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Taken and adapted from my comment on this thread also about books read in 2018:

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=18661546

1. "How to Measure Anything" (Douglas Hubbard)

Presents a few simple techniques (confidence intervals, Monte Carlo simulations, regression analysis, Bayes, etc) to help with decision-making. E.g., should we build this feature or spend the same money on marketing?

Many other books explain how our thinking can be flawed (Daniel Kahneman's "Thinking, Fast and Slow", Ralf Dobelli's "The Art of Thinking Clearly"), but this book gives you some actual real-world mathematical tools to avoid flawed thinking.

2. "Why We Sleep" (Matthew Walker)

As I read this book I kept thinking about all the people I knew who would benefit from it: family and friends, managers, colleagues…

With references to studies, the book explains the different factors that influence sleep, what your body does during sleep and the different phases of sleep, how your body—mostly the brain—benefits, etc.

For days after reading it I kept telling friends about things I'd learnt from it. One of my favourite was how certain types of bird are able to sleep: they line themselves up in a row, with the birds on each end putting only half their brain to sleep. This way they can keep one of their eyes open—the one furthest to the end—so they can keep watch. Then after a while the birds on the end will turn around and sleep the other side of their brain.

Fascinating!

3. "Superforecasting" (Philip Tetlock)

Tetlock explains his work on the "Good Judgment Project" which is a kind of experiment he's been running for a few years, getting people to sign up and provide regular predictions for different questions (e.g., "Will the South African Government grant the Dalai Lama a visa within six months?")

He explains what the best predictors (superforecasters) do, and how collaborations between predictors can do better than individuals (and even better than wisdom of the crowds).

Favourite quote: "[The data] revealed an inverse correlation between fame and accuracy: the more famous an expert was, the less accurate he was."

4. "Shoe Dog" (Phil Knight)

The story of Nike, told by the founder. I honestly don't care about Nike but that's not the takeaway—it's not about shoes or T-shirts or Michael Jordan. It's about a guy trying to keep a business alive: almost from day one there no let-up, the company is continually under threat.

Also the early employees are a really fun bunch.




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