What are the best books to read about your area of expertise?

There seems to have been a bit of a sea change over the last couple decades. Textbooks started to embrace the idea of using attractive fonts and graphics. The best ones were vastly easier to read than the average tome.

Not sure where this trend started. James Stewart made millions with a beautiful calculus textbook we used in university which included hundreds of historical references. Modern medical textbooks can be (but are often not) much better than mere compilations of words.

As someone who tries to cultivate general knowledge, I seek out books in areas I know little about. Obviously, you can only learn so much from books in practical areas.

That said, are there any particularly good books or resources that summarize your interests or field of expertise? That stand out as head and shoulders above average?

Options as a Strategic Investment is probably the best guidebook for options trading. Looks like they’ve update it, but I haven’t seen the new edition.

Options as a Strategic Investment: Fifth Edition https://www.amazon.com/dp/0735204659/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_i_otfoFbT59649C

I just told the new distillery engineer that I hired that the Bible of our profession is Fermented Beverage Production. It has pretty good detail on how to make everything.

Richard DeMay’s “The Art and Science of Cytopathology” is that great rarity in medical books - entertaining and lucidly written (the author has a quirky sense of humor), while being a great practical reference. Also very nicely illustrated.

While not exactly light reading for the average Doper, it’s great if you’re faced with, say, a tough CT-guided pancreatic fine-needle aspirate.


Well as you’re interested in the design of textbooks, you may be interested in one from my own profession – Graphic Design.

There are many, as you’d imagine, but a classic is ‘Stop Stealing Sheep*’ by Erik Spiekermann. It gives you background on typographic design, and is a good read.

*The rather odd title comes from a quote from some old German designer who said something along the lines of ‘the sort of person who would letterspace lowercase type is the sort who would steal sheep’. I think you need to be an old German designer to get the joke, but don’t let that put you off. It’s an entertaining intro to the subject.

Anyone interested in taking the class “Nuclear Weapons and Warfare 101” should investigate Arsenal, by Kosta Tsipis, 1983. The subtitle says it all: “Understanding Weapons in the Nuclear Age.” Mr. Tsipis spells it out in a readable form, with almost no technical-ese.

Pretty frightening stuff, those 1 megaton thingys.

In terms of medical textbooks, Ken Marshall wrote a quirky gem called The Family Medicine Sourcebook. Informative, witty and even whimsical. It has been updated several times by knowledgeable people and later editions are more practical and academic but somehow less charming.

I review books in my area for a journal, and there haven’t been any introductory texts for probably over a decade. A publisher paid me to look at the outline of one - it was good but it never got finished, and a friend was working on another, but it never came out.
More broadly, it has been a long time since I’ve looked at texts on digital design and computer architecture, so I wouldn’t know. Hennessy and Patterson is the last one I know is good, and that was a long time ago.