Although I’ve had a life-long love of reading, I often can’t remember the specific books I’ve read from year to year – with a few notable exceptions. So, I've started to keep yearly lists to remind myself which books are essential, just for fun and not worth a second chance. If your taste in reading is like mine, you might enjoy some of these or at least avoid investing your time in a few I didn’t think measured up. As always, I also hope you will consider purchasing any of these that interest you through an independent bookstore like Powell’s in Portland, Vroman’s in Pasadena or Bookworks in my current home base.
The Book of Unknown Americans by Cristina Henriquez - Powerful and engaging tale of immigration in this country.
Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century by Jessica Bruder - Part cautionary tale and part expose about the country's new workforce made up of transient older adults.
All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr - Pulitzer Prize winner. The story of a blind French girl and a German boy whose paths collide in occupied France as both try to survive World War II.
How Democracies Die: What History Reveals About Our Future by Steven Levitsky, Daniel Ziblatt - If you read one political book in 2020, make it this one.
Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World by David Epstein - My favorite business/professional book of 2019. Read my full review here.
Curtain (Hercule Poirot finale) by Agatha Christie
Playback (Philip Marlowe finale) by Raymond Chandler
The Spy and the Traitor: The Greatest Espionage Story of the Cold War by Ben Macintyre - Nonfiction, but reads like a great fiction mystery.
Court Justice: The Inside Story of My Battle Against the NCAA and My Life in Basketball by Ed O'Bannon, Michael McCann (Co-Author)
The Hardmen: Legends and Lessons from the Cycling Gods by The Velominati
Three Weeks, Eight Seconds: Greg Lemond, Laurent Fignon, and the Epic Tour de France of 1989 by Nige Tassell - You know the outcome, but it's still amazing.
California: A History by Kevin Starr - Comprehensive, enlightening and entertaining.
Zero Hour for Gen X: How the Last Adult Generation Can Save America from Millennials by Matthew Hennessey - Read my review here.
The Soul of America: The Battle for Our Better Angels by Jon Meacham
Norco '80: The True Story of the Most Spectacular Bank Robbery in American History by Peter Houlahan - Fascinating true crime story.
Insane Clown President: Dispatches from the 2016 Circus by Matt Taibbi - You know the outcome, but it's still amazing.
Commander in Cheat: How Golf Explains Trump by Rick Reilly - His golf game really does reveal it all.
Disappointing, skip them
Blue Moon (Jack Reacher #24) by Lee Child - I've read most of the series and this was the first total miss for me. A really convoluted story and an almost comical, yet disturbing, level of violence.
The Most Defining Moments in Black History According to Dick Gregory by Dick Gregory - Some interesting observations and opinions, but a lot of weird ones as well.
Who Thought This Was a Good Idea?: And Other Questions You Should Have Answers to When You Work in the White House by Alyssa Mastromonaco - The author is interesting on podcasts, but the book is really slow.
The Great Crash of 1929 by John Kenneth Galbraith - Sounded interesting, but slow and dull.
More thoughts on books
My review: Three lessons from Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup