Nassim Taleb’s recommended books3 min read

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photo: Eirik Solheim

Scholar, statistician and guru of risk-management recommends his favorite novels and the best professional books

“The Tartar Steppe” by DinoBuzzati

– Taleb on his personal website

Desolation, the fading quest for glory, and unfulfilled dreams are set against the backdrop of a military outpost in the mountains overlooking the vast Tartar Steppe. Drogo whiles away his youth in patient service, waiting for the enemy to come. Once they do, this medieval knight-like character succumbs to the weakness of age, after having faced trials that looked nothing like those he expected. The mountainous descriptions are based off of Buzzati’s teenage obsession to climb the impressive Dolomite peaks, which turned into fuel for his painting and writing efforts years later.

“The Opposing Shore” by JulienGracq

– Nassim Taleb’s review

While the distinguished Goncourt prize of France was refused by the crowd-shy author, this wartime novel depicts bloodless and seemingly pointless mental skirmishes. The invisible borderline separates the young aristocrat Aldo from the strangely fascinating opposite Mediterranean shore. The desert landscape at the back, and the wide expanse of water in front, make for rather surreal and poetic comparisons to the realistic tug-and-pull of a desire for something to happen rather than endless stagnation to drag on.

“Seeking Wisdom: From Darwin toMunger” by Peter Bevelin

– Nassim Taleb’s review

A wisdom book ranked with ‘Poor Charlie’s Almanac’ and ‘The Art of Worldly Wisdom’, the author’s choices of text center on those who gather knowledge with the intent of avoiding the death of meaning. The thinkers range from ancient Roman poet Terentius to physicist Einstein to VC Charlie Munger of Berkshire-Hathaway investments. Since the philosophy is meant to be practically applied in areas of thinking and judgment, especially in boardrooms by leaders of companies, this book has less of the academic feeling that accompanies most philosophical works.

  “The Paradox of Choice” by Barry Schwartz

– Nassim Taleb’s review

Our over-consumptive world is driven by a paralyzing excess of choice, leading to continual dissatisfaction and depression, says Professor Schwartz. By focusing on right choices within some defined rules, it’s easier to be satisfied and mentally stable. While freedom of choice and individual application are important, the overabundance of choice on mere supermarket shelves can feel debilitating. The author’s research goes beyond the 600 cable channels example to more life-altering choices of jobs, families, and even recreation time.

“Birth of a Theorem: A Mathematical Adventure” by Cédric Villani

– Nassim Taleb’s review

“The Tyranny of Experts:Economists, Dictators, and the Forgotten Rights of the Poor” by William Easterly

– Nassim Taleb’s review

“Modelling Extremal Events: ForInsurance and Finance” by Paul Embrechts and Claudia Kluppelberg

– Nassim Taleb’s review

  “The Kelly Capital Growth Investment Criterion: Theory and Practice” by Leonard C. MacLean and Edward O. Thorp

– Nassim Taleb’s review

“The Science of Conjecture:Evidence and Probability before Pascal” by James Franklin

– Nassim Taleb’s review

“Probability, Random Variables and Stochastic Processes” by Athanasios Papoulis and S. Unnikrishna Pillai

– Nassim Taleb’s review

“Mathematics: Its Content,Methods and Meaning” by A. D. Aleksandrov and A. N. Kolmogorov

– Nassim Taleb’s review

 “The Hour Between Dog and Wolf:Risk-taking, Gut Feelings and the Biology of Boom and Bust” by John Coates

– Nassim Taleb’s review

“Information: The New Language of Science” by Hans Christian von Baeyer

– Nassim Taleb’s review

“Statistical Models: Theory and Practice” by David A. Freedman

– Nassim Taleb’s review

  “The (Mis)behavior of Markets”by Benoit B. Mandelbrot and Richard L. Hudson

– Nassim Taleb’s review

 “A Guide to Econometrics” by Peter Kennedy

– Nassim Taleb’s review

“Why Stock Markets Crash:Critical Events in Complex Financial Systems” by Didier Sornette

– Nassim Taleb’s review

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