83 books like Counting

By Deborah Stone,

Here are 83 books that Counting fans have personally recommended if you like Counting. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of The Secret Lives of Color

Rachael Taylor Author Of Power Up Your Creativity: Ignite Your Creative Spark - Develop a Productive Practice - Set Goals and Achieve Your Dreams

From my list on increase your creative productivity.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am an award-winning art director, creative mentor, and print and pattern designer with nearly two decades of experience working successfully in the creative industries. As a young person, I loved drama, dance, and art, and was constantly bursting with creative passion. As I grew older, I faced doubt from the people around me about pursuing a creative career. I stubbornly pursued it anyway and ignored the naysayers who told me to “stop dreaming” or to “get a real job.” I am now described as a “powerhouse” in the design world and someone who fearlessly strives forward in her creative career and helps thousands around the world to believe in their own creative power.

Rachael's book list on increase your creative productivity

Rachael Taylor Why did Rachael love this book?

As someone who is obsessed with colour, and I mean OBSESSED, diving into this book felt like a colourful dream come true.

Not only does this book delve into so many different colours it also shares stories about how they relate to cultures around the world, and it was so fascinating to learn about. Take my favourite colour, for example, orange. It blew my mind to find out where the word originated and when the term was first used as a colour.

I felt like I was soaking in knowledge at the turn of every page. I can’t tell you how inspired and motivated I felt to start exploring even more colour in my creative practice.

By Kassia St. Clair,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked The Secret Lives of Color as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

One of USA Today's "100 Books to Read While Stuck at Home During the Coronavirus Crisis"

A dazzling gift, the unforgettable, unknown history of colors and the vivid stories behind them in a beautiful multi-colored volume.

"Beautifully written . . . Full of anecdotes and fascinating research, this elegant compendium has all the answers." -NPR, Best Books of 2017

The Secret Lives of Color tells the unusual stories of seventy-five fascinating shades, dyes, and hues. From blonde to ginger, the brown that changed the way battles were fought to the white that protected against the plague, Picasso's blue period to…

Book cover of The Essence of Style: How the French Invented High Fashion, Fine Food, Chic Cafes, Style, Sophistication, and Glamour

Richard Scholar Author Of Émigrés: French Words That Turned English

From my list on just how much English owes French.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have long been struck, as a learner of French at school and later a university professor of French, by how much English borrows from French language and culture. Imagine English without naïveté and caprice. You might say it would lose its raison d’être My first book was the history of a single French phrase, the je-ne-sais-quoi, which names a ‘certain something’ in people or things that we struggle to explain. Working on that phrase alerted me to the role that French words, and foreign words more generally, play in English. The books on this list helped me to explore this topic—and more besides—as I was writing Émigrés.

Richard's book list on just how much English owes French

Richard Scholar Why did Richard love this book?

This is cultural history with a difference and of a difference. It teaches you a lot about the reputation for fashionable culture that France enjoyed for centuries all over the world and continues to enjoy to this day. How much of all that is already packed into the book’s subtitle! The rest of the book is just as accessible and lively and unwilling ever to take itself too seriously. 

By Joan DeJean,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Essence of Style as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

What makes fashionistas willing to pay a small fortune for a particular designer accessory? Why does a special occasion only become really special when a champagne cork pops? Why are diamonds the status symbol gemstone, instantly signifying wealth, power, and even emotional commitment? Writing with great elan, one of the foremost authorities on seventeenth-century French culture provides the answer to these and other fascinating questions in her account of how, at one glittering moment in history, the French under Louis XIV set the standards of sophistication, style, and glamour that still rule our lives today. Joan DeJean takes us back…

Book cover of The Devil's Cloth: A History of Stripes

Carolyn Purnell Author Of The Sensational Past: How the Enlightenment Changed the Way We Use Our Senses

From my list on everyday things we take for granted.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a historian who’s spent far too much time thinking about how the color magenta contributed to climate change and why eighteenth-century humanitarians were obsessed with tobacco enemas. My favorite historical topics—like sensation, color, and truth—don’t initially seem historical, but that’s exactly why they need to be explored. I’ve learned that the things that seem like second nature are where our deepest cultural assumptions and unconscious biases hide. In addition to writing nonfiction, I’ve been lucky enough to grow up on a ranch, live in Paris, work as an interior design writer, teach high school and college, and help stray dogs get adopted.

