Reading is what inspires me to begin nearly 100% of the projects that I decide to take on. It opens your mind to areas of the world you did not even know existed and allows you to learn from people who have spent years of their lives researching a specific topic or idea.
Below is a list of books that I have read over the past couple of years that deal with topics centered around probability, statistics, gambling, and the stock market. I have personally enjoyed each and every one of the books on this list, and have left my own genuine thoughts on each one. Read through this list and find one, (or a few) that stand out to you!
Also I am attempting to finish a book every week, usually focused on topics such as probability, investing, and business. Towards the bottom of the page should be the books that I have recently completed. If you would like to receive weekly updates of the books I am reading, my reviews, and the next books I have planned, feel free to add your e-mail to the mailing list below. It would be cool to talk about the ideas and stories presented in these books with other like-minded people 😄
This was one of the first mathematics-related books that I have ever read and it inspired me to dig into some of the topics that I have created videos about. It contains countless great examples of applying statistical concepts to real life problems to gain an advantage. It will show you how to utilize the data around you to make higher quality decisions.
This book follows mathematician Edward Thorp, who first published the strategy of “card counting” in blackjack to gain a statistical edge on the casino. Fortune’s Formula also covers his move to the financial world as he begins a hedge fund and applies his betting skills to the world of stocks.
I read Outliers during my Junior year of high school and its deep dives into these strange correlations and “outliers” were so captivating and made me want to explore all the patterns that I had began to discover around me. It is not very mathematically heavy and is a great book for someone that is looking for fascinating stories rather than a tough analytical read.
This is probably the most eye-opening book that I have ever read. In Factfulness, Rosling focuses on the idea that humans seem to be pessimistic about the world that they live in, but are truly living in the best era of human history that has ever existed by nearly every metric imaginable. It is alarming how little we realize the improvements that are occurring, and learning these statistics allows the reader to have a more accurate viewpoint of the world.
Nate Silver is a statistician that runs FiveThirtyEight.com, a data-driven news site that focuses mainly on politics and sports. He correctly predicted the voting outcomes of 49/50 states in the 2008 election, and got a perfect 50/50 prediction in 2012. In his book, Silver shares his thoughts and experiences with predictions, which fall into a wide variety of areas ranging anywhere from baseball to poker. Every few chapters I had to put the book down to begin a new project that came to mind, inspired by the ideas in this book.
Humans are terrible at naturally understanding probabilistic concepts. Like absolutely terrible. Whenever we see a string of reds on a roulette wheel in a casino, our brains tell us that a black roll is “due”. Making one or two profitable trades on the stock market has some of us instantly thinking we are destined to become a hedge fund manager. In Fooled By Randomness, Nassim Taleb illustrates this natural misunderstanding of random processes that we face, and shows us how to maintain a realistic outlook while dealing with these unpredictable events.
Nobel prize winner Daniel Kahneman shares this idea of a two part dichotomy of the brain. There’s the instinctive side, the part that reacts instantly without out really realizing it, and then there’s the analyzing and processing “slow” side. Kahneman displays endless examples from his personal studies of how bad this “fast” and quick-judging side of our brain is at making decisions, and how irrational our instinctive behaviors are in certain situations.
In Superforcasting, Philip Tetlock explores the world of predictions, and how even the experts are terrible at forecasting future events. However, there are a select few who are significantly better than the rest. These “super forecasters” were discovered through the Good Judgement Project, which allows ordinary people to compete against each other in the challenge to become the best predictor of all types of future events. Tetlock dives into the strategies of these super forecasters, and what makes their prediction skills stand apart from the rest.
Let’s take a break from all of these statistics and probability books. Flash Boys by Michael Lewis takes a deep dive into the world of high frequency trading, where firms will fight over real estate with closest proximity to markets so that they are able to receive information milliseconds ahead of their competitors. I knew nothing about this topic before reading this book, but it opened my eyes to this world of algorithmic trading and profitable strategies that involve no knowledge of the businesses being traded, or any sort of fundamental analysis whatsoever.
This book gave me a rush of an entrepreneurial spirit and has the true power to awaken its readers to the fact that an ordinary 9 to 5 job is not a necessity in this current day and age. Tim Ferris gives a wealth of information on how to create potential sources of passive income, while limiting working hours to only the most significant and necessary of tasks. It has motivated me to invest time in creative side-projects which have the potential to grow into income streams, but at the very least will be great learning experiences and invaluable to future endeavors.
Completed: October 14, 2020
The Biggest Bluff follows Maria Konnikova, a writer with a PhD in Psychology as she learns poker from the ground up while being mentored by one of the greatest players alive: Erik Seidel. This books follows her journey from playing small online tables to the $10,000 buy-in World Series of Poker main event. I have always had a large interest in poker and it was super interesting to see the steps that a casual player would have to take in order to take their shot at becoming a professional.
Completed: October 21, 2020
I could not believe that this was the first time that I have heard of Jim Simons, while hearing about Warren Buffet and George Soros hundreds of times throughout my life even though Simons crushed their returns. Jim Simons is the founder of Renaissance Technologies whose Medallion fund averaged nearly a 40% annual return over the past couple of decades. It was incredibly insightful to see how hedge funds are created and run, especially one that has such a significant track record in its lifetime.
Completed: November 14, 2020
When I first heard about this book, I thought it was going to be about how physicists are using their education to make decisions in various financial positions, but it turned out to go back a lot further in history than that. There were many interesting stories about how physics has been applied to finance over the past couple of centuries, but it was tough for me to stay engaged since I was mainly interested in the modern day applications.
Completed: December 14, 2020
I had always seen this book on Best Sellers lists and had to give it a read even though anthropology is not a large interest of mine. However this book had me hooked much more than I expected. It was incredible to see how humans evolved and the timeline of species that eventually led to Homo sapiens. I didn’t expect the book to get into topics such as religion, money, and economics, so these chapters were a great surprise. Would definitely recommend to anyone interested in learning about a wide variety of subjects involving the development of humankind.
Completed: May 8, 2021
Wow I really took a break from reading there for a bit. After reading Sapiens, I decided it was time for a finance book again. This time I was interested in learning more about the history of hedge funds and how they’ve evolved into the institutions that they are today. Similar to The Physics of Wall Street, this book had a slow start in my opinion since I was more interested in modern day hedge funds and there was a large amount of information about early funds. My favorite part of this book were the stories behind funds blowing up due to poor risk management and overestimating their model’s stability.
Got a book recommendation? Let me know below! I’m always looking for new books to read and would love to grow this list even larger 🙂