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Ed Smith's Top Book Recommendations

Want to know what books Ed Smith recommends on their reading list? We've researched interviews, social media posts, podcasts, and articles to build a comprehensive list of Ed Smith's favorite book recommendations of all time.


A Season In Sinji

A Season in Sinji recreates life on a wartime RAF flying boat station in an African backwater. The dialogue evokes a wide range of characters, and in the bizarre cricket match which acts as a catharsis to the novel's mounting passions, human dramas and irony are portrayed. less
Recommended by Ed Smith, and 1 others.

Ed SmithI think the interesting thing about sport in literature is that nearly all great books about sport aren’t really about sport. This applies to Moneyball – it’s ostensibly about baseball but it’s not really about baseball, it’s about scientific method. It’s the same with A Season in Sinji – it’s a cricket novel, but it’s not about cricket. It’s about life. (Source)

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Aspects of Wagner

Many music lovers find Wagner's operas inexpressibly beautiful and richly satisfying, while others find them revolting, dangerous, self-indulgent, and immoral. The man who W.H. Auden once called "perhaps the greatest genius that ever lived" has inspired both greater adulation and greater loathing than any other composer.
Bryan Magee presents a penetrating analysis of Wagner's work, concentrating on how his sensational and deeply erotic music uniquely expresses the repressed and highly charged contents of the psyche. He examines not only Wagner's music and detailed stage directions but...
Recommended by Ed Smith, and 1 others.

Ed SmithThe Wagner question is very interesting. It used to be said – although I’m sure it’s not true – that more books have been written about Wagner than about Jesus. Grappling with Wagner’s success and how he had such an absolute hold over his fans is quite odd. I’m a Wagnerian, not nearly as crazy as some Wagnerians, but I have travelled far and wide to see Wagner’s operas and I probably know more... (Source)

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Vikram Seth's novel is, at its core, a love story: Lata and her mother, Mrs. Rupa Mehra, are both trying to find—through love or through exacting maternal appraisal—a suitable boy for Lata to marry. Set in the early 1950s, in an India newly independent and struggling through a time of crisis, A Suitable Boy takes us into the richly imagined world of four large extended families and spins a compulsively readable tale of their lives and loves. A sweeping panoramic portrait of a complex, multiethnic society in flux, A Suitable Boy remains the story of ordinary people caught up in a... more
Recommended by Ed Smith, and 1 others.

Ed SmithMy father, who’s a novelist and was a teacher for many years, taught Vikram when he came to England to study for his A-levels in the 1970s. I can remember my dad telling me later on, in the late 1980s, that one of his ex-pupils was going to be the greatest writer of his generation. When I was in my teens Vikram came to talk at his old school, where I was studying, and he stayed with us. That was... (Source)

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"John Kay tells a fast-paced detective story as he searches for the surprising secret to success...Brilliant."
-Tim Harford, author of The Logic of Life
In this revolutionary book, economist John Kay proves a notion that feels at once paradoxical and deeply commonsensical: the best way to achieve any complex or broadly defined goal, from happiness to preventing forest fires, is the indirect way. We can learn how to achieve our objectives only through a gradual process of risk taking and discovery-what Kay calls obliquity. The author traces this seemingly counterintuitive...

Rory Sutherland@d_f_stone @EconTalker I completely agree. The @peterthiel book, along with @ProfJohnKay 's Obliquity, is the best short read for businessfolk since R Updegraff's Obvious Adams and The Specialist by Charles Sale. (Source)

Ed SmithI’ll tell about how I came to John Kay’s work. I actually read Nassim Taleb’s book Fooled by Randomness first, which is a different book but with some connections to Obliquity. Then I read John Kay’s review of it in the Financial Times, which was very interesting, and I began to follow John Kay’s work. What Kay writes about business and finance often applies to other spheres as well. Like Taleb’s... (Source)

Chris MobbsObliquity: Why Our Goals Are Best Achieved Indirectly by Kay, John Book The (Source)

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Moneyball is a quest for something as elusive as the Holy Grail, something that money apparently can't buy: the secret of success in baseball. The logical places to look would be the front offices of major league teams and the dugouts, perhaps even in the minds of the players themselves. Michael Lewis mines all these possibilities - his intimate and original portraits of big league ballplayers are alone worth the price of admission - but the real jackpot is a cache of numbers - numbers! - collected over the years by a strange brotherhood of amateur baseball enthusiasts: software... more

Carol DweckYou would think that the relationship between training and skill would be utterly obvious in sports, but apparently it isn’t. (Source)

David PapineauIt’s a parable of the disinclination of people in general to base their practices on evidence, a parable for evidence-based policy in general. (Source)

Ed SmithThis is about a guy using econometrics to predict which baseball players will do better in advancing wins, a remarkable use of economic thinking. (Source)

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