Tag Archives: CMLE Book Review series

Book Suggestion Series: The Signal and the Noise

I saw this book on Overdrive, and thought I should check it out. I am a fan of data, and I like to know things. So a book about figuring out information, and knowing about useful information is right in my area!  The Signal and the Noise: Why So Many Predictions Fail – But Some Don’t, by Nate Silver

I follow Nate on Twitter:  @NateSilver538, and also his company FIveThirtyEight: @FiveThirtyEight. This is one of the fun things about social media – you can follow the ideas authors are sharing all the time. And when the author is someone like Nate Silver, he has a constant stream of ideas and research to share. 

Check out the description below; and if it sounds interesting, you can click on the book cover above to go to Amazon. CMLE gets a small percentage of the sale (thanks Amazon!) if you use our link; so feel free to our link to do all your Amazon shopping!

“Nate Silver built an innovative system for predicting baseball performance, predicted the 2008 election within a hair’s breadth, and became a national sensation as a blogger—all by the time he was thirty. He solidified his standing as the nation’s foremost political forecaster with his near perfect prediction of the 2012 election. Silver is the founder and editor in chief of FiveThirtyEight.com.

Drawing on his own groundbreaking work, Silver examines the world of prediction, investigating how we can distinguish a true signal from a universe of noisy data. Most predictions fail, often at great cost to society, because most of us have a poor understanding of probability and uncertainty. Both experts and laypeople mistake more confident predictions for more accurate ones. But overconfidence is often the reason for failure. If our appreciation of uncertainty improves, our predictions can get better too. This is the “prediction paradox”: The more humility we have about our ability to make predictions, the more successful we can be in planning for the future.

In keeping with his own aim to seek truth from data, Silver visits the most successful forecasters in a range of areas, from hurricanes to baseball, from the poker table to the stock market, from Capitol Hill to the NBA. He explains and evaluates how these forecasters think and what bonds they share. What lies behind their success? Are they good—or just lucky? What patterns have they unraveled? And are their forecasts really right? He explores unanticipated commonalities and exposes unexpected juxtapositions. And sometimes, it is not so much how good a prediction is in an absolute sense that matters but how good it is relative to the competition. In other cases, prediction is still a very rudimentary—and dangerous—science.

Silver observes that the most accurate forecasters tend to have a superior command of probability, and they tend to be both humble and hardworking. They distinguish the predictable from the unpredictable, and they notice a thousand little details that lead them closer to the truth. Because of their appreciation of probability, they can distinguish the signal from the noise.”

Book Suggestions: Shadowshaper by Daniel José Older

Books are one of our favorite topics both at CMLE Headquarters and on our weekly podcast Linking Our Libraries. 

Since this has been so popular with our readers and listeners, we decided to talk about books even more, in additional formats! This includes a second podcast about books coming out later this fall, and also includes some regular book suggestions here on our site.

(Books below have links to Amazon; if you follow them and make a purchase Amazon will donate a small percentage of your sale to CMLE! We appreciate it!!)

I’ve been listening to the YA book Shadowshaper by Daniel José Older and have really been enjoying it. It’s an urban fantasy that takes place in Brooklyn and it’s easy to imagine yourself running around with the main character Sierra, listening to music, painting murals, and dodging zombies. Sierra is piecing together a mystery that involves her grandfather’s connection with the spirit world and a rising threat that is placing her family in danger.

From Goodreads:

“Cassandra Clare meets Caribbean legend in SHADOWSHAPER, an action-packed urban fantasy from a bold new talent. Sierra Santiago was looking forward to a fun summer of making art, hanging out with her friends, and skating around Brooklyn. But then a weird zombie guy crashes the first party of the season. Sierra’s near-comatose abuelo begins to say “Lo siento” over and over. And when the graffiti murals in Bed-Stuy start to weep…. Well, something stranger than the usual New York mayhem is going on.”

If you are interested in YA urban fantasy, YALSA has this genre guide and Kirkus has this list of books with reviews.  Or explore some of the titles below:

Book Suggestions: Believe Me: A Memoir of Love, Death, and Jazz Chickens

Believe Me: A Memoir of Love, Death, and Jazz Chickens, by Eddie Izzard

You can tell right from the title that this is not going to be your standard celebrity autobiography.

If you know Eddie Izzard, you may know him in one of his many different roles – but maybe not all of them. He is a comedian, with many big televised performances: Dressed to Kill, Circle, Force Majeure, and more. He is an actor, staring in the TV series “The Riches,” and appearing in many other movies and TV shows, including the Hannibal TV series, Ocean’s Twelve and Thirteen,  and The Lego Batman Movie. He is open about being transgender, describing himself as an “Executive Transvestite,” saying that women dress how they want to and so does he. He runs marathons for charity. He ran 43 marathons in 51 days, across England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland.  He ran 27 marathons across South Africa in 27 days, to commemorate the number of years Nelson Mandela spent in jail, raising more than $1 million pounds for charity. (Because he spent one day in the hospital, he had to run two consecutive marathons on the last day!)

I listened to this book, and definitely recommend you do so. He reads it himself, and has a constant series of footnotes that are usually so funny! And in the audio book, sometimes he talks to the producer and has them look things up as he’s talking – so you are getting bonus content.

It is not all funny, of course. His mother died when he was six, and he and his brother then spent most of their childhoods in boarding schools. He wrestled with his identity as transsexual, and his identity as a performer.

But he is clearly a very intelligent, very motivated person; and talks in detail about the effort he has put in over the last twenty-plus years to achieve his success.

It is inspirational, and funny, and a very enjoyable book from a guy who claims to be basically boring!

And when do the jazz chickens enter the story? Nowhere. On a podcast I heard him interviewed about the book, and he said he just needed a funny line for the title. No jazz chickens, but plenty of other good stuff!!