Favorite books of 2016

2016-12-31 3 min read

    I have a longer post planned taking a quantified self approach to my 2016 but I wanted to share my favorite books of 2016. Looking at this list the primary themes were rediscovering my love for science fiction, digging deeper into society and culture, getting back into history - both focused on technology but also the world.

    • The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion (Jonathan Haidt): Heidt highlights morality framework that explains why there’s such a disconnect between the right and the left in politics. I ended up reading alongside the election since it just seemed that the world is getting more and more polarized.
    • The Death and Life of Great American Cities (Jane Jacobs): This has been on my list for a while and finally got the chance to dig into it. I love cities and this is foundational to understand what makes cities, and neighborhoods, great.
    • Between the World and Me (Ta-Nehisi Coates): Really personal book on what it’s like to be black in the United States and having to deal with the never-ending struggles.
    • Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis (J. D. Vance): After reading Between the World and Me this takes a very similar approach but focuses on the story of growing up in the rural Midwest and making his way out.
    • Deep South: Four Seasons on Back Roads (Paul Theroux): Just an engaging read of the author driving through the rural South. I was inspired to read this after Hillbilly Elegy since I just wanted to understand the world outside of the coasts better.
    • How Paris Became Paris: The Invention of the Modern City (Joan DeJean): Picked this up when I was traveling in Paris and it’s an extremely immersive and engaging read highlighting how Paris was the first city to introduce what we claim are modern necessities: including sidewalks, public transport, and street lighting.
    • Dealers of Lightning: Xerox PARC and the Dawn of the Computer Age (Michael A. Hiltzik): Just a really neat look at Xerox PARC, their growth, as well as the failure. So many key technologies were developed here and it’s great to see how it all played out.
    • Chaos Monkeys: Obscene Fortune and Random Failure in Silicon Valley (Antonio Garcia Martinez): A very personal and open look at how Silicon Valley works with a strong focus on adtech and Facebook.
    • The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon (Brad Stone): Amazon is such a dominant company and this gives a history and talks about the strategy Amazon has taken to get where it is.
    • Seveneves: A Novel (Neal Stephenson): What a great and novel plot. The moon is destroyed and this talks about humanity escaping and trying to rebuild. I don’t want to spoil any more but it’s a great read.
    • The Nexus series (Ramez Naam): Really engaging series that focuses on bionanotechnology and both the risks and benefits it exposes. This is a three part series and each book’s great.