November Reads: 10 books

Chip Oglesby bio photo By Chip Oglesby
  1. Game Theory 101: The Basics To me, game theory is one of those things you hear about but unless you’ve studied it, you probably don’t have any idea how it could be used in the real world. The author of this book also has a great Youtube series. I really wanted to learn more about how it could be applied in the world of e-commerce and online transactions. If you know who John Nash is, you’re probably aware of the Nash Equilibrium which involves game theory.
  2. The Numbers Game: The Commonsense Guide to Understanding Numbers in the News, in Politics, and in Life. This book shows you some of the ways that people can skew numbers, reports and published papers to fit their own basis. I would skip it if I hadn’t read it already.
  3. Standard Deviations: Flawed Assumptions, Tortured Data, and Other Ways to Lie with Statistics. This would be a great book if you work in marketing, but aren’t a math or stats wizard. This book is much like the last book, but more in depth with better examples. When we see things like drinking a pot of coffee every day will add four years to our lives, what does that really mean? Chapter 19 is the best chapter that ties it all together and there are highlights at the end of each chapter to reinforce what you’ve just read.
  4. How Mathematicians Think: Using Ambiguity, Contradiction, and Paradox to Create Mathematics. This is a very philosophical book that I was hoping would get me super excited about doing math and being locked in room all day building models and doing analysis. Instead, the author looks more at the creative, almost poetic side of mathematics. Reviews are mixed, but if you like numbers, you should read it.
  5. Teach Yourself: Statistics: A Complete Introduction. This is just an introductory statistics book and you can get the majority of the information online for free. There is a chapter about “spreadsheets” if that tells you anything.
  6. The Idea Factory: Bell Labs and the Great Age of American Innovation. If you know anything about Bell Labs, you know that they cranked out some amazing stuff during their time. It’s an amazing view of one of the most important institutions of the 20th century. I would say that Google is a lot like Bell Labs in that regard. It has to be nice to work at a think tank type company where you get to do amazing stuff like this all the time with no time constraints.
  7. The Martian. Did you see the movie? Read the book! Did you read the book? See the movie! The last movie adaptation of a book I enjoyed was The Road by Cormac McCarthy. I recommend both of those as well. I read this in one day. You could do the same.
  8. Infinitesimal: How a Dangerous Mathematical Theory Shaped the Modern World. If you like calculus or you hated it or if you like history, you should read this book. There’s something in there for everyone.
  9. Super Crunchers: Why Thinking-by-Numbers Is the New Way to Be Smart. I’ll be honest, this is a book that a manager who is on a plane coming back from a ‘big data’ conference would be reading to kill time. It’s a lot of the “why” you should have quants, but none of the how. This was an easy read and might inspire higher ups to want to invest in being analytically driven.
  10. The Drunkard’s Walk: How Randomness Rules Our Lives. I had to save the best for last. If you love probability or wondering what the likelyhood of something happening to you would be; then read this book. It’s a fun, easy read and a book that I’ll be buying for my personal collection.