[Excuse blatant copying from last year's post.] Just in case you're interested in what I found informative, interesting, thought-provoking, etc. last year. Clicking on the cover image will take you to the Amazon page (where I get a cut if you buy); clicking on the title will whisk you to my blog posting for a fuller discussion.
Ten is an arbitrary, but traditional, number, I hasten to point out.
I started using Goodreads in 2021. They nudge you to rate books, which made this retrospective task easier. The below includes nine books I rated five-star, and one rated four-star. Apologies to those who didn't make the cut. I could have come up with a slightly different set on a different day. Feel free to peruse the full list of books I read in 2021 (including fiction).
In order read:
|The Fabric of Civilization — How Textiles Made the World by Virginia Postrel. Reading anything by Virginia Postrel is obligatory for me, but I worried that I wouldn't be that interested in a book about fabric. Wrong! She managed to make this a fascinating story of innovation and technology.|
|False Alarm — How Climate Change Panic Costs Us Trillions, Hurts the Poor, and Fails to Fix the Planet by Bjørn Lomborg. A plea for sanity against the climate change alarmists, who continue to insist on unrealistic public policies that fail any moral calculus.|
|The Pleasures of Reading in an Age of Distraction by Alan Jacobs. This book made me think a bit deeper into my reading habit. It's like getting advice from a (very) learned, experienced friend on how to pursue your hobby/pastime/diversion of reading. And there's also a lot of practical advice.|
|Beyond — The Astonishing Story of the First Human to Leave Our Planet and Journey into Space by Stephen Walker. Why yes, it really was an astonishing story. I was a space fanboy as a kid, so I devoured news stories, magazine articles, books,… But there was a lot we didn't know back then, especially about the USSR space program, but some stuff kept under wraps by our side. Walker did a great job with his research, and tells a suspenseful story, even though we know how it turns out.|
|The Scout Mindset — Why Some People See Things Clearly and Others Don't by Julia Galef. She distinguishes between the "scout" and "soldier" mindset when dealing with contentious issues. She recommends… well, you see the title there. She offers many tips for improving your thinking. You probably won't win any popularity contests with the folks who are dedicated soldiers, but why would you want to do that anyway?|
|The Hidden Half — The Unseen Forces that Influence Everything by Michael Blastland. Lively and accessible prose examining why research into thorny issues of economics, public health, sociology, psychology is so difficult. And why so much of it is hot garbage. Recommend you get a copy you can throw at anyone who says "Recent studies show…"|
|Facing Reality — Two Truths about Race in America by Charles Murray. And those truths are: "The first is that American Whites, Blacks, Latinos, and Asians, as groups, have different means and distributions of cognitive ability The second is that American Whites, Blacks, Latinos, and Asians, as groups, have different rates of violent crime." What to do? I like Murray's recommendations, which unfortunately seem unlikely to be taken up in today's poisonous atmosphere.|
|Maverick — A Biography of Thomas Sowell by Jason L. Riley. A mostly intellectual biography, to be specific. Jason Riley is a Sowell fanboy, and so am I. A onetime Marxist, Sowell's unflinching dedication to facts and data brought him around. If you don't want to wade through Sowell's voluminous oeuvre, this is a great intro.|
|Schrödinger's Killer App — Race to Build the World's First Quantum Computer by (the late) Jonathan P. Dowling. Unexpectedly hilarious look at quantum physics, both theoretical and practical. Very opinionated. And an interesting look at where quantum computing stood in 2013. (I'm not sure what's happened of importance since then.) I have Dowling's second (and unfortunately last) book on my get-at-library list.|
|And finally, American Happiness and Discontents — The Unruly Torrent, 2008-2020 by George F. Will. Mostly a collection of his syndicated WaPo column, organized into broad categories. My report at the link has ten paragraph-size quotes, and they are luminescent.|