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10 Books Recommended by Nassim Taleb I’m Kicking Myself for Not Reading Sooner

A healthy mix of fact and fiction

10 Books Recommended by Nassim Taleb I’m Kicking Myself for Not Reading Sooner

Being stuck is not a good thing.

Tunnel vision makes us see what we want to. Hence, we should all make a conscious effort to entertain different viewpoints.

Today’s list of books will open your eyes. They will force you to look at the people and the world around you in a new way.

Get out of the rut and read these books for an enlightened understanding.

Let’s go through them!

Source: Books mentioned by Nassim Taleb on Twitter/X and Books Nassim Taleb has given editorial book reviews on.

10 Books Recommended by Nassim Taleb I’m Kicking Myself for Not Reading Sooner

Ditch the conventional view of investing.

Spitznagel likens investors to risk managers.

He says that taking too much risk can cause one to lose investment while taking too little of it can reduce one’s capital gains.

Some people try to stick to the middle but that can lead to even worse outcomes.

“Becoming conventional is self-defeating in this business. It’s the kiss of death. We take the road less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.”

How to go about it then?

Take risks and hope for the best.

“Never underestimate the effect of absence of feedback on the unconscious behavior and choices of people.”

This book is a tough read. The author gives us examples of safe haven investments and options for diversification like gold.

He does so without revealing his exact investment strategy.

Source of Recommendation:

2. Foreword of book by Nassim Taleb

10 Books Recommended by Nassim Taleb I’m Kicking Myself for Not Reading Sooner

We came from a melting pot.

My favorite chapter in my biology textbook was about genetics. It fascinates me how all our information is coded into long and convoluted threads that we can’t see.

“Seventy thousand years ago, the world was populated by very diverse human forms, and we have genomes from an increasing number of them, allowing us to peer back to a time when humanity was much more variable than it is today.”

David Reich is agenticist . He has studied the human genome and the changes that occurred in it throughout history.

What he found was surprising to him as well.

The current human genomes of various populations have not emerged from different ancestors as previously thought. They have emerged from the mixtures that existed in the past.

This research leaves no place for biology-based nationalism.

“In the last few years, the genome revolution — turbocharged by ancient DNA — has revealed that human populations are related to each other in ways that no one expected.”

Through this book, the author acquaints us with the rapid research and developments in human genome research and how it is helping us understand our past.

Source of Recommendation:

10 Books Recommended by Nassim Taleb I’m Kicking Myself for Not Reading Sooner

Embrace irrationality!

What is market research?

It asks people about their likes, dislikes, and more in order to tailor products, services, and marketing accordingly.

Here is the kicker!

Even people don’t know what they want.

The author quotes David Ogilvy, a famous British advertising tycoon:

“The trouble with market research is that people don’t think what they feel, they don’t say what they think, and they don’t do what they say.”

The people are irrational. So companies and brands should make decisions accordingly.

The author gives us real-life examples. He motivates us to use the power of storytelling and take mental heuristics and biases into account.

“An approach seeking to minimise variance or minimise downsides often involves behaviour that seems nonsensical to those who don’t understand what the actor is trying to do.”

This book is an important read for any marketer or brand manager.

Source of Recommendation:

10 Books Recommended by Nassim Taleb I’m Kicking Myself for Not Reading Sooner

Are secular values truly nonreligious?

We have been duped into thinking that the secular way is neutral and unbiased when it comes to religion.

Tom Holland makes us see that secular ideals have been derived heavily from Christianity. And this is how Christianity is taking over the world.

“The concept of secularism — for all that it was promoted by the editor who invented the word as an antidote to religion — testified not to Christianity’s decline, but to its seemingly infinite capacity for evolution.”

He also contrasts this approach with that of Muslims.

Christians believe that their gospels were written by mortal men. This allows for ideas to evolve and change.

Meanwhile, Muslims believe that their book is the direct word of God. This stops all avenues of change. Because it has to be implemented as is.

“To be a Muslim, was to know that humans did not have rights. There was no natural law in Islam. There were only laws authored by God.”

The author doesn’t only talk about European secularization but also UN charters. They also draw upon Christian virtues. But that history is brushed under the rug.

This is how members of different religions agree to ascribe to them. They see them as secular, neutral, and nonreligious.

Source of Recommendation:

10 Books Recommended by Nassim Taleb I’m Kicking Myself for Not Reading Sooner

Face to face with political agendas.

This is a political novel.

It discusses the themes of government, revolution, religion, morality, science, and anarchy in society.

We meet various characters in this book. Each of them has his/her own ideology and set of struggles. Some are self-absorbed and selfish. Others are honest in their dedication.

“If you want to overcome the whole world, overcome yourself.”

This novel alludes to the political mayhem that existed in the 1860s in Russia.

The story is written from the first-person perspective of one of the secondary characters, Anton Lavrentyevich who is a civil servant.

We see the dynamic between the two main characters, Nikolai Stavrogin and Pyotr Verkhovensky as they play their own roles in the conspiracy disguised as revolution.

“Reason has never had the power to define good and evil, or even to distinguish between good and evil, even approximately; on the contrary, it has always mixed them up in a disgraceful and pitiful way…”

On the opposite end of the spectrum, we meet Alexei Kirillov and Ivan Shatov. They are defenders of Russian Christian heritage.

