The Hour Between Dog and Wolf, by John Coates

The Hour Between Dog and Wolf: Risk Taking, Gut Feelings, and the Biology of Boom and Bust

Written by John Coates, Narrated by Paul Michael Garcia

Reason for Reading: This book was shortlisted for the Wellcome Trust Book Prize. 

In this Wellcome Trust shortlisted book, Coates describes his research into the feedback loop between testosterone and success in the financial market. When a person has high levels of testosterone, they are prone to risk taking – which generally promotes the market; however, success raises their testosterone levels, which increases their risks and creates bubbles (like the dot-com bubble) which are unnatural and eventually pop. Loss of money leads to decreased testosterone levels and release of stress hormones – which, if sustained for long periods of time can lead to a depressed, risk-averse market. This is when the government should step in and perk up the market themselves. (You can probably guess Coates’ politics from that statement, but the book is generally apolitical.)

I found Coates’ research quite fascinating, and his writing was engaging to someone who’s interested in the topic. I, unfortunately, am not generally interested in finance and so my attention wavered a bit during the finance-heavy bits. But the book was written in an approachable way such that I (who know nothing of the matter) could understand the financial/market bits and that someone who knows very little medicine could understand the science bits. In fact, it was shortlisted for the Wellcome Trust Book Prize because because it makes medicine approachable to the general population. For anyone interested in how hormones/neuroscience/psychology can affect the market, this would be an excellent book to pick up. An easy and interesting read.