Last First Title Read Rating(10) Category
Abelson Hal Blown to Bits Yes 9 Ethics
Adams Scott All Dressed Down and Nowhere to Go No Humor
Albom Mitch the five people you meet in heaven Yes 5 Literature
Ali Samina Madras on Rainy Days No Literature
Andreasen Nancy The Creative Brain Yes 7 Science
Ariely Dan Predicably Irrational Yes 10 Economics
Ariely Dan The Upside of Irrationality Yes 9 Social Science
Austen Jane Pride and Prejudice Yes 7 Literature
Ayres Ian Super Crunchers Yes 7 Science
Barry Dave Dave Barry's History of the Millenium Yes 8 Humor
Barry Dave Dave Barry's Complete Guide to Guys Yes 6 Humor
Barry Dave Dave Barry's Homes and Other Black Yes 6 Humor
Barry Dave Dave Barry's Only Travel Guide You'll Yes 6 Humor
Bauerlein Mark The Dumbest Generation Yes 8 Education
Behe Michael Darwin's Black Box No Science
Berners-Lee Weaving the Web Yes 7 Science
Berns Gregory a neuroscientist reveals how to think Yes 7 Science
Borg Marcus Meeting Jesus Again for the First Time Yes 8 History
Brooks Rodney Cambrian Intelligence No Science
Brown Dan Angels and Demons Yes 7 Literature
Burstein Dan Secrets of the Code No Other
Calder Nigel Einstein's Universe Yes 8 Science
Carson Ben Gifted Hands Yes 9 Medicine
Carter Jimmy Peace Not Apartheid Yes 8 Politics
Chabris Chris the invisible gorilla Yes 9 Psychology
Cherian Anne a good indian wife Yes 8 Literature
Chomsky Noam The Common Good Yes 9 Politics
Chomsky Noam The Chomsky Reader No Politics
Chomsky Noam The Prosperous Few and the Restless No Politics
Chomsky Noam The Umbrella of US Power No Politics
Chomsky Noam What Uncle Same Really Wants No Politics
Churchill Caryl Drunk Enough to Say I Love You? Yes 7 Play
Cialdini Robert Influence: Science and Practice Yes 9 Social Science
Coehlo Paul The Alchemist Yes 6 Literature
Coulter Ann Slander Yes 3 Politics
Cresswell Clio Mathematics and Sex Yes 9 Math
Crichton Michael Jurassic Park No Literature
Crichton Michael Prey No Literature
D'Aguiar Fred The Longest Memory Yes 8 Literature
Damon Matt Good Will Hunting No Other
Darwin Charles On the Origin of the Species No Science
Dawkins Richard the extended phenotype No Science
Degette Diana Sex, Science and Stem Cells Yes 8 Politics
DeParle Jason American Dream: Three Women, Ten Yes 9 Social Science
Kids, and a Nation's Drive to End
Derbyshire John Prime Obsession Yes 8 Math
Devlin Keith The Math Gene Yes 8 Math
Devlin Keith The Unfinished Game Yes 7 Math
Diamond Jared Collapse Yes 10 Social Science
Diamond Jared Guns, Germs and Steel Yes 10 Social Science
Diamond Jared The Third Chimpanzee Yes 9 Science
Diamond Jared Why Sex is Fun? Yes 8 Science
Douglass Frederick Narrative of the Life of Frederick Yes 9 History
Dunham William Euler The Master of Us All Yes 9 Math
Easterly William The White Man's Burden Yes 8 Philanthropy
Ehrlich Robert Eight Preposterous Propositions Yes 7 Science
Ellis Joseph Founding Brothers Yes 9 History
Feynman Richard Surely, You're Joking Mr. Feynman! Yes 8 Science
Feynman Richard What do you care what other people Yes 8 Science
Feynman Richard The Pleasure of Finding Things Out No Science
Fisher Len Rock, Paper, Scissors Game Theory in Yes 8 Math
Fisman Raymond Economic Gangsters Yes 9 Economics
Flannery Sarah In code: A young woman's Yes 9 Math
Folger Tim The Best American Science and No Science
Nature Writing 2006
Forester E.M. A Passage to India No Literature
Friedman Thomas The World Is Flat Yes 9 Economics
Fritzsch Harald Quarks No Science
Gatto John Dumbing Us Down Yes 7 Education
Gawande Atul The Best American Science Writing Yes 8 Science
Gawande Atul The Checklist Manifesto Yes 10 Medicine
Gawande Atul Complications Yes 10 Medicine
Gawande Atul Better Yes 10 Medicine
Gelman Andrew red state blue state rich state poor Yes 9 Politics
Gladwell Malcom Outliers (The Story of Success) Yes 10 Social Science
Gladwell Malcom blink Yes 9 Social Science
Gladwell Malcom What the Dog Saw and other Yes 9 Social Science
Gladwell Malcom The Tipping Point Yes 8 Social Science
Glassner Barry The Culture of Fear Yes 8 Social Science
Green John An Abundance of Katherines Yes 8 Teen Lit
Greenspan Alan The Age of Turbulence Yes 9 Economics
Groopman Jerome How Doctors Think Yes 9 Medicine
Gruwell Erin The Freedom Writers Diary Yes 10 Education
Gruwell Erin Teach With Your Heart Yes 9 Education
Guillen Michael Five Equations that Changed the World Yes 8 Science
Gupta Sanjay Cheating Death Yes 10 Medicine
Hallinan Joseph Why We Make Mistakes Yes 10 Psychology
Hamer Dean The God Gene Yes 8 Science
Harris Marvin Cows, Pigs, Wars, and Witches Yes 8 Anthropology
Hawking Stephen A Brief History of Time Yes 9 Science
Heath Chip, Dan Made to Stick (Why Some Ideas Yes 9 Social Science
Heilemann John Game Change Yes 9 Politics
Heller Joseph Catch-22 No Literature
Herzlinger Regina Harvard Business Review on Managing Yes 8 Medicine
Hinsley F.H. Codebreakers: The Inside Story of No Crypto/Science
Hoffman Paul The Man Who Loved Only Numbers Yes 8 Math
Hosseini Khaled The Kite Runner Yes 8 Literature
Hurston Zora Neale Their Eyes Were Watching God Yes 9 Literature
Hurston Zora Neale Mules and Men No Literature
Huxley Aldous Brave New World Yes 8 Literature
Jacobs A. J. The Know-It-All Yes 6 Other
Johnson Steven Emergence Yes 6 Social Science
Karabel Jerome The Chosen No Education
Keene Carolyn Nancy Drew: If Looks Could Kill No Literature
Keyes Marian last chance saloon No Literature
Khanna Parag How to Run the Wolrd Yes 8 Politics
Kidder Tracy Mountains beyond Mountains Yes 10 Philanthropy
Kingsolver Barbara The Poisonwood Bible Yes 9 Literature
Kirkpatrick David the Facebook effect Yes 9 Technology
KlostermanChuck Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs Yes 4 Other
Lahiri Jhumpa Unaccustomed Earth Yes 9 Literature
Lahiri Jhumpa interpreter of maladies Yes 8 Literature
Landsburg Steven More Sex is Safer Sex Yes 7 Economics
LeGault Michael Th!nk Yes 5 Social Science
Lehrer Jonah How We Decide Yes 9 Psychology
Levitin Daniel This is Your Brain on Music Yes 8 Science
Levitt Steven SuperFreakonomics Yes 10 Economics
Levitt Steven Freakonomics Yes 10 Social Science
Lightman Alan The Best American Science Writing No Science
Livio Mario The Equation That Couldn't Be Solved Yes 8 Math
Loewen James Lies My Teacher Told Me Yes 8 History
MacDonaldSarah Holy Cow: An Indian Adventure No Travel
McClintock Barbara A Feeling for the Organism Yes 5 Science
McIntire Suzanne Book of Great American Speeches for No History
Miller Alan why beautiful people have more Yes 8 Psychology
Minsky Marvin The Society of Mind No Science
Mitchell Joyce Winning the Heart of the College Yes 7 Education
Mlodinow Leonard The Drunkard's Walk Yes 8 Math
Moalem Sharon Survival of the Sickest Yes 9 Medicine
Mortenson Greg Three Cups of Tea Yes 10 Philanthropy
Mukherjee Siddhartha The Emperor of all Maladies Yes 10 Medicine
Myracle Lauren ttyl Yes 4 Literature
Newkirk Ingrid One Can Make a Difference Yes 7 Philanthropy
Nisbett Richard The Geography of Thought Yes 9 Psychology
Obama Barack Dreams from My Father Yes 10 Politics
Obama Barack The Audacity of Hope Yes 8 Politics
Orwell George Nineteen-Eighty-Four Yes 8 Literature
Pallotta Dan Uncharitable Yes 10 Philanthropy
Paulos John Beyond Numeracy No Math
Pausch Randy The Last Lecture Yes 10 Biography
Peterson Ivars Islands of Truth: A Mathematical No Math
Peterson Ivars The Mathematical Tourist No Math
Pickover Clifford The Loom of God No Math
Pink Daniel A Whole New Mind Yes 9 Social Science
Pink Daniel Drive Yes 8 Psychology
Pinker Steven How the Mind Works Yes 10 Science
Pinker Steven the blank slate Yes 10 Science
Pinker Steven The Language Instinct Yes 9 Science
Pinker Steven Words and Rules No Science
Pirsig Robert Zen and the Art of Motorcycle No Philosophy
Plouffe David The Audacity to Win Yes 8 Politics
Pories Susan The Soul of a Doctor Yes 7 Medicine
Porter Eduardo The Price of Everything Yes 9 Economics
Postman Neil The End of Education Yes 7 Education
Premack David+Ann Original Intelligence Yes 8 Science
Quinn Daniel Ishmael Yes 9 Philosophy
Ridley Matt The Red Queen Yes 8 Science
Ridley Matt Nature via Nurture No Science
Sachs Jeffrey The End of Poverty Yes 9 Philanthropy
Sacks Oliver The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a No Social Science
Hat and Other Clinical Tales
Sagan Carl Comet No Science
Sarkar Sumit Modern India No History
Shakespeare A Midsummer Night's Dream No Literature
Shalof Tilda A Nurse's Story Yes 8 Medicine
T. Denean The Speech (Race and Barack
Sharpley-Whiting Yes 8 Politics
Obama's "A More Perfect Union")
Shermer Michael The Science of Good and Evil Yes 10 Science
Shermer Michael The Mind of the Market Yes 9 Economics
Sinclair Upton The Jungle No Literature
Singh Simon The Code Book Yes 10 Crypto/Science
Singh Simon Fermat's Enigma Yes 10 Math
Singh Simon Trick or Treatment Yes 9 Medicine
Singh Simon Big Bang Yes 9 Science
