The star ratings I give the books I read, just like the ratings I give to the music I listen to, are personal and difficult to generalize to others. My 4 star rating today is different from yours, and different from mine a year ago. I also like the idea of bucking the trend of rating and ranking everything.

Instead of including ratings, I will write reading notes for some of the books and link to them below. In the notes I will explain what I like and don’t like about the book, and who, if anyone, should read it. This page starts in 2020 and it will be unlikely to include notes for books read prior to that day, but I will try to get around to some of my favorites.

Thanks to Coleman McCormick and Tom MacWright for sharing their book logs (Coleman’s, Tom’s), which directly contributed to me taking the time to create my own.

General strong recommendations

With hedging out of the way, there are a few books I would recommend to everyone. If we were friends, I would talk to you a lot about these books. I can directly attribute ways I’ve changed my mind to at least one of these books.


All books

2020

  • The Complaints. Ian Rankin (2011)
  • Untamed. Glennon Doyle (2020)
  • Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action. Simon Sinek (2009) BOOK NOTE
  • The Remains of the Day. Kazuo Ishiguro (2005)
  • The Hidden Persuaders. Vance Packard (2007)

2019

  • The Education of an Idealist: A Memoir. Samantha Power (2019)
  • Limbo. A. Manette Ansay (2002)
  • The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. Junot Díaz (2008)
  • Burn It Down: Women Writing about Anger. Lilly Dancyger (2019)
  • Dopesick: Dealers, Doctors, and the Drug Company that Addicted America. Beth Macy (2019)
  • The Bastard Brigade: The True Story of the Renegade Scientists and Spies Who Sabotaged the Nazi Atomic Bomb. Sam Kean (2019)
  • Say Nothing: A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland. Patrick Radden Keefe (2019)
  • Tenth of December. George Saunders (2012)
  • Educated. Tara Westover (2018)
  • Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy SEALs Lead and Win. Jocko Willink (2015)
  • The Mastermind: Drugs. Empire. Murder. Betrayal.. Evan Ratliff (2019)
  • East West Street: On the Origins of ‘Genocide’ and ‘Crimes Against Humanity’. Philippe Sands (2017)
  • Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World. Cal Newport (2019)
  • The Fifth Risk. Michael Lewis (2018)
  • The Soul of a New Machine. Tracy Kidder (2000)

2018

  • Red Notice: A True Story of High Finance, Murder, and One Man’s Fight for Justice. Bill Browder (2015)
  • Fascism: A Warning. Madeleine K. Albright (2018)
  • Play On: The New Science of Elite Performance at Any Age. Jeff Bercovici (2018)
  • The End of the Road: The Festina Affair and the Tour That Almost Wrecked Cycling. Alasdair Fotheringham (2017)
  • The End of Airports. Christopher Schaberg (2015)
  • My Name Is Asher Lev. Chaim Potok (2003)
  • The Death of Marco Pantani: A Biography. Matt Rendell (2015)
  • The Secret Race: Inside the Hidden World of the Tour de France: Doping, Cover-ups, and Winning at All Costs. Tyler Hamilton (2012)
  • Triggers: Creating Behavior That Lasts—Becoming the Person You Want to Be. Marshall Goldsmith (2015)
  • Last Train to Istanbul. Ayşe Kulin (2013)
  • A River in Darkness: One Man’s Escape from North Korea. Masaji Ishikawa (2018)
  • Bringing Columbia Home: The Untold Story of a Lost Space Shuttle and Her Crew. Michael D. Leinbach (2018)
  • The Conquest of Happiness. Bertrand Russell (2006)

2017

  • All the President’s Men. Carl Bernstein (1974)
  • Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea. Barbara Demick (2010)
  • Operation Thunderbolt: Flight 139 and the Raid on Entebbe Airport, the Most Audacious Hostage Rescue Mission in History. Saul David (2017)
  • Among the Thugs. Bill Buford (1993)
  • Killing a King: The Assassination of Yitzhak Rabin and the Remaking of Israel. Dan Ephron (2016)

