16 Jul 2021
I want to share a short list of very readable books on (sorely) neglected topics that I’ve enjoyed, and that I believe should be required reading for all young people. Without ado, here they are:
I Will Teach You To Be Rich: A down-to-earth take on personal finance, including how to set up and automate your money accounts (savings, checking, investment, retirement, credit card), the basics of index fund investing, and how to build wealth over time.
Freakonomics: A primer on how to examine the world through a skeptical, statistically-literate lens. Teaches, through examples, the surprising truth that conventional wisdom is often wrong, and how incentives are the “cornerstone of modern life”.
The Coddling of the American Mind: A provocative treatment of cultural and political trends pushing young people toward learned helplessness. Argues that we should listen to our emotions, but not trust them blindly; reject us vs. them dichotomies; and cultivate a mindset of hardiness and anti-fragility.
Fooled by Randomness: A treatise on randomness & noise in the markets and in the world. Explores how our brains our hardwired to “favor the visible, the embedded, the personal, the narrated, and the tangible; [and to] scorn the abstract”, and shows how we misattribute meaning to the outputs of complex stochastic processes.1
In summary, these four books cover four different subject areas that I think everyone should have some grounding in:
- Personal finance
- Truth-seeking and incentives
- Politics and emotions
- Randomness and success
Have any thoughts? Read any of these books and enjoyed them? Let me know!
1: Fooled by Randomness has interesting implications for personal well-being: (1) you can choose who you compare yourself to! (make sure it is a statistically representative sample, not the result of a survivorship or availability bias), and (2) favor the pursuit of good average-case outcomes, over exceptional best-case outcomes.
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