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Matthew Syed's Top Book Recommendations

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


The Mighty Walzer

From the beginning Oliver Walzer is a natural - at ping-pong. Even with his improvised bat (the Collins Classic edition of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde) he can chop, flick, half-volley like a champion. At sex he is not so adept, but with tuition from Sheeny Waxman, fellow member of the Akiva Social Club Table Tennis Team and stalwart of the Kardomah coffee bar, his game improves. less
Recommended by Matthew Syed, and 1 others.

Matthew SyedUp until recently those of us who admired his work were very much like a sort of cult following. He hadn’t had much serious recognition but now he has won the Booker prize for another book, The Finkler Question, he has suddenly become mainstream which has led to a bit of a crisis of identity for those of us who love his books! (Source)

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Heuristics and Biases

The Psychology of Intuitive Judgment

Judgment pervades human experience. Do I have a strong enough case to go to trial? Will the Fed change interest rates? Can I trust this person? This book examines how people answer such questions. How do people cope with the complexities of the world economy, the uncertain behavior of friends and adversaries, or their own changing tastes and personalities? When are people's judgments prone to bias, and what is responsible for their biases? This book compiles psychologists' best attempts to answer these important questions. less
Recommended by Matthew Syed, and 1 others.

Matthew SyedThis is another really good set of essays in a rapidly growing branch of intellectual enquiry called behavioural economics where they look at the irrationalities in the way that humans behave. I thought this was brilliant. One essay in particular on irrational optimism caught my eye. It’s the idea that individuals who have slightly inflated expectations of their own abilities tend to persevere... (Source)

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This innovative text sheds light on how people work -- why they sometimes function well and, at other times, behave in ways that are self-defeating or destructive. The author presents her groundbreaking research on adaptive and maladaptive cognitive-motivational patterns and shows:
* How these patterns originate in people's self-theories
* Their consequences for the person -- for achievement, social relationships, and emotional well-being
* Their consequences for society, from issues of human potential to stereotyping and intergroup relations
* The experiences that create...
Recommended by Matthew Syed, and 1 others.

Matthew SyedThis is an absolutely revolutionary book because it reflects Dweck’s research over many years as a professor of psychology at Stanford University where she argues that the pattern of success and failure in the world are very much to do not with our talent but our mind sets or our beliefs. Essentially, what she means by that is that if you believe that success hinges on talent, it follows that any... (Source)

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Decisive biotechnological interventions in the lottery of human life--to enhance our bodies and brains and perhaps irreversibly change our genetic makeup--have been widely rejected as unethical and undesirable, and have often met with extreme hostility. But in Enhancing Evolution, leading bioethicist John Harris dismantles objections to genetic engineering, stem-cell research, designer babies, and cloning to make a forthright, sweeping, and rigorous ethical case for using biotechnology to improve human life.

Human enhancement, Harris argues, is a good thing--good morally,...
Recommended by Matthew Syed, and 1 others.

Matthew SyedHarris is a brilliant essayist and the book explores and explodes a great deal of conservatism in bioethics. His arguments are compelling. He is sort of a radical utilitarian. He thinks that we should embrace any technologies that make life go better for humanity and not to turn these things down because either we feel squeamish or it sounds too radical. He says the basic test is: does it make... (Source)

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The Cambridge Handbook of Expertise and Expert Performance

This book was the first handbook where the world's foremost 'experts on expertise' reviewed our scientific knowledge on expertise and expert performance and how experts may differ from non-experts in terms of their development, training, reasoning, knowledge, social support, and innate talent. Methods are described for the study of experts' knowledge and their performance of representative tasks from their domain of expertise. The development of expertise is also studied by retrospective interviews and the daily lives of experts are studied with diaries. In 15 major domains of expertise, the... more
Recommended by Matthew Syed, and 1 others.

Matthew SyedYes, it’s a remarkable compendium of essays by the leading academics in the field, explaining how excellence is constructed in each of those areas. It is remarkably extensive, authoritative but also deeply entertaining. It covers everything from expertise in chess to expertise in psychology and computer science and mathematics. There is sexual expertise and medicine as well. Throughout all these... (Source)

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