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This is the sort of thread that hits me right in the wallet.

Here are some books I've given as gifts recently:

* The Knowledge: How to Rebuild Civilization in the Aftermath of a Cataclysm, Lewis Dartnell[1]

* The Black Swan, Nassim Taleb[2]

* Siddhartha, Hermann Hesse[3]

* The Happiness Trap, Russ Harris and Steven Hayes[4]

* Code, Charles Petzold[5]

[1] https://www.amazon.com/Knowledge-Rebuild-Civilization-Afterm...

[2] https://www.amazon.com/Black-Swan-Improbable-Robustness-Frag...

[3] https://www.amazon.com/Siddhartha-Hermann-Hesse/dp/161382378...

[4] https://www.amazon.com/Happiness-Trap-Struggling-Start-Livin...

[5] https://www.amazon.com/Code-Language-Computer-Hardware-Softw...

The Black Swan is on my list too.

Is it really that good?

I've started it a few times. Nassim Nicholas Taleb seems to make sure never to use one word when ten could possibly be used, especially if some of them about himself.

Yep, I haven't been able to finish the book either, and what I've read didn't stand up to all the hype.

Taleb's Antifragile I did, unfortunately, finish, and it's way, way worse.

Now that I think about it, both books have a similar pattern: the first dozen or so pages present an interesting idea, which does give you a fresh and useful mental model in understanding the world. The rest of the book, unfortunately, meanders off into superficial redundant applications of it and pounding into the reader's head how anti-establishment Taleb is.

No, it is not. The idea behind the book is as sound as it is simple: shoehorning normal distributions in places where they shouldn't go just to make problems tractable will end in disaster due to an excess of fat tails in the real world.

However, Taleb has been pontificating on that single idea for fifteen years now and has parlayed twenty pages worth of ideas into three books, a collapsed hedge fund and numerous academic positions.

Skim the first three chapters of any of his three books, and you will have learnt all there is to learn from him.

While I can't disagree too much with my sibling comments, I do believe that the shift in mental model is worth the criticisms.

It's a shame his style, wordiness and pretension sometimes gets in the way of communicating a really significant and fundamental concept that I believe everyone should incorporate into their world view.

I thought fooled by randomness was much better. Higher information density.

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