Best Of Book Bits 2021: Part I

2021 has been full of surprises, for good and ill, but the stream of new books this year didn’t disappoint. Before we turn the calendar, let’s roll out a quick recap of highlights from’s weekly Book Bits column over the past 12 months. Here are ten titles from the archives in 2021 – titles that for one reason or another caught your editor’s eye. Five today, with another five on Jan. 1. Happy reading!

Noise: A Flaw in Human Judgment
Daniel Kahneman, et al.
Summary via publisher (Little, Brown Spark)
In Noise, Daniel Kahneman, Olivier Sibony, and Cass R. Sunstein show the detrimental effects of noise in many fields, including medicine, law, economic forecasting, forensic science, bail, child protection, strategy, performance reviews, and personnel selection. Wherever there is judgment, there is noise. Yet, most of the time, individuals and organizations alike are unaware of it. They neglect noise. With a few simple remedies, people can reduce both noise and bias, and so make far better decisions. Packed with original ideas, and offering the same kinds of research-based insights that made Thinking, Fast and Slow and Nudge groundbreaking New York Times bestsellers, Noise explains how and why humans are so susceptible to noise in judgment—and what we can do about it.

The Ten Equations That Rule the World: And How You Can Use Them Too
David Sumpter
Summary via publisher (Flatiron Books/Macmillan)
Is there a secret formula for getting rich? For going viral? For deciding how long to stick with your current job, Netflix series, or even relationship? This book is all about the equations that make our world go round. Ten of them, in fact. They are integral to everything from investment banking to betting companies and social media giants. And they can help you to increase your chance of success, guard against financial loss, live more healthfully, and see through scaremongering. They are known by only the privileged few – until now… mathematician David Sumpter shows that it isn’t the technical details that make these formulas so successful. It is the way they allow mathematicians to view problems from a different angle – a way of seeing the world that anyone can learn.

The Data Detective: Ten Easy Rules to Make Sense of Statistics
Tim Harford
Review via The Wall Street Journal
Data, when used to reveal the value of hospital hygiene or the harm of tobacco smoke, can be a vital force for good, as Tim Harford reminds us in “The Data Detective.” But the very power of statistics—the “unreasonable effectiveness of data,” as three Google scientists put it—has also prompted a backlash, particularly as we’ve become aware of the potential for both honest confusion and deliberate abuse.
Mr. Harford, a British economist and journalist, hopes to persuade us not to give up on data, urging us to embrace thoughtful skepticism and avoid easy cynicism. As he expertly guides us through the many ways in which data can trick us, we see how difficult such an effort can be.

Strategic Risk Management: Designing Portfolios and Managing Risk
Campbell R. Harvey, et al.
Interview with co-author (Sandy Rattray) via HedgeWeek
Rattray – who has co-authored a new book on strategic risk management along with Man Group strategy advisor Professor Campbell Harvey, and Otto Van Hemert, director of core strategies at quant-focused Man AHL – believes the upheaval of the past 12 months have rendered tail event predictions “nearly impossible.”
Their new book, titled Strategic Risk Management: Designing Portfolios and Managing Risk, explores how risk management should be incorporated into the core design of investment portfolios, and examines how portfolio balancing and balanced return streams can be achieved through volatility targeting of higher-risk asset classes, and which defensive strategies offer capital protection.

Capital Allocators: How the world’s elite money managers lead and invest
Ted Seides
Review via fin|news
Ted Seides wanted to pen an investment book that he would have kept on his desk as he went through his investment career.
The investor and host of the Capital Allocators podcast believes he has done just that with his second book, Capital Allocators: How the World’s Elite Money Managers Lead and Invest…
The book’s content was borne from the insights and best practices of guests appearing on Seides’ podcast, which began as a few friends talking with no particular objective in mind and has turned into an industry-acclaimed must-listen for many.
“One thing led to another, and now it’s four years later, five million downloads and 200 conversations. I wanted to take some of the best lessons and put them down on paper,” said Seides, the former president and co-cio of hedge fund-of-funds Protégé Partners who also worked under CIO David Swensen at Yale University’s investments office.

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