Most Thought-Provoking Books of 2012
The Idea Factory: Bell Labs and the Great Age of American Innovation
by Jon Gertner published March 15, 2012
Over the span of a few decades, a single research lab invented the transistor, the microprocessor, radar, the communication satellite, the CD, and more.
The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business
by Charles Duhigg published February 28, 2012
Why toothpaste tingles, how Febreeze was a flop, and hundreds of other tidbits that are perfect for cocktail parties and future Jeopardy episodes.
The Signal and the Noise: Why So Many Predictions Fail-but Some Don't
by Nate Silver published September 27, 2012
Weaves together baseball, earthquakes, the weather, poker, and terrorism. Chapter 7 is the best description of Bayes theoreom I've ever read.
The Honest Truth About Dishonesty: How We Lie to Everyone---Especially Ourselves
by Dan Ariely published June 5, 2012
The third Ariely book, and just as fun. Would be ranked #1 except it's essential the same formula as his prior two gems.
Automate This: How Algorithms Came to Rule Our World
by Christopher Steiner published August 30, 2012
Surprisingly good read from a first-time author (and YC alum). Expands on Andreessen's quip to cover trading, couter-terrorism, the Arab Spring and more.