From 2007 to 2012, I read 263+ books. Here’s my lessons learned and short review of each.
This post covers books read in 2009. You can also read from,
The American South used to be poor. Really poor. Erskine Caldwell captures The South well.
Ditto God’s Little Acre. Sad, but with humorous notes.
Great writer observes everyday work – and makes it seem beautiful. Lesson – almost everybody takes care and pride in their work – and really knows what their job entails, no matter how small.
The media, corporations, and ourselves conspire to place monetary value on things that should not have monetary value (rather, social value), and thus do not value correctly what we love and own. Good read.
It’s constant – but you’ve got to escape it. Alain de Botton writes well on the topic and its historical context, as well as ways of thinking to relieve anxiety.
Wow. If you want a great story that will give you a window into Afghanistan – read this book.
Beautiful and historical treatment of the idea of travel. Very meditative. Lesson – think about you vacation differently. Better yet – don’t vacation, travel (makes sense after reading the book).
Anarchists intrigue me. And Emma Goldman was one barnburner of an Anarchist (in more ways than one). An inspiring woman with incredible force of will and ideas. It’s an autobiography, and equally interesting to learn about day to day life at the beginning of the 20th Century as it was her political activities.
There is an ignored religious revival across the Developing World that will reshape policy and politics for years to come. Best not ignore religion as a political force.
Greatness = 10,000 hours of Deliberate Practice + Incredible Opportunity. Must read book.
The DOT should make this required reading. Everything you think you know about driving and traffic is probably wrong. This book will add years to your life by inspiring you to drive safely and by giving you understanding to reduce your traffic induced stress.
Nice, readable book about Proust’s absurdly long Remembrance of Things Forgotten. I still forgot most of this book. No lessons learned.
Novel about a woman in post-war Philippines. If you are interested in The Philippines – a good read.
Different but odd storytelling technique. Novel that makes you think.
Digital creates new and amazing business models.
Pop psychology on how you decide. Really made me aware of my irrationality and what is going on in my own thought process.
Novel of The Philippines. Niche good read.
Reflection on Boethius, and the modern world. Clear, meditative writing style. Good read. Philosophy is worthwhile even in the modern world.
Must read for International Affairs geeks. America is surging ahead. But the rest of the world is surging ahead faster. This will create an unstable, but very wealthy multipolar world with lots of challenges. Lesson – I’m glad to be alive right now, and I hope the US calculates better than past powers.
There are lots of topics in science that are contradictory or still doesn’t quite make sense. This book is a great tour of that – especially the chapter on quantum mechanics. The oddities of this world will make you laugh. This is one of the books that I recommended to the Slate Political Gabfest. I got mentioned on the show by Emily Bazelon!
Another niche Philippine novel. Good read if it’s your thing.
Be aware of where your food comes from and what is in it – no matter what you eat. Very well done walk through the 4 paths food can take to your plate (industrial, mass organic, local, or wild).
The nature of happiness as seen through the history and context of architecture. Lesson – architecture is worth knowing and appreciating.
A defining and lucid explanation of the biological evolution.
Climate change, higher population, and more connectedness is going to have all sorts of implications for policy. The book feels like a bunch of newspaper columns and a bit of research. Okay, but not earth-shattering.
A niche history of the world. I had no idea that financial innovation has been going on for so long. Really cool take on an otherwise boring topic.
As prickly and old-fashioned as it may be in a digital world – the conversation about God is still worth having. Lucid, fair, and nuanced writing.
Lots of fun and instructive vignettes from Malcolm Gladwell (title is an allusion to the Sherlock Holmes quote). What you see often is not the whole story.
Saudi Arabia is a hugely complex country – and a problem that many policymakers would really prefer to just not think about. I had no idea that the Saud family was quite as extensive.
Fun take on the world of guerrilla marketing in the 21st Century. I learned that marketers are creative in ways that I could not imagine. And brands have a power that I really care not to admit.
Even better than Kite Runner. Want a novel? Read this.
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