28 December 2010

Top Ten Books of 2010

Note:  This list is comprised of books that I’ve read this year, not necessarily books that were released this year.  However, I have tried to keep the list relatively current.

10. Get Shorty by Elmore Leonard.  Though the book is over thirty years old, it is still just as entertaining as ever.  Leonard does a good job of weaving together a compelling story that doesn’t get bogged down in the details.

9.  The Ascent of Money by Niall Ferguson.  An alternative title to this book might have been Basic Finance.  Indeed, the book serves as a primer, detailing the rise of financial instruments, such as stocks, bonds, and insurance.  Surprisingly entertaining and informative, in spite of its rather mundane subject.

8.  Snark by David Denby. Denby has the unenviable job of not only defining snark, but tracing its origins and development throughout history.  He does a masterful job with this subject, and even takes time to explain the difference between satire and snark.  Ultimately, as Denby explains, snark is so caustic because it is rather prentious.  A worthy read, especially if you’re a writer or etymologist. 

7.  I’ll Mature When I Die by Dave Barry.  An incredibly funny book, from one of my favorite humorists.  As always, Barry’s wit is razor sharp, and his essays remind me how much I miss his weekly column.  Retirement hasn’t dulled his mind at all, as evidenced by his satirical New Moon script, and his explanation of the tax code.

6.  Bailout Nation by Barry Ritholtz.  A insightful history of bailouts, with a particular emphasis placed on the 2008 bailouts.  A word of caution is in order:  Read at your own risk.  You will likely become quite disgusted with both Washington and Wall Street.  The book is clear, and quite readable.  Though written by a Wall Street insider, the book easily accessed by the outsider and novice economist alike.

5.  How We Decide by Jonah Lehrer.  For those who have an abiding interest in neurology but lack a medical degree, this book is a must-read.  It dispels many myths, chief among them the “ignore emotions when deciding” meme.  This book is especially helpful for those who like to dabble in behavioral economics.

4.  The Housing Boom and Bust by Thomas Sowell.  Don’t let the short length fool you; Sowell’s book packs an incredible punch.  Chock full of facts and insightful analysis, this book is definitely for those who want to understand the true causes of the housing bubble.  At the risk of spoiling the ending, government interference was the main cause.

3.  The Return of The Great Depression by Vox Day.  If economists were as intelligent as disciplined as Vox Day, the dismal science would be markedly better off.  They aren’t, so we must instead rely on a highly intelligent outsider to explain the current economic mess.  The book is somewhat technical in parts, though anyone not named Paul Krugman should be able to understand it with relative ease.

2.  Girls on the Edge by Leonard Sax.  In a culture steeped in moral decay, it is refreshing, albeit somewhat sad, that a secular humanist has taken time to not only determine what types of problems girls are facing, but also the best way to correct them.  Most Christians will not be surprised by the answers, but they will now have science on their side.  Sadly, Dr. Sax is unable to completely break with feminism, even though he admits that it has led to many of the problems facing girls today.

1.  The Black Swan by Nassim Nicholas Taleb.  When I finished reading the book, I was sad to find out that Taleb only had one other book out.  The Black Swan is entertaining, insightful, and intelligent, the trifecta for perfect books.  It’s also eye-opening.  Not only does Taleb explain why the current model of assessing financial risk is wrong, he presents a provably superior model.  Anyone who wants to go into investing should start with this book.

As should be obvious, my reading slants towards economics and finance, with some dabbling in neurology and human behavior.  I tried to keep this list as broad-based as possible, but that proved impossible.  Feel free to share your favorite books from the past year in the comments section.

No comments:

Post a Comment