100 books like Innumeracy

By John Allen Paulos,

Here are 100 books that Innumeracy fans have personally recommended if you like Innumeracy. Shepherd is a community of 11,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything

Martin Sternstein Author Of Barron's AP Statistics

From my list on statistical insights into social issues.

Why am I passionate about this?

I taught for 45 years at Ithaca College broken by two years as Fulbright Professor in West Africa at the University of Liberia. During my years in academia, I developed several new courses including a popular “Math in Africa” class and the first U.S. course for college credit in chess theory. I’ve always had a passion for and continue to have strong interests in (1) national educational and social issues concerning equal access to math education for all and (2) teaching others about the power of mathematics and statistics to help one more deeply understand social issues.

Martin's book list on statistical insights into social issues

Martin Sternstein Why did Martin love this book?

Steven Levitt, Professor of Economics at the University of Chicago, has written a thoughtful book at the layperson level to help one understand how mathematical and economic tools provide insights into sensitive social issues from racism to abortion.

He delves into predicting the long-term consequences of short-term decisions. This book is not intended for the college classroom, and it is controversial, but I found it to be a fascinating read.

By Steven D. Levitt, Stephen J. Dubner,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked Freakonomics as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The legendary bestseller that made millions look at the world in a radically different way returns in a new edition, now including an exclusive discussion between the authors and bestselling professor of psychology Angela Duckworth.

Which is more dangerous, a gun or a swimming pool? Which should be feared more: snakes or french fries? Why do sumo wrestlers cheat? In this groundbreaking book, leading economist Steven Levitt—Professor of Economics at the University of Chicago and winner of the American Economic Association’s John Bates Clark medal for the economist under 40 who has made the greatest contribution to the discipline—reveals that…


Book cover of Against the Gods: The Remarkable Story of Risk

Michael Smithson Author Of Uncertainty and Risk: Multidisciplinary Perspectives

From my list on ignorance, uncertainty, and risk.

Why am I passionate about this?

My interest in ignorance and uncertainty was sparked when I was an undergraduate mathematics student. I was taking my first courses in probability and then reading about Gödel’s incompleteness theorem, realizing that even mathematics contains untamed unknowns. Later, as a PhD student in sociology I read theories about how knowledge is socially constructed, the foundation of the “sociology of knowledge”. I wondered why there wasn’t also a “sociology of ignorance”. That ignited my interest, and the social construction of ignorance became my life-long research topic. I have since seen it grow from my solo efforts in the 1980s to a flourishing multidisciplinary topic of research and public debate.  

Michael's book list on ignorance, uncertainty, and risk

Michael Smithson Why did Michael love this book?

This was a real eye-opener for me when it appeared, because instead of the usual strictly modern-day stories about risk, Bernstein’s story begins with ancient Greek traditions when “risk” was luck and restricted to gambling, and the rest of life was a matter of fate.

He weaves together the invention of Arabic numbering and the Hindu zero, the emergence of scientific experimental methods, and the invention of probability theory, in explaining the evolution of the notion of risk. 

As the story moves into the modern era, Bernstein tracks the major practical applications of risk in addition to its conceptual development. And this is no dry historical recitation. Bernstein brings to life the major players, their hopes, dreams, capabilities, and flaws. This book is an absolute page-turner. 

By Peter L. Bernstein,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Against the Gods as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A Business Week, New York Times Business, and USA Today Bestseller "Ambitious and readable ...an engaging introduction to the oddsmakers, whom Bernstein regards as true humanists helping to release mankind from the choke holds of superstition and fatalism." -The New York Times "An extraordinarily entertaining and informative book." -The Wall Street Journal "A lively panoramic book ...Against the Gods sets up an ambitious premise and then delivers on it." -Business Week "Deserves to be, and surely will be, widely read." -The Economist "[A] challenging book, one that may change forever the way people think about the world." -Worth "No one…


Book cover of How to Lie with Statistics

Bastiaan C. van Fraassen Author Of Philosophy and Science of Risk: An Introduction

From my list on exploring the meaning of probability and risk.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve wanted to be a philosopher since I read Plato’s Phaedo when I was 17, a new immigrant in Canada. Since then, I’ve been fascinated with time, space, and quantum mechanics and involved in the great debates about their mysteries. I saw probability coming into play more and more in curious roles both in the sciences and in practical life. These five books led me on an exciting journey into the history of probability, the meaning of risk, and the use of probability to assess the possibility of harm. I was gripped, entertained, illuminated, and often amazed at what I was discovering. 

