I started publishing this books roundup in 2015.
Here’s how I do it: at the end of the year, I pull all the books from Goodreads into a spreadsheet. I vaguely categorize them. I think about the ones I really connected with. Usually I don’t publish the post until a week or two later. The reflection time has been helpful for pulling out the patterns of which books I connect with.
Maybe one of them will connect with you!
5 Books I Particularly Liked and Why
Strange Beasts of China
by Yan Ge
An alcoholic cryptozoologist postoc meets fantastic creatures. Then she helps them solve mysteries. I haven’t seen “Detective Pikachu”, but I hope it’s similar to this book. The magic creature design is like Pokémon but more emo.
All Systems Red
by Martha Wells
Everyone is worried that the killer robot has been trained to kill all the humans. But instead, maybe the killer robot will train itself on soap operas and keep the humans alive so they can make more soap operas? You’ll like this book if you’re a fan of Yojimbo but wish Kurosawa hated corporations more.
The Alignment Problem: Machine Learning and Human Values
by Brian Christian
A lot of modern computer science is not computer-related at all. It’s a thin excuse to go research some non-computer topic so thoroughly that you can explain it to a computer. Few tech books get this. This book uses “machine learning” to talk about some good sociology and philosophy papers.
The Bond King: How One Man Made a Market, Built an Empire, and Lost It All
by Mary Childs
One theme of 2022 is that a successful business leader might not be competent at all. But at least their wealth lets them reach peak potential as an emotional basketcase.
Midnight in Chernobyl: The Untold Story of the World’s Greatest Nuclear Disaster
by Adam Higginbotham
I had never made this connection between the Space Race and the nuclear power program: how the Soviet Union built large, ambitious nuclear power plants to show off their engineering skills. This book shows that — even if we know how to make nuclear plants safe — there are so many ways that the leaders running them can cut corners.
(Joint authors throw the totals off)
By Only Men: 16/ 50
By Only Women: 33 / 50
By Only White People: 37 / 50
By Only Non-White People: 13 / 50
Fiction: 24 / 50
Non-Fiction: 26/ 50
Recent (2021 or 2022): 18 / 50
Earlier This Decade (2013–2020): 19 / 50
Classics (pre-2012): 13 / 50