex workers are oppressed on the platforms, and much more. I think my favorite thing about Jillian’s writing is that she addresses that these are difficult, nuanced subjects that need a lot of conversation. For example, she discusses hate speech and censorship and how her views of the topics have evolved over the years. If nothing else, Silicon Values will make you more aware and get you thinking about these topics in a new way.
I tried reading a Robert Shiller book prior to really understanding investing, the markets, and economics. Since I started reading books on investing, I kept hearing this book being cited by other authors, so I finally picked it up. This is a great book that explains how markets are irrational, what causes bubbles, and what you can do to critically think before speculating with your investments.
This is one of the most recommended books on investing, and it took me a while to finally check it out. I assumed that it was over-hyped, but I finally bought it after I read another book disagreeing with everything about the “random walk” idea. Once I started reading this book, I was immediately hooked and realized why so many people love it. The book discusses how markets work and why individual stock-picking usually isn’t the best strategy. It also covers various market theories and what the research shows, but as a psychology nerd, I love how Malkiel dedicated a chapter to behavioral economics. At the end of the book, Malkiel gives strategies for every type of investor even though he recommends some strategies over others. Whether you’re new to investing or have some experience, this is a great read.
The Laws of Wealth: Psychology and the Secret to Investing Success by Daniel Crosby
Cal Newport is one of the best authors when it comes to deep work and productivity. He always makes powerful, research-backed arguments, and each of his books have helped me in my personal and professional life. With that being said, I think Cal Newport is way too extreme in his ideas about digital minimalism (the title of another one of his books), but I still thoroughly enjoy reading his books because it helps me find balance. With this new book, I feel Cal is asking too much of companies and people to minimize their digital messaging, and this is especially true since the pandemic with so many of us working from home. But he makes dozens of great points about how over-communicating digitally destroys productivity. I really hope companies check this book out and figure out a way to reduce some of the friction caused by emails and messages.
More books from Cal Newport:
The Analytical Mind: Level Up Your Researching and Critical Thinking Skills, Improve Your Decision Making and Problem Solving Ability, Notice the Details Others Miss by Albert Rutherford
Albert Rutherford writes amazing books that are all designed to help you improve your thinking and decision making. I love all his books, so I picked up this one. It’s really interesting and teaches you a bunch of different angles you can address a problem from. Rutherford clearly breaks down different types of thinking strategies as well as thinking errors we may run into while trying to be analytical. The last chapter kind of lost me because there are little quizzes and I listened to the audiobook, so I think it’d make more sense in the physical version of the book. Great book though if you’re someone who analyzes everything and want to level up a little.
Effective Research Methods for Any Project by Amanda M. Rosen
The Intelligence Trap: Why Smart People Make Dumb Mistakes by David Robson
If you need help with your mental health, I highly recommend the service I use, BetterHelp. They’re an affordable online therapy service, and by using this affiliate link, you help support The Rewired Soul.