39 Book Recommendations from Nassim Taleb
39 Book Recommendations from Nassim Taleb

39 Book Recommendations from Nassim Taleb

39 Book Recommendations from Nassim Taleb

Dr. Seuss said that the more you read, the more you’ll know, the more you’ll learn, and the more places you’ll go. Taleb’s reading list is an excellent place to start. The book genres are a good mix that keeps you interested and longing for the next. You could even read two or more at a go!

Lebanese-American scholar Nassim Taleb has spent years studying problems of randomness, probability, and uncertainty. From 2001 to 2018, he published five books that he bundled into one, titled Incerto. 

The highly recommended group of works discusses managing risk and uncertainty, something that all professionals and students alike could benefit from. The series begins with Antifragile, which explains the category of things that not only gain from chaos but need it to survive and flourish. 

His next book, Black Swan, brought to light that improbable events happen every day that can cause anxiety and disorder, yet for the most part, humans are unaware that these events are occurring. 

If you’re curious to know more about philosophy, investing, mathematics, and how the mind works, the following books should guide you on your journey to learn more. Additionally, some titles from this list will teach you nutrition, running a successful business, effective decision-making, and more. You’ll also enjoy fiction works from best-selling authors.

1. The Formula: The Universal Laws of Success by Albert-Laszlo Barabasi

Have you ever accomplished a goal, but don’t feel accomplished at all? Many have, and in Albert-Laszlo Barabasi’s book, The Formula, he explains why you feel this way and what to do to regain the feeling of accomplishment. 

People expect recognition and reward for their successes because that is what society has ingrained in humans. In a review, Taleb praised The Formula saying, “This is not just an important but an imperative project: to approach the problem of randomness and success using the state-of-the-art scientific arsenal we have. Barabasi is the person.” 

Find out how you can change your perspective using the tools and lessons outlined in The Formula.  

2. The Statistical Mechanics of Financial Markets by Johannes Voit

What do physics and finance have in common? Not much, but Johannes Voit begs to differ, saying that there are parallels between the two studies that you can use to expand your education and learning about the world economy. 

If you recall from high school, there is something called the random-walk technique, that you can also apply to the financial markets. The idea behind this philosophy will help you assess risk management as the market fluctuates year-to-year.

3. No Bull: My Life In and Out of Markets by Michael Steinhardt

One of the most successful money managers on Wall Street now shares tips and successes of the financial market in his biography. One investment strategy he offers right off the bat, don’t listen to the masses. 

Several times in his career, Steinhardt bet against the market and won big. In addition to learning how to navigate through the stock market, you get insight into his rags-to-riches story that will motivate anyone to pursue their dreams. 

4. Mean Genes: From Sex To Money To Food: Taming Our Primal Instincts by Terry Burnham, Jay Phelan

Many times people do things that they know are bad for them but can’t help it no matter how much they try to change. People admit they want to lose weight, yet their primal instinct is to eat junk food. 

In Mean Genes, authors Terry Burnham and Jay Phelan look at issues that affect the lives of everyone the most; body image, money, addiction, violence, and the endless search for happiness, love, and fidelity. Taking the perspective of Darwin, they answer these questions and show an alternative way of living life to the fullest. 

5. Consciousness by Susan Blackmore

Another book right up Taleb’s ally and his line of studies is Susan Blackmore’s Consciousness. Blackmore’s interest in consciousness has her discussing the core topics regarding it, including; How neural correlates of consciousness, why we might be mistaken about our minds, and the apparent difference between conscious and unconscious. 

Taleb says that he was “glad to find a complete book dealing with all aspects of consciousness in CLEARLY written format, with graphs and tables to facilitate comprehension.” The book is complete and covers artificial intelligence, philosophy, and neurology. 

6. The Mind Doesn’t Work That Way by Jerry A. Fodor

Forget what you think you know about how the mind operates and read what Jerry Fodor believes. In The Mind Doesn’t Work That Way, he says that we should view mental processes like computations. Think of the mind working through problems like a computer does, if you will. 

The book walks you through the various theories of mind and evolutionary psychology, making a strong argument for how cognitive science is in only the beginning phases. The brain is a fascinating organ and is constantly evolving as researchers continue their studies.  

7. The Making of a Philosopher: My Journey Through Twentieth-Century Philosophy by Colin McGinn

If you love philosophy as much as Taleb does, pick up a copy of The Making of a Philosopher. Part study and part memior, you get to learn about how Colin McGinn came to love studying philosophy starting in England and blossoming when he moved to Los Angelos in his later years.   

