What I’ve been reading

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Favorite books.

January 21, 2022
Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari.
An intoxicating tour of homo sapiens’ journey from foragers through 3 revolutions (cognitive, agricultural, scientific) to today’s world. (A)

January 17, 2022
Actress by Anne Enright.
I was bored for long parts of this one, but there were several interesting scenes with a good emotional punch. I liked this line near the end: “You will realize that you think too much and live too little and that most people, men and women both, are mostly fine.” (C)

January 13, 2022
Uncontrolled Spread: Why COVID-19 Crushed Us and How We Can Defeat the Next Pandemic by Scott Gottlieb.
A thorough recap of the first 18 months of the pandemic and a good introduction to many of the health and scientific concepts. Gottlieb typically explains something once, recaps it again a little later, and then repeats everything a third time. Overkill for some, no doubt, but I appreciated the multiple opportunities to take it all in. (B+)

January 7, 2022
Small Things Like These by Claire Keegan.
A gem of a novel. Phenomenal. (A+)

January 6, 2022
A Shot to Save the World: The Inside Story of the Life-or-Death Race for a COVID-19 Vaccine by Gregory Zuckerman.
A thrilling, inspiring account of how the Covid vaccines were researched, designed, produced, and tested. Detailed, meticulous, and enlightening while never tedious. (A)

January 4, 2022
Collected Works of Jane Austen. Near the start of the pandemic I decided to revisit all 6 of Austen’s novels and today I finished the last one, Persuasion. They are all wonderful, of course. Sense & Sensibility is the most emotive. Northanger Abbey the most playful. Emma and Persuasion are both near perfect. My only small complaint is the closing of Mansfield Park which feels hurried and not quite fully worked out. Pride & Prejudice remains my favorite book by any author. (A+++)

January 1, 2022
Amazon Unbound: Jeff Bezos and the Invention of a Global Empire by Brad Stone. The author of the Everything Store returns to the Amazon/Bezos story 10 years later to give an updated take on the company’s rise to global dominance. (B+)

December 24, 2021
The Dig by John Preston. One of the few instances where the movie (fantastic) is better than the book (good but not great). Still, many interesting tidbits about archaeology and excavation. (C+)

December 20, 2021
Churchill: Walking with Destiny by Andrew Roberts. The best book I’ve read in the last year. Churchill is a towering figure and still, somehow his real life is bigger, grander, and more remarkable than what I expected. (A+)

December 5, 2021
The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway. A mad romp through France and Spain with bull fighting, fishing, eating, cocktails, beer, and wine. And then some more drinking. (B+)

December 1, 2021
Fly by Wire: The Geese, the Glide, the Miracle on the Hudson by William Langewiesche. I’ve read this several times. It’s a fascinating look at the famous water landing on the Hudson River. But it also takes a deep dive into the airplane technology that made the landing possible. (A+)

November 21, 2021
Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life by William Finnegan. A long meditation on a life devoted to surfing. Lots of travel, and close calls, and left breaks, and right breaks. Beautifully written and in the end, it works. (A)

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