Soos Troy Before the Curse Yes 7 Sports
Specter Mike Denialism Yes 8 Science
Steinbeck John The Grapes of Wrath No Literature
Stewart Maria Maria W. Stewart, America's First Yes Politics
Black Political Writer
Sundem Garth [Geek Logik] Yes 5 Humor
Suskind Ron A Hope In the Unseen Yes 9 Education
Suskind Ron The One Percent Doctrine Yes 9 Politics
Suskind Ron The Price of Loyalty Yes 9 Politics
Suskind Ron Confidence Men Yes 8 Politics
Taleb Nassim The Black Swan Yes 8 Economics
Tan Amy Joy Luck Club Yes 7 Literature
Thaler Richard Nudge Yes 10 Economics
Henry David No Philosophy
Turnbull Herbert The Great Mathematicians Yes 7 Math
Twain Mark The Mysterious Stranger No Literature
Unknown Unknown The Prague Golem No Literature
Vonnegut Kurt Breakfast of Champions No Literature
Wilson E. O. Consilience Yes 9 Science
Wilson E.O. The Future of Life Yes 7 Science
Wilson E. O. On Human Nature No Science
Young Coco A Letter to Mrs. Roosevelt No Literature
Yunus MuhammadCreating a World Without Poverty Yes 10 Economics
Zakaria Fareed The Post-American World Yes 9 Politics
Zindel Paul The Pigman Yes 7 Literature
This book is pretty fascinating, Abelson, Ledeen and Lewis look at the digital explosion and how it has
affected how we do business, particularly privacy and intellectual rights issues. There's a lot of interesting
information here, especially about how entitites that own communication channels want to keep things as
they are and not allow for more players in their arena. As usual, those in power don't want to give it up. It is
truly amazing what sorts of innovations we can come up with and I hope that those in power don't restrict
things so that we can't get full use of our technological capabilities.
A story about a guy who dies at a carnival saving a little girl and the five people he meets in heaven that
helps him put his life into perspective
An interesting look into creativity. In particular, she separates it from IQ (similar to how Gladwell does in
outliers), but she then goes into some specifics with respect to the brain and how those may relate to
creativity. When she speaks of "creativity", her focus is writers, due to her background (Ph.D. in something
English related). Her background gave her accessibility to a group of renown writers. She also looks at the
link between creativity and mental illness and draws some interesting conclusions. She does have some
ideas of how to make yourself more creative, but this last chapter seems like an afterthought. I think Daniel
Pink's book, A Whole New Mind, does a much better job of giving the reader ideas on how to improve their
This book is great. Ariely does some of the whackiest experiments! He actually found a way to show that
how we think we are going to act while we are "in the act" is different than we actually do. He explains how
Americans are biased towards not ordering what someone else at the table did but Japanese do the
opposite. And my favorite study was the one where he showed girls pictures of three guys: A, B, and A',
where A and B are about equally good looking and A' is just a photoshopped image (for the worse) of A.
Girls picked A 3 to 1 over B (and no one picked A' of course). But, when shown just A and B, each was
picked equally. The point of the study is that a third dummy choice can affect what we choose between the
two "real" choices. Companies can use this to manipulate customers to pick more expensive options, for
I think I like his first book better, but this one is really good also. He focuses more on his personal
experiences and talks a great deal about his difficult recovery from a horrific burn. I think his first chapter is
the best. He shows why huge bonuses for CEOs not only don't produce better outcomes, they may produce
worse outcomes than regular bonuses. It's amazing to me that CEOs shown his research simply just said,
"oh yeah, that can't apply to us." Those (mostly) guys have ridiculous egos and a completely inflated idea of
self worth. The more I read the research, the more I am convinced that these people, nor their abilities are
special at all. He gives good reasons why when we get worked up about something, we should take some
time and simmer down instead of acting immediately. (This is all well-known, but he has some good case
studies and good experiments to back up this truism.) His chapter "hot or not" is pretty good too. After you
read it, you'll think that most of it is common sense, but it's a good honest look at dating. Basically, if you're
not hot, you learn to put more emphasis on other characterstics when you find a mate, but you don't
necessarily change what you think is physically attractive. He also explains why he thinks online dating is an
Austen does such a great job of transporting you to the time and place she wants to. I can only imagine
what it's like to patiently wait for a letter so long.
This book is about how we should try to measure everything before we come to a conclusion about it and
that the future holds lots of controlled experiments from which we can learn about everything. Some of his
studies are convincing to me, but others are not. Also, there's the cost of doing the studies. To me, there
are lots of studies that are very inconclusive that take a lot of extra effort to run. I understand measuring
some things, but not everything. I do think that data mining will lead to some pretty useful things, but I don't
see it as the panacea that he sees it as.
I love Dave Barry and this is another book that made me laugh out loud about every minute.
The title says it all.
The title says it all.
The title says it all.
Bauerlein focuses on the lack of students' knowledge in civics, history and literature. He explains how
technology is partially to blame for this lack of knowledge and hypothesizes about the rammifications to our
democracy. I found many of his specific studies and findings fascinating. I do believe he underplays the
talented students in Generation Y and the type of effect they will have. Rather, he focuses on the average
student. His statistics don't show sharp declines, but on an objective level (who can read on grade level,
who knows the secretary of state, etc.) they are alarming. He also writes off any measured gains (SAT
scores, IQ scores) as being unimportant. I do agree with him that this generation is squandering many of its
opportunities from an educational standpoint since they have greater access to information than ever before
but seem to be no better off than their predecessors. But, I also think he's not taking into account how much
more sheer information is out there to distill and process. We have to make more difficult choices about
what to teach and what not to teach in order to move forward. Like Bauerlein, I am also concerned about
how the young use technology. It seems as if they spend a great deal of time with iPods, texting and social
A historical account of the world wide web from its inventor. Pretty cool - surprising how much trouble he
initially had pushing his idea, and how ridiculously ubiquitous it is now, a mere 18 years later.
There are some good case studies in here, but he falls short (in my opinion) of really capturing how to think
creatively. Of all the books I have read, A Whole New Mind does the best job on this topic. I do remember
the Dale Chihuly case study as being fascinating. It's when he lost vision in his left eye that he started
producing the work for which is well known. He derides people who fear failure, but in my opinion, it's okay
to take the calculated safe road, and what he doesn't mention is all those people who didn't have fear who
Good book! Talks about what we know about Jesus, historically.
I ought to read this book. I think I started and never finished. He's one of the famous people I've met. He
was my advisor in college, oddly enough, after I wanted to switch from Shafi Goldwasser. Both of these
people are brilliant, but not very good college advisors. Shafi chewed me out for not understanding
computer architecture and waiting till drop week to drop the class and Rod never really gave me much
advice on any thing except, get your grades up. But, after I used one of the documentaries in which Rod
appears in my TOK class, I emailed him. He had chilled out quite a bit and thought it was cool I was
teaching high school. After a second email I found out he basically mellowed out after he met and married
his wife. In any event, I never realized this when I was in college, but his ideas about AI and robotics are
pretty damn cool. He's got that MIT style of thinking, partially from the school of thought of Minsky, but he's
got his own flavor, not to mention a cool Aussie accent. (At least I think it's Aussie!)
The prequel to DaVinci Code, Robert Langdon and Vittoria Vetra investigate the murder of her famous
father, who had evidently made a huge scientific discovery.