Bastiaan's book list on exploring the meaning of probability and risk

Bastiaan C. van Fraassen Why did Bastiaan love this book?

I am laughing out loud, even now that I am rereading this book for the umpteenth time. Fraudsters are so clever, and so is advertising. And then there is sloppy journalism with its “wow” statistics.

I like his book enormously, not least because of its witty illustrations. It is subversive, comic, and provocative, and it makes me wise to seductive, misleading practices–and it does so with a light touch.

By Darrell Huff, Irving Geis (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked How to Lie with Statistics as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From distorted graphs and biased samples to misleading averages, there are countless statistical dodges that lend cover to anyone with an ax to grind or a product to sell. With abundant examples and illustrations, Darrell Huff's lively and engaging primer clarifies the basic principles of statistics and explains how they're used to present information in honest and not-so-honest ways. Now even more indispensable in our data-driven world than it was when first published, How to Lie with Statistics is the book that generations of readers have relied on to keep from being fooled.


Book cover of Naked Statistics: Stripping the Dread from the Data

Martin Sternstein Author Of Barron's AP Statistics

From my list on statistical insights into social issues.

Why am I passionate about this?

I taught for 45 years at Ithaca College broken by two years as Fulbright Professor in West Africa at the University of Liberia. During my years in academia, I developed several new courses including a popular “Math in Africa” class and the first U.S. course for college credit in chess theory. I’ve always had a passion for and continue to have strong interests in (1) national educational and social issues concerning equal access to math education for all and (2) teaching others about the power of mathematics and statistics to help one more deeply understand social issues.

Martin's book list on statistical insights into social issues

Martin Sternstein Why did Martin love this book?

Statistics is shown to be anything but dry in this book, as using wit, intuition, and clarity, the author shows how statistical concepts relate to everyday life.

He is able to separate important ideas from overly technical details, hence the title, Naked Statistics. I took many of his approaches to heart in my teaching. Wheelan gives many examples of how using readily available data yields deep inferences about the world we live in.

By Charles Wheelan,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Once considered tedious, the field of statistics is rapidly evolving into a discipline Hal Varian, chief economist at Google, has actually called "sexy." From batting averages and political polls to game shows and medical research, the real-world application of statistics continues to grow by leaps and bounds. How can we catch schools that cheat on standardized tests? How does Netflix know which movies you'll like? What is causing the rising incidence of autism? As best-selling author Charles Wheelan shows us in Naked Statistics, the right data and a few well-chosen statistical tools can help us answer these questions and more.…


Book cover of Why Most Things Fail: Evolution, Extinction and Economics

Gerald Ashley Author Of Two Speed World: The impact of explosive and gradual change - its effect on you and everything else

From my list on decisions bloody decisions.

Why am I passionate about this?

With a long background in international banking and finance I am an advisor, writer, and speaker on behavioural risk, disruptive change & decision making. My primary interest is in understanding the decision making and risk taking processes of people and organisations, and how we can make better decisions and take more profitable risks. In addition, much of my research and work concentrates on how to understand emerging trends in business; and how our own biases and behaviours affect the way we either succeed or fail in new environments.

Gerald's book list on decisions bloody decisions

Gerald Ashley Why did Gerald love this book?

A depressing title? No not really.

Ormerod has written an entertaining and informative book on the complexity of systems, organisations, and human behaviour. Using many examples, he shows how even dominant organisations can falter and wither away.

He is particularly interesting about the nature of failure, and whether through small increases in better judgement and decision making, organisations can in fact continue to prosper.

By Paul Ormerod,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Why Most Things Fail as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

With the same originality and astuteness that marked his widely praised Butterfly Economics, Paul Ormerod now examines the “Iron Law of Failure” as it applies to business and government–and explains what can be done about it.

