Looking back at 2015, one achievement I’m pretty proud of was that I managed to read a lot of excellent books. I’m sure my fellow gym attendees laugh at me sitting on an exercise bike reading, but I don’t care – it has got me through a lot of good books.
As much so I don’t forget what I’ve read, but also in the hope that some of these inspire others, I decided to put together a list of most of the non-fiction books that I’ve read or listened to over the past year.
Made to Stick – Heath – A guide to what makes ideas memorable – entertaining and worth reading for just about anyone
The Career-coaching handbook – Yates – I found it useful, but probably not for most people.
Chasing the Scream – Hari – a history of the war on drugs, its massive failures, and our best hopes of ending it. Highly recommended.
What money can’t buy – Sandel – a look at when markets can weaken institutions and relationships. I found it really good.
How to be a conservative – Scruton – I found it quite boring if I’m honest.
How we learn – Carey – a guide to the research into learning. I didn’t find it too memorable.
The examined life – Grosz – the adventures of a psychoanalyst and his patients. Some interesting stories, but I don’t think I’d recommend it.
Reasons to stay alive – Haig – a personal insight into depression (something I didn’t know much about) – a short read but well worth it.
Being Mortal – Atul Gawande – extremely highly recommended – a look at medicine’s obsession with intervening to prolong life, and what can be done to offer a more humane end to life
Choosing in Groups – Munger – quite a technical review of election theory – I didn’t find its insights that interesting or helpful
How Adam Smith can change your life – Roberts – I really enjoyed this review of Adam Smith’s Theory of Moral Sentiments, a lot of real relevance for today.
Change Everything – Felber – an excellent review of some of the big changes that could practically be made to make our economies work for the common good. Highly recommended.
Focus – Goleman – I had read and loved a few of his earlier books, and was full of hopes for this one, but found it pretty boring and unhelpful.
The Darwin Economy – Frank – Why liberals and libertarians are wrong – I loved the ideas in this, though I think it could have been written better.
Freedom Regained – Baggini – this review of some of the challenges of thinking about free will was quite hard going but did get me thinking about a lot of issues that I’m pleased to have thought about.
The Last Act of Love – Rentzenbrink – a very sad tale of a family coping with the aftermath of a tragic injury. Beautifully written.
Superforecasting – Tetlock – a look at common mistakes people make when forming predictions, and how we can do it better. I found it well worth reading.
Reinventing Organizations – Laloux – an excellent look at companies that genuinely work for their employees and customers, and aren’t limited by traditional (incorrect) assumptions about motivation and the need for control. Highly recommended.