In contrast to previous years, I will be brief, forgoing my usual exhortation to read more books in the belief that if you’re reading this blog, you are probably doing a lot of reading anyway. And I’ll dispense with telling you how many books I’ve read this year, since doing so always triggers a flurry of email inquiring how I read so much (short answer: I’m a professor and reading a lot is part of my job.) For more suggestions, you can consult my previous recommendations or this gargantuan compilation of hundreds of other lists of recommended books.
Here are some of the best books I’ve read over the past 12 months. They deserve special attention and have my enthusiastic support.
Philip Tetlock and Dan Gardner, Superforecasting: The Art and Science of Prediction
Excellent discussion of the attributes of good forecasters and why forecasting is so difficult. Valuable to all business professionals.
Duncan Watts, Everything is Obvious, Once You Know the Answer
Excellent discussion of the difficulty of inferring insights from social data.
John Reader, Africa: A Biography of the Continent
A comprehensive history of Africa. A foundationally important book for anyone who wants to understand how it got to where it is.
Robert J. Shiller, Finance and the Good Society
Shiller argues that finance is an instrument for improving society—a welcome antidote to the political rhetoric in recent years.
Roger Lowenstein, America’s Bank
An entertaining and insightful history of the Fed.
Jimmy Carter, Turning Point
Carter’s memoir of his entry into politics. He fights electoral corruption in Georgia in his first campaign—and wins. It reads like a thriller.
Morgan Ricks, The Money Problem
A somewhat technical book for aficionados of financial system stability. And I highly recommend it for Ricks’ erudition and wisdom.
David Wessel, In Fed We Trust: Ben Bernanke’s War on the Great Panic
Perhaps the best one-volume history of the Panic of 2008.
Abby Smith Rumsey, When We Are No More: How Digital Memory is Shaping Our Future
Confronts the ephemerality of digital records and the vital importance of preserving books for future generations.
And best wishes to you and your loved ones for the holidays and the New Year.