Debunks the Da Vinci Code…
Read this in seventh grade, so my memory is a bit hazy and chances are I didn't understand a lick of it,
even though at the time I might have thought I did. Clearly this book talks about relativity and how Einstein's
universe differs from Newton's.
Ben Carson's Autobiography - tells of how he came from an impoverished background and became one of
the world's pre-eminent pediatric neurosurgeons.
Carter shares his views of what is necessary to gain peace in the Middle East. Largely, he advocates the
solution for which he was a proponent while he was president. Palestine needs a homeland of some sort.
This book is written by the guys who did the Gorilla in the Midst study. The first chapter talks about how we
don't see AND process as much as we think we do. It's easy for us to be concentrating on one task and
completely miss something else going on. The second chapter talks about the failures of our memory and
they may change over time. The third chapter talks about how we're generally overconfident - we think we
are better than we really are. The fourth talks about how one can calibrate their skills by getting frequent
and quick feedback, like weather forcasters, who actually do a very good job. Hedge fund managers on the
other hand don't, because they don't get enough repetitive feedback. The fifth chapter is about how we tend
to see individual accounts as proof of something and how we confuse correlation with causation. That last
chapter is about how listening to Mozart doesn't really make you more intelligent, and it's unlikely that
something like Brain Age will either. Exercise has been shown to be effective in this arena though. Some
excellent case studies and review of the studies out there.
I read this a long time ago, so my memory of it is fading. It's a fairly interesting story about an Indian guy
who gets arranged who doesn't really want to, but somehow gives in to it. I basically think the guy is a wuss
for caving into his parents. It is interesting that in the end, he does accept his arranged marriage just fine. I
think the author does a good job of building suspense in different parts of the story. I do think it's partly
annoying that the white girl in the story is marginalized. I think that too often, in Indian literature, the white
characters are portrayed in a negative light unnecessarily.
He discusses how the world (particularly the US) does NOT work towards the common good, and what
sorts of things would have to be done to work towards this goal.
Two men have a dialogue, Jack and Sam. Sam represents "Uncle Sam" and the seductive ways of the US
gov't and Jack represents a politician or citizen. Literally, the two men are having a relationship and Jack
keeps coming back to Sam, but then realizing problems and trying to break up with him.
The author studies different techniques people use to get others to comply with their desires/requests.
Largely, the book's material is psychology, but the applications are geared towards business to some
This is a fable/story about a boy on a journey that is supposed to be an allegory (hope I am using that word
correctly) for life.
I was hoping to learn about justifications for conservative viewpoints. I read about forty pages and got a
bunch of slander. I suppose I shouldn't be surprised. I was looking for data, and I got eloquent name-calling
I read this book several years ago for kicks and really enjoyed it. Not only did it have references to several
problems I had already learned: the Sultan problem and the Traditional Marriage Algorithm, but she cited
work by Raghu Ramakrishnan, a guy who was at UW in the CS department while I was there. I did some
extra work on the Sultan problem and actually emailed Clio and she emailed me back a couple times, so I
thought that was really cool. Basically, she does a good literature review of the various problems people
tangentially related to sex that people have studied using mathematical techniques. I think the lay person
ought to read the section about why online dating (or any matching problem between people) tends not to
work well if you ask lots and lots of questions. And of course, as previously mentioned, I am a big fan of
both the Traditional Marriage Algorithm and the Sultan problem =)
Got this book at the Zora Neale Hurston festival because it looked cool. Great book. Story about a slave
who lived to be around 100. The story just covers the span of his life.
I love the movie. I got the script as a present!
Diana's biased on this topic, and rightly so. It's frustrating how religion can get in the way of pragmatic
policy. She highlights, in a detailed way, how the religious Right has thwarted pragmatic legislation to fund
research using stem cells, pumped billions of dollars into abstinence-only education that has been proven
multiple times to not reduce the amount of sex teenagers have, and slowed down AIDS relief in Africa by
refusing to give out condoms with that aid money. She's a congresswoman who's carved her niche and I'm
glad she's fighting for pragmatic issues related to health and women.
Jason DeParle follows three women's lives from Chicago to Milwaukee as they deal with the Clinton
Administration's Welfare Reforms. The book analyzes the details of the reforms themselves, legislatively
(ie. Clinton let Gingrich's bill pass because not doing so would have been political suicide), as well as the
implementation of the reforms in Wisconsin. Then he uses the three case studies that are intertwined so
that the readers can see the end effect of the legislation and implementation.
This book should really only be read by people who really enjoy math. The math in here is pretty tough in my
opinion, and it order to fully appreciate the book, you really need to understand the beauty of the math,
which means understanding the math, at least somewhat.
Discusses how humans are wired for numbers. A careful read will also elucidate the types of mathematical
tasks our genes don't allow us to inherit, which shows what sorts of mathematics have to be learned.
Obviously this varies from person to person, but the information in this book would be useful for anyone
I didn't like this book as much as his other book that I read. The history in it is decent, but I am not a fan of
his commentary. He overplays the importance of the letter. Sure it's important, but clearly quite a few others
were working on probability and probably would have regardless of the existence of this letter. Also, he
drove me nuts by stating that Fermat's method was flat out better and more elegant than Pascal's. Pascal
had essentially discovered a nice recursive formula which he calculated using dynamic programming. That
general method can be used to solve so many problems. Fermat literally did brute force and just listed out
all possible games. Certainly, there is some cleverness to Fermat's approach in that he realized that he
needed to list out ALL possibilities, even if those series would have ended earlier. But at the end of the day,
it's really just brute force. Also, reading the text of the letter reinforces something I have been told by other
teachers: The original source for information generally sucks at explaining it. If you want a good
explanation, go to a textbook or some other source that was written many years after the fact was originally
discovered. Those letters were a bit of a mess and confusing at best.
Diamond examines the factors that lead societies to succeed and/or collapse. He breaks down his analysis
into five major categories of factors and then looks at history, surveying examples of Collapse (Easter
Island, Vikings, etc.) as well as successes (Eskimos, Japanese) and then tries to apply these principles to
us today to give recommendations as to how we can avoid Collapse.
Diamond is just a good writer. I can’t pick between this and Collapse as his best work. This work just goes
sooo far in explaining how and why things are the way they are. You feel as if you have a good macro view
of human history after you read this book.
Great book about the human species - answers all sorts of interesting questions about homo sapiens
Discusses the pecuiliarity of our sexuality from a biological standpoint.
It's his autobiography. Amazing for someone who learned to read and write by sneaking by a white boy's
place on his way back from buying groceries for his master.
If you want to know why my car tag reads "Euler", read this book. He was just a phenomenal
mathematician. This book categorizes his work into different mathematical areas and chooses the most
important advances Euler made in those areas. Certainly, the choices are subjective and much of Euler's
work had to be cut out, but I think the author did a good job, as far as I can tell. He mixes in a good deal of
history with the mathematics, but also does a good job of explaining some of the math. I still think that the
amount of work Euler did while he was blind is astounding. And who doesn't love the Basel Problem =) (If
you want to find out what this is, read the book!)
This is a response to Jeffrey Sach's book, "The End of Poverty". Largely, Easterly argues that top-down
efforts from the West to aid the world's poor have failed. The latest effort being the one headed by Jeff
Sachs and the UN Millenium Project. He argues that the aid business must be changed to shoot for smaller,
measurable, achievable goals and that aid groups must be held account for the outcome of their efforts.
Furthermore, he emphasizes getting feedback from the poor to guide future aid projects and experimental
studies that isolate individual techniques to test empirically if they work or not. If they do, try to replicate the
ideas in other areas, being sensitive to unique local conditions. I think the ideas in this book coupled with
Sachs' book do a very good job of outlining how the West could improve its aid efforts.
Evaluates claims in several areas (Homosexuality, Intelligent Design, Global Warming, Telekinesis, Life in
the Universe, Placebo Effect and Cholesterol) based on the science
Ellis explores the founding fathers (he explains why he calls them brothers in the text) through six vignettes
that show the human side of our childhood heros. The book does an excellent job of helping the reader
separate "fact" from "opinion"/"educated guesswork" and illustrates why a good historian must do the latter
to make sense ofevents.
Reference my other comment about Feynman.
Part science, part humor, all Feynman. This genius was quirky as all of his anecdotes will prove. It's really
interesting to read the perspective of an uber-scientist on all sorts of issues.
He does a good job of explaining basic game theory, but some of his examples/experiments are just plain
weird. I suppose it might just be because he's an Aussie. I think his conclusions are mostly common sense,
but they are exactly the types of things we should strive for. We should try to create systems/rules that
promote cooperation, if at all possible. He gives several concrete ideas of how this can be achieved. Some
involve using a trusted third party. In general though, the idea is that in a system with many interactions,
people are naturally less likely to cheat and more likely to cooperate. His idea about using a quantum
computer to aid in negotiations is befuddling. Let's not even get into the fact that we probably won't be
seeing real quantum computers anytime soon. But, other than this ridiculous digression at the end, the book
In the style of Freakonomics, the two authors (Edward Miguel is the other one), attempt to shed light onto
the general topic of why poor nations have difficulty rising above poverty. They use novel techniques to
analyze data to reach their conclusions. They do a good job telling a story and a good job of finding the
appropriate data to analyze to answer their posed questions. Perhaps the most entertaining data is from
their study of parking tickets of UN diplomats and how that relates to how culture may affect whether or not
one follows rules. The authors talk about both Jeffrey Sachs and William Easterly's opposing views on aid
and try to take a bit more of a middle of the road view. I think all three books are very important for anyone
who wants to try to make a difference in these places.
