Best Data Analysis Books - For the Data Lover in All of Us

The ability to analyze and translate data into something that people understand is a remarkable talent that only the most methodical of people are truly good at.

Great data analysts enjoy their work.

Some people look at a lengthy list of numbers and statistics and immediately glaze over with boredom and confusion. A good data analyst, on the other hand, will feel challenged and excited.

What can these numbers teach us? How will this impact the decision making and future direction of the business?

Have a Well-Defined Aim

Before you start analyzing data, ensure that you have a well-defined aim. Whether you are problem-solving, improving best practices, or seeking out new trends, know what you want from your data before you start.

Utilize External Data

Utilizing relevant external data will give you more opportunities for cross-referencing variables and a better insight into your internal data. Relevant external data will also make your analysis is more interesting and help you place it into a wider context.

Using Visualization Tools

Expand and improve your skillset by learning how to use a variety of visualization tools. Using the right visualization tools at the right times will help you to communicate your insights more easily.

A greater understanding of the story that your analysis has uncovered will give your findings more weight and influence on the people you are presenting to.

Communicate

Don’t forget that there may be many different people within your organization that can learn from the insights you uncover. Keep in touch with your colleagues in sales and marketing, IT, finance, operations, and HR to ensure that they are able to learn from the data you’re analyzing, too.

The speed at which technology and data analysis tools are evolving requires a great data analyst to be striving to learn new skills constantly. We’ve put together a reading list below, featuring the best data analysis books available, as recommended by top entrepreneurs and professionals in the industry.

Best Data Analysis Books

Hacking

Hacking Growth: How Today’s Fastest-Growing Companies Drive Breakout Success

The book is new (2017) and growthhacking is a real trend right now.
Kyrylo Taranenko
Head of Marketing/Y-Productive
Data-ism:

Data-ism: The Revolution Transforming Decision Making, Consumer Behavior, and Almost Everything Else

There’s so much hype out there about ‘big data,’ and in my work at Wired and now at Iodine I’ve been responsible for some share of it. Lohr’s book thankfully discerns the real power — and limitations — of data-driven decisions. He finds the humanity in the subject, and makes a strong case that data is only going to be an ever-more powerful force in business and society, for good and ill.
Thomas Goetz
Co-founder/Iodine
Web

Web Analytics 2.0

I work in digital marketing so I would [recommend]: [...] Web Analytics: An Hour A Day and Web Analytics 2.0 by Avinash Kaushik.
Raluca Radu
Owner/MTH Digital
Play

Play Bigger: How Pirates, Dreamers, and Innovators Create and Dominate Markets

Question: What five books would you recommend to young people interested in your career path & why?

Answer:

I know this is sounds self-serving but I’d recommended both of my books, the soon to be released,
  • “Niche Down: How to Become Legendary by Being Different”
and
  • Harper Collins’ “instant classic,” “Play Bigger: How Pirates, Dreamers and Innovators Create and Dominate Markets”
In addition:
  • The Effective Executive, by Peter Drucker
  • The E-Myth, by Michael Gerber
  • Radical Candor: Be a Kickass Boss Without Losing Your Humanity by Kim Scott
  • Back from the Dead, by Bill Walton
  • The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing, by Al Ries and Jack Trout
Christopher Lochhead
Host/Legends and Losers Podcast
The

The Strategy and Tactics of Pricing: A guide to growing more profitably

The Strategy and Tactics of Pricing by Thomas T. Nagle: Why? Because pricing is hard!
Garrett Moon
CEO & Co-Founder/CoSchedule
Web

Web Analytics: An Hour A Day

In terms of business, some of the must-read books I would mention are Hooked by Nir Eyal, Web Analytics: An Hour A Day by Avinash Kaushik, Call To Action and Always Be Testing by Bryan Eisenberg, Epic Content Marketing by Joe Pulizzi, How To Build Websites That Sell by Peep Laja, Content Chemistry by Andy Crestodina.
Raluca Radu
Owner/MTH Digital
A