Carolyn's book list on everyday things we take for granted

Carolyn Purnell Why did Carolyn love this book?

The French historian Michel Pastoureau is the master of finding topics you never knew could have a history. His research spans from the history of blue to the history of the bear, and everything he writes makes you see the world with new eyes. One of my favorites is this slim volume about the history of stripes. Pastoureau explains why stripes were associated with the devil in the Middle Ages, why sailors and swimmers took to stripes, and why cultural preferences have shifted from horizontal stripes to vertical stripes and back again. He convincingly shows that the history of the stripe is really a history of the impulse to contain social groups and people.

By Michel Pastoureau, Jody Gladding,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Devil's Cloth as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

To stripe a surface serves to distinguish it, to point it out, to oppose it or associate it with another surface, and thus to classify it, to keep an eye on it, to verify it, even to censor it.
Throughout the ages, the stripe has made its mark in mysterious ways. From prisoners' uniforms to tailored suits, a street sign to a set of sheets, Pablo Picasso to Saint Joseph, stripes have always made a bold statement. But the boundary that separates the good stripe from the bad is often blurred. Why, for instance, were stripes associated with the devil…

Book cover of Tastes of Paradise: A Social History of Spices, Stimulants, and Intoxicants

Erica Hannickel Author Of Empire of Vines: Wine Culture in America

From my list on the history of booze.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a professor at Northland College (WI) and an American environmental historian with specialties in wine, food, and horticulture. I mostly write on alcohol, garden history, botany, and orchids. The history of alcohol is wild, fraught, and charged with power—I’ll never tire of learning about it.

Erica's book list on the history of booze

Erica Hannickel Why did Erica love this book?

A sensual cultural history mixed with economic history, specifically the rise of capitalism, Schivelbusch launches an interesting argument—that one particular substance, or taste, has often defined the zeitgeist of whole nations for definitive periods. This book is wide-ranging and general in its treatment of alcohol, as well as several other drinks and spices. There are excellent imaginative connections made, and the book invites thinkers to think deeply and broadly about the meaning of intoxicants in history and in their own lives.

By Wolfgang Schivelbusch,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Tastes of Paradise as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From the extravagant use of pepper in the Middle Ages to the Protestant bourgeoisie's love of coffee to the reason why fashionable Europeans stopped sniffing tobacco and starting smoking it, Schivelbusch looks at how the appetite for pleasure transformed the social structure of the Old World. Illustrations.

Book cover of Predict and Surveil: Data, Discretion, and the Future of Policing

Luke Hunt Author Of Police Deception and Dishonesty: The Logic of Lying

From my list on the cluster-f*ck we call policing.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m an Associate Professor in the University of Alabama’s Department of Philosophy. I worked as an FBI Special Agent before making the natural transition to academic philosophy. Being a professor was always a close second to Quantico, but that scene in Point Break in which Keanu Reeves and Patrick Swayze fight Anthony Kiedis on the beach made it seem like the FBI would be more fun than academia. In my current position as a professor at the University of Alabama, I teach in my department’s Jurisprudence Specialization. My primary research interests are at the intersection of philosophy of law, political philosophy, and criminal justice. I’ve written three books on policing.

Luke's book list on the cluster-f*ck we call policing

Luke Hunt Why did Luke love this book?

I love this book because it reminds us of the many ways that technology can affect justice.

It is tempting to think sophisticated tactics such as “predictive policing” can solve all problems relating to human bias. However, Brayne shows that data and algorithms do not eliminate bias and discretion. Instead, high-tech police tools simply make bias less overt and visible, which erodes the public’s ability to hold the police accountable.

I especially enjoyed how the book flips the script, considering diverse ways to use these tools to help the public. For example, how can municipalities use technology to analyze the underlying factors that contribute to policing problems in the first place?