8. Mapping the Mind by Rita Carter

Where in the brain does a person register an emotion? It may seem like a silly question, but with the diagnostic tests and technology, researchers can now study precisely where a person registers an emotion. Rita Carter’s in-depth research gives readers an insight into the human mind that’s easy to read and understand. Taleb praises Carter for her outstanding work saying, “She is a thinker in her own right not just a ‘medical journalist.” 

Speaking of mapping the mind, our Mind Mapping Course teaches you how to create a complete visual outline of information. Learn how you can creatively use mind mapping for any objective you have to save time and get more done. Click the link to learn more and save your spot today!

9. Blueprint: The Evolutionary Origins of A Good Society by Nicholas A. Christakis

Christakis explains how we behave, socialize and form societies. These societies are interestingly similar in different parts of the globe. It is in our DNA. He observes that our genes make the blueprint. Each of us has eight innate characteristics that make our societies humane. 

We love our children and spouses, and we exist on social networks. It is inherent for us to cooperate, which is why we work well in groups. Every person has a bias toward our own and learns through socialization. Christakis observes that we know who we are (identity) and always form friendships.

For a long time, scholars have given too much attention to humanity’s cruelty, aggression, and selfish ambition. In a world of crisis, climate change, and financial difficulties, Christakis gives us hope that there is a positive part of us that is humane. Bill Gates, Eric Schmidt, and Taleb highly recommend this book.

10. The Invisible Gorilla: How our Intuitions Deceive Us by Christopher Chabris and Daniel Simons

You are not as awesome as you think! It’s hard to believe, but you can easily miss something even when you are looking at it.

The Invisible Gorilla explains why we miss the unexpected. It’s because we do not think it will happen. For instance, police would pass an assault and not see it.

 This book will alter your notions on memory, cause, knowledge, and potential. It delves deep into your illusions of attention and confidence with examples. 

Taleb observes, “The illusion of attention is one of the most important, surprising, and least known flaws in human thinking.” 

11. Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future by Peter Thiel

More than 20 astound businessmen, including Elon Musk, speak highly of this book. Taleb recommends reading it thrice to get the insights of Peter Thiel, a risk-taker. Peter teaches you how to pick big ideas and run with them to form a big business.

12. Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman

“This is a landmark book in social thought, in the same league as The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith and The Interpretation of Dreams by Sigmund Freud.” ―Nassim Taleb.

Daniel Kahneman explains fast and slow thinking and how it affects intuition and reaction and eventually sound decision-making.

13. Hopping Over the  Rabbit Hole: How Entrepreneurs Turn Failure into Success by Anthony Scaramucci

Hopping Over the Rabbit Hole speaks to people in business, aspiring entrepreneurs, and salespeople. Anthony shares his over 30 years of business experience advising entrepreneurs on how to run a business and avoid costly mistakes. 

Grab this book if you’re running a business or hope to run one. Small business owners seeking to grow big should also look into this book’s insights. 

14. Deep Learning (Adaptive Computation and Machine Learning series) by Ian Good Fellow  

Deep Learning explains theories of machine learning and deep learning with relevant examples. It is, however, not a coding book. 

15. Who We Are and How We Got Here: Ancient DNA and the New Science of the Human Past by David Reich

No race is 100% pure. That’s terrible news for chest-thumping prejudicial people. David Reich uses advances in DNA sequencing to show the effects of migration and how mixed our descents are. “Finally, science enters historical fields,” Taleb remarks in the Who We Are and How We Got Here book review.

16. The Practice of Natural Movement by Erwan Le Corre

We all desire to reduce weight and keep fit at some point in our lives. Working out with equipment in the gym can be overwhelming and yield no results. 

Erwan Le Corre, the originator of Movnat, takes us back to ancient exercise methods akin to those used by animals. These are running, jumping, catching, balancing, crawling, carrying, climbing, lifting, swimming, throwing, and self-defense.

17. Thinking and Deciding by Jonathan Baron

Jonathan Baron explores in detail thinking and how it affects decision-making. Thinking and Deciding is a must-have on your nightstand. It will show you how to overcome bias in thinking, differentiating how you think from how you should think.

18. The Complete Guide to Fasting (Heal Your Body Through Intermittent, Alternate-Day, and Extended Fasting) by Dr. Jason Fung with Jimmy Moore

Praised as “an excellent book” by Nassim, this book takes us through fasting. From history to types of fasts like intermittent fasting explaining who should fast and who shouldn’t. Surprisingly, fasting to lose weight is not for everyone. 

The book also preempts what to expect throughout fasting. It further teaches you to monitor your progress and stay positive throughout the fast.