Awesome story about a high school public key cryptography research project. She got so much farther than
I ever got in coming up with a public key system. I would also totally marry this girl!
A great read; talks about how the internet is changing business across the world and allowing those in the
Eastern world to compete in the global marketplace. Friedman focuses on India and the tech boom. I think
the overall ideas in the book are very important and hopefully they can be applied to areas in the world that
are still struggling economically. With the ideas in this book, and Jeff Sach's The End of Poverty, I think one
can put together a roadmap for truly improving the standard of living for many of those that are left out of
our modern world, so to speak.
The author has some good ideas, but strikes me as too much of a conspiracy theorist. If you listen to him,
school teacher and administrators are in cahoots with the government with the express purpose of keeping
kids down so they never amount to much. Granted, I am occasionally frustrated by certain moves that the
administration at my high school make, but I do not believe for a second that they are trying to deny the kids
an education. The opposite is true. Most of the people I know in education try their hardest to educate kids
and help them. He gives a few ideas about how to improve the system, but doesn't acknowledge that there
are practical reasons for the way things are run. He thinks bells suck, but really, if you think about it, they
are a necessity to run a school with 3000+ students. If we did what he said, kids might do more work in a
subject they like, but they'd be even more deficient in subjects they don't like. I tried to take some of his
ideas that I did like (this is what I do whenever I encounter someone or writing I disagree with), and there
are ways in which they can be introduced into our system to enhance students' education. I agree with his
assertion that there needs to be more apprenticeship, for example. I think that can slowly be built into our
Many different science articles, from cloning to the redwoods.
Yet another amazing book by Gawande. What's better is that you can take what he talks about in the book
to improve medicine and adapt it to improve whatever job you happen to do. His ideas are simple, but
powerful, and is proof that well-designed checklists work is very convincing. As always, he does a great job
of introducing his case studies and getting you to want to know what's going to happen. More importantly,
his case studies give us reason to make generalizations (unlike Gladwell's). I've only applied very little of
what's written here to my job, but my one attempt at doing so did, in fact, reduce the number of errors I
This is Gawande's initial work that won him praise. His collections of vignettes is amazing and he has done
such a great job of organizing them in a useful structure to weave a greater story about medicine. He gives
the non-doctor a great understanding of the complications inherent in being a doctor and the complexity that
doctors routinely face. His first story, about the difficulty in letting an intern (first year resident) bumble
through a procedure, truly opens your eyes to the difficulty and necessity of error in medical training. In the
end, even though doctors have many shortcomings and insanely hard problems to deal with, Gawande's
mood is hopeful with respect to modern medicine's capabilities.
Gawande's second book is very similar to his first, but has a greater aim. In the first, he simply wanted to
allow non-doctors into the complicated world of being a doctor, which he did so eloquently. In this book, he
challenges fellow doctors to become better. He outlines stories that shows how medicine will advance.
Sometimes technology helps, but other times, in the case of the Mayo Clinic's treatment of Cystic Fibrosis,
good doctor-patient relationships and unusual persistence to make sure patients comply with treatment
significantly improve outcomes. I think this is a must read for doctors and non-doctors alike. I would hope
that a doctor reading this book would derive some passion for how they, themselves, could do a better job.
A great analysis of US voting patterns that primarily uses exit poll data from the 2000 and 2004 US
presidential elections. The main trend discussed is that rich states vote democratic and poor states vote
republican, BUT rich PEOPLE vote republican and poor people vote democratic. Gelman explains how this
is possible and then gives possible reasons for the numbers. In addition, the impact of religion on voting is
examined. This analysis is done in both the US and other countries (as is the income analysis). The results
of the intersection of these three things: voting patterns, income and religion, is fascinating. The graphs in
this book are the best. One could theoretically just look at the graphs and the captions (there are 100s of
them) and get all the meaningful content in the book without reading the text!
This is my new favorite book by Gladwell. His explanations for "success" speak to ultimate causes as
opposed to proximate causes. Although he minimizes the effect of innate talent, he overarching point is very
important: people in different social groups or other categories don't have different levels of innate talent on
average, but due to the customs of their group or plain chance, a preponderence of outliers come from a
particular set of circumstances. His basic recipe for success is an "involved" parenting style, plus lots of
hard work and a healthy portion of luck. The youth Canadian hockey player case study is fascinating and
ought to be a lesson on how we should set up school classes for young children. KIPP shows that poor
students can succeed with effort. Many of the individuals upon whom he focuses show that serendipity is
necessary as well to be a true outlier. I find his overall thesis similar to Jared Diamond's in Guns, Germs
and Steel. Namely, personal circumstances (Europe runs on an East-West axis for agriculture and Asian
culture tends to be hard working due to labor needed to grow rice) and some good luck (availability of
aminals that could be domesticated and finding a bug in a program that allowed Bill Gates to have unlimited
Gladwell examines how decisions made based on our "gut instinct" can often be as good as or better than
decisions that are thought out. In particular, he doesn't argue that we should always blink, but rather, learn
how to harness our instincts in helping us make better decisions.
This book is really an anthology of Gladwell's work for the New Yorker. The only story I had read previously
was the one about the difficulty of judging whether or not a college quarterback will make a good pro
quarterback. I found all of the stories to be well-told and entertaining. As usual, Gladwell has the tendency
to use a case study to try to jump to greater conclusions that may not be true, but regardless, each of the
case studies are fascinating, as always. He groups the articles into three separate groups, but for the most
part, I see each of them as individual pieces and the themes that tie them together are relatively loose. If I
had to make individual recommendations from the articles (if someone just wants to read 5 of them) I'd say:
The Ketchup Conundrum, Blowing Up, John Rock's Error, The Picture Problem, and Something Borrowed)
Talks about in certain situations how one little extra push can create a huge difference in the overall
outcome of something. The initial example used is about the rate of infection of a disease. There's a tipping
point at which, if you slighly increase the rate, every one gets the disease, but if you slightly decrease the
rate, the disease will get eradicated instead. He applies this idea to many venues and looks to see what
creates those small differences that have a huge impact on outcome.
Explains how we fear the wrong things. Examples - safety of flying, how halloween candy isn't poisoned,
This is a story about a child prodigy who's only dated girls named Katherine. He spends his summer with his
best friend on a crazy roadtrip and ends up living with a family in a small Tennessee town. The kid tries to
make a formula to determine the length of a relationship given several variables. In the process, he finally
falls for a girl not named Katherine. There are several hysterical and innocent anecdotes that occur during
the roadtrip and summer spent in Gutshot, Tennessee. I am a sucker for teen movies and teen books and
enjoyed the interplay between the three main characters, Colin, Hassan and Lindsay.
A book chronicling the last 50 years of economic history from the man who knows it best. He does a
surprisingly good job of explaining economic ideas, but it helps if you have some background in economics.
I think I followed about 70% of what he says. His individual observations about history and other individuals
are just plain hysterical. I laughed so many times while reading this book; something that took me absolutely
by surprise. I used to be a proponent of socialist theories, but Alan convinced me why a capitalistic system
is simply better. I haven't finished reading the whole book, but my only complaint is that he's minimized
environmental issues in his economic analysis. I think in today's world, it's absolutely critical to try to weigh
the cost to the environment of certain types of production. He's also convinced me that Clinton did some
really good things, economically, something I wasn't sure of. Finally, he's convinced me that Bush hasn't,
and Bush has "undone" some of the good things that Clinton did. I didn't necessarily believe all of this when
I heard it from other less-informed people, but Greenspan backs up his arguments fairly clearly.
Discusses how the traditional training of doctors and certain psychological phenomena lead to doctors
missing diagnoses in atypical cases, even when cognitively, they have the ability to make the correct
diagnoses. In particular, he discusses two types of biases: one where the doctor doesn't trust what the
patient is telling them and assumes that they fit some stereotype, such as the alcoholic, and the other is
when the doctor likes the patient and thinks they are healthy and doesn't contemplate that the patient could
have a serious problem, so they skip over the possibility. I think it's a must read, particularly for doctors. I
can see with the stress of being a doctor, how a doctor could forget some of the key ideas in this book. The
focus is a reflective one; which encourages doctors to honestly examine mistakes they've made in their past
so that doctors can identify the types of biases they are most prone to. For patients, the author gives advice
about how you can gently nudge a doctor if you think he or she has written you off to some typical problem
that you have reason to believe is not what's causing your condition.
Every teacher should read this book. Period. It's that good. I actually want to marry Erin, but I am sure that's
not really possible.
