Wednesday, March 11, 2009


By Michael Lewis

I really enjoyed reading this one. I'm admittedly only a half-hearted sports fan, watching baseball games if other fanatics like my brother or my Dad are watching.

But this book isn't really a sports book per se. It concentrates more on how a team, the Oakland A's, more systematically evaluates a baseball player's performance through statistics and has succeeded despite its limited budget, by acquiring heavily undervalued players. While statistics can be a scary term, things are very well explained and reasoned such that I think most readers would be able to follow the logic.

The book also gets into why baseball teams, despite being businesses at heart, have resisted taking on a strategy that could potentially make their teams better and as a result, might make them more money.

I think there are a couple of things that attract me to this book. One, there's an aspect of the underdog, who plays the game smarter, but who is initially dismissed for being different, which underlies all of the people involved. Secondly, hearing about the development of sabermetrics is exciting in a scientific discovery type of way. One of my engineering friends once said to me that it's kind of no fun that you can no longer walk around and think all day like the Greeks and Romans did and come up with a major breakthrough. Hearing about sabermetrics kind of feels like the major breakthrough that could have been developed by just thinking about a subject. And from a more scientific perspective, that's pretty exciting.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Better : Atul Gawande

By Atul Gawande

Loved this. Dr. Atul Gawande observes and researches what makes for a great doctor in varying contexts, such as during wars, in 3rd world countries and up against difficult-to-treat diseases. Since a doctor's performance affects everyone, it makes the stories relevant to almost everyone, yet simultaneously gives perspective into the career and moral challenges of a doctor.

Gawande's writing is crisp and lucid, explaining the technical terms and their relevance simply. All in all, this was an enjoyable read, which seems like it would be applicable to performance in other careers.