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Luck: What It Means and Why It Matters
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Luck: What It Means and Why It Matters

3.62  ·  Rating details ·  187 Ratings  ·  26 Reviews
To what extent do we control our own destiny? Can those who have risen to the top really say it was all down to them? Is lucky success somehow less deserving?

Watch Ed Smith talk about Luck

Hardcover, 256 pages
Published March 29th 2012 by Bloomsbury USA
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Nick
May 25, 2013 added it

I have this habit of picking up and reading any book that has the word "random" "chance" or "luck" in the title. I even searched a library catalogue for chance once and discovered Paul Auster's works.

This book was on the new book shelf at the local library so I borrowed it. And I have read it in 3 days. Which is quite surprising as I nearly gave up on it when there were too many cricketing anecdotes at the start.

Anyway I am glad that I perservered - though I did skip a couple more cricketing bit
...more
Will
Jul 02, 2016 rated it really liked it
A surprisingly good book. Never one for cricket (or sports in general, for that matter), the author somehow hooked me with his honest self-reflections about his former life as an athlete.

Part self-deprecating biography, part academic conference, Smith travels around and interviews several very well-known thinkers and recounts the exchanges in personable, even funny, prose.

A lovely, quick study of luck and what it means for its hapless victims (namely, all of us).

Pairs nicely with some good ol
...more
Francis Shaw
Jun 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Although the author was a professional sportsman he encompasses a lot more than the sports world and is a thoroughly enjoyable read on the part luck plays in our lives; for better or worse depending on our perspective.
Mark Steed
Aug 10, 2016 rated it really liked it
Luck by Ed Smith is an eclectic discussion of, well, luck (there's a clue in the title - Ed) and its associated concepts of chance, fate, randomness, risk and fortune.
The narrative draws on insights from the ancient Greeks, history, economics and anthropology; illustrated with anecdotes and examples from everyday life and, unsurprisingly (given it's a book written by a former England batsman turned Times columnist) from sport.

Nature v Nurture
The most interesting part of the book is an explorat
...more
Sean Goh
Mar 13, 2016 rated it liked it
Nice short read, skip the cricket bits if they bore you, you won't miss out on anything.

_____________
The problem with superstitions is that they become both addictive and cumulative. It is far easier to add new superstitions than to remove old ones.

Pretending to have fewer advantages than you did is not only a form of deceit, but conceit. It is an attempt to deny your good luck in order to claim more credit for yourself.

Randomness doesn't mean constant change, it means constant unpredictability.
...more
Nick Hayhoe
Apr 24, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Cricket is the greatest sport in the world and (somewhat passively, admittedly) this book might be one of the reasons why. I mean, can you imagine John Terry or Ashley Cole writing a book on the philosophical discussions surrounding the concept of luck and fortune? No. Neither can I?

Ed Smith was lucky at first. A natural talent nurtured in a private school which he says had the best pitch he ever played on bar Lords. Then it all went wrong after a freak injury where he began to reassess his life
...more
Ashish K
First of all some context.Ed Smith was one who was tipped to be the next big thing to happen to English Cricket when he scored more than anyone at the county and university level and when he led his team to a 12 match (or was it 14) winning streak. But unfortunately, as cruel as fate can get, he suffered virtual career-ending injury in a practice match that all but ended his career. This made him super depressed and he went on a witch hunt to understand why this had happened to him.

In this book,
...more
Venky
Dec 22, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: bibliocase
Ed Smith was a budding and talented English cricketer whose hopes for an extended international career were put paid by a freak ankle injury suffered while playing for Middlesex. Undaunted by this set back, Smith substituted a pen for his trusted willow and is currently flourishing in his second avatar as a leading writer for the prestigious 'The Times'

In this arresting work, Smith takes up in earnest the concept of luck and the influence that wields in the life of a human being. Are we justifie
...more
Tyler Jones
Apr 21, 2014 rated it really liked it
Luck is a straight-forward look into a rather murky subject. I like books like this that take a subject I think I have a fairly good grasp on, show me that some of my thinking is wonky, and leave me feeling I'm thinking a lot more clearly. Smith manages to clearly delineate the difference between what we mean by words such as luck, chance and probability, and I hope I can remember the differences as it is quite important to be able to accept the responsibility when you are to blame, but to let i ...more
Tariq Mahmood
The book is simple to read and relate to especially for British readers. But for someone like me who comes from an Asian culture where luck is still pretty relevant, the book only provided the shift of luck from a central tenant to obscurity in the Western culture. This thumping of luck in the Western anglophile culture begins to make sense when you consider the enormous strides its culture has made over all others. I think luck became a victim of an ascendant Western cultural hubris which is a ...more
Milan
Mar 08, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, sports
A lot of people don't believe in luck. Everyone wants to think that they are the master of their own destinies. But there are a lot of things which happen to us because of luck - sometimes good and sometimes bad. A lot of people would be happier if they had a better understanding and acceptance of the existence of luck in their lives.