By Sarah Brayne,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Predict and Surveil as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The scope of criminal justice surveillance, from the police to the prisons, has expanded rapidly in recent decades. At the same time, the use of big data has spread across a range of fields, including finance, politics, health, and marketing. While law enforcement's use of big data is hotly contested, very little is known about how the police actually use it in daily operations and with what consequences.

In Predict and Surveil, Sarah Brayne offers an unprecedented, inside look at how police use big data and new surveillance technologies, leveraging on-the-ground fieldwork with one of the most technologically advanced law…

Book cover of The Art of Statistics: How to Learn from Data

Valliappa Lakshmanan Author Of Data Science on the Google Cloud Platform: Implementing End-To-End Real-Time Data Pipelines: From Ingest to Machine Learning

From my list on if you want to become a data scientist.

Why am I passionate about this?

I started my career as a research scientist building machine learning algorithms for weather forecasting. Twenty years later, I found myself at a precision agriculture startup creating models that provided guidance to farmers on when to plant, what to plant, etc. So, I am part of the movement from academia to industry. Now, at Google Cloud, my team builds cross-industry solutions and I see firsthand what our customers need in their data science teams. This set of books is what I suggest when a CTO asks how to upskill their workforce, or when a graduate student asks me how to break into the industry.

Valliappa's book list on if you want to become a data scientist

Valliappa Lakshmanan Why did Valliappa love this book?

What if you are faced with a problem for which a standard approach doesn’t yet exist? In such a case, you will need to be able to figure out the approach from the first principles. This book will help you learn how to derive insights starting from raw data.

By David Spiegelhalter,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Art of Statistics as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'A statistical national treasure' Jeremy Vine, BBC Radio 2

'Required reading for all politicians, journalists, medics and anyone who tries to influence people (or is influenced) by statistics. A tour de force' Popular Science

Do busier hospitals have higher survival rates? How many trees are there on the planet? Why do old men have big ears? David Spiegelhalter reveals the answers to these and many other questions - questions that can only be addressed using statistical science.

Statistics has played a leading role in our scientific understanding of the world for centuries, yet we are all familiar with the way…

Book cover of An Economic Analysis of Crime and Justice: Theory, Methods, and Applications

Brian Forst Author Of Errors of Justice: Nature, Sources and Remedies

From my list on the economics of crime and justice.

Why am I passionate about this?

Throughout my academic career, my chief scholarly interest has been to assess public policy using coherent theory and rigorous empirical method. The economics of crime and justice offers a powerful framework for achieving these ends.

Brian's book list on the economics of crime and justice

Brian Forst Why did Brian love this book?

This book applies economic theory and econometric methods to problems in criminology.

It is divided into three parts. Part I discusses models of criminal recidivism. Part II describes the economic model of crime. Part III estimates cost functions for prisons.

Specific chapters cover statistical analysis of qualitative outcomes; analysis of two measures of criminal activity – the arrest rate and the conviction rate; and long-run estimates of cost functions for a group of Federal Correctional Institutions. 

Book cover of Calling Bullshit: The Art of Skepticism in a Data-Driven World

Gary Smith Author Of Distrust: Big Data, Data-Torturing, and the Assault on Science

From my list on science’s eroding reputation.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am the Fletcher Jones Professor of Economics at Pomona College. I started out as a macroeconomist but, early on, discovered stats and stocks—which have long been fertile fields for data torturing and data mining. My book, Standard Deviations: Flawed Assumptions, Tortured Data, and Other Ways to Lie with Statistics is a compilation of a variety of dubious and misleading statistical practices. More recently, I have written several books on AI, which has a long history of overpromising and underdelivering because it is essentially data mining on steroids. No matter how loudly statisticians shout correlation is not causation, some will not hear.

Gary's book list on science’s eroding reputation

Gary Smith Why did Gary love this book?

The title is provocative but justified because so much of the “evidence” that we are bombarded with daily is bullshit. This is a wonderful compilation of statistical mistakes and misuses that are intended to persuade readers to be skeptical and to show them how to recognize bullshit when they see it.

