Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Best Books of 2010

Not really. This list isn't necessarily of the best books (some I wouldn't even recommend reading). It also isn't strictly a 2010 list (one book on it was written fifty years ago). What it is, is a list of books I've read this year that I think are worthy of being remembered.

After the jump, the list along with my Twitter review for each.

  • Freedom, by Jonathan Franzen: 40 years of an average dysfunctional family. A modern War and Peace without the war. Or peace. Read it.
  • Tinkers, by Paul Harding: As an old man is dying, his tinker's life is told at a deliberate pace in rich detail, like a still life in words.
  • On the Road, by Jack Kerouac: Classic portrait of postwar America, irresponsible youth and the urge to travel. Dialog as American as Twain.

  • The Moral Landscape, by Sam Harris: Science & morality are not different realms. Science has more to say about morality than religion does.
  • From Eternity to Here, by Sean Carroll: Theories about entropy, the arrow of time, the beginning & end of the universe. A look at scientists at work.
  • Pandora's Seed, by Spencer Wells: Consequences to our bodies, society & planet from humanity's decisions 10,000 years ago. Do-over, anyone?

  • Paper Money by Adam Smith: A 30-year-old book about a housing bubble, inflation, Middle East oil dependence. Glad all that's ancient history
  • Lords of Finance by Liaquat Ahamed: 4 central bankers who led the world into Depression. If you seek to understand today, read this history.
  • 13 Bankers: study of growth of the financial industry. It's stronger than ever after the crisis. Dry reading, but important. TBTF means TB.
  • The Big Short: Story of investors who foresaw the housing collapse and knew how to profit. Great explanation for economic meltdown. Read it.
  • The End of the Free Market, by Ian Bremmer: State capitalism on the rise. Multinational corporations challenged. More facts than insights.
  • End the Fed, by Ron Paul: Fiat money is fraud. Taxation a tyranny. Laissez-faire a utopia. Repeat ad nauseum until padded to book length.

  • The Ghosts of Cannae, by R. O'Connell: Hannibal invades Italy without an exit plan, wins every battle but loses the war. Sound familiar?
  • Diplomacy, by Henry Kissinger (1994): 300 yrs of history taught by master of Realpolitik. So smart, you wonder how he screwed up so badly.
  • Packing the Court by James MacGregor Burns: History of SCOTUS. Always been a political creature. Has powers beyond framers' intent. Reform.
  • The Decision to Use the Atomic Bomb: If you believe the myth that the intent was to save lives by avoiding having to invade, read this book.
  • The Hawk and the Dove: History of Cold War told thru careers of Nitze&Kennan. Scary times, brilliant men. Still looking for their kind today

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