19. Perilous Interventions: The Security Council and the Politics of Chaos by Hardeep Singh Puri

Perilous Interventions is a must-read for every student of international relations. It weaves through UN Security Council decision-making revolving around conflicts in countries. Sadly, bilateral ties and personal interests get in the way. 

Often, the UN resolves to use force to control conflict. Countries affected never recover, and war ranges, case in point, Afghanistan. Consequently, insecurity provides fertile ground for terrorist groups to flourish.

Hardeep also reveals how delayed decision-making in solving conflicts has dire repercussions. He leaves you wanting to know more about international politics and the role of the UN Security Council (mostly policy) in stabilizing or destabilizing countries.

20. Models. Behaving. Badly. Why Confusing Illusion with Reality can Lead to Disaster on Wall Street and in Life by Emanuel Derman

“Emanuel Derman has written my kind of a book, an elegant combination of memoir, confession, and essay on ethics, philosophy of science, and professional practice. He convincingly establishes the difference between model and theory and shows why attempts to model financial markets can never be genuinely scientific. It vindicates those of us who hold that financial modeling is neither practical nor scientific. Exceedingly readable.” –Nassim N. Taleb

21. The Secret of Fatima by Peter J Tanous

The Secret of Fatima is an exciting read about the church history coupled with thrilling plot twists, which will keep you guessing what happens next. It is “a James Bond as a Catholic priest.”

22. The Longevity Solution: Rediscovering Centuries-Old Secrets to a Healthy, Long Life by Dr. James DiNicolantonio, Dr. Jason Fung, et al.

Do you want to age well? If you’re beginning your research on how to age well with no health issues, The Longevity Solution is an excellent place to start. Jason Fung explains five age well habits to adopt. Intermittent fasting, regulating calorie intake, and eating suitable protein portions top the list. Get yourself a copy for more.

23. Bull! A History of the Boom and Bust, 1982-2004 by Maggie Mahar

Recommended by Warren Buffett and Nassim, Bull! looks behind the curtain of religious beliefs in the market. Maggie Mahar tries to find the truth, teaches how to evaluate companies, and shares a 17-year cycle on the markets. Bull! is a must-read for any serious trader!

24. Idea Makers: Personal Perspectives On The Lives & Ideas Of Some Notable  People by Stephen Wolfram

Idea Makers is a compilation of geniuses who discovered mathematical facts influencing our current world. The biographies are through the eyes of Stephen Wolfram in mathematics and computing.

25. Seeking Wisdom From Darwin to Munger by Julia Cameron

Seeking Wisdom is “a wonderful book on wisdom and decision-making, written by a wise decision-maker.” – Nassim Taleb. 

In the Artist Way series, Julia asks you to write three-morning pages, go for two walks a week, and have an Artist Date every week. She gives you different exercises to do so that you can talk to God. 

If you loved Artist’s Way and didn’t mind the idea of making prayer a part of your daily life, you’ll find this book helpful.

26. Good Calories Bad Calories: Fats, Carbs, and the Controversial Science of Diet and Health by Gary Taubes


Taleb advises we read Good Calories and Bad Calories twice to internalize the diet. The mind-blowing book discusses nutrition and health misconceptions about eating right. Eat less fat, more carbohydrates, lesser portions, and exercise more. Taubes, however, walks us through why fat is good for the body in an unconventional science of health and nutrition.

27. A few Lessons from Sherlock Holmes by Peter Bevelin

Recommended by both Nassim Taleb and Patrick O’Shaughnessy, this book is for anyone who wants to better their thinking and is a Sherlock Holmes fan. It is a guide to Sherlock Holmes and “will make you wiser if you re-read it”-Nassim.

28. A New Kind of Science by Stephen Wolfram

If you have big hairy dreams about the computational universe or seek to understand cellular automata, read this book by Stephen Wolfram. 

29. The Dao Capital by Mark Spitznagel

The Dao of Capital is a finance and investing book from the successful hedge funds manager Spitznagel, a former student of Taleb. He shares his investment strategy, backing it with historical experiences and illustrations. 

Like his teacher, his approach is pursuing immediate losses instead of instant rewards. Once you’ve done that, you can take advantage of other investors’ need for instant gains and their unwillingness to accept small losses. This investment philosophy borrows from ancient Daoist ideas.

30. The Hour Between the Dog and Wolf: How Risk Taking Transforms Us Body and Mind by John Coates 

In The Hour Between the Dog and Wolf, John Coates examines how we react under pressure or when taking risks. 

Male hormones influence financial booms and busts. Canadian scientist Dr. John Coates discovered a feedback loop between testosterone and achievement that reduces men’s fear of risk. He calls the moment traders are enthusiastic high-flyers “the hour between dog and wolf.” Failure raises cortisol levels, which reduces risk-taking. His book draws on his seminal research to offer insights into the biology of risk.

