I started the year finishing off the Mistborn trilogy which was excellent. I spent most of the rest of the year reading some great non-fiction except for Project Hail Mary. I need to find a way to sprinkle in some more fiction along the way in 2022. Anyways, here are my reads from 2021!
Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir
This book was a blast. Andy Weir is basically the new Michael Crichton at this point. I won’t summarize the book too much, because I think the less you know before starting the book, the more fun it is. But, you can expect some clever problem solving with, you guessed it, science! My one gripe is that the main character is very similar to Weir’s protagonist from, The Martian, but it’s a fun character so it’s not a big deal.
All Joy and No Fun: The Paradox of Modern Parenthood by Jennifer Senior
While most books of the parenting genre discuss the impacts of parents’ decisions on kids, this book looks at the impacts of kids on their parents. Senior deftly combines research and real world stories to discuss how parenting, particularly in America, has changed over the years. Surprisingly compelling read.
Color of Law by Richard Rothstein
An important book for any Yimby, or anyone curious about why their home is zoned the way it is. Rothstein’s incredibly well-researched book painstakingly goes through the largely racist history of our zoning laws in different parts of the United States.
Talking to Strangers by Malcolm Gladwell
This is full of fascinating and troubling stories that illustrate the consequences of our general inability to communicate well with strangers. I really enjoy Gladwell’s approachable writing style and how he manages to reiterate his questions without being overly repetitive. He carefully touches upon several thorny issues, particularly the Sandra Bland story.
Everyday Data Science: Optimize Your Life by Andrew N Carr
This very short book illustrates examples of how to use data collection and data science to optimize some life scenarios. Although it dips into technical aspects, I’m not sure it’s technical enough to be actionable without a lot supplementary research. But, it was an interesting book and I learned about the application of some mathematical concepts. I’m not sure I would try any of the examples in the book, such as word vectors to improve my resume, but it was a good quick read nonetheless.
One Billion Americans by Matthew Yglesias
With this book, and last year’s Open Borders I’ve definitely been on a pro-immigration kick. Yglesias makes the case that for America to maintain it’s position as the world’s most prosperous and powerful country, it needs to accept significant growth. He offers ideas as to how it’s possible, the potential problematic outcomes such as a shortage of housing and heavier traffic, and offers some solutions. The book is thoughtful, well researched, and well-written.
The Big Short by Michael Lewis
Lewis manages to blend complicated, but admittedly interesting financial lexicon, with a character driven narrative. The Big Short follows the bewildering tales of a few savvy, quirky investors who ultimately short the housing market before it’s 2008 collapse. I really enjoyed the movie, and it was fun to read through the source material. A surprisingly compelling read.
Moneyball by Michael Lewis
I continued on my Michael Lewis kick with Moneyball. I’m not a big baseball fan, but I do enjoy sports, and Lewis provides an interesting insider’s view of the management of the Oakland A’s. It also delves into how unscientific and poorly quantified scouting has been, which is particularly surprising in baseball given the amount of available data. Similar to The Big Short, Moneyball focuses on interesting personal profiles, mostly of the A’s General Manager, Billy Bean, and seamlessly blends in baseball insights. It also was a fun movie.
The Well-Grounded Rubyist by David A. Black
I’ve been learning some Ruby for work and this book was recommended to me. I’m only part-way through it, but it’s good so far! It feels geared towards people who have some programming experience which is nice. It starts a little slow to cover the fundamentals, which is expected, but even then there were still some nuggets of wisdom for the aspiring Rubyist. Would recommend.