“Failure is all around us,” asserts Ormerod. For every General Electric–still going strong after more than one hundred years–there are dozens of businesses like Central Leather, which was one of the world’s largest companies in 1912 but was liquidated in 1952. Ormerod debunks conventional economic theory–that the world economy ticks along in perfect equilibrium according to the best-laid plans of business and government–and delves…


Book cover of Critical Mass: How One Thing Leads to Another

Gerald Ashley Author Of Two Speed World: The impact of explosive and gradual change - its effect on you and everything else

From my list on decisions bloody decisions.

Why am I passionate about this?

With a long background in international banking and finance I am an advisor, writer, and speaker on behavioural risk, disruptive change & decision making. My primary interest is in understanding the decision making and risk taking processes of people and organisations, and how we can make better decisions and take more profitable risks. In addition, much of my research and work concentrates on how to understand emerging trends in business; and how our own biases and behaviours affect the way we either succeed or fail in new environments.

Gerald's book list on decisions bloody decisions

Gerald Ashley Why did Gerald love this book?

A long and detailed account of the role of science in our decision making.

Ball demonstrates a sure touch over a myriad of topics, whether it be what causes traffic jams, the behaviour of gas particles, or the best way to design fire exits. The author has a deep and wide understanding of science and is able to share this knowledge with many real-life examples.

Whilst not a light read it is well written and opens up the reader to a far wider way of thinking about how “the real world” acts and reacts.


By Philip Ball,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Is there a 'physics of society'? Philip Ball's investigation into human nature ranges from Hobbes and Adam Smith to modern work on traffic flow and market trading, across economics, sociology and psychology. Ball shows how much of human behaviour we can understand when we cease trying to predict and analyse the behaviour of individuals and look to the impact of hundreds, thousands or millions of individual human decisions, in circumstances in which human beings both co-operate and conflict, when their aggregate behaviour is constructive and when it is destructive. By perhaps Britain's leading young science writer, this is a deeply…


Book cover of The Origin Of Wealth: Evolution, Complexity, and the Radical Remaking of Economics

Gerald Ashley Author Of Two Speed World: The impact of explosive and gradual change - its effect on you and everything else

From my list on decisions bloody decisions.

Why am I passionate about this?

With a long background in international banking and finance I am an advisor, writer, and speaker on behavioural risk, disruptive change & decision making. My primary interest is in understanding the decision making and risk taking processes of people and organisations, and how we can make better decisions and take more profitable risks. In addition, much of my research and work concentrates on how to understand emerging trends in business; and how our own biases and behaviours affect the way we either succeed or fail in new environments.

Gerald's book list on decisions bloody decisions

Gerald Ashley Why did Gerald love this book?

A fascinating look at Complexity Science and so-called self-organising systems and how they contribute to wealth creation.

This a rather long, and maybe slightly daunting, book. A criticism might be that the author is long winded in some of his detailed examination of new themes and ideas in economics. However, at the heart of the book is the desire to understand how real people, make real decisions in the real world.

By Eric Beinhocker,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Origin Of Wealth as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Economics is changing radically. This paradigm shift, the biggest in the field for over a century, will have profound implications for business, government and society for decades to come.

In this groundbreaking book, economic thinker and writer Eric Beinhocker surveys the cutting-edge ideas of the leading economists, physicists, biologists and cognitive scientists who are fundamentally reshaping economics, and brings their work alive for a broad audience.

These researchers argue that the economy is a 'complex adaptive system', more akin to the brain, the internet or an ecosystem than to the static picture of economic systems portrayed by traditional theory. They…


Book cover of The Cartoon Guide to Statistics

Martin Sternstein Author Of Barron's AP Statistics

From my list on statistical insights into social issues.

Why am I passionate about this?

I taught for 45 years at Ithaca College broken by two years as Fulbright Professor in West Africa at the University of Liberia. During my years in academia, I developed several new courses including a popular “Math in Africa” class and the first U.S. course for college credit in chess theory. I’ve always had a passion for and continue to have strong interests in (1) national educational and social issues concerning equal access to math education for all and (2) teaching others about the power of mathematics and statistics to help one more deeply understand social issues.

Martin's book list on statistical insights into social issues

Martin Sternstein Why did Martin love this book?

This book is kind of a fun crash course in statistics which covers all the basic concepts at an introductory level.

The cartoons are a little bit dated, but still entertaining. There are lots of pictures and graphs which are a pleasure if you are a visual learner. The reader will come away with many useful tools to help understand real world problems.