2016

  • Runway Zero-Eight. Arthur Hailey (1969)
  • Read This If You Want to Take Great Photographs. Henry Carroll (2014)
  • Blind Descent: The Quest to Discover the Deepest Place on Earth. James M. Tabor (2010)
  • Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil. Hannah Arendt (2006)
  • Thoughtful Machine Learning: A Test-Driven Approach. Matthew Kirk (2014)
  • Inside the Third Reich. Albert Speer (1997)
  • Saddam Hussein: The Politics of Revenge. Said K. Aburish (2001)
  • Story of My Life. Moshe Dayan (1992)
  • StreetCreds. Zach Fortier (2012)
  • The Spy Who Came In from the Cold. John le Carré (2001)
  • Cat’s Cradle. Kurt Vonnegut Jr. (1999)
  • Slaughterhouse-Five. Kurt Vonnegut Jr. (1999)
  • The Foreigner’s Gift: The Americans, the Arabs, and the Iraqis in Iraq. Fouad Ajami (2007)
  • Brotherhood of Warriors: Behind Enemy Lines with a Commando in One of the World’s Most Elite Counterterrorism Units. Aaron Cohen (2009)
  • Shadow Divers: The True Adventure of Two Americans Who Risked Everything to Solve One of the Last Mysteries of World War II. Robert Kurson (2005)
  • Open Letter: On Blasphemy, Islamophobia, and the True Enemies of Free Expression. Charb (2016)
  • The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine. Michael Lewis (2015)
  • أولاد حارتنا. Naguib Mahfouz (2006)
  • Wheelmen: Lance Armstrong, the Tour de France, and the Greatest Sports Conspiracy Ever. Reed Albergotti (2013)
  • Seven Deadly Sins: My Pursuit of Lance Armstrong. David Walsh (2013)
  • Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration. Ed Catmull (2014)
  • Skyfaring: A Journey with a Pilot. Mark Vanhoenacker (2015)

2015

  • On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft. Stephen King (2001)
  • The Transhumanist Wager. Zoltan Istvan (2013)
  • The Miracle Inspector. Helen Smith (2012)
  • The Prospect of My Arrival. Dwight Okita (2011)
  • A Man Called Intrepid. William Stevenson (2000)
  • In This Arab Time: The Pursuit of Deliverance. Fouad Ajami (2014)

2014

  • Daimones (Daimones Trilogy, #1). Massimo Marino (2012)
  • The Crisis: The President, the Prophet & the Shah-1979 & the Coming of Militant Islam. David Victor Harris (2004)
  • The Fry Chronicles (Memoir #2). Stephen Fry (2010)
  • The Fall. Annelie Wendeberg (2013)
  • The Girl Who Disappeared Twice (Forensic Instincts, #1). Andrea Kane (2011)

2013

  • Striking Back: The 1972 Munich Olympics Massacre and Israel’s Deadly Response. Aaron J. Klein (2005)
  • The Falls. Ian Rankin (2005)
  • The Falls (Inspector Rebus, #12). Ian Rankin (2005)
  • Tooth and Nail. Ian Rankin (2005)
  • Tooth and Nail (Inspector Rebus, #3). Ian Rankin (2005)
  • Hide and Seek. Ian Rankin (2005)
  • Hide and Seek (Inspector Rebus, #2). Ian Rankin (2005)
  • Open Society and Its Enemies, Volume 2: The High Tide of Prophecy: Hegel, Marx, and the Aftermath. Karl Popper (1971)
  • Molasses. Antonio Michael Downing (2010)
  • On Liberty. John Stuart Mill (2004)
  • The Bourne Supremacy (Jason Bourne, #2). Robert Ludlum (1986)
  • The Bourne Identity (Jason Bourne, #1). Robert Ludlum (2010)
  • The Passage of Power (The Years of Lyndon Johnson [#4]). Robert A. Caro (2012)

2012

  • Master of the Senate. Robert A. Caro (2003)
  • Margrave of the Marshes. John Peel (2006)
  • Sputnik: The Shock of the Century. Paul Dickson (2011)
  • The Fabric of Reality: The Science of Parallel Universes–and Its Implications. David Deutsch (1998)
  • Comm Check…: The Final Flight of Shuttle Columbia. Michael Cabbage (2004)
  • Means of Ascent (The Years of Lyndon Johnson, #2). Robert A. Caro (1991)
  • The Naming of the Dead (Inspector Rebus, #16). Ian Rankin (2006)
  • Mortal Causes (Inspector Rebus, #6). Ian Rankin (2008)
  • The Path to Power. Robert A. Caro (1990)
  • How to Be an Alien: A Handbook for Beginners and Advanced Pupils. George Mikes (1977)
  • The Black Book (Inspector Rebus, #5). Ian Rankin (2000)
  • Personal Witness: Israel Through My Eyes. Abba Eban (1992)

2011

  • Cryptonomicon. Neal Stephenson (2003)
  • The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner. James Hogg (2010)
  • The Ransom of Black Stealth One (Aerospace Systems, #1). Dean Ing (1990)

