This past year was a mixed one for me, book-wise. Last year I had read a personal best of 55 books and wanted to continue that streak this year as well. Unfortunately I could not meet that target this year. As a matter of fact, I don’t even have an exact number of books that I read this year. But. And that’s a pretty major but. I feel this year was much better in terms of the kinds of books I read. Last year was dominated by fiction which I wanted to change up this year. I am pretty happy with the mix of books this year which I felt was pretty balanced between fiction and non-fiction. I read some pretty amazing books and can only hope that this streak also continues in 2020.
Here’s a list of the top 5 non-fiction books that I read this year. These are the books I personally loved and more importantly would want my friends to read and enjoy. I am providing Amazon links to each of the books with them so that you don’t have to work too hard to find them. Full Disclosure - These are affiliate links.
Permanent Record by Edward Snowden - This is by far one of the most important books I have read in a long time. We all know how our privacy and civil liberties can and are being threated by the very governments we elected to protect us. But this book puts a real face and facts to whatever small doubts we might have in our mind. Snowden chronologically and categorically details out how all the intelligence branches of the govt were misusing the setup that was built in the first place under the pretext of keeping the public safe. The fact that they have a tool that can give them instant access to the online life of absolutely anyone is beyond scary. And in this day and age is there any life left outside of online life? The point that hit me really hard was how relatable it all was for me. This is not a phenomenon that happens “only in the US”. I know this can and is happening here in my country. If not overtly, I am certain there are covert operations that are illegally monitoring and tracking common Indian citizens. I highly recommend this book to everyone irrespective of what your reading habits are. Even if this is the only book you ever read in your life, let this be it. It will be worth your time.
Link : https://amzn.to/2Sfe8Z4
Atomic Habits by James Clear - We all want to make our lives better that where it is right now. There are a lot of good habits that we want to incorporate and many that we want to drop. If you are someone who also wants a little help and guidance towards this mission then this is the book for you. This really short, concise and to-the-point book will guide you through building good habits, breaking bad ones and making yourself 1% better every day. There are a lot of really good books about habits out there but this one is probably among the best. The USP of this book is the structuring of chapters and relatively short length. Link : https://amzn.to/2tLIJDl
Talking to Strangers by Malcolm Gladwell - You can never go wrong with Gladwell. I am a religious Gladwell reader and read his new books as soon as I can. “Talking to Strangers” is no exception. Now I am primarily an audiobook listener. Four out of the five books in this list have been consumed by my in the audiobook form only. Talking to Strangers is probably the best produced audiobook that I have ever listened to in my life. It is narrated by Gladwell himself and listens a lot like his podcast. Honestly, even if you do not usually listen to audiobooks, I recommend you that you make an exception this time and listen to this book.
Now talking about the book, this is a really well researched and written piece about how we humans are actually really bad at making sense of people we don’t know. How our predisposition and expectations about how one ought to behave cloud our judgement and make it really hard for us to make sense of strangers. If you like non fiction, you will really enjoy this book. Link : https://amzn.to/34UR98t
The Complete Joy of Homebrewing by Charlie Papazian - 2019 was the year when I finally took the plunge and got into the hobby of homebrewing. I would like to inform you that I have successfully been able to produce my first batch of beer and it turned out better than expected. You can read more about it all here. This book, The complete joy of Homebrewing, is considered the bible of homebrewing. And rightfully so. There is a reason the keyword in the name is “Joy” and not Guide. This book is such an easy and fun read that you do not even feel that you are reading a fairly technical document. It walks you through every step of homebrewing with easy and helps you understand every process and practice. If you ever want to start and get into the habit of homebrewing, this is where I recommend you start. Link: https://amzn.to/375Ybsu
The Death of Expertise: The Campaign Against Established Knowledge and Why It Matters by Tom Nichols - Now this is probably the most controversial book in this entire list with readership fairly evenly divided among people who agree with the author and those who thinks that he is talking out of his butt. For what it’s worth I kind of agree with the author on most of the topics and levels. The best possible outcome of the rise of internet was that it made access to information easier and gave a platform to everyone who has an opinion. The biggest side effect of this is given a rise to so many self-proclaimed “experts” who with their shallow and sometimes unsubstantiated knowledge feel that their opinion holds the same weightage as someone who might have literally devoted their entire life in studying the subject matter. According to the author, and with this I also agree, there has been a systematic attach on education and educated or the intellectuals with people with Whatsapp forwards and Facebook posts on the one side and literary scholars on the others. And I do not need to tell you which side has the numbers. It is a really good book and the author makes a really good case. If you think this is a topic that might interest you, this is a really well written book. Link : https://amzn.to/2QbwkA1
Here are a few books which though did not make the top 5, are absolutely brilliant reads which you might like.
- The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains by Nicholas Carr
- The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins
- The Richest Man in Babylon by George S. Clason
- Will My Cat Eat My Eyeballs? Big Questions from Tiny Mortals About Death by Caitlin Doughty
- Never Split the Difference: Negotiating As If Your Life Depended On It by Chris Voss
- Dare to Lead: Brave Work. Tough Conversations. Whole Hearts. by Brené Brown
- Ikigai by Héctor García
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