Best books I read in 2019

Better late than never….

The best books I read in 2019 – generally released in other years – are below. Where I have reviewed, the link leads to that review (not many reviews this year).

  • Nick Chater, The Mind is Flat: A great book in which Chater argues that there are no ‘hidden depths’ to our minds.

  • Stephan Guyenet, The Hungry Brain: Outsmarting the Instincts that Make us Overeat: Excellent summary of modern nutrition research and how the body “regulates” its weight.

  • Jonathan Morduch and Rachel Schneider, The Financial Diaries: How American Families Cope in a World of Uncertainty: I find a lot of value reading about the world outside of my bubble. I learnt a lot from this book.

  • Paul Seabright, The Company of Strangers: An excellent exploration of the evolutionary foundations of cooperation. A staple of my evolutionary biology and economics reading list.

  • Lenore Skenazy, Free-Range Kids: How to Raise Safe, Self-Reliant Children (Without Going Nuts with Worry): A fun read of some wise advice.

  • M Mitchell Waldrop, The Dream Machine: J.C.R. Licklider and the Revolution That Made Computing Personal: A bit too much detail, but a worthwhile story about the origins of personal computing. Many of the concepts about human-machine interaction remain relevant today.

Below is the full list of books that I read in 2019 (with links where reviewed and starred if a re-read). The volume of my reading declined year-on-year again, with 61 books total (40 non-fiction, 21 fiction). Most of that decline came in the back half of the year when I spent a lot of time reading and researching some narrow academic topics. 45 of the below were read before June. I could add a lot of children’s books to the list (especially Enid Blyton), but I’ll leave those aside.

Non-Fiction

  • Dan Ariely and Jeff Kreisler, Dollars and Sense: Money Mishaps and How to Avoid Them
  • Christopher Chabris and Daniel Simons, The Invisible Gorilla
  • Nick Chater, The Mind is Flat
  • Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Flow
  • Nir Eyal, Hooked
  • Nir Eyal, Indistractable
  • Tim Ferris, Four Hour Work Week
  • Tim Ferris, Tribe of Mentors
  • Victor Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning
  • Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson, It Doesn’t have to be Crazy at Work
  • Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson, Rework
  • Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson, Remote
  • Atul Gawande, Better
  • Stephan Guyenet, The Hungry Brain: Outsmarting the Instincts that Make us Overeat
  • Jonathan Haidt, The Righteous Mind*
  • Adam Kay, This is Going to Hurt: Secret Diaries of a Junior Doctor
  • Peter D. Kaufman (ed), Poor Charlie’s Almanac: The Wit and Wisdom of Charles T. Munger, Expanded Third Edition
  • Thomas Kuhn, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions
  • David Leiser and Yhonatan Shemesh, How We Misunderstand Economics and Why it Matters: The Psychology of Bias, Distortion and Conspiracy
  • Gerry Lopez, Surf is Where You Find It
  • Jonathan Morduch and Rachel Schneider, The Financial Diaries: How American Families Cope in a World of Uncertainty
  • Cal Newport, Digital Minimalism
  • Karl Popper, The Logic of SCientific Discovery
  • James Reason, Human Error
  • Ben Reiter, Astroball
  • Matthew Salganik, Bit by bit: Social Research in the Digital Age
  • Barry Schwartz, The Paradox of Choice
  • Paul Seabright, The Company of Strangers*
  • Byron Sharp, How Brands Grow
  • Pater Singer, A Darwinian Left
  • Lenore Skenazy, Free-Range Kids: How to Raise Safe, Self-Reliant Children (Without Going Nuts with Worry)
  • Eugene Soltes, Why They Do It: Inside the Mind of the White-Collar Criminal
  • Dilip Soman, The Last Mile: Creating Social and Economic Value from Behavioral Insights
  • Matthew Syed, Black Box Thinking: Marginal Gains and the Secrets of High Performance
  • Ed Thorpe, Beat the Dealer
  • M Mitchell Waldrop, The Dream Machine: J.C.R. Licklider and the Revolution That Made Computing Personal
  • Mike Walsh, The Algorithmic Leader
  • Caroline Webb, How to Have a Nice Day: A Revolutionary Handbook for Work -and Life
  • Robert Wright, The Moral Animal
  • Scott Young, Ultralearning: Accelerate Your Career, Master Hard Skills and Outsmart the Competition

Fiction

  • Fyodor Dostoevsky, The Brothers Karamazov
  • F Scott Fitzgerald, The Beautiful and The Dammed
  • F Scott Fitzgerald, This Side of Paradise
  • Graham Greene, My Man in Havana*
  • Robert Heilein, Starship Troopers
  • Michael Houellebecq, Submission
  • Jack London, Call of the Wild
  • John Le Carre, Call for the Dead
  • John Le Carre, A Murder of Quality
  • John Le Carre, The Looking Glass War
  • John Le Carre, A Small Town in Germany
  • Chuck Palahniuk, Fight Club*
  • Edgar Allan Poe, The Tell-Tale Heart and Other Stories
  • J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone
  • J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and  the Chamber of Secrets
  • J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and  the Prisoner of Azkaban
  • J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and  the Goblet of Fire
  • J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and  the Order of the Phoenix
  • J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
  • J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
  • Tim Winton, Breath

Previous lists: 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018

5 thoughts on “Best books I read in 2019

      1. I liked it – most of the arguments were new to me and I found it convincing (although I am not clear as to whether this reflects my general lack of knowledge about marketing or the uniqueness of Sharp’s argument – and I need to find and read some counterpoints).

    1. Varies depending on the purpose of the read. Quick if just looking for ideas, longer if planning to write a post or trying to get my head around as new concept.

      I actually read Guyenet’s book in one day during a holiday (about 6 hours) before re-reading a couple of chapters over following days in conjunction with the Slate Star Codex review. Once I start a book, I normally finish a first read within a week. If I want to retain some concepts or write a post, I’ll normally re-read parts and spend as much time or more thinking and writing about it as I did reading it in the first place.

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