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.