Every year, I read 52+ books. Yes, some of them are forgettable. Some of them rock my world. Leave a comment below if one of the books listed is on your list. If you’ve got a book you’d like me to read, leave a shout out at the bottom of the page.
If you’re looking for more books to read, check out my 2019 Book List.
Our first month’s pick is Tribe of Mentors by Tim Ferriss. Although I read a lot of books in January, Tribe of Mentors had a lot of qualities that stuck with me after reading it. There’s a lot of information to process! I suggest taking it in chunks when possible. Below you can find a link to the full review. The review includes a complete list of each of the >100 mentors Tim interviews.
Click for a full review.
My pick for the month of February is The Gene, by Siddhartha Mukherjee. The Gene follows heredity and its basal unit, the gene, through its many historical forms. Dr. Mukherjee’s writing style draws the reader in, making a high brow topic digestible for the rest of us. It is a must read for those who are interested in genetics and epigenetics. The field is moving in a direction that will only put it more to the forefront of our minds. The book’s implications are astonishing.
February saw the release of Michio Kaku’s latest book, The Future of Humanity. Dr. Kaku has a way of making incredibly complex topics accessible to the masses. His latest book mostly focuses on near-term future developments which are likely to shake things up for humans. From self-replicating robots to the possibility of terraforming Mars, Kaku lays out cogent arguments which are not only based in hard science, but also vividly imagined. Although he didn’t make a stop in Reno, I was able to snag a signed copy through Barnes & Noble’s website for only a dollar or two above retail, which was a great deal. The Future of Humanity is an excellent read for those interested in science who don’t necessarily have a degree in Physics. Though, I’m sure the book would be a fair amount of fun for physicists as well!
With everything happening right now in North Korea, there is hardly a more appropriate pick for April than the spine-tingling memoir, A River In Darkness. Translated from the original Japanese, this book tells the story of Masaji Ishikawa’s escape from North Korea after 36 years living under the oppressive Kim regime. It is a dark story, reminiscent at times of Victor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning. Even if North Korea gives up its nuclear program and joins the rest of the world in peace, it could take decades to unravel all of the atrocities that have occurred since the Korean War.
We hear on TV that life under the Kim regime is bad; that the people live under cover of propaganda and misinformation, shut off from the outside world. Do yourself a favor and read this book. There are very few firsthand accounts from inside North Korea and this one is particularly poignant. It will open your eyes to a reality most would rather shut away in the deepest recesses of their subconscious. I encourage you to resist the temptation to turn away.
Few political figures in history carry as much favor as Abraham Lincoln. But it wasn’t always the case. In April 1865, during the closing moments of the civil war, Lincoln was one of the most hated men in the country. Assassination plots abound, most people of the time knew it was only a matter of time before someone attempted the job.
I am almost entirely sure Martin Dugard wrote the bulk of Killing Lincoln, and it really shows. His ability to weave a thriller out of historical events is unparalleled. The research appears to be on point and nuggets of story appear in just the right order to keep the pages turning. In addition to being genuinely entertaining, the book is also highly relevant today. Killing Lincoln even touches on some of the conspiracy theories regarding Lincoln’s assassination. Some are more far fetched than others, and one of them is very convincing. I’ve read a few books in the ‘Killing’ series and this one is up there for me. I might even like it more than Killing the Rising Sun.
Jocko Willink is a beast. A former Navy Seal commander, Jocko began consulting for various companies to train them to lead like Seals. The advice laid out in his book and his colleague’s, Extreme Ownership, are valuable no matter the industry in which you work. If you need any convincing to read his book, check out one of his podcasts on Youtube. There are some real gems in his catalog.
Abundance is an excellent example of positivity in futurism. Diamandis lays out ways to achieve abundant food, technology, water, and more with cogent arguments sure to entice even the most jaded cynic. For a full review, click here.
I’ve loved Star Wars for a long time, but never gotten into the books or graphic novels. The premise of this one sparked my interest and needless to say I’m glad I indulged. This graphic novel takes place between Episodes 3 and 4 and provides a bit of background on a topic not much touched on in the films. In it, we get to see a bit of the dynamic between Vader and the Emperor and the kind of power he had (something we barely begin to see in Rogue One). If you liked the scene I’m mentioning, you’ll love this story. It turns out, the graphic novel is an excellent medium for Star Wars. The art was breathtaking. Highly recommend!
Foundation is a must-read for sci-fi fans. It’s one of those books and series in which everyone and their brother says they’ve read it, but few actually have. Many involved in our current space programs, including billionaire Elon Musk, are fascinated by the series and often list it as their favorite or most inspiring reads. For a full review, click here.
Accessory To War is an extensive and detailed look at the relationship between astrophyicists and military advancement throughout time. Some of the more interesting parts of Tyson’s history involve stories of now-antiquated technology such as the original telescope and signal towers. Politics were injected into the discussion sparingly and were largely able to be ignored, understanding Dr. Tyson’s perspective. Neil DeGrasse Tyson’s book is a fascinating look at a seldom seen aspect of warfare.
The Man in the High Castle (1962) is a fascinating look at what may have happened if the Axis powers had won World War II. This alternate history (future?) takes place in the 1960s in a broken United States. Japan rules the West coast, Germany the East coast, with a sort of no-man’s land in the Rocky Mountain region. After reading the book and watching the Amazon Prime show, I can say that both are amazing in their own ways. In the book, play close attention to how Dick portrays the various honorifics and power dynamics in conversations between the subservient Americans and the Japanese. Really interesting stuff!
Sometimes, it’s nice to go back and read a classic. Agatha Christie never disappoints! The Body in the Library is a great first venture into a Miss Marple mystery. She is a great character, who uses both powerful deduction and gossipping skills to solve crimes and stay one step ahead of murderers and other investgators alike.