Just as fascinating as The Freedom Writers Diary. Now you get to read Erin's take on all of the amazing
adventures she had with her class. I was mildly surprised with her run for Congress, especially because she
simply doesn't seem like a political type, but I can understand why she gave it a shot. Can you imagine what
the world would be like if people like her were allowed to have a vote in Congress? Unquestionably, the
world would be a much better place to live.
Picks five ground-breaking scientific equations and explains the history behind the scientist and the
equation, as well as explaining the equation itself. This was a present from Prabhu, and I can say that I
have his signature when he gets famous!
Great book! I love watching him on TV and loved this book. He's not as gifted a writer as Gawande, but he's
certainly good enough. Basically, his story-telling ability is equally good but his writing is less beautiful.
Nonetheless, the stories in this book are absolutely amazing. The very first story is probably the best and
sets up one of the general themes of how we're learning to use cooling as a way to save lives. As we get
better at "warming someone back up", intentional cooling will give doctors more time to fix various
problems. The case studies put together in this book are amazing. Here's one of the (long) lines I love: "As
a scientist, I am bound to try and explain these rare phenomena, as opposed to simply accepting them as
divine intervention or something totally inexplicable. Having said that, as a medical journalist, I'm always on
the lookout for remarkable stories. When it's a patient whose cancer spontaneously goes away or a young
man whose advanced tumors disappear aftera a round of group prayer - well, you might call those cases
miracles. But I want you to think-to reconsider-what that term really means."
The book is a great compilation of case studies (mostly from psychology) which aim to answer what sorts of
things we screw up. In some instances it explains why, but for other case studies, it simply outlines the
types of mistakes humans make without a clear explanation as to why. But, this can be helpful because it
can guide you in preventative measures you can take to me more efficient and make fewer errors. As
compared to some of the other books I've read, he draws upon case studies that Gladwell (Outliers) and
Daniel Gilbert (Stumbling onto Happiness) use, among others. I think the practical suggestions in this book
can apply to a vast majority of people in their personal lives. As a quick example, I will now not keep my
email program open during work. I'll schedule certain times of the day that I'll open my email program and
exclusively deal with emails and then close out of the program. Based on the case studies and conclusions
in here, I am sure many people will be able to find little tips curtailed to their daily lives that will help them be
more efficient and make fewer errors.
Tries to show the possibility that spirituality is hard-wired in us. His specific data for finding a "god gene" is
rather weak. He tries to link genes that promote certain chemical pathways to spirituality.
Harris tries to describe the reason certain bizarre traditions came to be. More often than not, there are
practical reasons for particular traditions. He not only highlights Cows, Pigs, Wars and Witches, but also
talks about several other cultural practices. For me, his emphasis on militaric messiahs and how they relate
to the counter culture of today was a bit overblown. I don't think hippies are quite as big a deal as he makes
them out to be. But, I do agree with him that understanding cultural practices from a pragmatic viewpoint is
This is a classic. Any intelligent scientifically minded person should read this. Hawking is one of the
geniuses of our time and his exposition of physics here is wonderful. I still like Simon Singh's storytelling
abilities more, but unlike Singh, you're reading one of the masters here.
The brothers are great at putting together some good case studies that emphasize their point, that in order
to make others remember something, you have to do the following 6 things: have a simple message, have
an unexpected twist in the delivery, to keep the listener's attention, give concrete examples, add to
credibility with experts or demonstrations, appeal to one's emotions, and tell stories. I would say that this
book is similar to some of Gladwell's books, because it's heavily supported by very well-written case
studies. But, these guys are scientists first and writers second, so they have much more data than Gladwell
to back up their conclusions. I think the key in reading this book is to keep some of these ideas in mind
while you teach or try to sell something. I tend to know most of these ideas, but I don't consciously go
through a lesson to make sure I have some of these components in my lesson. That would probably be a
good idea. I think that the ideas in here could translate to most professions in some way shape or form.
A fascinating look at the 2008 Presidential Election. Some of the details in here are critical in understanding
the true nature of the 08 campaign. I gained respect for both Palin and Hillary Clinton in reading this book. I
lost a bit of respect for Bill Clinton - seems like he's a bit stubborn and argumentative when he ought to be
gracious. I think this book treats Obama quite fairly; it was a good balance after reading "The Audacity to
Actually this is a collection of articles by different people and I just chose the author of the first article to list
the book. This was actually a fairly easy read, even if they are academic papers, and they give real good
insight into why healthcare management is so difficult. I thought it was especially interesting that if
management comes up with a way to increase quality and save money, it's critical for them to find a creative
way to sell their idea to their doctors and staff.
I really liked this book because I'd heard a lot of talk about Erdos, but nothing about him. Mostly people just
know he was a prolific mathematician and a popular pasttime is calculating an Erdos number. (This is how
many links it takes you to get to Erdos via people you've authored papers with. If you wrote a paper with
him, your Erdos number is 1. If you wrote a paper with someone who wrote a paper with him, your Erdos
number is 2, etc.) I was pretty surprised by just how quirky he was. I suppose that's the stereotype, and
perhaps the stereotype holds true for the very brightest minds. I still find it fascinating that the man had no
real home and that he was ALWAYS thinking about mathematics, like he never joined the real world. The
interesting thing is that it sounds like he was happy; that he truly enjoyed doing math 24-7. That is certainly
not true of me, or probably hardly anyone. It makes you think back to the 1600s and 1700s when royalty
supported scientists and mathematicians and just let them study but took care of their needs. It's as if Erdos
led this life with the help of random mathematicians. I'd recommend this book for anyone who knows a bit
about Erdos but wants to learn more about his personal side.
A story about a man who goes back to Afghanistan to find a man who he "wronged" when he was a child.
Much of the story is told in flashback and it's a pretty horrible story. Makes you cry. The term Kite Runner
comes from the practice of kit festivals where they would have "kite fights" and if a kite cut another kite
down, then the kite runner would run after the fallen kite. A very well-told story about friendship and Afghani
Never read it in HS, but did on my own many years later. Great book - it's literary significance is quite great.
For her to write a strong female character like Janie was a ground-breaking thing. She also has this way
about getting you into the culture so naturally. Really a pleasure to read. For whatever reason, many of the
boys I taught at WPHS had difficulty appreciating this book. I imagine if some of them read it when they
were older, they'd realize why it was such a great piece of work, or at least I hope.
Futuristic Science Fiction. In the vein of Orwell.
One man's quest to read the whole Encyclopaedia Britannica and sum it up. He also talks about how this
process affected his life and has several funny anecdotes.
The author talks about how behavior of large systems exemplifies emergence. Namely, without components
of a system specifically planning an overarching grand design, in the end, a large system shows behavior
consistent with having a large central planner, even if there wasn't one. Agents naturally interact to produce
a system with coherent organization, that no one specifically planned.
A neat perspective on world affairs written by a younger author with lots of experience on the ground. I feel
that the author makes a few too many sweeping generalizations and is just a bit too confident in himself and
his opinions, for my taste. In general, my idealistic side believes in what he does; that we ought to be able to
eradicate extreme poverty and that globalization needs to accelerate. It's not clear whether Khanna has the
ability to instigate any of the changes that he supports. But his ideas are certainly worth a read.
Tracy Kidder certainly paints Paul Farmer to be a workaholic saint. He's portrayed as someone with a warm
personality towards patients who demands a lot from the others around him. I am truly impressed with what
he's accomplished and certainly he me feel like I am not generous enough. But, I love reading these
amazing stories. I think this one is similar to Greg Mortensen's. You wonder if there are enough individuals
in the world like him to make a significant dent with the world's health problems. Stories like this also make
you ask what's the best way for a regular indvidual to contribute. I suppose that's where it's best to read Bill
Loved this book!!! She's such a great writer and the topic intertwines history with the development of some
interesting fictional characters in a unique way. At first the characters were a bit difficult for me to believe,
but once I accepted them and watched them develop, I really like how they were able to tell the story. A
small part of me wanted to hear Nathan narrate, and a part of me wanted to hear more from Orleanna, but I
suppose it makes sense the way it's set up. It was interesting how all three daughters developed unique
personalities. Her description of the Congo and the historical events in 1960 were great as well.
Kirkpatrick has had great access to Mark Zuckerberg over the years and has painted what seems to be an
amazingly accurate portrayal about the rise of Facebook and the deep overriding philosophy that has guided
Zuckerberg so far. After reading this book, I like Zuckerberg even more. I love that he has some basic
philosophical tenets that he rarely deviates from and that he's willing to get advice from others, but still takes
the authority to make the call at the end of the day. He really does want to make the world more transparent
and open. For anyone interested in what drives Zuckerberg, this is a great book.
I picked up this book because the title seemed interesting. But, unlike most of the other reading I do where
authors logically build an argument, this book is largely filled with Klosterman's unsubstantiated opinions. As
an example, he blames John Cusack for making women incapable of falling in love. At times he is
entertaining, but mostly he just takes shots and people or things he doesn't like or understand.