Coates’s discoveries shed light on high-pressure decision-making. From him, we learn that the mind and body must operate together under pressure. We can all become wolves if we grasp the causes and consequences.

31. The Tartar Steppe

The Tartar Steppe is a biting critique of military life and an exploration of our insatiable desire for adulation-in this case, hero worship for defeating an enemy. 

Young Giovanni Drogo, stationed at a fort facing the Tartar Steppe, writes of his experiences waiting for a war that never happens. He joined veteran-aged military men who’d waited for years with no sign of battle materializing. 

“I never understood why the book never made it in the Anglo-Saxon world. Il deserto is one of the 20th century’s masterpieces,” remarks Nassim.

32. What I Learned Losing a Million Dollars by Jim Paul and Brendan Moynihan

Described as “One of the rare non-charlatanic books in finance” by Nassim, What I Learned Losing a Million Dollars is an honest history of the rise, fall, and rediscovery of Jim Paul. 

Jim Paul worked his way up from humble beginnings to Chicago’s Mercantile Market governor through a string of accomplishments. He gives us practical advice on trading, sharing how he lost everything, and the lessons he learned. 

Jim and Brenda teach that there are limitless ways to succeed in the market. They caution on factors that could make you lose. These are either psychological or due to poor market analysis.

33.  A Guide To Econometrics by Peter E. Kennedy 

Novices in econometrics will find this book humorous, easy to follow through, and less technical. Taleb praises this book for its intuitive approach to a complex subject. Peter Kennedy, a professor of economics, taught at Simon Fraser University for many years. 

34. The Status Syndrome: How Social Standing Affects Our Health and Longevity by Michael Marmot 

“Well written, humorous at times, and rigorous –it reads like a well-translated scientific paper.” – Nassim Taleb.

The Status Syndrome emphasizes that longevity and good health are more likely among people of higher socioeconomic class. Preschool and early experiences influence life expectancy, disease, and delinquency? Michael Marmot explores the social determinants of health in this hard-to-put-down book worth careful reading.

35. The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature by Steven Pinker

What defines a man, and what makes him who he is? What motivates his actions? Steven Pinker attempts to answer these problems in his book The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature. We find answers in religion and the idea that we have free will. 

Nassim thinks the book is “a great exposition of modern scientific thinking and understanding of the nature of man.” 

36. The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less by Barry Schwartz

Americans believe more alternatives lead to better outcomes. Too many options lead to self-blame and excessive expectations if you have too many possibilities. That can cause long-term decision paralysis, concern, and stress. In a culture that teaches us to be perfect, too much choice can lead to clinical depression.

Schwartz argues that eliminating options might reduce tension and anxiety. He provides a step-by-step strategy for minimizing your alternatives, focusing on the most critical ones, and disregarding the rest to make better long-term decisions.

37. Happy Accidents: Serendipity in Modern Medical Breakthroughs by Morton A. Meyers  

Morton Meyers examines the astonishing impact serendipity played in 20th-century medical advances. Happy accidents happen every day, and Meyers explains how it takes intellect, awareness, and imagination to spot a “Eureka! I got what I wasn’t looking for!” moment and know what to do about it. 

Penicillin, chemotherapeutic medications, X-rays, and others came about unexpectedly. Dr. Meyers argues persuasively for a creative rather than linear approach to science.

38. The Tyranny of Experts: Economists, Dictators, and the Forgotten Rights of the Poor by William Easterly

Donor funding and aid are temporal quick fix solutions to poverty. Stakeholders must address systemic poverty accelerated by systemic political factors to alleviate poverty. 

Elitism propagated by funding makes the oppressors and perpetrators of inequality all too powerful, so they amass more and more resources, and the poor continue to be poor. 

39. The Wisdom Paradox: How Your Mind Can Grow Stronger As Your Brain Grows Older by Elkhonon Goldberg

Are you worried that old age will affect your thinking and memory? Grab this book to quiet your fear. Elkhonon Goldberg explains that the brain gains in many ways as you age. 

He splits memory into two, singular and generic. The generic type is the ability to connect events to knowledge gained from past life experiences to make quick, informed decisions. Singular memory is the ability to recall specific incidents. Surprisingly, generic memory gets better with age as singular memory declines.

Wrapping up

Nassim Taleb’s reading list is a mixture of different genres. He recommends philosophy books, books on finance, social sciences, thrillers, rational decision-making, psychology, health, and so much more.

Head to Iris Reading Speed Reading Classes and Memory Course to help you get through the 39 recommended books.

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