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Holiday book gift ideas for the analytically minded

The holidays are nearing, and you may have a person with a quantitative bent on your gift list. Perhaps that person is an analyst, engineer, scientist or statistician who works in an organization that is ramping up its analytic efforts.

Well, here's help with your holiday shopping! It's a list of books that your favorite analytically minded person would likely enjoy.

This has been on my mind because I am often asked about ways to overcome challenges to data-driven decision making in organizations — typically, these challenges are related to people changing behaviors and doing things differently. Every organization will have its own cultural make-up, but getting people to try new things (and expecting some failures) is not easy.

These books will inspire and share some very interesting perspectives on experimentation, influence, cognitive bias and ways to make better decisions:

  • Adapt: Why Success Always Starts with Failure, Tim Harford
  • The Value of Business Analytics: Identifying the Path to Profitability, Evan Stubbs
  • Pulse: Pulse: The New Science of Harnessing Internet Buzz to Track Threats and Opportunities, Douglass W. Hubbard
  • The Failure of Risk Management, Douglass W. Hubbard
  • How to Measure Anything, Douglass W. Hubbard
  • Business Analytics for Managers, Gert Laursen and Jesper Thorlund
  • The New Know: Innovation Powered by Analytics, Thornton May
  • How We Decide, Jonah Lehrer
  • Thinking, Fast and Slow, Daniel Kahneman
  • Outliers: the Story of Success, Malcolm Gladwell
  • Blink: the Power of Thinking Without Thinking, Malcolm Gladwell
  • Influencer: The Power to Change Anything, Kerry Patterson et al.
  • The Wisdom of Crowds, James Surowiecki
  • Competing on Analytics: The New Science of Winning, Thomas Davenport and Jeanne Harris
  • Analytics at Work: Smarter Decisions, Better Results, Thomas Davenport et al.
  • Numbers Rule Your World: The Hidden Influence of Probabilities and Statistics on Everything You Do, Kaiser Fung
  • Now You See It: Simple Visualization Techniques for Quantitative Analysis, Stephen Few
  • Show Me the Numbers: Designing Tables and Graphs to Enlighten, Stephen Few
  • Information Dashboard Design: The Effective Visual Communication of Data, Stephen Few
  • The House Advantage: Playing the Odds to Win Big In Business, Jeffrey Ma
  • The Lady Tasting Tea: How Statistics Revolutionized Science in the Twentieth Century, David Salsburg
  • Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions, Dan Ariely
  • The Upside of Irrationality: The Unexpected Benefits of Defying Logic at Work and at Home, Dan Ariely
  • Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything, Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner
  • SuperFreakonomics: Global Cooling, Patriotic Prostitutes, and Why Suicide Bombers Should Buy Life In..., Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner
  • Super Crunchers: Why Thinking-by-Numbers Is the New Way to Be Smart, Ian Ayres
  • The Numerati, Stephen Baker
  • Business Intelligence Success Factors: Tools for Aligning Your Business in the Global Economy, Olivia Par Rudd
  • Smart Enough Systems: How to Deliver Competitive Advantage by Automating Hidden Decisions, James Taylor and Neil Raden
  • Decision Management Systems: A Practical Guide to Using Business Rules and Predictive Analytics, James Taylor
  • For more on methods and approaches:

    • Handbook of Statistical Analysis and Data Mining Applications, Robert Nisbet, John Elder and Gary Miner
    • Credit Risk Management: Basic Concepts, Bart Baesens and Tony van Gestel
    • Data Mining Techniques: For Marketing, Sales, and Customer Relationship Management, Michael Berry and Gordon Linoff
    • Principles of Data Mining, David Hand et al.
    • Several of these are also are recommended on the International Institute for Analytics website.

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      Cat Truxillo wrote:

      Thanks for the reading list, Anne! My husband makes fun of me for putting statistics textbooks on my Amazon wish list... but perhaps I am in good company.


      Steve Figard wrote:

      This also looks like a list of potential Discovery keynote speakers, for those who haven't done so recently!


      Neil Raden wrote:

      That's a hell of a list. It's sort of humbling that I'm so opinionated yet have read so few of them.



      Michele Lewis Reeves wrote:

      Wow Ann. There's nothing like a great list of books for the 'geeks' in your life... aka "the analytically minded." Thank you for inspiring others to think beyond the traditional gift of socks!

      @ Cat - you are in good company, indeed.


      Evan Stubbs wrote:

      Brilliant list, and not just because I'm on it! :)

      Ever since Amazon launched this Kindle, they've been making a killing out of me. I should buy shares ...


      James Taylor wrote:

      I'd buy some of them but the stack of unread books on my desk would fall over if I did!


      Anne Milley wrote:

      I missed a few books I should've included in this list and colleagues have recommended a few more. I recently saw a sign: "Life is short. Read fast!" Happy Reading and Happy Holidays!

      Proofiness: The Dark Arts of Mathematical Deception, Charles Seife.

      Visual Thinking for Design, Robert Steele

      Analyzing Social Media Networks with NodeXL: Insights from a Connected World, Derek Hanson, Ben Schneiderman, and Marc Smith

      Visualize This: The FlowingData Guide to Design, Visualization, and Statistics, Nathan Yau

      Visual Complexity: Mapping Patterns of Information, Manuel Lima

      For more on methods:

      Large-Scale Inference: Empirical Bayes Methods for Estimation, Testing, and Prediction, Bradley Efron

      Statistics for Business: Decision Making and Analysis, Bob Stine and Dean Foster


      Australia Flag wrote:

      This is good news esp.for friends who really are in business , you gave me an idea. . .might also get one for myself :)


      Gregg Phillips wrote:

      I read another book over the holiday break that I found to be very relevant to analytics folks. It was Moneyball by Michael Lewis, which is probably familiar to everyone as a fairly recently released movie. I think it's relevant to this community not because of the technical detail but as a call to set aside conventional wisdom and question things using new tools and techniques.

      It doesn't hurt that it's also a very well written and engaging book. Whether you have any interest in baseball or not, check it out.