This is a list of books that I enjoyed reading recently. The order does not represent anything.

The Passions and the Interests

By Albert O. Hirschman

Hirschman surveys the literature on capitalism during its beginning stages and ends in the 18th century with Adam Smith. The main proposition is that humans have a passion for tyranny and through a capitalist system, they recognize their mutual interest to accumulate wealth through commerce. This shift from tyrannizing others to tyranny over your bank account is what makes the capitalist system work and evolve out of feudalism. Although this is an interesting survey and starting point for understanding capitalism, it is not very clear what Hirschman wants to point out in this book. He does not really provide his own opinion on the matter and does not even critically assess the claims of other intellectuals.


By Aristotle, translated by Carnes Lord

Aristotle continues the quest for the best form of political structure that Plato started in Politics. In the first third of the book, he is reviewing different political structures that he is familiar with, either before his time or in some important contemporary cities/regions. He points out their strengths and weaknesses and moves on to represent his own political system that he calls polity. The translation is a bit difficult to read since Lord tried to stick to the Greek language as possible, and hence, the sentences became long and complicated. Overall, this is a more practical look at politics than other Greek philosophers, mainly Plato.

What I Learned Losing a Million Dollars

By Jim Paul and Brendan Moynihan

People always looking for making money in the stocks/bonds markets. You can read many books and learn techniques about how to do it. Most are written by those who made a lot of money and wrote about how they did it. After a while, you realize most of these techniques are contradictory! What people do not realize is how much you can learn from someone who lost a lot of money in the market and what types of mistakes they made. This book tells the story of a man who lost a million dollars in the market and what mistakes he made about himself and his approach to making money in the market.


By Plato

Plato presents his political philosophy in The Republic in a somehow theoretical and abstract form. In Laws, he attempts to put those theories to work and provide practical laws and regulations to achieve his idea of the city-state. He represents each law in two layers. The first is the letter of the law, and the second is the spirit of the law and why this law is needed, and how it ensures that “justice” is held up. The representation of some laws is better than others and the reader can see clearly that Plato fails to provide sensible laws and regulations on certain topics such as trade and education.

True Detective and Philosophy: A Deeper Kind of Darkness

Edited by Jacob Graham, Tom Sparrow, and William Irwin

The first two seasons of True Detective deal with various modern ailments. Each has its own storyline and set of actors and my own favorite is the first season. There are many moving parts to the first season, but it boils down to the evolution of a friendship between two partners and how various events in their personal and work lives changed them. Nietzsche is present in many dialogues and most of the essays in the book deal with that. Essays deal with questions such as Why Life Rather Than Death? Cosmic Horror and Hopeful Pessimism, the Illusion of Self, Noir, Tragedy, Philosopher-Detectives, and so on.

Seinfeld and Philosophy: A Book About Everything and Nothing

Edited by William Irwin

This is the first book of the pop culture and philosophy series which focuses on the philosophical aspects of one of the most popular tv shows of all time. The book first covers the fur characters of the show and how different philosophers think about them, and then covers the topics that were highlighted in the show. For instance, how would Aristotle think about George, Is Elaine a feminist, how would Wittgenstein react to the show’s focus on the commonplace, and so on. 

Harry Potter and Philosophy: if Aristotle Ran Hogwarts

Edited by David Baggett, Shawn Klein, and William Irwin

This book is part of the pop culture and philosophy series that explores the philosophical viewpoints in popular movies, tv shows, and icons since the late 1980s. All these books are a collection of essays in which authors focus on some aspects of the topic at hand. In this book on Harry Potter, the authors investigate topics such as good vs evil, courage, self-deception (Dursleys), magic vs science, and so on. I immensely enjoyed reading this book given my love for philosophy and fiction.

The Republic

By Plato

This book is the main book written by Plato about his political philosophy. The book consists of twelve books and Socrates is having dialogues with others about different notions in political philosophy. It is not clear whether these are actual dialogues by Socrates or Plato is using him to represent his own ideas. The main question is “what is justice?”. To answer this, Socrates describes how a society or city-state has to be designed in terms of different classes of people, their education and upbringing, their roles and actions that they can take, and so on. He claims that deviating from this structure is injustice. The idea of the “philosopher-king” is presented as someone with the knowledge to stir the ship of state and rule the people. Later philosophers such as Karl Popper criticized Plato on a lot of points in The Republic. Nevertheless, this book remains a classic on ancient political philosophy.

Fooled by Randomness

By Nassim Nicholas Taleb

This is the first book in the Incerto series by Taleb. He is fresh out of trading and his Ph.D. studies, and he has seen how traders trade and how academics think traders trade. He basically presents all of his subsequent ideas such as Black Swan and Antifragility in this book. The aim of the book is mainly to criticize modern finance using his experience as a pit trader.