A Guide to Econometrics

The best intuition builder in both statitics and econometrics. I have been reading the various editions throught my career. Please, keep updating it, Peter Kennedy!
Nassim Nicholas Taleb
Flaneur
Security

Security Analysis

Buffett said that Security Analysis, another groundbreaking work of Graham's, had given him a road map for investing that he has been following for 57 years.
Warren Buffett
CEO/Berkshire Hathaway
Think

Think Like a Grandmaster

From this book I realized you could think you understood a chess position, but then later learn you didn’t really understand it at all. A huge lesson, one I learned again and to a higher degree when high-quality chess computers came along. Most of the commentariat on economic and social affairs could use a reminder on this one. This book also taught me that you learn by doing — trying to solve actual problems — not so much from pure reading. Or the two in close conjunction. It may be the distortions of memory, but still I feel this is one of the best books I ever have read. Hail the Soviet training system!
Tyler Cowen
Founder/Marginal Revolution University
Making

Making the Modern World: Materials and Dematerialization

One of Smil’s books makes my list of favorites pretty much every year. This time it’s his look at the world’s use of materials, from silicon to wood to plastic and cement. If anyone tries to tell you we’re using fewer materials, send him this book. With his usual skepticism and his love of data, Smil shows how our ability to make things with less material—say, soda cans that need less aluminum—makes them cheaper, which actually encourages more production. We’re using more stuff than ever.
Bill Gates
CEO/Microsoft
Options

Options Volatility Trading: Strategies for Profiting from Market Swings

Options Volatility Trading by Adam Warner also had a major impact on me because I have always been into investing and until this book I never quite understood the specific strategies behind making money when the market goes up OR down. I was familiar with short selling but wanted to explore option contracts so right after college a good friend gave me this book. I read it immediately and began putting what I learned into practice.
James Murphy
Marketing Manager/Live Nation
Great

Great by Choice: Uncertainty, Chaos, and Luck–Why Some Thrive Despite Them All

I love this book because it provides some practical case studies about the behaviors that allow certain individuals, teams, and companies to excel that you can then apply to your own personal life and career.
Joseph Liu
Career Consultant & Host/Career Relaunch Podcast
Academically

Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on College Campuses

The most troubling reading I did on vacation was Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on College Campuses, by two sociologists, Richard Arum and Josipa Roksa, who examine the evidence on what college students actually learn. I was surprised how little data there is on this important question. Even more disturbing, the data cited by the authors indicates that students may not learn very much. In their first two years of college, many U.S. college students advance very little in important skills like critical thinking, complex reasoning and writing.

I was really surprised to read that. The data shows that students today spend much less time actually studying, and they take less rigorous courses, most of which don’t require them to do much writing, for example. And yet even so, many students do not complete their degrees. Graduation rates from U.S. colleges are much lower than in many other countries. What’s going on in higher educationis a topic I care a lot about, and I basically agree with the authors’ findings that we have a real problem. I plan to take a deeper dive into this topic with a full review of Academically Adrift, which I’ll post in a few weeks.

Bill Gates
CEO/Microsoft
Unequal

Unequal Democracy: The Political Economy of the New Gilded Age

He may have the country’s finest experts at his fingertips, but it still doesn’t hurt to read up on environmental and economic issues.
Barack Obama
Former USA President
Disruption:

Disruption: Overturning Conventions and Shaking Up the Marketplace

I thought I might put my money where my mouth is. I keep whining that young people are not in touch with some essential books on advertising that have helped me shape the way I practise my trade today, but I never did anything about it. So I am starting here the ultimate books to read list. I will add to it as I get suggestions and as more good books get written.
Bogdana Butnar
Head of Strategy/Poke
The

The Next 100 Years: A Forecast for the 21st Century

A more centric version of Flashpoints: The Emerging Crisis in Europe (or the other way around).

