Skip to content ↓ | Skip to navigation ↓

Given that it’s Memorial Day weekend, a good summer reading list seems timely. As we kick into the season of travel and holidays, a good book can be a great way to while away some time. After Dwayne kicked off with two books, I’m going to up the ante and list 4 I’ve been working my way through, (loosely) around the subjects of people (why they do what they do) and risk (at its broadest definition).

Why should a security person read about people? Well, if they are our weakest link in the security chain, the more we understand how and why people make the decisions they do, the better job we security folk can do at our job. As for risk, that’s the current language of security; although these books are at a much broader scope than the number crunching necessary to prioritize items for remediation.

People wise, both of them are fun fast reads; although only one describes itself as comic sociology. That would be Bobos in Paradise by David Brooks. Not a new book, it’s been out since 2000; but I have to admit that I’m re-reading it for I think my 3rd time. It attempts to explain the cultural shifts that started post 1965, where the shift in the new upper class starts to occur. In theory, the goal was a more meritocratic escalation to privilege, where people who can take ideas and productize them are the income and education winners. There’s a lot more to the book than that, but I’d hate to give away the plot. For those that like books that reference other works, this book just might be heaven.

Next up on the people book brigade, is The Social Animal by David Brooks. This is a more recent book, 2011. If you were at RSA, this is the author who was there on Friday on the main stage making the entire audience crack up. This is a faster, in a sense fluffier, read than Bobos, as it uses the story within a story motif for sharing insights into humanity and culture. It has some teeth to it, in particular how it recognizes the distinct impact on wealth and attitudes around child rearing, but for the most part there is no obvious soap box. There are lots of nearly laugh out loud moments for me in this book; so I find it a quicker read than Bobos.

On to risk oriented reading. Both of these books have recently been mentioned on the SIRA mailing list, for another reason to be on that list if you aren’t already. The first up is the most serious, and with a copyright date of 2006, oldest of the entire book list today. It’s Why Can’t You Just Give Me The Number by Patrick Leach. While I do list it as the serious book, it’s also the shortest; and once you’ve read it can serve as a handy desk reference. It really is what you think it is from the title.

Lastly, The Theory That Would Not Die by Sharon Bertsch McGrayne. This book is a roller coaster ride through some of history’s most interesting characters and how they interacted with what we know as Bayes’ Rule. Lest you think it’s only relationship to computers is Bayes’ rule and how that interacts with risk, Turing makes a guest appearance in the book a few times, as well as other computer problems where Bayes Rule came in handy.

What’s on your summer reading list? I’m sure people would love to know, and now that I’m mostly through these four, I could use some suggestions myself!

@STurnerRice