This is my sixth New Years in a row where I have listed the books I read in the past year.
Briefly, the years I have previously written this, along with the “Best” and “Runner-up” books from each year, are
- 2021: Best: Eschatology: Death and Eternal Life, by Joseph Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI) Runner Up: A Rabbi Talks with Jesus, by Jacob Neusner has an objective to make Jews more convinced of Judaism and Christians more convinced of Christianity It achieved this objective, and submarines common sources of snark between both Jews and Christians.
- 2020: Best: Principles of Catholic Theology, by Joseph Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI) Odd Take-Away: The Pentagon’s Brain: An Uncensored History of DARPA, America’s Top Secret Military Research Agency, by Anne Jacobsen has information, in one chapter written well before the pandemic, about vaccines that are fascinating, seemingly relevant to the Covid response, and completely ignored by nearly everyone.
- 2019: Best: A History of the Future, by Blake Harris Runner Up: Area 51: An Uncensored History of America’s Top Secret Military Base, by Annie Jacobsen (same author as the “DAPRA” book above)
- 2018: Best: Maps of Meaning: The Architecture of Belief, by Jordan B. Peterson Runner Up: The Seven Storey Mountain, by Thomas Merton.
- 2017: Best: The Three-Body Problem, by Cixin Liu Too many runners up!: Unseen Realm, Medieval Christianity, Confessions, and St. Francis of Assisi and St. Thomas Aquinas, and the poorly named Eight Homilies Against the Jews were all reality-shifting reads, and the effect was compounded by reading them so closely together
The best book I read this year was Patrick Abbott’s Fallen. I recognize this is somewhat personal – I obviously know the author personally, but I think more importantly we share a number of common interests: Science Fiction, military affairs, Catholocism and Catholic humanism, apocryphal writings, psychology, and so on. I shared more of the book in the review, but it’s a joy to find so many interests seriously examined, especially in a work of fiction.
This is the best year for reading good books since I started these retrospectives, in 2017. There’s no runner-up because there’s too many. Even the other fiction work I read, Microserfs, is a re-read of one of the most influential books I read in my life. The first person narratives Hardcore Software, Not All Fairy Tales Have Happy Hendings, and Sid Meier’s Memoir! include many I’ve hoped to read for years, which all (in different ways) greatly exceeded what I was hoping for. Both Viral and The End of the World is just the Beginning are vital to explaining what is happening with our relationshsip with China. And both Breaking Windows and Steve Jobs: The Journey is the Reward are dizzying, revisionist histories written shortly after the events they chronicle, which will make you question what you really know about the history of technology.
Thank you to everyone who is an author, who sacrifices of themselves so that others may know more. This year is one difficult to repeat, and I appreciate everyone who made it possible.
The Holy Bible
After Steve: How Apple Became a Trillion-Dollar Company and Lost Its Soul, by Tripp Mickle
Breaking Windows: How Bill Gates Fumbled the Future of Microsoft, by David Bank
Steve Jobs: The Journey is the Reward, by Jeffrey S. Young
Politics and Political and Government History
The End of the World is Just the Beginning: Mapping the Collapse of Globalization, by Peter Zeihan
Viral: The Search for the Origin of COVID-19, by Alina Chan and Matt Ridley
Speculative and Science Fiction
Hardcore Software: Inside the Rise and Fall of the PC Revolution, by Steve Sinofsky
Not All Fairy Tales Have Happy Endings: The Rise and Fall of Siera On-Line, by Ken Williams
On the Firing Line: My 500 Days at Apple, by Gil Amelio
Sid Meier’s Memoir!: A Life in Computer Games, by Sid Meier and Jennifer Noonan
A Hunter-Gatherer’s Guide to the 21st Century: Evolution and the Challenges of Modern Life, by Heather Heying and Bret Weinstein
The Exodus: How it Happened and Why it Matters, by Richard Elliot Friedman