Book Notes Digest #10

May 4, 2020

Hey all,

It’s been a while since I sent out an update. I missed last month because I just didn’t have much to share. I thought I would have a lot more time to read, but I’ve struggled to find books that really speak to me or match my emotional state.

Or maybe it’s just a tough time to double-down on hobbies.

Daily Cartoon: Wednesday, April 29th | The New Yorker

I did write two new posts. Would love to hear your thoughts on them:

And if you’d like to share these emails out more broadly, you can use this link where anyone can subscribe: https://booknotes.substack.com/

Best,

Matt


1 - The Sound and the Fury

Amazon

Reading some books is like clambering through a barbed wire fence at the bottom of a swamp with your oxygen tank about to run out and this is one of those. When you’re done with it you look round expecting someone to notice and rush up with the medal and citation you completely deserve for services to literature. You finished it! Yeahhh! But no one does and if you try to explain to your family “Hey wow I finished The Sound and the Fury, man was that difficult, wow, my brain is like permanently rearranged, that Faulkner, what a writer” they just smile placatingly and open another tin of gunk for the cat.

👆This Goodreads review says it better than I ever could.

I picked this up at a used book store not knowing what to expect. Non-linear narration, jumbles of scenes without explanation, and implied backstory all make this an incredibly challenging book. But I finished it. “Yeaahhhh!”

2 - Inspired

Amazon

Two Inconvenient Truths About Product:
- Half of our ideas won't work
- Ideas that might work will require many iterations to deliver value.

This was a re-read of the latest edition of Inspired. I read the first edition on the recommendation of my last boss James. It serves as a solid overview of tech Product Management and has lots of great ideas around building and shipping software products. Unfortunately, the format of a book feels a little mismatched. While the individual ideas have value, there’s little common thread stitching everything together. But many chapters as a blog post would be worthy of a read.

3 - The Black Swan

Amazon

Having already read Antifragile, I generally knew what to expect going into The Black Swan. Taleb’s thesis is that we like to over-interpret, simplify, and reduce the dimensions of things. These habits increase our impression of understanding, without us actually understanding more. And they expose us to asymmetric risk from ”Black Swan” events—single events that can drastically impact overall outcomes. One of the better examples he shares is that of the Turkey. Don’t be a Turkey.

4 - The Art of Statistics

Amazon

"All models are wrong, some are useful." - George Box


A nice overview of statistics with the aim of helping the reader become data literate—or in other words, internalize enough statistics to both analyze real-world problems, and understand and critique the statistical conclusions of others. Z-scores, Simpsons Paradox, p-values, confidence intervals—all the good stuff is in there.

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