Ideology and Method in Economics

By Homa Katouzian

This book presents several short essays on the methodological basis of modern economic theory. The reader needs a background in the philosophy of science and economic theory in order to understand the arguments put forth in the book. There are two arguments. First, many economic theories are not testable or empirical tests about them are far away from what empirical tests look like in natural sciences. Therefore, the methodology for social sciences is not the same as the one for natural sciences, even though economists may pretend that it is. Second, the scientific method may not be the best method to study questions in social sciences. The first economists such as Adam Smith certainly did not look at economics as natural science. As economic theory filled with mathematics after World War II, the illusion of economics as a science resembling the natural sciences grew.

Soren Kierkegaard - Subjectivity, Irony, and the Crisis of Modernity

By Jon Stewart

In this book, Stewart aims to present Kierkegaard’s work as an extension of Socrates’ philosophy applied to modernity and Christianity. Most Kierkegaard scholars often ignore his Master’s thesis which was published later under the name “The Concept of Irony”. Stewart emphasizes that this thesis initiated the intellectual work of Kierkegaard when he applied the Socratic Irony to modern problems of his age, especially Christian practices in his time.

Skin in the Game

By Nassim Nicholas Taleb

In the final book in the Incerto series, Taleb aims to connect asymmetry to legal/ethical domains and show how shifts in risk from one party to another can weaken social structures and create agencies that look useful on the surface but are ultimately harmful and defeating their own purposes.

On Liberty

By John Stewart Mill

In this book, Mill presents his argument about an individual’s freedom against the “majority”, whether that majority is the central government or the other members of society. His main argument is that the sovereignty of an individual constitutes freedom in thought, action, and possession unless this freedom brings harm to others. His arguments on personal freedom were later propagated in the United States.


By Chris Arnade

This book takes the reader on a journey through the forgotten and “back row” towns in the U.S. Chris started by documenting the problem of addiction in the Bronx using photography after he quit his job on Wall Street. He then continued to travel through the country, from California to Ohio, and documented drug problems, faith, respect, and community among poor and forgotten people in the U.S. that are not represented in media.

Anaerobics - Destruction & Reconstruction

By Mark Baker

This book offers a practical approach to fitness and diet based on the premise of the antifragility of the human body. The author was a professional runner, and he describes his perspective on fitness and diet from a practical point of view. It is quite amusing and blunt, which I prefer, and helped me with developing a habit of intermittent fasting and weight lifting.

Happy Accidents: Serendipity in Major Medical Breakthroughs in the Twentieth Century

By Morton Meyers MD

This book surveys the history of medical discoveries. The central premise is that almost all the breakthroughs in medicine were a result of accidental discoveries of drugs, and procedures that became mainstream treatments later on. These discoveries were a result of curious doctors working on specific issues on their own, not by the modern structure of research grants given to specific proposals by specialized committees. A notable example of the failure of the modern approach to medical discoveries is the war on cancer.

The Bed of Procrustes: Philosophical and Practical Aphorisms

By Nassim Nicholas Taleb

The title says it all. It is always fun for me to see who gets offended by which aphorism.

Antifragile: Things That Gain from Disorder

By Nassim Nicholas Taleb

This book, which follows The Black Swan, is the core book of Taleb’s “Incerto” series. He introduces a new concept, antifragility, and explains it through anecdotes and historical events in multiple areas such as financial markets, health, and medical care, politics, moral philosophy, etc.

The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable

By Nassim Nicholas Taleb

This book is the first book I read written by Taleb (not the first he wrote). The concept of a black swan (an unknown unknown that changes everything forever once becomes known, and its impact is rationalized away as predictable after the fact) is presented using anecdotes and a bit of math. He starts his argument about phenomena under thin tail vs fat tail distributions in this book and builds on this dichotomy later on in his subsequent books.

12 rules for life: An Antidote to Chaos

By Jordan Peterson

How to deal with the stress of chaos in life and how to get rid of stagnation caused by order? This book uses historical anecdotes and psychological theories (mainly by Jung) to offer the reader a different perspective about how to conduct one’s life, deal with difficulty, set goals and achieve them, etc. Although each person may not like everything in the book, I find it, in general, useful to read and think about.

Mindhunter: Inside the FBI's Elite Serial Crime Unit

By John E. Douglas

True crime coupled with the study of extremely disturbed individuals is the subject of this book. John Douglas started the “behavioral analysis unit” in the FBI with his emphasis on understanding criminal activity by studying criminal behavior, which was revolutionary at the time.