Read “How Charts Lie” by Alberto Cairo with us

“Any chart will mislead us if we do not pay attention to it.”

data vis book club cover of alberto cairo's how charts lie

Do you keep getting recommendations for data vis books, maybe even buy them, but don’t make it a priority to read them? Let’s read these books together – and let’s discuss them, to get more out of them. That’s what the Data Vis Book Club is about. Please join us! Here’s what we’ll read next:

After the fun of working through the very hands-on “Observe, Collect, Draw! A visual journal” by Giorgia Lupi and Stefanie Posavec and discussing it with both authors, we’ll get a bit more theoretical again. I’m very happy to announce that our next book will be the shiny new book “How Charts Lie” by Alberto Cairo.

We will discuss How Charts Lie
on Wednesday, 27th of November at 6pm UTC here:

That’s 10am on the US west coast, 1pm on the US east coast, 6pm for readers in the UK & Portugal, 7pm for most other Europeans and 11.30pm in India.

I’m thrilled to announce that Alberto himself will join the conversation as well, joining around 45min into the discussion and answering all questions we might have.

Like always, everyone is welcomed to join! Just open the notepad at the correct date + time and start typing. Many participants will be new to the conversation – we’ll figure it out as we go.

Should you read this book?

Alberto Cairo is the one data vis guy you follow on Twitter. He’s also the first author we’re reading for the second time: A little bit over a year, we already discussed “The Truthful Art” together. Back then, I introduced him as “one of the most influential voices in the data vis field these days”. And he still is. There’s basically no way we won’t read this book in this book club.

data vis book club cover and Alberto Cairo

A man and his book.

After “The Functional Art” and “The Truthful Art”, Alberto now published his first book targeted at people outside of our little data vis bubble. It’s not written for people who create charts, but for people who consume charts. So basically for everyone who reads the news. (Good thing that still includes us creators.)

Read How Charts Lie with us if you want to

  • spot bad charts easier
  • learn what actually makes bad charts bad
  • experience Alberto’s approach to increase the data vis literacy in our society

Don’t read How Charts Lie if you want to learn how to create charts. Or if you can’t accept that the charts in this book are not printed in full color (but in black and a beautiful red).

Not convinced? You can read the introduction of How Charts Lie as a PDF for free on Google Drive or Dropbox.

How does the book club work?

1. You get How Charts Lie. Ask your local library to order it for you, buy it, borrow it from a friend, ask around on your preferred social network. The book is super fresh – it will come out on the 15th or so in the US and Germany, but only on the 5th of November in Spain and on the 19th of November in the UK. Make sure to check on your local Amazon or so when it comes out! Libraries should still be able to order it for you in time.

2. We all read the book. That’s where the fun begins! Please mention @datavisclub or use the hashtag #datavisclub if you want to share your process, insights, and surprises – I’ll make sure to tweet them out as @datavisclub, as motivation for us all.

3. We get together to talk about the book. This will happen digitally on Wednesday, 27th of November at 6pm UTC over at

It won’t be a call or a video chat; we’ll just write down our thoughts. The discussion will be structured into three questions:

Three questions

During the conversation, I’ll ask these three questions in the following order:

1 What was your general impression of the book? Would you recommend working through it, and if so, to whom?

2 What was most inspiring, insightful or surprising while you worked through the book? What did you learn that you didn’t expect to?

3 Having read the book, what will you do differently the next time you visualize data?

For each question, you can prepare an answer in 1-2 sentences and paste it into the notes once I ask the question during the conversation. If you can’t find the time to prepare anything at all just come by and chat – we’ll quickly get into discussion mode.

After going through the three questions within ca 45min, Alberto will join us to answer questions we might have about the book.

More questions?

Here’s a short FAQ for you, in case you have more questions:

So what will happen, exactly, during the book club?

A digital book club is a new experience for many of us. See how our book club discussions have looked like in the past:

You can also read the review of the first book club, to learn how people found the experience.

This is what others have said about the last book club discussion in August:

  • “Just wanted to say this was my first time joining the book club and I JUST LOVED IT! Thank you, everyone! This experience was incredible.”
  • “Such a great experience connecting with the authors and fans of this unique book that I love.”
  • “Great experience! It was fun reading all of the questions and answers as they popped up and to scroll up and down the screen to check out any new comments.”
  • “OMG! First time that I do it and I just loved it!!! I like that I can write everything I’m thinking about live and comment on other people’s ideas easily.”

Why don’t we do a call? Why the notepad?

Because it works well for introverts & people who prefer to stay anonymous in the discussion. Plus, the documentation of our meeting writes itself.

I can’t make it on this date / this time.

Do you have a lunch date? Vacation? Need to bring the kids to bed? No problem! The conversation will be archived in the notes and can still be extended over the next day(s).

Will there be local meetups?

I’d be thrilled if you’d organize a meetup in your city! If you look for attendees, make sure to mention @datavisclub, and I’ll spread the word. However, I won’t organize a local meetup in Berlin this time.

I’m very, very much looking forward to working through Alberto’s new book with all of you. If you have any more questions, write in the comments, at or to Lisa / the Datawrapper account on Twitter. Also, make sure to follow @datavisclub, to stay up-to-date and get a dose of motivation from time to time.