By Carl T. Bergstrom, Jevin D. West,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Calling Bullshit as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Bullshit isn’t what it used to be. Now, two science professors give us the tools to dismantle misinformation and think clearly in a world of fake news and bad data.
“A modern classic . . . a straight-talking survival guide to the mean streets of a dying democracy and a global pandemic.”—Wired

Misinformation, disinformation, and fake news abound and it’s increasingly difficult to know what’s true. Our media environment has become hyperpartisan. Science is conducted by press release. Startup culture elevates bullshit to high art. We are fairly well equipped to spot the sort of old-school bullshit that is based…

Book cover of How to Make the World Add Up: Ten Rules for Thinking Differently About Numbers

Rebecca Campbell Author Of How to Teach Economics to Your Dog: A Quirky Introduction

From my list on economics for people who are allergic to algebra.

Why am I passionate about this?

I currently teach in the management department of the London School of Economics, and I often need to communicate economic ideas to non-economists. Honestly, I was very nervous about writing (yet another) book about economics. Especially since there are so many around. Two things made me have a go. I really wanted to convey the key arguments with simplicity, translating often complicated and abstruse ideas into straightforward language in a way that didn’t dumb down. Second the world has changed so much in recent years that you need to keep up to date. Quantitative easing, modern monetary theory, and Bitcoin are ideas that just did not exist until recently. 

Rebecca's book list on economics for people who are allergic to algebra

Rebecca Campbell Why did Rebecca love this book?

All politicians should be forced to read this book. Anyone who reads a newspaper should be forced to read this book. My favourite radio programme in the world is Tim Harford’s More or Less. And this book is every bit as good. Harford is clear, incisive, and always interesting. In a world crowded with disinformation and fake news, he shows you how to evaluate the numbers that are thrown at you. To read him is to become a little cleverer. Make this man prime minister someone.

By Tim Harford,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked How to Make the World Add Up as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Sunday Times Bestseller

'Tim Harford is one of my favourite writers in the world. His storytelling is gripping but never overdone, his intellectual honesty is rare and inspiring, and his ability to make complex things simple - but not simplistic - is exceptional. How to Make the World Add Up is another one of his gems. If you're looking for an addictive pageturner that will make you smarter, this is your book' Rutger Bregman, author of Humankind

'Tim Harford could well be Britain's Malcolm Gladwell'
Alex Bellos, author of Alex's Adventures in Numberland

'If you aren't in love with…

Book cover of The Tiger That Isn't: Seeing Through a World of Numbers

Karen C. Murdarasi Author Of Why Everything You Know about Robin Hood Is Wrong: Featuring a pirate monk, a French maid, and a surprising number of morris dancers

From my list on challenging your preconceptions.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a writer and historian, I’m all about rabbit holes. When something I’ve never heard about before catches my interest, I have to find out more—and sometimes I end up writing whole books on the subject! I have a head full of bizarre little nuggets of information, and I love reading books, like the ones here, that tell me something new and change my way of thinking. 

Karen's book list on challenging your preconceptions

Karen C. Murdarasi Why did Karen love this book?

A book on statistics that is interesting? Yes, actually. And The Tiger that Isn’t is more than just interesting, it’s useful. Maths was never my strong point at school, but even someone who never got the hang of quadratic equations can learn to ask useful questions when faced with bamboozlingly large numbers and dodgy ‘averages’. 

This book offers a way to see through statistics that are used to conceal information as much as to reveal it. It’s worth reading just for the section on rice and random distribution. And the tiger in the title? It’s what happens when you think you see a pattern (in this case, stripes in the undergrowth), but there is no pattern at all. 

By Andrew Dilnot, Michael Blastland,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Tiger That Isn't as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Mathematics scares and depresses most of us, but politicians, journalists and everyone in power use numbers all the time to bamboozle us. Most maths is really simple - as easy as 2+2 in fact. Better still it can be understood without any jargon, any formulas - and in fact not even many numbers. Most of it is commonsense, and by using a few really simple principles one can quickly see when maths, statistics and numbers are being abused to play tricks - or create policies - which can waste millions of pounds. It is liberating to understand when numbers are…

5 book lists we think you will like!

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