For the last 2 months, my mind has been blown on a daily basis by the book Antifragile: Things That Gain From Disorder by Nassim Nicholas Taleb.
This is the longest and deepest I've gotten into a book since high school, and I found pretty much every chapter thought-provoking and lifestyle-questioning. I already felt like my mind had been blown, and that was just after finishing the prologue.
"Antifragile" is the word that Taleb coins for the concept of gaining from disorder (the real opposite of fragility, which is not the same thing as "robust"). The book covers the topics of philosophy, finance, math, statistics, lifestyle, food, fitness, education, and history, and it applies various strategies and concepts to finding ways to live more naturally and with more antifragility.
I can see how many people will be angered and offended by the direct manner in which Taleb denounces the professions of consultant, banker, economist, academic, business school professor, soccer mom, and tourist. I think books that question a lot of fundamentals are the only ones that bring actual progress to our lives as human thinkers, and this book does exactly that.
Overall, I took 47 pages of notes on the book (see below), and that sheer quantity is enough to show how much I liked it. It's not easy to distill these into a few bullet points, and I will be trying over the next couple months to come up with some concrete suggestions and techniques to put the book's ideas into practice in my own life. Here are just a handful of lessons and broad concepts that come immediately to mind:
Below are the rest of my notes. I really want to discuss some of this stuff with other readers, so let me know what you think.
I had the pleasure of meeting and hearing Bruce Feiler speak at Google about his book The Secrets of Happy Families. I expected to hear some of the traditional/cliché advice and have it be very prescriptive, but I was pleasantly surprised that it wasn't. Bruce dug up some interesting research and spent his time visiting with families all over the world to find out some commonalities of things that should be done and also avoided.
Below are some of my notes on the talk. I look forward to reading his book sometime soon.