I am biased towards Lahiri's writing since she's Bengali and she also frequently writes about the Boston
area. This book is no exception. The short stories in here were wonderful. Her style is the same as before,
but she's added depth to her stories so that you can get a better feel on most of the characters (as
compared to her stories in Interpreter of Maladies). The endings of her stories are not always happy (which
is similar to her previous stories), so it's nice as a reader in that you don't automatically guess the ending.
The stories provoke thought and call into question certain Indian/Bengali stereotypes. The last three stories
are tangentially related since they contain the same two characters. I highly recommend it!
Nine short stories, all about the Indian-American experience, she won a Pulitzer Prize for this work
The ideas this guy writes about are fascinating, but he comes off as way too arrogant in my mind.
Furthermore, unlike other writers, he doesn't usually fully explain the reasons behind his conclusions. He
likes making people squirm or be shocked more than he likes explaining things in detail. He'll give the gist
of the explanation, but he doesn't delve quite as deep as other economists who write for the public. But, the
topics he chooses are very interesting!
A reaction to Blink, but the author isn't a scientist, he's a journalist and his direct attacks at Blink are largely
unfounded. He misses the point of that book. He intentionally mischaracterizes Blink to try to make certain
This book is somewhat similar to blink - it talks about how we make decisions and has several fascinating
case studies, from how a fireman figured out to light a small patch of grass on fire and duck and let the fire
go over him instead of trying to outrun it, to a plane landing where the plane lost all of its hydraulic controls. I
was pretty pscyched that the first chapter was about why scouts are so lousy at judging NFL quarterbacks.
Essentially, the idea is that the key necessary skill for quarterbacks: very quick desicion making, isn't tested
prior to the NFL. Neither the Wonderlich test nor most college football games are accurate gauges for how
a quarterback will make decisions in an NFL-speed game. The last chapter on how the airline industry has
improved its performance is a good one that hopefully can be applied to other disciplines.
I really did like this book. He lays down some fascinating arguments about just how music is processed in
our brains. It's rather fascinating since he implicates the cerebellum, which normally processes subconsious
issues. My favorite explanation is that good music must have some sort of pattern that the listener hooks
onto, but then the composer must deftly break their own rule, to keep the listener's interest. I believe the
same thing is true of comedy.
Great follow-up to their first book! How can the chapter title, "How is a street prostitute like a department
store santa?" not get your attention. This chapter's great and makes a lot of sense once you think about
what Levitt says. Also, he turns the conventional wisdom about Kitty Genovese upside down. To me, this
was a pretty big revelation, much like the revelation from Steven Pinker about the exaggeration about how
many words for snow the eskimos have. For all the environmentalists out there, I think chapter 5 (last
chapter) is a must read. We've all been taught to think about global warming (and solving that problem) in a
particular way, but Levitt takes us OUTSIDE of that box.
Uses statistics and economic principles to study things we don't typically think about as economics. There
are six chapters which are essentially case studies about things from children's names, how much
parenting matters, to the economics behind a drug ring
Really cool book that goes through the history of Galois and Abel. These are two absolutely brilliant and
tragic figures. It's amazing what they did at such a young age. Livio's story-telling abilities are excellent. He
also does a solid job of explaining the math in a relatively non-scientific manner.
Does several case studies that show what's missing in textbooks about American History as well as how the
course is often delivered.
I read this in college. This book is probably more important because you get to learn about a ground-
breaking female scientist before that was kosher, and less important for the scientific content. If I remember
correct, the book bored me to tears. She studied corn. I don't think I have to say any more. However, I think
there's real value in a conversation about women in science and how the scientific community ought to
adapt to women.
I picked this up while I was in Springfield, IL. I really enjoyed that day. I was excited to stand where Barack
stood when he announced his candidacy. I just wanted some momento and this book was in the gift shop of
a nearby museum. I still get chills when I read the "I have a dream" speech. I flipped through it and read a
few of them randomly. I imagine there are a few hidden gems in here.
The category should be evolutionary psychology. It's a fascinating read. Pretty simply written. The authors
highlight the effects our evolution has had on our behavior and don't talk much about how that interacts with
our environment. They state at the beginning of the book that they are ONLY going to look at how evolution
affects our behavior and stick to it. Personally, I prefer the writing of Pinker, who tries to show how our
biology affects us, but is always very careful to highlight the interaction between biology and our
environment. On the flip side, this book does bring to light some rather interesting effects our biology has on
us. It's set up with a general background in evolutionary psychology in the first couple chapters, followed by
several chapters that are arranged by topic. Each of these chapters has several questions associated with
that topic and the answers to those questions in a pretty short (1 to 2 pages) format. Since each question is
separate and the authors wanted the reader to be able to flip to any of the later chapters after reading 1 and
2, the book is quite repetitive, since the answers to many questions have a common basis. So this is great if
you flip to random pages and kind of a pain if you read it straight through.
I used one chapter in here for TOK. He writes at such a high level without detail that this book lends itself to
the most wonderful "scientific philosophy" discussions.
Joyce gives her tips about the college admission process. A good read for HS juniors/seniors
Fairly well written. He does a good job of explaining to the reader in layman terms why something we tend
to attribute to skill are probably due to luck. He also does a good job of explaining how most people's notion
of a random sequence of numbers is simply wrong. In addition, he weaves historical stories about
mathematicians while explaining their key findings, in terms of statistics. A lot of the explanations are typical
ones (Bayes Law, Monty Hall, etc.), but a good read for a non-math person. It may very well change some
of the views of a non-math person.
This book offers some fascinating ideas about how certain genes and phenotypes we'd expect to have been
weeded out by natural selection are, in fact, with us. He talks about how a gene for hemachromatosis
actually helped people survive the Bubonic Plague in the 1300s. He also gives an argument that a
propensity towards diabetes may have helped some survive the last Ice Age. His ideas are fascinating and I
love how he tries to weave together so many fields of study to create explanations for why things are the
way they are. I do think that sometimes he treats a conclusion as being definitive when more than likely, in
the scientific community, it is not. But, the ideas are great nonetheless, and it's important for us to think
about how natural selection and genetics do work. Not always in steady increments, and typically with side-
effects. It's changing environments than make a positive trait less so later.
Chronicles the difficulties and successes of Greg Mortensen, a former mountain climber and nurse, it
building schools in the mountains of Pakistan and Afghanistan for girls. This book challenges the notion that
one has to be wealthy to make a phenomenal difference in the world. The story is simply amazing.
A wonderful book; great writing; perfectly written for the non-doctor. The author does a great job of weaving
together history with information about cancer, cancer treatment, and its evolution. I really love that more
Indians are translating their expertise in traditionally Indian fields (medicine) into less traditionally Indian
fields (writing, art, media). Mukherjee's writing is easily on par with Gawande's. I think I was most amazed at
the disconnect between cancer treatment, and the research to understand how cancer works. We still
simply try things as a "shot in the dark", take a look at outcomes to get some of our best treatments. While
the two are sometimes paired, many times they are not. I think after reading this, people will appreciate just
how amazingly complex cancer is. It's amazing the difference in outcome of the same drug/treatment in
different patients that seemingly have the same cancer. In essence, no two cancers are the same. From a
treatment perspective, thank god that's not true of most of the maladies we usually face. Though this isn't
directly mentioned in the book, it's also interesting to note that cancer treatment in the US is probably better
than anywhere else on earth. A simple example is lung cancer, where the 5 year outcome (after diagnosis)
I got this book because it's the only book I've ever seen that uses the narrative technique of IM. I thought it
was awesome for that reason. The story is a pretty standard 10th grade girl story, that is why I rated it a 4.
The author is the founder of PETA and she's selected 50 people to write about philanthropic causes and
how one can make a difference, as her title suggests. Her choices are very heavily slanted towards those
who like animals. Some of the pieces are great. Others have rather pedantic writing without specifics. I was
uplifted part of the time, and the other part of the time I thought to myself, "This person lives in their little
dream land. There are most likely more pragmatic ways to go about what they want." Some of the pieces
were just too touchy feely for me. But, if you believe in "energy", "flow", "karma" and other similar topics,
you'll probably like many of the pieces. Also, if you are an animal lover, you'll love lots of the anecdotes from
the various contributers.
This book focuses on "redoing" a number of studies that were at first only carried out on Western subjects
with subjects from Eastern countries, such as Japan, China and Korea. The results are fascinating. Some
conclusions that had previously been thought of as "universal" are actually partially culturally determined.
The overarching idea is that Western thought processes are more individualistic and based on formal logic
while Eastern thought processes are more communal and based on a synthesis of opposites (yin-yang, for
example). I think the overall conclusions are predictable, but I was definitely surprised by some of the
individual case studies. I think awareness of different tendencies in thought can make all of us better
problem solvers and better at dealing with others from a different cultural background. For me personally, it
was very interesting because I have both modes of thought in my upbringing: the eastern side from my
parents and the western side from my schooling. Apparently, people like me can be "primed" in certain
situations to think from either perspective. I think some of his conclusions about mathematics gloss over
some important details. But of course, I am more nitpicky when it comes to math than other topics.