Bobby Voicu
Founder/the CEO Library
The

The Age of Surveillance Capitalism: The Fight for a Human Future at the New Frontier of Power

From the very first page I was consumed with an overwhelming imperative: everyone needs to read this book as an act of digital self-defense. With tremendous lucidity and moral courage, Zuboff demonstrates not only how our minds are being mined for data but also how they are being rapidly and radically changed in the process. The hour is late and much has been lost already—but as we learn in these indispensable pages, there is still hope for emancipation.
Naomi Klein
Author
Loonshots:

Loonshots: How to Nurture the Crazy Ideas That Win Wars, Cure Diseases, and Transform Industries

This book has everything: new ideas, bold insights, entertaining history and convincing analysis. Not to be missed by anyone who wants to understand how ideas change the world.
Daniel Kahneman
Nobel Prize Winner, Author
The

The Myth of the Strong Leader: Political Leadership in the Modern Age

This year’s fierce election battle prompted me to pick up this 2014 book, by an Oxford University scholar who has studied political leadership—good, bad, and ugly—for more than 50 years. Brown shows that the leaders who make the biggest contributions to history and humanity generally are not the ones we perceive to be “strong leaders.” Instead, they tend to be the ones who collaborate, delegate, and negotiate—and recognize that no one person can or should have all the answers. Brown could not have predicted how resonant his book would become in 2016.
Bill Gates
CEO/Microsoft
The

The Fourth Turning: An American Prophecy – What the Cycles of History Tell Us About America’s Next Rendezvous with Destiny

Recommended by Tony Robbins on page 215 of Tools of Titans
Tony Robbins
Entrepreneur & Life Coach
The

The Woman Warrior: Memoirs of a Girlhood Among Ghosts

When asked what books he recommended to his 18-year-old daughter Malia, Obama gave the Times a list that included The Naked and the Dead and One Hundred Years of Solitude. “I think some of them were sort of the usual suspects […] I think she hadn’t read yet. Then there were some books that are not on everybody’s reading list these days, but I remembered as being interesting.” Here’s what he included:

  • The Naked and the Dead, Norman Mailer
  • One Hundred Years of Solitude, Gabriel García Márquez
  • The Golden Notebook, Doris Lessing
  • The Woman Warrior, Maxine Hong Kingston
Barack Obama
Former USA President
Tractatus

Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus

Reid recommends studying Ludwig Wittgenstein, about whom he's taught a course at Oxford. One of the bedrocks of modern analytics philosophy is to think of [language] ... if you're trying to talk to someone else about some problem, and you're trying to make progress, how do you make language as positive an instrument as possible? What are the ways that language can work, and what are the way that language doesn't work?.
Reid Hoffman
CEO/LinkedIn
Steel

Steel My Soldiers’ Hearts: The Hopeless to Hardcore Transformation of U.S. Army, 4th Battalion, 39th Infantry, Vietnam

Another book by Hackworth called Steal My Soldier’s Heart [...] Again, it’s not always clear that oh, here’s the leadership principle; here’s what you should be doing. No, it’s not always clear like that. But when you understand what people are going through emotionally and you start to get a glimpse at human nature and how people react in certain situations and how their egos flare up, that’s what makes these books good. Because it gives you a frame of reference.
Jocko Willink
Founder/Echelon Front
The

The Revolt of The Public and the Crisis of Authority in the New Millennium

All over the world, elite institutions from governments to media to academia are losing their authority and monopoly control of information to dynamic amateurs and the broader public. This book, until now only in samizdat (and Kindle) form, has been my #1 handout for the last several years to anyone seeking to understand this unfolding shift in power from hierarchies to networks in the age of the Internet.
Marc Andreessen
Co-Founder/Andreessen Horowitz
Right

Right on the Money: Doug Casey on Economics, Investing, and the Ways of the Real World with Louis James

My list would be (besides the ones I mentioned in answer to the previous question) both business & Fiction/Sci-Fi and ones I personally found helpful to myself. The business books explain just exactly how business, work & investing are in reality & how to think properly & differentiate yourself. On the non-business side, a mix of History & classic fiction to understand people, philosophy to make sense of life and Science fiction to picture what the future could be like (not always utopian).
Marvin Liao
Partner/500 Startups
The

The Age of Migration: International Population Movements in the Modern World

The Age of Migration has been the main textbook for migration studies since it first appeared in 1993; I have relied on it both as a resource for my own research and a text for my upper-division undergraduate and graduate courses on the politics of immigration. The fifth edition continues the excellent coverage of migration theories and history, the politics of immigration, and issues such as race and ethnicity, while bringing in new material on topics like the impact of climate change. The authors are to be commended for addressing critical issues in a time of global change.

