This year has been a great year to read books. Whether is was picking up Sapiens in Ireland this summer, or relaxing on a beach in Portugal reading another, I was not without a book in hand for many days this year. I thought I’d share the books I’ve read and feel are worth your time. These aren’t ranked in any particular order, as think they’re all worthy of your attention.
1. Astrophysics for People in a Hurry By Neil Degrasse Tyson
Seeing this a few times in book stores, I didn’t know what to think from a small (and short) book. Bt, if you’ve ever heard Neil in any of his other expressive avenues, you know how much exuberance he has for this subject. It really shows here. You’ll probably get through this fast, but you’ll be smarter for the time you spent.
2. Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari
This book (the aforementioned purchase in Ireland) was with some caution. It wasn’t what I thought I’d like to read about (history), but an author knew nothing about it. My hesitation was quickly dissolved by the Harari’s provocative view of us humans, and the incredible way he writes it. Not only did I tell everyone to read this, but I bought a copy for my niece (she made it halfway) and before leaving Ireland, I bought the sequel.
3. Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow by Yuval Noah Harari
Not as good as the first, Harari makes a still-great picture of where were are as humans, and what our future might look like. You’ll want to read this immediately after Sapiens. You’ve been warned.
4. The Happiness Hypothesis: Finding Modern Truth in Ancient Wisdom by Jonathan Haidt
This book came to me as a reference in another book (the original web link). Getting through this one took longer than most as I wanted to savour it and the ideas within. The simple analogy of the elephant and a rider permeates this ponderance of what it is that really makes us happy. A wonderful and insightful book.
5. When Breath Becomes Air By Paul Kalanithi
Found on Bill Gates’ recommendation, this sad, wonderful book is worthwhile no matter what mortality continuum you might be on. By the end of this book, you’ll realize why Kalanithi was such a great loss to those he loved and all of us. This book hit home for me as I too faced a year of great loss. It would be wonderful to read a follow-up and find out just how Cady is doing and what she came to feel while reflecting on her father. Did she keep the nickname? Is she religious?
6. The Disaster Artist: My Life Inside The Room, the Greatest Bad Movie Ever Made by Greg Sestero and Tom Bissell
The subject of a recently released movie and perhaps the worst movie of all time, I read this before seeing either. It’s a fascinating ride illuminating a person who seems to operate on levels we can’t possibly understand. The experience of seeing more of Tommy later in interviews and The Room only added to the deep mystery that is this man.
And a book that I didn’t quite finish but enjoyed:
1. The 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene
A massive tome of wisdom and lessons in the art of gaining and keeping power. The book is a parallel experience with stories told inside and outside the margins. From the very beginning, I knew this would be an ambitious goal to read and didn’t quite make it to the finish line.
Hopefully, you too find a book to read from this list and check back. I’m always looking at “best of” lists for books to find my next read.