The book I keep closest
For the past 5 years, the book that has usually been closest to me is a textbook from my statistics days called "The Analysis of Time Series". I guess I've always had a hunch that time series are important. They appear everywhere. The stock markets are a time series, the universe is a time series. But to me, the most important time series is, well, us. Our brain. It’s a series of inputs and outputs that change over time.
The thing about time series being that you can model them. You can predict how one input will affect future outputs.
Take the profession of teaching, for example. From a mathematical perspective, teaching is the task of finding and applying inputs – words and visual aids – that will effectively change all future outputs. It’s changing people’s brains by talking with them.
Or take the profession of brainwashing, for example. It’s the same damn thing, just with (typically) less useful changes in the output, and less finesse applied on the inputs.
It’s easy to see that with the right mathematical tools, the behavior of human beings can be modeled. And wouldn’t you know it, there are entire departments dedicated to finding efficient ways to predict how the content you’re fed will affect your future actions.
There are entire departments dedicated to finding ways to tweak your thoughts and actions. And then we wonder how modern life got so stressful.