Nassim Taleb Reading ListThere are two places I was able to put together a Nassim Taleb Reading List:

  1. Nassim is a active in leaving Amazon reviews for his favorite books. I went through the entire list and dug out the 5-star reviews.
  2. Nassim used to have a list of books he recommended on his personal website. That has since been deleted. Thankfully, with the help of The Way Back Machine, I was able to access the entire archived list.

Nassim Taleb Reading List | 5-Star Amazon Reviews

Nasim Taleb posted his first Amazon review in 1999 and has been active ever since. Below are the books he ranked 5-stars, a long with his review.

Idea Makers: Personal Perspectives on the Lives & Ideas of Some Notable People by Stephen Wolfram

“The Real Thing, a Jewel”

The Secret of Fatima by Peter J. Tanous

“James Bond as a Catholic Priest”

Collected Fictions by Jorge Luis Borges

“How literature and philosophy can be saved by parables”

The Science of Conjecture: Evidence and Probability before Pascal by James Franklin

“Stands above, way above other books on the history and philosophy of probability”

Birth of a Theorem: A Mathematical Adventure by Cedric Villani

“A gem: how to go from the abstract to the abstract in a playful way. There is no book like it.”

1,000 Foods To Eat Before You Die: A Food Lover’s Life List by Mimi Sheraton

“This is THE reference book”

Modern Aramaic-English/English-Modern Aramaic Dictionary & Phrasebook: Assyrian/Syriac by Nicholas Awde

“Aramaic Alive”

The Tyranny of Experts: Economists, Dictators, and the Forgotten Rights of the Poor by William Easterly

“Nobody asked them if they would rather get respect and no aid rather than aid and no respect.”

Modelling Extremal Events: for Insurance and Finance by Paul Embrechts


The Kelly Capital Growth Investment Criterion: Theory and Practice by Edward O. Thorp

“Finally, a compendium of the most rigorous research (gamblers ruin based) on risky decisions”

A Few Lessons from Sherlock Holmes by Peter Bevelin

“A Guide to Both Wisdom and Sherlock Holmes”

Probability, Random Variables and Stochastic Processes by Athanasios Papoulis

“Found no substitute for a difficult subject”

Mathematics: Its Content, Methods and Meaning (3 Volumes in One) by A. D. Aleksandrov, A. N. Kolmogorov, M. A. Lavrent’ev

“The model book”

Probability Theory by S. R. S. Varadhan

“A gem”

Models.Behaving.Badly.: Why Confusing Illusion with Reality Can Lead to Disaster, on Wall Street and in Life by Emanuel Derman

“Original, Personal, Deep,”

Body by Science: A Research Based Program for Strength Training, Body building, and Complete Fitness in 12 Minutes a Week by John Little, Doug McGuff

“An eye opener”

The Hour Between Dog and Wolf: Risk Taking, Gut Feelings and the Biology of Boom and Bust by John Coates

“Excellent exposition of overcompensation”

The Opposing Shore by Julien Gracq

“The Masterpiece”

Bull by the Horns: Fighting to Save Main Street from Wall Street and Wall Street from Itself by Sheila Bair

“A Real Person in Washington: guts & truth”

Information: The New Language of Science by Hans Christian von Baeyer

“Probability From the Front Door: Information Theory”

Free The Animal: Lose Weight & Fat With The Paleo Diet (aka The Caveman Diet) V2 by Richard Nikoley

“charming and motivating”

The Blank Swan: The End of Probability – by Elie Ayache

“A Fresh Perspective- Standing the problem on its head”

Explaining Social Behavior: More Nuts and Bolts for the Social Sciences Revised ed. by Jon Elster

“Simply the best: read it at least twice”

The Discovery of France: A Historical Geography from the Revolution to the First World War by Graham Robb

“An answer to so many questions”

Good Calories, Bad Calories: Challenging the Conventional Wisdom on Diet, Weight Control, and Disease Hardcover by Gary Taubes

“A True Empiricist, A True Scientist”

Seeking Wisdom: From Darwin to Munger by Peter Bevelin

“A wonderful, very very rich book!”

