What I’ve Been Reading

1. Meditations by Marcus Aurelius. Some people swear by these Stoic teachings, but even me, a confessed lover of nuggets, could not fully engage with the long list of short aphoristic nugget-y blurbs. I’ll try again later. I do want to better understand Stoicism.

2. Paradox of Choice: Why More is Less by Barry Schwartz. There are many reviews and summaries of this book on the web (including an entire Ted talk) so I’m not sure I’d recommend reading the whole book itself. Schwartz’s argument — that too much choice robs us of satisfaction — is clearly presented and convincingly supported, even though it’s a “problem” only the very fortunate seem to have. I found much of the book familiar, but if you haven’t already dipped into happiness books or any of the recent slew of pop psychology books, Schwartz brings a lot of the research into one place.

3. The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable by Nassim Taleb. Another book that’s been well reviewed and summarized. I read Fooled by Randomness and loved it. I didn’t love Black Swan, but this is probably because over-high expectations. It’s a good book with important points about statistics, randomness, planning, and human nature. With the onset of the financial crisis, I’m sure Taleb has been dancing a jig. The book’s weakness, to this reader who isn’t qualified to assess the statistical arguments, is stylistic. He proudly resisted any editorship, and it shows. Also, he seems to enjoy his reputation for brashness so much that he hurls bitchy, pointless insults toward people like Richard Posner. All this notwithstanding, you should still read this book.

2. The Knack: How Street Smart Entrepreneurs Learn to Handle Whatever Comes Up by Norm Brodsky and Bo Burlingham. Brodsky and Burlingham have sterling reputations in the business journalism world, but I found nothing new in this grab bag of entrepreneurship tips and tricks. Like most business and entrepreneurship books: pass.

The best book I’ve been reading recently is John Updike, but that review deserves a separate post.

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