What I’ve Been Reading

1. My Stroke of Insight: A Brain Scientist’s Personal Journey, by Jill Bolte Taylor.  What’s it like to lose half your brain in a stroke, be aware of the entire process, be unable to reason coherently, and then recover your faculties over the course of years?  This first person account is written by a Harvard neuroscientist.

2. Netherland, by Joseph O’Neill.  Many critics are claiming this is the first great 9-11 novel.  It grips your attention immediately and has a strong craft but philosophically does it have anywhere to go?  It is rare that I put a book down after the halfway mark but that was the case here.  Some of you will like this but I look for something more exotic from my fiction.

3. Mirroring People: The New Science of How We Connect With Others, by Marco Iacoboni.  This is now the go-to popular science book on mirror neutrons.  I especially liked the discussion of why we find conversation easier than giving monologues (well, not everyone does), even though a priori you might expect the opposite.

4. Now the Hell Will Start: One Soldier’s Flight From the Greatest Manhunt of World War II, by Brendan I. Koerner.  The story of a black WWII GI who goes AWOL and marries into a Burmese hill tribe.  This could have been a great book but as it stands it is a "good enough to read" book.  The digressions are often more interesting than the main story.

5. Hedge Funds: An Analytic Perspective, by Andrew Lo.  Finally a serious book on hedge funds based on real data, written by a leading financial economist, and covering August 2007.  I’ve only browsed the book but it is a must for anyone who follows this area.

6. Jonathan Swift, Gulliver’s Travels.  I read this (yet again) on the flight back from Japan, it is still one of the best books and one of the most important books for aspiring social scientists.  A must-read if you don’t already know it.


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