I’m a retired math professor, but still got a real kick out of this book and especially appreciated the many good examples referenced such as gender discrimination in salaries and racial discrimination in jury selection. I recommended it to many of my struggling students.

By Larry Gonick, Woollcott Smith,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Cartoon Guide to Statistics as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Updated version featuring all new material. If you have ever looked for P-values by shopping at P mart, tried to watch the Bernoulli Trails on "People's Court," or think that the standard deviation is a criminal offense in six states, then you need The Cartoon Guide to Statistics to put you on the road to statistical literacy. The Cartoon Guide to Statistics covers all the central ideas of modern statistics: the summary and display of data, probability in gambling and medicine, random variables, Bernoulli Trails, the Central Limit Theorem, hypothesis testing, confidence interval estimation, and much more-all explained in simple,…


Book cover of Power in Numbers: The Rebel Women of Mathematics

Jo Boaler Author Of Math-ish: Finding Creativity, Diversity, and Meaning in Mathematics

From my list on women rocking math and science.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm a British writer, (though I now live and work in California) and a Stanford professor who is passionate about helping everyone know they have endless potential and that math is a subject of creativity, connections, and beautiful ideas. I spend time battling against math elitism, systemic racism, and the other barriers that have stopped women and people of color from going forward in STEM. I am the cofounder of youcubed, a site that inspires millions of educators and their students, with creative mathematics and mindset messages. I've also made a math app, designed to help students feel good about struggling, called Struggly.com. I love to write books that help people develop their mathematical superpowers!

Jo's book list on women rocking math and science

Jo Boaler Why did Jo love this book?

This is a beautiful book filled with glossy color photos, that would be a lovely gift for any girl or woman interested in mathematics, or really, any human.

Inside the book are the “rebel women” who have specialized in mathematics (and yes it seems you still need to be a rebel to succeed in this male-dominated field). I learned so much about the mathematics the women studied and created, as well as the ways they battled for recognition to be able to contribute to mathematics.

The book is filled with powerful and creative mathematics produced by inspirational women.

By Talithia Williams,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Power in Numbers as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From rocket scientists to code breakers, discover the incredibly inspiring stories of more than 30 women who fought through the obstacles, shattered the stereotypes, and embraced their STEM passions.

Prepare to be inspired. With more than 200 photos and original interviews with several of the amazing women covered, Power in Numbers: The Rebel Women of Mathematics is a full-color volume that takes aim at the forgotten influence of women on the development of mathematics over the last two millennia.

Each biography reveals the amazing life of a different female mathematician, from her childhood and early influences, to the obstacles she…


Book cover of Insights of Genius: Imagery and Creativity in Science and Art

Tom McLeish Author Of The Poetry and Music of Science: Comparing Creativity in Science and Art

From my list on creativity in science and art.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have worked in scientific research and teaching for over 30 years, and maintained a love of art and music as well, but am saddened when I hear statements, especially from high-school pupils, that ‘there is no room for creativity or imagination in science.’ Like all working scientists, I know that imagination is the most important faculty for a scientist. The Poetry and Music of Science is my project to tease out the creative threads in the scientific process, and also to find the buried pathways that link science with the arts and humanities. The journey of discovery has been full of surprises and delights for me.

Tom's book list on creativity in science and art

Tom McLeish Why did Tom love this book?

Visual representations are not the only pathway to creative acts in art and science, but they are responsible for large territories of creativity – including, and surprisingly, the mathematical. Arthur Miller shows how ‘seeing the unseen’ becomes possible from atoms to the conservation of energy in science, and from modernism to cubism in art. The book itself is as visually striking as its contents and helped me to think through why the visual metaphor – ‘Oh, I see!’ – becomes the standard description of the moment of insight.

By Arthur I. Miller,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Here, distinguished science historian Arthur I. Miller delves into the connections between modern art and modern physics. He takes us on a wide-ranging study to demonstrate that scientists and artists have a common aim: a visual interpretation of both the visible and invisible aspects of nature. Along the way, we encounter the philosophy of mind and language, cognitive science and neurophysiology in our search for the origins and meaning of visual imagery.
At a time when the media are overeager to portray science as a godless, dehumanising exercise undermining the very fabric of society, this sixth book by Professor Miller…


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