The Best Books of My 2016

This was a good year for reading, since I spent it sitting with my Kindle on airplanes. (Kindles are great — like tablets, but without all those fussy little apps that distract you from reading.)

Of the ~150 books I read this year, these are the ones that come to mind when I think of the word “best”. They are very different, and you won’t like all of them, but they all do something well.

For a list of every book I remember reading, check my Goodreads account.

Best List of All the Books

In no particular order, save for the first four, which I liked most of all.

  1. Rememberance of Earth’s Past (series, all three books)
  2. The Steerswoman (series, all four books)
  3. Chasing the Scream
  4. Rationality: From AI to Zombies
  5. The Last Samurai
  6. Axiomatic
  7. The Fifth Season
  8. The Found and the Lost
  9. The Future and its Enemies
  10. Evicted
  11. On the Run
  12. Conundrum
  13. The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage
  14. The Partly Cloudy Patriot
  15. Sustainable Energy – Without the Hot Air
  16. Machete Season
  17. How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia

 

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The Best Books of My 2015

I read about 125 books this year, and these are the ones that come to mind when I think of the word “best”. They are very different, and you won’t like all of them, but they all do something well.

To quote my book-review post from last year:

I’ve sorted this list into a series of “bests”: a Best Graphic Novel for people who like those, a Best Book About Selling Stuff for people who like those, and so on. Whoever you are, I’d probably recommend many of these books to you. And some of them are free!

For a list of every book I remember reading, check out my Goodreads account.

 

Best List of All the Books

These are in alphabetical order, save for the first four, which I liked most of all.

  1. Sapiens
  2. The Neapolitan Quartet (series, all four books)
  3. The Book of Disquiet
  4. Negima! Magister Negi Magi
  5. A Civil Action
  6. Azumanga Daioh
  7. Behind the Beautiful Forevers
  8. Digger (free!)
  9. Great (free!)
  10. Gone Girl
  11. Parable of the Sower
  12. Strangers Drowning
  13. Strong Female Protagonist (free!)
  14. The Road to Wigan Pier (free!)
  15. The Vision of the Anointed
  16. The Yale Book of Quotations
  17. Them: Adventures with Extremists
  18. We Learn Nothing

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Twenty-Four Quotations About The Yale Book Of Quotations

The Yale Daily News Magazine just published my glowing review of The Yale Book of QuotationsI also profiled the book’s creator, Fred Shapiro. This is my last piece of original journalism for any Yale publication.

The article includes an interesting call to action. Fred needs help writing the next edition. If you’d like your favorite quote to end up in a book that sells tens of thousands of copies, read until the end, or just read the pitch right now.

 

Twenty-Four Quotations About the Yale Book of Quotations

“Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested.”

 –Francis Bacon, Of Studies

“Dictionary, n. A malevolent literary device for cramping the growth of language and making it hard and inelastic. This dictionary, however, is a most useful work.”

–Ambrose Bierce, The Cynic’s Word Book

 

The Yale Book of Quotations (YBQ) is a magnificent beast of a tome, a rare creature found only in libraries and the homes of the most devoted litterateurs. Most books have one or two quotable lines. The YBQ has over twelve thousand. And though it is 1100 pages long, it remains, fundamentally, the project of a single man: Fred Shapiro, a librarian in the Yale Law School.

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Immortality Is Exciting

TL;DR: Immortality may seem like it would be boring. But an awful lot of people have hobbies and projects that would probably work out better if those people had more time to get things done. What’s more, these activities might be more exciting the longer they went on, rather than less.

To illustrate this, I use the example of a Go master, who is in love with a fiendishly hard game and might continue improving for centuries, given the chance — and that’s just one popular board game in a universe of activities.

Introduction

I’d like to clear up a common misconception about living forever.

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The Best Books of My 2014

What is the point of writing a “best books of the year” list?

If you are Amazon or the New York Times — and if you are, how are you reading this, you enormous corporation? — you write the list because you expect that people will buy books from you, or at least listen to you, no matter what you recommend.

I do not expect either of those things to happen. At best, the person reading this might decide to look up a single free story on the internet, or check out a single book from the library.

Thus, I’ve sorted this list into a series of “bests”: a Best Graphic Novel for people who like those, a Best Book About Selling Stuff for people who like those, and so on. Whoever you are, I’d probably recommend many of these books to you. And some of them are free, including my #1 for the whole year!

If you’d like to see a list of every book I remember reading, check out my Goodreads account.

 

The Best Books of My 2014

Best List Of All The Books

Not in any particular order, save for #1.

  1. Worm (this year’s favorite) (free!)
  2. Love Is The Plan, The Plan Is Death (free!)
  3. Stories of Your Life (some of the stories are free online)
  4. Complications
  5. A Path Appears
  6. Making Minds Less Well-Educated Than Our Own
  7. Poking a Dead Frog
  8. One More Thing
  9. The Motivation Hacker
  10. Mission in a Bottle
  11. Getting Everything You Can Out Of All You’ve Got
  12. Ogilvy on Advertising
  13. Building Stories
  14. The Collected Stories of Lydia Davis
  15. The Charisma Myth
  16. Everyone Loves You When You’re Dead 

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Highlights: Life Itself, by Roger Ebert

The life of a man whose death was untimely, and never would have been timely. An entertaining book and recommended read, especially if you like movies, the art of journalism, or the state of Illinois.

I lack the energy to summarize the book, and lives are hard to summarize anyway. So instead, here are some of the best lines (from a man who averaged 1.2 great lines per review).

 

On Art Petacque, Ebert’s colleague at the Chicago Tribune:

“He was our mob reporter. He was priceless for his sources. He was the only Chicago newsman who knew all mob nicknames. It was rumored he invented many of the nicknames himself.

“Nobody ever complained. What would Joey “The Clown” Lombardo do? Write a letter to the editor?”

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