I was reflecting back on the books I read throughout 2016 this morning, and thought I’d share the list, roughly grouped by how much I enjoyed them. I’ve gotten better about quitting books that aren’t right for me after a couple chapters, so nothing in here I wouldn’t recommend.
The End of Eternity by Isaac Asimov: This is my new favorite Asimov book, displacing ‘The Gods Themselves‘, which I also highly recommend. It’s a great story, with a clever approach to exploring the philosophy of time.
Skyfaring by Mark Vanhoenacker: A detailed account about what’s it’s like to be a commercial aircraft pilot, with many interesting anecdotes. If you enjoy flying, you’ll probably enjoy the book.
The Idea Factory by John Gertner: A well written history of AT&T’s Bell Labs and all of the important technology innovation that came out of that institution.
The Vital Question: Energy, Evolution, and the Origins of Complex Life by Nick Lane: Probably not for everyone, but fascinating. A theory of how complex life may have first begun, with a focus on the processes that generate the energy needed to sustain it.
Sprint by Jake Knapp: An easy read on how to run a design sprint to rapidly prototype and test new products or features.
Reputations by Juan Gabriel Vasquez: A fictional story about a prominent political cartoonist in Colombia reflecting back on his career and influence.
Second Foundation by Isaac Asimov: I continue to work my way through the Foundation series. I enjoyed this one more than ‘Foundation and Empire’ (the second book excluding the prelude and forward) but less than ‘Foundation’ (the first book). Two more to go.
Blood Song by Anthony Ryan: The first book in the Raven’s Shadow fantasy series recommended by a friend. Like most fantasy books, I found it to be fun and I got through it quickly, but I wasn’t impressed enough to commit to the rest of the series.
Life on the Edge by Johnjoe McFadden: An overview of the rising field of quantum biology (i.e., how many biological processes can only be explained using quantum mechanical physics rather than classical physics). I found it to be intriguing. However, some of it is speculative and is still being researched.
The Serengeti Rules: The Quest to Discover How Life Works and Why It Matters by Sean Carroll: A look at some of how life is regulated at scales ranging from populations of cells to entire ecosystems. It was interesting, but not as good as my favorite by Carroll, ‘Endless Forms Most Beautiful‘.
The Challenger Sale by Matthew Dixon: A detailed description of the challenger sales methodology. It’s a great sales framework and the book offered some useful insights.
Napoleon’s Pyramids by William Dietrich: A historical fiction on Napoleon’s invasion of Egypt in 1798. The story was good, not great, and I mostly enjoyed learning some of the history, which seems to have been accurately represented at a macro level.
The Origin of Species by Charles Darwin: This had been on my list for a while. I’ve read so many evolutionary biology books over the years that I felt I needed to read the first as well. I appreciated it’s scientific and historic brilliance, but found it a bit tedious at times, and not surprisingly found the subsequent work that has built on Darwin’s insights to be more interesting.
Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson: I purchased this right when it came out, but kept passing it over. I finally decided to work my way through it. The book was well written with good stories, but it didn’t quite grab me. I probably would have enjoyed it more when it was first published, before all of the movies and media on Jobs.