Because most philosophies that frown on reproduction don't survive.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Continuing Education Book Bleg

Back in the heady days of the beginning of this fiscal year (my company's fiscal year runs offset from the calendar year), when I as filling out my annual performance plan, I added a section for "personal and professional development" in which to assign myself to read books. Last year, I'd done this without authorization, and so the assignments were designed to fit my existing reading habits:
At least one book each from each of the following categories:
1) Literature
2) History
3) Philosophy or Theology
4) Science
5) Economics or Mathematics

This year, when I queued up the same performance plan item again, my boss sent it back with the advice that I try to be a bit more "relevant", with the result that I ended up with:
At least one book each from each of the following categories:
1) Economics
2) Mathematics or Statistics
3) Leadership

However, I'm promptly forgot about this less self-indulgent assignment, and so as I near the end of the fiscal year I realize that I've only hit the first of the three.

So, in the interest of not having to give myself a poor assessment on a strictly voluntary performance plan item (though given the show-off-ish nature of the assignment, perhaps it's no more than I deserve) I ask our knowing readers: Do you have any books you would particularly recommend which I could make the case fit 2) or 3)? These certainly don't have to be textbooks, and I'm prepared to make a creative case that something fits one of the requirements. (For instance, I've contemplated reading Machiavelli's The Prince again in order to cover "Leadership", if a better idea doesn't come along.)



Jamie said...

What kind of stats? I've been reading Andrew Gelman's book, Data Analysis Using Regression and Multilevel/Hierarchical Models, and finding it interesting and accessible.

Suzanne Temple said...

An Essay on the Principle of Population for math and stats and St Thomas On Kingship for leadership. That should do it.

Darwin said...

What kind of stats?

Well, I manage a pricing team, so I deal mostly with price elasticity and other forms of basic analysis relating to demand shaping, but my boss knows very little about math, and the point was more to show that I'm keeping my math skills from going rusty, not that I'm doing something directly related to work. (Though relevance could potentially be a plus.)

Ben Espen said...

My favorite stats book of the last year was Breaking the Law of Averages by Matt Briggs. It is really pretty elementary, but it is a nice intro to modern Bayesian methods of statistics.

Nzie (theRosyGardener) said...

For leadership, I'd recommend "A Question of Character: Life Lessons to Learn from Military History." It's not in print but there are really cheap new and used ones on Amazon here.

Basically, this business guy was going around presenting on character as an essential part of successful leadership and accomplishing goals, and he met a military guy who told him that a lot of military leaders demonstrated what he was saying so they teamed up for a book. It's short but definitely interesting and worth a read.

RL said...

For leadership try The One Minute Manager. It will come in handy. Oddly enough He Whose Name Shall Not Be Mentioned (TG) said he was a big fan of the book and that he modeled himself from it. Well, that's what he said anyway. Evidence of it is scant and I'm pretty sure the book doesn't encourage you to be a flaming A-hole either.

Still, a quick and easy read that will be helpful for you and is indisputably a leadership book.

Anonymous said...

The Blackadder Says:

Leadership Secrets of Atilla the Hun.

Anonymous said...

The Blackadder Says:

Oh, and for math, I recommend Logicomix.

Brandon said...

They aren't math books as such (being as much history and philosophy), but all of the following are interesting:

David Corfield, Philosophy of Real Mathematics

Ian Hacking, An Introduction to Probability and Inductive Logic

James Franklin, The Science of Conjecture

If you haven't read the third, I suspect you'd like it; it's a survey of the historical origins of probability and statistical concepts in mathematics. The first has more to do with attempting to characterize precisely what it is that pure mathematicians actually do, and the second is pretty much what it says on the tin.

As for (3), it's in some ways a fairly typical business memoir, and may be out of print by now, but

Donald Petersen & John Hillkirk, A Better Idea

isn't too bad.

TS said...

For leadership, something by Jimmy Carter would suffice, seeing as how you'd know what not to do.

Anonymous said...

I think the reading lists for the Navy and Coast Guard are intriguing. Lotsa leadership development items:

Anonymous said...

Dava Sobel's book "Longitude: The True Story of a Lone Genius Who Solved the Greatest Scientific Problem of His Time" might fit into your Mathematics and Statistics category. It's the story of the clockmaker who created the first instrument to accurately measure longitude.