Tim Harford, author of How to Make the World Add Up: Ten Rules for Thinking Differently About Numbers (U.S. Title: The Data Detective: Ten Easy Rules to Make Sense of Statistics), recommends an exciting selection of books! Before jumping into the interview, please check out Tim's book:
Q. Do you have a favourite smart thinking book (and why that book)?
It feels invidious to choose just one - there are so many!
But let me single out The Most Human Human by Brian Christian, which is one of the most thought-provoking and enjoyable books I've ever read, yet which hasn't enjoyed the same scale of success as others I might recommend such as The Tipping Point or Thinking, Fast and Slow.
Christian's book is about the Turing test, how computers try to imitate human conversation - and most interestingly, what the strengths and weaknesses of computer conversation teach us about the art of conversation itself.
I love the book.
Q. What's the most recent smart thinking book you've read (and how would you rate it)?
Adam Grant's Think Again, which is terrific. Grant explores the science of changing minds - your own mind, the minds of other people, and even an entire group. He's funny and self-deprecating and a very charming writer, so you hardly notice how much rigorous research - and how much wisdom - he is conveying. Very highly rated.
Q. Do you have a favourite childhood book?
I was and still am a fan of high quality fantasy novels. I would single out Taran Wanderer by Lloyd Alexander. Highly rated but to my mind still underrated. Alexander takes themes that might seem over-used - such as an orphan's hope of having noble parentage - and produces something fresh, wise and sad out of them.
Q. Do you prefer reading on paper, Kindle or listening to an audiobook?
I prefer paper, but ebooks are very good and convenient these days. Podcasts take up all the time I might use to listen to audiobooks.
Q. Do you have a favourite bookshop (and why that shop)?
Blackwells Bookshop on Broad Street, Oxford - it's absolutely huge and it is full of good books. They minimise the space given over to selling little trinkets to the tourists - impressive given the central Oxford location - and they would rather stock a large range of excellent books than pile high the cookbooks and celebrity biographies.
I also have a very soft spot for Kramers in Dupont Circle, Washington DC. The first bookshop I ever saw one of my own books in; more importantly, the selection in this small bookshop is impeccable.
Many thanks to Tim for recommending an exciting selection of books! Please don't forget to check out Tim's book How to Make the World Add Up: Ten Rules for Thinking Differently About Numbers (U.S. Title: The Data Detective: Ten Easy Rules to Make Sense of Statistics).
Image Copyrights: Little, Brown Book Group (How To Make The World Add Up), Penguin Books Ltd (The Most Human Human), Ebury Publishing (Think Again), Usborne Publishing Ltd (Taran Wanderer).