Books I’ve Read 2019

Just a post I’ll update throughout the year. Here’s 2018.

  1. Friday Black – Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah (fiction): Really good and creepy book of short stories with a race + dystopian bent. Author is a young black man and his POV is powerful. Here’s what NYTimes said about his character development: “Each of these individuals carries a subtle clarity about what matters most when nothing makes sense in these strange and brutal worlds he builds.” Definitely recommended.
  2. The Wizard and the Prophet: Two Remarkable Scientists and Their Dueling Visions to Shape Tomorrow’s World – Charles C Mann (non-fiction): Really enjoyable look at two men who had distinctly different ideas of how to ensure humankind’s survival in the face of earth’s growing population in the 1940s. The Prophet urges conservation and the Wizard science. Definitely recommended.
  3. Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl: A Memoir – Carrie Brownstein (non-fiction): One-third of Sleater-Kinney pens her very personal story of how a band saved her and how she then broke it up (spoiler: they get back together, kinda, a few years late). If you’re a SK fan, worth reading without a doubt. Otherwise you can skip it.
  4. The Mirage – Matt Ruff (fiction): How about an alternate reality where Christian fundamentalist terrorists hijack 747s and crash them into the Tigris and Euphrates World Trade Towers of Baghdad? Yup, he went there. If you’re a fan of the genre, check it out but if you’re just looking for a good weird fiction book with social commentary, I’d more recommend reading Ruff’s Lovecraft Country, which I absolutely loved.
  5. The Righteous Mind – Jonathan Haidt (non-fiction): The author is a social psychologist who explains why human morality codes are an evolutionary and cultural reality. Some people swear by this book as the key to understanding why there’s so much tribalism and anger around perceived moral transgressions. I wouldn’t go that far but did find its framework to be useful.
  6. Working – Robert A. Caro (non-fiction): Amazing collection of essays – some new, some republished – by biographer Robert Caro on his method, process and meaning. Caro famously has written long volumes on Robert Moses and Lyndon Johnson. This is shorter than those 🙂
  7. The Terror – Dan Simmons (fiction): 19th century historical fiction where a British exploration party is trapped in the frozen Canadian wilderness, trying desperately to chart a way back home and escape the unnamed evil that’s picking them off one by one. Solid genre read, but overall a B+.
  8. Super Pumped: The Battle for Uber – Mike Isaac (non-fiction): NYTimes reporter pens the first book to tell the Uber story from founding to IPO. Recommended.
  9. American Carnage: On The Front Lines of The Republican Civil War – Tim Alberta (non-fiction): Grim AF. Starts with the 2007 financial crisis and the political response to it as entryway to a GOP that compromised their principles for power. Recommended if you’re really into politics but not if you want to be hopeful for our country’s future.
  10. Howard Stern Comes Again – Howard Stern (non-fiction): I grew up listening to this guy and although I haven’t followed the show much in the last decade or so, he’s always been an amazing interviewer. This book collects his favorite celebrity show appearances with partial transcripts and forwards by Howard.
  11. Coders: The Making of a New Tribe and the Remaking of the World – Clive Thompson (non-fiction): Clive is a great writer and this book flowed easily, with lots of personal stories serving as the context for talking about gender divides, hacker mentalities, and so on. A love letter to code without being afraid to call bullshit.
  12. Reboot: Leadership and the Art of Growing Up – Jerry Colonna (non-fiction): We’re all constantly in transformation. Jerry is an investor turned coach who takes a very spiritual approach to self-improvement. With a NYC accent of course. I’ve been fortunate to meet Jerry IRL, and his voice is in every one of these pages.
  13. Give People Money: How A Universal Basic Income Would End Poverty, Revolutionize Work and Remake The World – Annie Lowrey (non-fiction): Got the chance to hear Lowrey speak at an event last year, which is where I also got a copy of this book. Worth reading if you are new to UBI and want an overview, but otherwise I think you can skip.
  14. Exhalation – Ted Chiang (fiction): Just wow. Fantastic short-story collection themed around technology, culture, future. DEFINITELY read – i’m not a scifi fan and this was great stuff.
  15. Know My Name: A Memoir – Chanel Miller (non-fiction): Formerly known only as Emily Doe, Chanel Miller was the woman sexually assaulted on Stanford’s campus by a freshman swimmer. Her powerful victim’s statement brought national attention to the case and the leniency of the sentencing resulted in a successful recall campaign of the presiding judge. I initially bought this “just” to support her but after reading it gave me view into not just her life but how the process of reporting and prosecuting a sexual assault can be its own ongoing trauma.