A couple of non-fiction books I've read recently ... 1. "Beautiful Evidence" by Edward R. Tufte <http://www.amazon.com/Beautiful-Evidence-Tufte/dp/0961392177> Another interesting look at the presentation of information by Edward Tufte. It brings together a lot of his earlier research, with the focus on how to present "beautiful evidence". He draws examples from art and science over the past centuries, from Galileo and Newton to the modern day. There's an interesting critique of how Microsoft PowerPoint corrupts the very information it is used to present. He cites the example of how PowerPoint slides adversely affected the assessment of the damage to the space shuttle Columbia on launch. Excerpts from the book are available on the author's web site: <http://www.edwardtufte.com/tufte/powerpoint> <http://www.edwardtufte.com/bboard/q-and-a-fetch-msg?msg_id=0001yB&topic_id=1> 2. "Naked Economics: Undressing the Dismal Science" by Charles Wheelan <http://www.amazon.com/Naked-Economics/dp/0393324869> Yet another book on economics. I've been reading a few books on the subject lately, if only to reassure myself that the subject I learnt and enjoyed at Uni has been corrupted and perverted by modern politicians. This book tackles the basics: how markets work, and also how they can fail. It looks at the role of incentives, human capital, trade and the supply of money. The goal is to make economics accessible to the average person, and I think it succeeds quite well without getting overly political. There's a great discussion on the goals of real estate agents. You would think that since they get a percentage of the final sale price, agents would always try to get the highest price for their client. Not necessarily so, since working for a higher price will take time, and prevents the agent from selling more properties. So turnover is more profitable for them, but that conflicts with the objective of the individual sellers. Another standout for me was that the book reminded me of the "Efficient market hypothesis": <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Efficient_market_hypothesis> It "states that it is not possible to consistently outperform the market by using any information that the market already knows, except through luck. Information or news in the EMH is defined as anything that may affect prices that is unknowable in the present and thus appears randomly in the future." If this is true, then all those stock market analysts are are effectively gambling other people's money in a global casino. Unless they have access to special (inside? information, they appear to be just riding hunches. Read the article for a critique. If you want to start reading about economics (the so-called "dismal science", this is a good start. Here are a couple more interesting books: * "Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything" by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner <http://www.amazon.com/Freakonomics/dp/0061234001> Looks at the economics of the unusual, such as gangs, Sumo wrestling, the Ku Klux Klan, the naming of children and those sneaky real estate agents. * "The Undercover Economist: Exposing Why the Rich Are Rich, the Poor Are Poor--and Why You Can Never Buy a Decent Used Car!" by Tim Harford <http://www.amazon.com/Undercover-Economist/dp/0195189779> Looks at the price of coffee, used cars, health insurance and how supermarkets price products. More focussed on the everyday things, it also ties everything together a bit more than Freakonomics. Like "Naked Economics", the book also covers the wider economy as a whole.