In Luck, Ed Smith writes about how he started believing in luck by reassessing his life after he had to stop playing as a professional cricketer after a freak injur
...more
Tom
Oct 05, 2015 rated it liked it
Draws thoughtful and humane conclusions from a wide range of examples through the ages. Very interesting parallels between "compensation culture" and societies where envy and witchcraft replace any element of chance...

Rather predictably, it's mostly about cricket. And I'm not convinced it's as well-written as people think - some chapters come across as newspaper articles that haven't had the waffle edited out. I was irritated by the way it recaps and spells its points out, when it should be movi
...more
Cassandra Kay Silva
I am not sure if other readers would agree, but this book seemed like a kind of sociological look at different lives and how various factors would influence their "luck" or lot in life. Also, how we use various terms which may not necessarily be interchangeable with the idea or connotation of luck. What an author of a book of this sort brings to the reader is his own personal experiences. Unfortunately for me as a reader I hate cricket and think it boring at best, therefore much of this book I f ...more
Johanna
Sep 04, 2015 rated it really liked it
A good insight into the world of luck. Talking about the different definitions, and the extent to how it defines us. Ed has certainly done his homework and can see the effort into this book, with lots of references of literature, interviews, analogies and anecdotes, providing a larger bulk of what luck is.

The pros of this book is of that stated above. I also felt it was non biased in views. However, although it did try to answer, I was left wondering what it is I am meant to do with all this lu
...more
Ankur Maniar
Aug 23, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
With Ed Smith you know he is talking sense and has a very good scholarly style of explaining his thoughts and take. Whether its cricket based articles or this book he is very very articulate and at the same time entertaining in his narrative. A very good book and one which will make you ponder upon many things happening in your life and in the world in general.
Greg Linster
Mar 05, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: luck
This book is essentially a series of short essays about a variety of topics that are all unified under the theme of luck. Ed Smith was lucky enough to be a professional cricket player before his writing career blossomed. What's refreshing is that he's one of the few successful people who's not afraid to admit that luck, at least partially, got him to where he is today.
Alejandro Shirvani
Good short read which touches on a lot of topics, many quite political, around the extent to which we attribute success to hard work or skill when many events in life, both on the upside or downside, are due to random factors.

There may be more technical books on this topic but this is a great introduction and Ed Smith writes well and comes across as a good guy.
Achal Shah
Mar 13, 2013 rated it really liked it
quite an amazing piece of work by Ed. Its got a whole new prospective to luck and how it plays a major role in any given life. Ed too brings in his personal experiences about his life, readily showing his success and failures.
Graham
Oct 29, 2014 rated it really liked it
Well written, full of good anecdotes and insights regarding superstition and the professional sportsman. A light hearted look at luck well worth reading.
Chris Urban
Oct 20, 2012 rated it liked it
Quick, light-hearted and personal take on a pseduo-autobiography from a footballer. Overcoming injuries, personal persistence and a bit of...
Radhika Pandya
Mar 11, 2013 rated it liked it
good
Burky Ford
Oct 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing
A practical discussion of luck and how it shapes our lives.
Saadaab
Jun 17, 2014 rated it really liked it
"You make your own luck" is the most bollocks phrase of all time.
David
Aug 30, 2014 rated it liked it
I didn't realise before I bought it that the author is a professional cricketer. Quite a bit of an emphasis on luck in sports. But not bad, for all that.
Shane Singh
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Apr 05, 2017
Dalia
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Nov 19, 2017
Prashant Parekh
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Sep 20, 2016
Andrew Moon
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Mar 08, 2013
Chris Ziesler
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Jul 07, 2012
Paul Wakefield
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Dec 25, 2016
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Edward Thomas "Ed" Smith is an English author and journalist, former professional cricketer, and cricket commentator.

He attended Yardley Court, Tonbridge School and Cambridge University before playing First-class cricket for Kent, Middlesex and England. Prematurely retiring from professional cricket due to injury in 2008, at the age of just 31, he became an author and journalist.
More about Ed Smith...
“Serendipity is another word in the luck family. Invented by Horace Walpole in 1754, it appropriately began life as a misprint. Walpole wrote a letter to Horace Mann developing the idea of serendipity from a ‘silly fairytale’ about chance called The Three Princes of Serendip. But Walpole had made a mistake: the real title of the story was The Three Princes of Sarendip (the ancient name for Sri Lanka). Before its current fashionable” 0 likes
“Serendipity is another word in the luck family. Invented by Horace Walpole in 1754, it appropriately began life as a misprint. Walpole wrote a letter to Horace Mann developing the idea of serendipity from a ‘silly fairytale’ about chance called The Three Princes of Serendip. But Walpole had made a mistake: the real title of the story was The Three Princes of Sarendip (the ancient name for Sri Lanka).” 0 likes
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