Books I read in 2019
- A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry. This follows the lives of 4 ordinary people during the Emergency of the 1970s. It gave me a fresh perspective on a difficult time in India's history, as well an appreciation of the difficulties faced by Indians less privileged than me. Reading this drained me emotionally, but it was worth it.
- Deng Xiaoping and the Transformation of China by Ezra Vogel. Deng was the paramount leader of China from 1978 to 1989, overseeing huge internal changes and setting the direction for the next 25 years. Many of the decisions the Chinese government has taken since then make sense when viewed from the lens of Deng's philosophy. Since I've never read any other book about Chinese history, I found this eye opening.
- Factfulness: 10 Reasons We're Wrong about the World by Hans Rosling. TLDR - the world is better than you think it is. But more interesting is understanding why general perceptions are so negative. It's to do with how we consume and process information about the world. Becoming aware of these biases could help improve our thinking and be less wrong with time.
Other good books
- A Legacy of Spies by John le Carre
- The Song of Achilles by Madeleine Miller
- La Belle Sauvage by Philip Pullman
- The Testaments by Margaret Atwood
- Different Seasons by Stephen King
- My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite
- The First Law trilogy by Joe Abercrombie
- Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality by Eliezer Yudkowsky
- Mr. Midshipman Hornblower by C. S. Forester
- Permanent Record by Edward Snowden
- Nonviolent Communication by Marshall Rosenberg
- The Gene by Siddhartha Mukherjee
- A Room of Ones Own by Virginia Woolf
Books I didn't like
I read 4 other books that I didn't like as much. I usually don't mention them because I don't like criticising books for being poor. I'll make an exception for one of them - Why We Sleep by Matthew Walker. This has been lauded universally for being an excellent book. I read it and found some factual errors. Later I come across articles that criticise Walker's dishonesty in presenting experimental data (one, two). I fear people could read this book, become anxious that they're not sleeping enough, and that anxiety could make them sleep worse. If you haven't read this book, skip it.
Overall I started the year with 20 odd books on my reading list. I read 22 books in 2019. I ended the year with about 20 books on my reading list. The road goes ever on. 🙂