Barack's life and early views are absolutely fascinating. I laughed, I cried, it was better than Cats. Actually,
anything is better than Cats. Seriously, this is an engagine tear-jerker and after reading this, I can't imagine
how someone wouldn't want this man to be president. He has such a wealth of personal experience such
that I feel he has enormous capability of seeing issues from different points of view. To me, that skill will be
fundamental in negotiating in a world where the United States will no longer be able to bully its way to get
what it wants. I think what was most touching of everything was his trip to Africa. I think his experiences and
reflections on them will bring some real insights to those who have never been outside the United States.
Shares Obama's views on where US Politics should head and his reflections about his current political life.
Dystopic Novel. You have Big Brother watching you. Personally, I thought it was cool that there was a love
story in here. Also, Pinker cites this book in one of his diatribes about how language and thought are not
I liked a lot of the ideas he had in this book. It makes sense that a non-profit ought to be judged by the total
amount of money it raises for its cause and NOT its percentage of overhead. The public media focuses on
how much money gets "wasted" on administrative costs without ever looking at the amount of total money
raised for a cause. If any business never advertised, it would have low overhead costs, but it would also
have small profits, even if its profit margin was high. Plus, he brings up the excellent point that at the end of
the day, non-profits ARE competing with for-profit entities for people's money. I think the idea of having non-
profits in the stock market is a bit bizarre, but mostly, I like his ideas. They seem as if they could increase
the amount of money raised for causes. This may not be something we want to believe about ourselves, but
the reality is that we are affected by advertising, like it or not, and if we want significant amounts of money to
be raised for certain causes, we have to conform to these realities.
I wish I had known more about Randy Pausch many years ago. He seems very similar to me in his passion
for teaching CS and sports. His stories are wonderful and his advice is great also. I love that he wanted to
make it to the NFL, just like me! There were a few gems in the book. Here's one: "But being considered the
best speaker in a computer science department is like being known as the tallest of the Seven Dwarfs."
Short quick read. I think there's something for nearly everyone in here, but I do think that comptuer
scientists with a bent for teaching and sports will especially like this book.
Explains how "right-brained" skills will be the key to success in the marketplace in the next 50 years,
particularly for those in the Western World. His six key senses are design, story, symphony, empathy, play
He makes a valid point that extrinsic motivating factors (money) don't always make someone produce better
work. Rather, intrinsic factors (liking a job) are better at motivating someone to do good work. I think he
overstates his point. I've seen extrinsic factors work in many situations. The key of course is figuring out
what works where. In general, for any boring task that we know how to do, very few people will love doing it.
I think Pink underestimates the number of boring jobs out there that just have to be done. In his rosy world,
everyone has meaningful creative work to be done that they love to do. I think it's important to learn where
extrinsic factors don't work, so we don't lose a bunch of money bribing people for nothing! Also, obviously I
think we should foster people's intrinsic curiosities. But, the truth is that some people really aren't terribly
curious about a whole lot. You would think from his description that our educational system is horrible
because we use extrinsic rewards. What he doesn't really appreciate is just how much people don't care
about learning, but how important it is to have a general education anyway.
Awesome book! My favorite work of Pinker. His theories of how the mind works aren't necessarily proven,
but he's got some good circumstantial evidence and he's phenomenal and describing his ideas. He really
touches all aspects of humanity in this all-encompassing work. The only chapter I had trouble with was the
vision chapter. Our visual system is soooo complex that I had a tough time with it because he really went
into great depth on how it works, as he should, because that's how most humans receive 90% of their input
from the outside world. (I could be making up that stat, but I think I heard that somewhere!)
This book is a must read for anyone who cares about human behavior, in my opinion. Too many people
deny the role of biology in explaining human behavior. Genes make a difference and Pinker shows why it's
essential for us to acknowledge this as a society, especially when regarding creating policy.
Pinker's seminal work since most of his early research was about language. Excellent read.
I really liked this book; Plouffe shares his opinions about why the campaign worked and the weaknesses in
both Clinton and McCain's campaigns. He actually also shares what he feels the weaknesses of the Obama
campaign were. I love the little vignettes that made the story so personal, like his story at the end of having
to ditch his laptop bag right after they won on his flight to DC since he had two carry on bags. After reading
this book, I like Obama more. I don't know if that was Plouffe's intention, but he makes Obama seem as the
most honorable one in the campaign who got mad whenever the others ran negative ads without his
consent. He also explains their strategy and how they basically never deviated from it. From Spring 2007
on, they had a belief that volunteers, the use of technology and a relentless ground game everywhere would
give them the chance to win. I was impressed that their vision at that early date was so accurate; that
people like me running around downtown Orlando finding people to register to vote could change the
electorate enough to switch the state of Florida. It's not so much that Barack changed many people's minds
as much as he got so many people who didn't vote in 2004 to vote. Overwhelmingly, those voters who voted
Short stories written by 3rd and 4th year Harvard Medical Students
This is one of the few books I think I want to reread. I loved so many of the case studies, but because I read
it with other books intertwined, I remember very little of it specifically. But, the book covers largely
interesting and relevant topics with respect to prices and was a fun read. Maybe next time I can update this
Neil gives his recommendations about what has gone wrong with the US Educational system and what
ought to be changed. I think his idea with Gods etc. is a bit too idealistic to reflect the reality of education. I
did like his idea of not using textbooks, but I feel there is a benefit to textbooks in many classroom
situations. You really need to be an expert teacher before you get rid of the textbook completely.
Lots of cool experiments that show the similarities in intelligence between other primates and human
infants/toddlers, but also, where this intellect diverges.
This is a tough book to categorize. It's literature. A ficticious story. But it's based on historical truth. But the
story has a philosophical point to it. Others might see a political message in the story. Great read.
A fairly fascinating book about the Red Queen Hypothesis which roughly amounts to the fact that even as a
species evolves, its competitors evolve, so basically it has to improve just to stay in the same place, so to
speak. The argument is evoked first to explain why we have two sexes. Probably the most interesting
information in the book is in this section, which looks at many different organisms and where there are
typically two sexes and where there are not. Also, he looks at organisms with more than two sexes and
explains how mating works in those systems and how they evolved that way. This is followed by an
explanation of male and female behavior, as a consequence of the red queen hypothesis. There were
definitely parts where I had trouble following the biology, so I think it's better if the reader has a better
background in biology than I have. (I don't remember college bio, so I think if you remembered the first two
courses of college bio, you should be fine.) Part of me wants to re-read the book, but another part of me
knows I won't get any more out of it on a second read.
This book is a must read! Jeff Sachs outlines the goals of the UN Millenium Project and what needs to be
done in order to achieve those goals. He gives convincing economic arguments for Western nations
contributing more money to develop poor nations. In particular, he argues that if the US increased its aid
from .15% of its GDP to .7% of its GDP, then many more long-term and long-lasting projects could be
funded in poor areas so that these areas could become self-sufficient economically and ultimately become
players in our world economy. His background work in the 80s and 90s is covered in detail along with
extensive economic background. For me, it was fascinating to find out what was going on economically
around the world while I was young.
I've read a few books from doctor's perspective, so now it was time to read one written by a nurse. I think all
nurses and doctors should read at least one book written from the perspective of the other. From her
perspective, nurses care more about quality of the end of life and doctors tend to focus more on prolonging
life at all costs. Also, she's Canadian and her opinion about their healthcare system versus the American
one is very clear. It's important to understand how others view our system.
The book is a collection of essays about Obama's race speech. Frankly, his speech is much better than
most of these reviews. I bought this while I was in Sonoma at an independent book store. I reread his
speech that night and was brought to tears again. I think it ought to be taught in public school for so many
reasons. Some of the critiques were decent. It's been months since I finished this, and there's only one
critique I remember now. It was very critical of Obama. The writer of this critique basically asserted that
Obama threw Wright under the bus and that that was the wrong thing to do. It was politically expedient, but
the consequences for Wright were horrific. Thus, Obama got a positive outcome (winning the election),
while Wright got a very, very negative one (his once good name was absolutely destroyed, he and his family
received death threats, his church which does some amazing good work wasn't able to do as much of it
because of fewer members). As much as I love the speech, after I read this critique, I agreed with it. Wright
is an amazing man who's done a great deal of good for this world, and to take away that good in a political
game is a shame. I say this as an atheist. More importantly, the personal harm that this caused his family is
A great read - a good scientific analysis of terms (good and evil) that people typically misuse. I think
chapters 5, 6 and 7 particularly good. So much so, I made them part of TOK reading that last time I put
together a reading packet.
I bought this book because on its front over, there's a brain, and part of it is thinking, "Buy this now!", while
the other two parts are thinking, "Watch out for Gorillas" and "Don't trade with strangers." Shermer does a
great job of showing how our psychology affects economic decisions we make. He uses research from
various primates (including but not limited to humans) to show how certain types of economic decisions are
somewhat hard-wired into us and have been for a very long time. My favorite chapter in this book is, "Why
Money Can't Buy You Happiness" The study of happiness is fascinating to me and I think more people
should be aware of the results that have been found. On average, couples are happier than single people
(in the long run). On average, couples with kids living at home are less happy the couples that don't have
kids living at home, even though people claim that having kids was the greatest thing in their lives. In this
chapter, he doesn't focus on these facts, rather he looks at answering the question at hand.
