Statistics Books to Read for Pleasure


On the American Statistical Association’s community site, our online community coordinator—Lara Harmon—asked, “As the summer draws to an end, did you pick up any stats-related pleasure reads this summer? Any you would recommend?

We include some of the answers here. To read more, visit the ASA Community (you will have to log in).

Check out Everydata by Johnson and Gluck: a fun, well-written book that brings to life key statistics principles with contemporary examples.
—Regis O’Connor

I just finished a book that I would highly recommend as a pleasure read. It is Lab Girl by Hope Jahren. Although [this is] not a stats book per se, she is a geobiologist researcher working in university labs … across the country. The book gives an interesting perspective [on] her struggles to set up and fund (mostly from NSF grants) these various labs. The book focuses on her years during her PhD [studies] and the early years after her graduation.

I think this book would appeal to any women working in a science-related field. She is brutally honest regarding comments made to her over the years.

I also enjoyed reading how she went about collecting her data for the various studies. The book would have been perfect if she had just included a snapshot of some of the data analysis. Oh, well, you can’t get everything.
—Eileen Beachell

I definitely recommend Stephen Stigler’s The Seven Pillars of Statistical Wisdom. It’s small, graceful, and wise.
—Robert Rosenfeld

I’d recommend two books:
Dicing with Death: Chance, Risk and Health by S. Senn
The Drunkard’s Walk: How Randomness Rules Our Lives by L. Mlodinow
—Marco Geraci, PhD

Along those lines, you might look at Herbert Weisberg’s Willful Ignorance. An eye-opening, at least for me, perspective on what had been meant and what is meant by the word probability, what it took to get where we currently are, and what it might take to move forward. Not light reading, but a good read and worth the effort.
—Bob Gerzoff, MS PStat®

This one may be more combinatoric than statistical, but the short story The Library of Babel by Jorge Luis Borges is a good read that ties together mathematics, language, and the universe. And even though the story is only about 20 pages long, there’s been an entire book written on the mathematics contained in it (The Unimaginable Mathematics of Borges’ Library of Babel by William Goldbloom Bloch).
—Adam Dugan

I have two suggestions:
An Accidental Statistician: The Life and Memories of George E. P. Box. I picked up a copy of this book at the 2015 JSM. It is a light and warm autobiography by a fascinating person.
The Life and Times of the Central Limit Theorem. I picked up a copy this book at the 2016 JSM and have read much of it since then. It might be a bit more technical than one may want in a book for a summer reading list, but I think it is an extremely good and interesting book.
—James J. Cochran, professor of Applied Statistics and Rogers-Spivey Faculty Fellow

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  1. Statistics Books to Read for Pleasure | CHANCE – S tats Fx