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Monday, November 10, 2014

Books of the Year 2014

I read 31 books this year (not counting comic books, magazines, etc), which was unusually low. Part of this was that a portion of my time went to video games, and another part of the reason was that for a large part of the year I lost my Kindle, which had a direct and immediate impact on the number of books I was able to read.

Fortunately, the quality of non-fiction books were very high, and I consider Capital in the 21st Century now just the book of the year, but quite possibly the book of the decade. The book has been widely read, reviewed, and mostly misunderstood, even by luminaries such as Bill Gates. As such, there's no substitute to reading this book for yourself. I cannot sufficiently urge an intelligent reader who cares about the structure of society with even a modicum of curiosity to read this book right away.

All Joy And No Fun is also the best alternative to the standard parenting book you can find today. I highly recommend it to all parents, and especially to the moms out there. If you read only one parenting book, read Brain Rules for Baby, but All Joy And No Fun should be the very next one.

On the fiction side, however, this has been a bleak year. Looking at my list of books I read this year, the best fiction book (and even Tim O'Reilly would admit that the book was mostly "faction") is The Things They Carried. I read that book in 1987, and it's still holds up on re-reading. If it's not in your library it should be.

But the best new (to me) fiction book was Elizabeth Moon's The Speed of the Dark. The problem with this as a selection is that it wasn't even close. None of the other (new-to-me) books I read this year were even remotely a contender, and if I left this book off the list, I would declare a no-winner situation rather than be forced to pick amongst the remaining novels. That's pretty bad.

If there was a particularly great book you read this year but that I haven't, please recommend it. It's sad to think that my usual sources of book recommendations are failing me this year. Piketty's book makes up for the disappointing novels, but I would hate to see this trend continue.

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