The best book on cryptography I have ever read. Singh does a masterful job of telling the story behind all of
these famous codes and explaining the mathematics behind them to non-mathematicians. His analogy for
public key cryptography is great! The book covers the following topics: substitution cipher, vigenere cipher,
the engima, the polish and british efforts breaking the enigma, the breaking of the Rosetta Stone, The
Navajo Code Talkers, RSA encryption and the Diffie-Hellman key exchange, Pretty Good Privacy and
If an educated non-mathematician reads on non-textbook about math, this should be what they read.
Weaves history and the basics that non-mathematicians should know about math in a compelling story.
Simon Singh and his co-author, Edzard Ernst, evaluate various alternative medicine treatments for their
efficacy. Basically, the book is a huge meta-study, compiling the data from clinical trials involving alternative
medicine treatments. The findings are not shocking, but they are disheartening to anyone who truly believes
in alternative medicines. They find that the field of acupuncture is no more useful than a placebo for nearly
everything but some types of pain and nausea. They find that chiropracty is only better than a placebo when
used for neck and back pain. Homeopathy (which in and of itself is absolutely ridiculous) is no better than a
placebo for anything. Some herbal remedies are effective. The authors simply warn that herbal remedies do
not come without side effects, and that they can interact with other drugs very negatively, so if one uses
them, they should inform their physician beforehand to make sure no dangerous interactions occur with
their other medicines. I think the information in here is critical for the public. There's clear data here to
suggest that many alternative treatments simply do not work any better than a placebo.
Such an engaging explanation of the physics that lead up to the Big Bang Theory. Singh does such a great
job of introducing the reader to important tenets from his area of expertise.
This book is about the early days of baseball, in New England, before the Sox traded Ruth. The history was
fascinating to me. When we watch sports, we just sort of assume that there's always been one professional
league for each major sport. I was surprised to hear about the number of competing leagues that got
formed and folded in the 1800s. There are certainly a number of real characters in the story of early
baseball. It's also interesting how closely intertwined professional baseball was to colleges in the early days.
I wonder if this relationship is partly why sports are so entrenched in our college culture today.
He talks about the movement of people who deny the results of science. The first chapter is a case study on
Vioxx. Other case studies include people's belief that vaccines cause autism, people who only believe in
eating "organic" food and don't like genetic engineering of food, those who are into "supplements" instead of
proven medicines, those who refuse to use race information in aiding medical treatments, even though
certain drugs work better with different ethnic groups, and creating cells/treatments from scratch. I liked the
book and the case studies chosen. He seems to make a bigger deal out of some of them than he should -
by and large, the organic food movment is a very small one. Also, he completely omitted climate change,
even though there are many of those denialists out there. I think the Vioxx case study was the most
intriguing to me. It's too bad Merck was trying to be deceitful, even though on the whole, the drug is
probably worth its added heart risks for some patients.
Read this book in college in Black Women Writers. Loved the class. It's too long ago for me to really
remember the content.
Each page gives a formula for determining the answer to some non-quantitative question like, "Does she
like me?" This book is pretty damn funny, but not really meant to be read cover to cover.
A case study about Cedric Brown, an inner city high school student in DC who aspires to go to a competitive
private school. He ends up going to a camp at MIT in high school and attends Brown University. The book
examines the issues he and his family have to deal with during his experience. Between assimilation and
never exactly fitting in, Cedric shows just how much someone can accomplish given his starting position.
Suskind is an awesome writer. This is his second book on the Bush administration. What we did in
response to 9-11 is truly fascinating. Some of it speaks to our powers. Some of it speaks to our lack of
power and knowledge. Some of it speaks to the power of Cheney within the current administration. The
more I read about this administration, the more I wish that Gore had won in 2000.
Chronicles Paul O'Neill's difficulties as Treasury Secretary under G.W. Bush.
Ron uses many, many "off the record" interviews to paint a picture of what really happened in the Obama
White House during the first two years. The main thesis of the book is to show how wall street, Rahm
Emmanuel, Larry Summers and Tim Geithner unduly influenced Obama during the early part of his term. I
liked the stories and the colorful details certainly let you know about the personalities and tactics that some
of the various politicians like using. I don't know that I 100% agree with Suskind's opinions, but it's
reasonably easy to tease out which things are events that occurred, and what is largely Suskind's opinion. I
think after reading this book, I think that many of the CEOs on Wall Streets are even bigger jerks than I
imagined, and I had already imagined them to be some pretty horrible people. I think, based on what's
written, Obama's done the best that he can, in the climate that he's in. A public option would have been
great in this health care bill, but it would have never happened, so he did the best that he could. Tougher
financial regulations would also be great, but once again, it would have been impossible to get regulations
to the level that are adequate.
This book isn't exactly an economics book because it's more broad, but the author's expertise is in
economics and the primary black swans with which he has experience are economically involved. I think his
overall point is a good one: many phenomena don't fit the Gaussian distribution and it may be very harmful
to assume so. However, he unnecessarily lambasts many individuals and stoops to name calling I haven't
seen outside of a middle school playground, which I find unprofessional, for what otherwise would be a very
good book. He derides others for having big egos, but clearly has an enormous one himself. It's amazing
that he can claim that he doesn't know much, yet still come off as having an insanely huge ego. I had
trouble reading through this just because of these side factors (his unprofessional name calling and ego)
that have nothing to do with his thesis. But, if you can ignore these factors, I think there are a lot of very
good ideas that one can apply to real life in this book, with respect to the types of decisions they make. In a
nutshell, the book is about situations where something catastrophic is more likely than people think it is.
Thus, more caution should be invoked. The reason for the 2008 recession is that too many people
I normally like Asian-American novels, but only marginally liked this one. I guess the story and the
characters never truly captivated me. Also, it took me a while to truly follow who all of the characters were. I
know that this one is supposed to be a classic, but my guess is that it is only because "it got there first". I
think there are better novels based on some of the same themes present in this one. But, I am still pyched
that I have a signed copy!
I think this book is a cross between econ and social science, more generally. The authors are economists,
but they are just like levitt in that they use economic analysis to talk about problems that aren't purely
economic. The book is really as much about psychology as economics. I think the book is an excellent read
for any managers or people looking to do their jobs better. The way in which we present choices to others
affects the choices they make. By understanding that concept and paying attention to HOW our actions
affect others' choices, we can "nudge" people towards a direction we see as being beneficial. For example,
my goal will be to use the principles in this book to encourage more students to do community service. I
have tried this for the last three semesters, and have taken those experiences, along with what I have read
in this book to create a new design for this upcoming semester, which I hope will encourage even more
students to do community service. I think nearly everyone, after reading this book, after careful reflection,
will be able to find areas in which to utilize the ideas from the book.
The title says it all.
A great read - a very high level overview of where Wilson thinks academia should go. He's super-biased.
He thinks all the humanities professionals should start using scientific forms of inquriy. What I think is cool
is that he lays down his beliefs about the importance of sustaining our enviroment in this book. Deceptively,
it becomes a key focus of the work. Later works of his of course bear out this message, and prove to me
that Wilson is trying to use his esteemed status to be heard in a plea to save the planet.
Wilson has some key themes in his writing. (I would rate this book higher if I didn’t already get most of the
themes in this book from a previous one of his I read. But this book has details the other one didn't.) In this
book, he discusses his conservationalist views and the necessity to foster the diversity of species.
To me, this book is revolutionary. In general, I wish I had been taught the idea of microlending, for which
Yunus and Grameen Bank got the Nobel Peace Prize, in high school. Our education system truly needs to
be more global, teaching ideas from around the world, not just the United States. The effect this guy has
had on Bangladesh is staggering. The millions of people he's helped lift out of extreme poverty prove his
thesis that the very poor are indeed capable and creative with business, if given the chance. It further
proves the notion that the predatory lending practices in this country only serve to keep the rich rich and the
poor poor. Yunus is extremely idealistic. He believes in a world with no war and not national boundaries.
Though these ideas sound crazy, if he didn't believe them, maybe his bank would never exist. The world is
certainly a much better place because of his idealism. I hope to read more about social business in the
future. The idea is key, in my mind, to helping the poor. I would hope that every business school student is
forced to either read this book, or at the very least a detailed paper summarizing Yunus's ideas about social
business. I am certainly a fan and hope that the idea survives infancy.
I am a huge Zakaria fan, so I am biased, but I like his ideas in general and like this book. He manages to
stay rational through all of his analysis and isn't simply an idealogue. Some might find it surprising that he's
so pro-American, but I think he gives wonderful suggestions for the direction the US should head both
politically and economically. I thought the analogy he gave between Britain in the late 19th and early 20th
century and the US now was very good. I like his analyses on both China and India. Although I should have,
I never thought about why Indians assimilate themselves into this country so well. He articulates why that is
the case very well. I don't think either straight conservatives or liberals will agree with what he says totally,
which is part of why I like him so much.
Read this in ninth grade, so the story is pretty hazy. It's about two kids who befriend Mr. Pignati and learn