Terri E. Givens
PhD/Department of Government,University of Texas at Austin
Globalization

Globalization and Its Discontents Revisited: Anti-Globalization in the Era of Trump

These books propelled me to want to work on a social enterprise and underscored my passion for making a difference in food policy. I believe we can build an innovative company that has deep social impact. That we can use the same mindsets that single bottom-line companies have to build successful triple and quadruple bottom-line companies. It is the holy grail -- for your work to present the challenge to be creative, innovative, quick on a daily basis but also at the end of the day, the knowledge that you are making a real difference in people's lives. I feel extremely fortunate to be in this position right now.
Leah Lizarondo
Co-Founder/412 Food Rescue
Priced

Priced Out: The Economic and Ethical Costs of American Health Care

Uwe Reinhardt was the moral conscience of our health care system, reminding us with evidence, clarity, and stand-up act humor how it is failing. He was joined in this enterprise by another great health care expert, his wife Mei Cheng. Every health care group craved Reinhardt as their keynote speaker and felt more virtuous after he berated them about the many ways in which they were failing. But he did not want adulation; he wanted things to change. By reading this powerful book and making something in the health system better, we can all honor his legacy.
Drew Altman
President & CEO/Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation
The

The Innovator’s Dilemma: When New Technologies Cause Great Firms to Fail

It's important that we make this transformation, because of what Clayton Christensen calls the innovator's dilemma, where people who invent something are usually the last ones to see past it, and we certainly don't want to be left behind.

Steve Jobs
Founder/Apple
The

The Opposing Shore

Until I read this book, Buzzati's Il deserto dei tartari was my favorite novel, perhaps my only novel, the only one I cared to keep re-reading through life. This is, remarkably a very similar story about the antichamber of anticipation (rather than the antichamber of hope as I called Buzzati's book), but written in a much finer language, by a real writer (Buzzati was a journalist, which made his prose more functional) ; the style is lapidary with remarkable precision; it has texture, wealth of details, and creates a mesmerizing atmosphere. Once you enter it, you are stuck there. I kept telling myself while reading it: this is the book. It suddenly replaced the deserto.

A few caveats/comments. First, I read it in the original French Le Rivage des Syrtes (French Edition), not in this English translation, but I doubt that the translator can mess up such a fine style and the imagery. Second, the blurb says Gracq received the Goncourt prize for it. Julien Gracq REFUSED the Goncourt, he despised the Parisian literary circles and by 1951 decided to stay in the margin. He stuck to his publisher José Corti rather than switch to the fancy Gallimard after his success (as Proust did) (or other publishing houses for the fakes and the selfpromoters). Third, this book came out a few years after Buzzati's deserto, but before Buzzati was translated into French. I wonder if Gracq had heard of the deserto; the coincidence is too strong to be ignored.

Nassim Nicholas Taleb
Flaneur
The

The Power Tactics of Jesus Christ and Other Essays

The title essay in this book is peerless and amazing. The rest of the essays, which talk about Haley’s unusual approach to psychotherapy are also quite good. If you’ve gone to therapy, are thinking about going to therapy, or know someone going to therapy, this book is a must-read.
Ryan Holiday
Founder/Brass Check
Outliers:

Outliers: The Story of Success

Gladwell is not the first person to come up with the 10,000 hour rule. Nor is he the first person to document what it takes to become the best in the world at something.

But his stories are so great as he explains these deep concepts.

How did the Beatles become the best? Why are professional hockey players born in January, February and March?

And so on.

James Altucher
Founder/StockPickr