The Doctrine of Deification in the Greek Patristic Tradition (Oxford Early Christian Studies) by Norman Russell

“The Most Complete Overview of Theosis”

Statistical Models: Theory and Practice by David Freedman

“The Best Statistics Book I’ve Seen”

Happy Accidents: Serendipity in Modern Medical Breakthroughs by Morton A. Meyers

“From Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s Notebook: Please Please READ This Book! Read it TWICE!”

Financial Derivatives: Pricing, Applications, and Mathematics by Jamil Baz

“Glad I found it”

Thinking and Deciding by Jonathan Baron

“I am buying a second copy”

The Wisdom Paradox: How Your Mind Can Grow Stronger As Your Brain Grows Older by Elkhonon Goldberg

“Opinionated , original, and independent”

The Sunday Philosophy Club : An Isabel Dalhousie Mystery by Alexander McCall Smith

“Not a Mystery Book; This Book is About Ethics”

How Nature Works: The Science of Self-organized Criticality by Per Bak

“Intuitive & makes you think of universal laws”

The Status Syndrome: How Social Standing Affects Our Health and Longevity by Michael Marmot

“A topic in its infancy”

The Dream of Reason: A History of Philosophy from the Greeks to the Renaissance by Anthony Gottlieb

“Deep, Readable & Investigative”

Kant and the Platypus: Essays on Language and Cognition by Umberto Eco

“Philosophy alive”

Intellectuals in the Middle Ages by Jacques Le Goff

“Excellent book”

Confessions of a Philosopher: A Personal Journey Through Western Philosophy from Plato to Popper by Bryan Magee

“Seen from the inside”

Invariances: The Structure of the Objective World by Robert Nozick

“Philosophy is Back”

Bull! : A History of the Boom, 1982-1999: What drove the Breakneck Market–and What Every Investor Needs to Know About Financial Cycles by Maggie Mahar

“Someone looked behind the curtain”

I Think, Therefore I Laugh by John Allen Paulos

“Great Refresher in Analytical Philosophy –maybe the best”

Mapping the Mind by Rita Carter

“Great Reference Book, Very Pedagogical”

The Mind Doesn’t Work That Way by Jerry Fodor

“Fodor has the guts to take on… Fodor”

Consciousness: An Introduction by Susan Blackmore

“Comprehensive, Clear, Well Written”

Mean Genes: From Sex to Money to Food Taming Our Primal Instincts by Terry Burnham

“Unpretentious and Complete”

Why Stock Markets Crash: Critical Events in Complex Financial Systems by Didier Sornette

“Great Intuitions –Please reread”

The New Financial Order: Risk in the 21st Century by Robert J. Shiller

“Thinking Outside the Box”

Strangers to Ourselves: Discovering the Adaptive Unconscious by Prof. Timothy D. Wilson

“Outstanding Presentation About Self-Knowledge”

No Bull: My Life In and Out of Markets by Michael Steinhardt


The Statistical Mechanics of Financial Markets by Johannes Voit

“Very useful bridge between physics methodologies and finance”

Tartar Steppe (Verba Mundi) by Dino Buzzati

“A Masterpiece”

A Guide to Econometrics by Peter E. Kennedy

“Great Intuition Builder!”

Nassim Taleb Reading List | Archived From His Website

Below is the reading list from his personal website, which has since been deleted. Thankfully to The Way Back Machine, we’re able to access an archived version of the Nassim Taleb reading list.

For the books originally published in a different language, I linked to the English versions when available.

Nassim Taleb on Reading

I treat books as friends; you miss them when you don’t see them for a while. Perhaps the best test of one’s appreciation for a novel is whether one craves it at times, enough to reread it. Rereading a novel is far more enjoyable than reading it for the first time. Many I have read more than twice, some (like Il deserto dei tartari, un taxi mauve, Paulina 1881,…), more than five times.

Up to the age of 25, you read wholesale & in a mercenary way, to “acquire” a possession, to build a “literary culture”, & do not tend to re-read except when necessary. After 25, you lose your hang-up and start re-reading –and it is precisely what you re-read that reveals your literary soul, what you like.

As with friendship: you do not judge friends, you do not mix business & friendship; I even physically separate literature from more functional books (different libraries; I feel I am corrupting literature by having scientific or the philistinic “nonfiction” in the same area).

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