This year I read or attempted to read 75 books. There were some dogs but also some great ones. I tried to come up with the “best book of the year” but that is pointless, they are all so different. So I will highlight a number of different books that excelled in different ways.
Best Mystery: The Last Good Kiss by James Crumley. A solid hard-bitten detective tale, everything you want in a private eye.
Best Adventure: The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch. If you like more fantastical adventures, this is a great tale and really ought to be a movie or TV series.
Best Historical Novel: Washington Black by Esi Edugyan. If you like your adventures a little more grounded in historical reality, this is for you. Would also be fantastic on screen.
Best History: Kent State: Four Dead in Ohio by Derf Backderf. If you like actual history, this is a great telling of the events at Kent State, and exposes the dangers of involving armed military in civil protests. Almost chose this for best graphic novel, but for…
Best Graphic Novel: Solutions and Other Problems by Allie Brosh. Irreverent, at times hilarious, at times moving. Well done.
Best Irreverent: Lamb, The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal by Christoper Moore. Irreverent, some may even view as offensive, but I found it respectful and uplifting in a humanist way.
Best Current Events: Getting back to our current situation and lives, there are 3 books that I enjoyed and gave me some insight on myself or the world.
- One Billion Americans: The Case for Thinking Bigger by Matthew Yglesias. You might object to his solution but this book clearly focuses on a challenge we face, and it is hard to imagine solutions that don’t involve growth.
- The Origin of Wealth: Evolution, Complexity, and the Radical Remaking of Economics by Eric Beinhocker. A worthy effort to reexamine economics from first principles.
- Caste: The Origins of our Discontents by Isabel Wilkerson. There are many books you can read on discrimination and racism in our society, this was the best for me.
Best Math/Science. Digging a little deeper, these were the math/science books that I enjoyed the most this year.
- Lost in Math: How Beauty Leads Physics Astray by Sabine Hossenfelder. A criticism of current thinking in physics. I don’t follow physics closely enough to know if this is all warranted.
- Superforecasting: The Art and Science of Prediction by Philip Tetlock and Dan Gardner. We all forecast in our lives, and we are probably all not that great at it, as this book will make you realize.
- But What If We’re Wrong? Thinking About the Present As If It Were the Past by Chuck Klosterman. Challenges your thinking about what you know and believe, which is always good.
Would love to hear your thoughts on books you read this year.