My Year in Books

I set a goal to read 52 book this year. In the end, I read about 42 or so, but I don’t feel too bad since I was crazy busy and my reading speed fell off a cliff after the little one was born. It was much easier to watch TV by that point…

That said, setting that goal allowed me to find some really good reads.

These were the Top 10 standouts to me:

  1. Digital Minimalism, by Cal Newport

I ardently believe pretty much anything Newport puts out. Digital Minimalism is a philosophy where we should examine new technology deeply before adopting it for our use. If it benefits us, we use it wisely and only so far as we need it. We weigh not just pros, but also the cons of its use. The chapter about on the importance of solitude, and how social media has completely ripped away that facet of our lives, is extremely on point and worth reading on its own.

2. Replay, Ken Grimwood

The time travel concept of this book is something I’d been looking for for a long time in a novel, so I’m glad I stumbled upon it. Read it in about two days, which is fast since I’m a slow reader. Basically, it’s about a man who goes to the past and changes everything about his life. Only in this novel, the twist is that it happens multiple times. Extremely well-written, and it definitely scratched the time travel itch I had at the time.

3. Swan Song, Robert R. McCammon

I’m torn between this and The Stand as my favorite post-apocalyptic novel of all time. I loved the characters, the sheer epic-ness, and especially the way he writes his villains. This is characterization in genre fiction done right. This is a must read for any fan of the genre.

4. Speaks the Nightbird, Robert R. McCammon

I’m a bit strange in that after I finish reading a book, I’ll usually want to read something completely different. So, it speaks to how much I enjoyed Swan Song that I picked up this one immediately after. It’s been a long time since I’ve read historical fiction, or mystery, and McCammon combines the two genres with brilliant effect. Great characterization, awesome premise, and a novel that feels much shorter than it really is due to its brilliance. Probably my favorite author I “discovered” this year.

5. Barking up the Wrong Tree, Eric Barker

These are the types of books I devour. The premise of the book takes common things we take for granted and turns them on their heads using statistics and science. Very intelligently written, extremely readable, and one I’ll definitely read again.

6. Red Rising Series, Pierce Brown

On paper, this should be my favorite series of all time. Outer space? Dystopian? Non-stop action and badassery? Sign me up! I was definitely glued to the pages, and things just kept getting bigger and more epic as the story went on. Definitely one of those quick, easy reads you’ll just rip through.

7. Foundryside, Robert Jackson Bennett

I so rarely read epic fantasy these days, even if it was what caused me to fall in love reading. Burn out, I guess, and getting tired of the same LOTR trope rehashes. I understand epic fantasy has really evolved since then, but it’s still hard to find stuff that’s different enough to appease me. I enjoyed this story mostly for the magic system and setting. It sort of reminded me of Assassin’s Creed, hopping from building to building in Venice, only with magic.

8. Deep Work, Cal Newport

Probably his most famous book, and a reread because I needed it. It’ll really kick you in the pants on reminding you just how important your attention is, and how to focus deep to excel and rise to the top of your field. An extremely important work for those looking to take their productivity and quality of work to the next level.

9. The End is Always Near, Dan Carlin

I used to listen to Carlin’s podcast, Hardcore History, religiously when I worked a 9-5. So when I saw this offered on BookBub, I had to pick it up. This book is about apocalyptic moments in history, and near misses closer to modern times, and it is absolutely fascinating. The sheer amount of times we were on the brink on nuclear war, those scary what ifs such as had Kennedy listened to his generals during the Cuban Missile Crisis. And this book, published in 2019, talking about the effects of a modern global pandemic using research from the Black Death and the flu during WWI was downright eerie. In times like this, this book really hits so much closer to home, making you realize just how precarious life is here on Earth, and how we should never take it for granted.

10. The Obesity Code, Jason Feng

Ignore the gimmicky title, although it is somewhat catchy. It seems strange to say a diet book is in my Top 10 of the year, but I honestly think this is the best diet book available. In fact, I would say this book transcends that, as the science that he goes into is absolutely fascinating yet readable.

Well, those are my Top 10. What are some of your favorite reads of the year?

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