This novel forces us to reflect on the various political forces that exist in a society and the myriad of intentions behind them.

Source of Recommendation:

10 Books Recommended by Nassim Taleb I’m Kicking Myself for Not Reading Sooner

Our past is more complex than we imagine.

We like to think of ourselves as enlightened versions of our ancestors.

They didn’t know any better. What if we are wrong?

This book allows us to revisit our thinking when it comes to our ancestors. They were our ‘cognitive equals’ and ‘intellectual peers’. The authors say that our predecessors struggled with social issues just like us.

“They were perhaps more aware of some things and less aware of others. They were neither ignorant savages nor wise sons and daughters of nature.”

I am highly inclined to side with the author’s view.

When I was a teenager, I thought my mom and dad didn’t know this and that. That stemmed from my immature mind and lack of experience. As an adult myself, I can appreciate their foresight.

Perhaps, this exact phenomenon is replicated on a bigger scale when we, as a species, simplify our understanding of our forefathers.

The authors force us to ask ourselves:

“Has ‘Western civilization’ really made life better for everyone?”

In the simplistic narrative of ‘enlightenment,’ this book is a welcome change. It offers complexity and nuance to understanding human history.

Source of Recommendation:

10 Books Recommended by Nassim Taleb I’m Kicking Myself for Not Reading Sooner

The science of growth.

From biological systems to man-made ones, the author discusses the phenomenon of scaling.

What is the relation between the metabolic rate and the body size of an organism?

When the size doubles, the metabolic rate increases by 75%. This change can be plotted in a graph. We will get a straight line. Similarly, the heart rate increases by 25%.

“Continuous growth and the consequent ever-increasing acceleration of the pace of life have profound consequences for the entire planet and, in particular, for cities, socioeconomic life, and the process of global urbanization.”

The author uses the scaling phenomenon to study the growth of companies, cities, and more.

One example is that of patents registered in a city vs the population. Number of registered patents increases 15% faster than the population.

“We need to understand how the dynamics of innovation, technological advances, urbanization, financial markets, social networks, and population dynamics are interconnected…”

The author also talks about the reduced time between subsequent innovations. How long will be able to keep up with this is a fair question to ask.

Source of Recommendation:

10 Books Recommended by Nassim Taleb I’m Kicking Myself for Not Reading Sooner

Deep letters from one friend to the other.

Those who follow Nassim Taleb are aware of his affinity to Stoic philosophy.

From ancient Rome, this book is one of the classic literary pieces on Stoicism.

“What progress, you ask, have I made? I have begun to be a friend to myself.”

This book compiles the letters written by Seneca to his friend Lucilius. It is not known whether they were actually sent or were written for the purpose of publication.

These letters discuss various Stoic principles.

The author makes us realize that we can control our minds and thoughts. The hallmark of a healthy mind is calmness.

“People who know no self-restraint lead stormy and disordered lives, passing their time in a state of fear commensurate with the injuries they do to others, never able to relax.”

People with healthy minds are selective of their friends. They don’t trust everyone. They are confident enough to wait for the right people.

This book will acquaint you with Stoic principles and the key to living a calm and happy life.

Source of Recommendation:

2. ‘’A more human version can be read in Seneca’s Letters from a Stoic, a soothing and surprisingly readable book that I distribute to my trader friends (Seneca also took his own life when cornered by destiny).’’ — Fooled by Randomness, Nassim Nicholas Taleb

10 Books Recommended by Nassim Taleb I’m Kicking Myself for Not Reading Sooner

Philosophical thoughts from the 16th century.

This book was originally written in Middle French (a historical version of the French language).

Montaigne’s writing is about introspection and understanding himself. He covers a myriad of topics.

“I am afraid that our eyes are bigger than our stomachs, and that we have more curiosity than understanding. We grasp at everything, but catch nothing except wind.”

The topics include the education of children, friendship, and the importance of philosophy.

Montaigne words force us to look at the world around us and reflect. He makes us realize the diversity of human experience, and the importance of knowledge and experience.

“Man is certainly stark mad; he cannot make a worm, and yet he will be making gods by dozens.”

He also focuses on the importance of finding joy in the current moment.

This book is an important contribution to the philosophy landscape.

Source of Recommendation:

10 Books Recommended by Nassim Taleb I’m Kicking Myself for Not Reading Sooner

Short stories with the unpredictability of novels.

This book is a collection of short stories originally written in Spanish.

The stories are filled with mystery and twists and turns.

“All our lives we postpone everything that can be postponed; perhaps we all have the certainty, deep inside, that we are immortal and sooner or later every man will do everything, know all there is to know.”

The themes of some of the stories are crime and treason. Others introduce legends and folklore from other cultures.

There is a mystical and fantasy theme to others.

The author is also known for his contribution to the magic realism genre through his work.

“To say good-bye is to deny separation; it is to say Today we play at going our own ways, but we’ll see each other tomorrow.”

I have a soft spot for fiction. It allows us to transcend the apparent and visible into a make-believe where everything is possible.

If you are like me, this book is worth a try.

Source of Recommendation:


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If you enjoyed these book recommendations, check out the rest of my book lists on my blog-

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