The Narcissism Epidemic: Living in the Age of Entitlement

This book is very critical of the way (some) Americans lead their lives. The main thesis is the "American culture encourages self-admiration with the belief that it will improve our lives." I tend of be skeptical of the research on "personality types",[1] and I am…

The Signal and the Noise by Nate Silver

The theme of the book is that we often face temptations to see a signal in a stream of noise -- we are built to see patterns. Silver makes a strong case for resisting these tendencies and explains beautifully why it can be so hard to translate even accurate historical…

The Everything Store by Brad Stone

Without making a rigorous calculation, I've felt that Amazon probably had a bigger impact on my life than Apple, so I was eager to learn more about the company and its founder. I had mixed feelings about the book. There are hundreds of small anecdotes (Jeff Bezos and his employees…

David and Goliath by Malcolm Gladwell

The plan was for the first book in 2014 to not be about economics... but Gladwell had to include a section about the (non)effects of classroom size on test scores! Others have said that the message of this book is pretty repetitive, but learning about various cases of "…

The Center Holds by Jonathan Alter

This book collects a bunch of stories that don't seem to be well known and it is also a nice reminder of some of the absurd attributes of the 2012 presidential campaign. The book is very people-centric, which makes it very engaging, although it will occasionally make the reader wonder…

Double Down by Halperin and Heilemann

The description of the GOP convention was a quite a page-turner. The book made me want to watch Christie's speech, which I did not do in 2012. Many pages are devoted to squabbling inside campaigns, which I guess is an acceptable guilty pleasure. I learned a few new things about…

Favorite books: 2012

My three favorite books this year were: With products of this kind (and with appropriately high expectations), I promise to read all future books written by Pinker, Freeland, and Zingales.…