Pre history

  • Wolves Eat Dogs (Arkady Renko, #5). Martin Cruz Smith (2005)
  • The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks & Win Your Inner Creative Battles. Steven Pressfield (2003)
  • The Stand. Stephen King (2011)
  • The Souls of Yellow Folk. Wesley Yang (2018)
  • The Real Jack The Ripper. James Tully (2005)
  • The Partner. John Grisham (2005)
  • The Murder Book (Alex Delaware, #16). Jonathan Kellerman (2002)
  • The Lonely Dead. Michael Marshall (2005)
  • The Last Lion: Winston Spencer Churchill: Visions of Glory 1874-1932. William Manchester (1984)
  • The Last Lion 2: Winston Spencer Churchill: Alone, 1932-40. William Manchester (1988)
  • The King of Torts. John Grisham (2003)
  • The Killer Inside Me. Jim Thompson (2006)
  • The Iliad. Homer (1999)
  • The Great Shark Hunt: Strange Tales from a Strange Time (The Gonzo Papers, #1). Hunter S. Thompson (2003)
  • The Fountainhead. Ayn Rand (1952)
  • The Firm. John Grisham (2000)
  • The Broken Spears: The Aztec Account of the Conquest of Mexico. Miguel León-Portilla (2006)
  • The 4-Hour Workweek. Timothy Ferriss (2007)
  • Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman!: Adventures of a Curious Character. Richard P. Feynman (1997)
  • Stitches: A Memoir. David Small (2010)
  • Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar. Simon Sebag Montefiore (2004)
  • Schindler’s List. Thomas Keneally (1993)
  • Risk: The Science and Politics of Fear. Dan Gardner (2008)
  • Resurrection Men (Inspector Rebus, #13). Ian Rankin (2002)
  • Polar Star / Rose. Martin Cruz Smith (2002)
  • Polar Star / Rose (Arkady Renko, #2 included). Martin Cruz Smith (2002)
  • Operation Nemesis: The Assassination Plot that Avenged the Armenian Genocide. Eric Bogosian (2017)
  • One Last Breath (Ben Cooper & Diane Fry, #5). Stephen Booth (2007)
  • Motorworld. Jeremy Clarkson (2004)
  • Maus I: A Survivor’s Tale: My Father Bleeds History (Maus, #1). Art Spiegelman (1991)
  • Live Bait. P.J. Tracy (2004)
  • Knots and Crosses (Inspector Rebus, #1). Ian Rankin (1995)
  • Infidel. Ayaan Hirsi Ali (2007)
  • Inferno (Inferno, #1). Larry Niven (2008)
  • I Know You Got Soul: Machines With That Certain Something. Jeremy Clarkson (2006)
  • Hunting Eichmann: How a Band of Survivors and a Young Spy Agency Chased Down the World’s Most Notorious Nazi. Neal Bascomb (2010)
  • Huge. James W. Fuerst (2009)
  • How to Read a Book: The Classic Guide to Intelligent Reading. Mortimer J. Adler (1972)
  • High Fidelity. Nick Hornby (2000)
  • Heavy: An American Memoir. Kiese Laymon (2019)
  • Gorky Park / Nightwing. Martin Cruz Smith (2003)
  • Gironimo!: Riding the Very Terrible 1914 Tour of Italy. Tim Moore (2016)
  • Ghost in the Wires: My Adventures as the World’s Most Wanted Hacker. Kevin D. Mitnick (2011)
  • Free Will as an Open Scientific Problem. Mark Balaguer (2009)
  • Fleshmarket Close. Ian Rankin (2005)
  • Fleshmarket Close (Inspector Rebus, #15). Ian Rankin (2005)
  • Exit Music (Inspector Rebus, #17). Ian Rankin (2008)
  • Dragon (Dirk Pitt #10). Clive Cussler (1991)
  • Don’t Stop Me Now. Jeremy Clarkson (2010)
  • Digital Fortress. Dan Brown (2004)
  • Dead Souls. Ian Rankin (1999)
  • Dead Souls (Inspector Rebus, #10). Ian Rankin (1999)
  • Daemon (Daemon, #1). Daniel Suarez (2009)
  • Confessions of a Wall Street Analyst: A True Story of Inside Information and Corruption in the Stock Market. Daniel Reingold (2007)
  • Click Here to Kill Everybody: Security and Survival in a Hyper-connected World. Bruce Schneier (2018)
  • Clarkson on Cars. Jeremy Clarkson (2004)
  • Christopher Columbus and the Enterprise of the Indies: A Brief History with Documents. Geoffrey Symcox (2005)
  • Capital in the Twenty-First Century. Thomas Piketty (2014)
  • Born to be Riled. Jeremy Clarkson (2007)
  • Black and Blue (Inspector Rebus, #8). Ian Rankin (2002)
  • Beware of Small States: Lebanon, Battleground of the Middle East. David Hirst (2010)
  • Badenheim 1939. Aharon Appelfeld (2009)
  • Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup. John Carreyrou (2018)
  • Altered Carbon. Richard K. Morgan (2007)
  • Altered Carbon (Takeshi Kovacs, #1). Richard K. Morgan (2007)
  • Airport. Arthur Hailey (2000)
  • A Question of Blood (Inspector Rebus, #14). Ian Rankin (2004)
  • A Colossal Failure of Common Sense: The Inside Story of the Collapse of Lehman Brothers. Lawrence G. McDonald (2009)
  • 1984. George Orwell (2008)