The books I've read in 2016

Mon, 26 Dec 2016

Some people seem to be interested in the books I read, and I always love hearing about what other people read.  So I’ve decided to put together a list of books that I read in 2016 - at least the ones I’m not too ashamed to own up to having read …

Red Notice, by Mike Browder, about his adventures in Russia’s corporate world, and his fight for justice.

Other People’s Money, by John Kay.  One of my top 3 for the year, and I wrote about it here.

The Penguin Lessons, by Tom Michell.  A true story, about a young man teaching in Argentina, and his adopted penguin - I enjoyed it.

Into the magic shop, A neurosurgeon's true story of the life-changing magic of compassion and mindfulness, by James Doty.  Excellent in places, though a bit cliched at times.

The Sense of Style, by Stephen Pinker.  A wonderful antidote to stuffy grammar books that teach you rules to follow, this book explains (with good examples) what it is that makes some writing easy to follow, and other writing incomprehensible.  

Utopia for Realists, by Rutger Bregman.  This short book looked at a number of economic ideas that I’m very interested in, most notably basic income and the future of work.  I wanted it to be wonderful, the book that I could give to everyone I knew, but unfortunately I found it merely pretty good.

Simplify: Ten Practices to Unclutter Your Soul, by Bill Hybels.  Written by an American Pastor, with a very spiritual element (so not aimed at everyone), but have some thoughtful insights, and clever ways of thinking about things that most people struggle with at times.

Let’s Stay Together - Denis MacShane, and EU Referendum: a guide to voters, by David Torrance.  I read these two books in the leadup to the referendum - the first intentionally pro-Remain, and the second attempting to present both sides.    

On Rock or Sand, a collection of essays edited by Archbishop John Sentamu, about the future of Britain.  Some of the collection were excellent (particularly the one on how our Parliament could be improved), I wrote about it here.

On the Move, by Oliver Sacks.  His childhood memoirs delving into the world of chemistry, Uncle Tungsten, is one of my all time favorite books, so when I heard this neuroscientist’s adult memoirs had been published around the time of his death in 2015, I was keen to read them.  A fascinating character with an incredible way of noticing things that no one else noticed.

All That is Solid: How the Great Housing Disaster Defines Our Times, and What We Can Do About it, by Danny Dorling.  This is focussed on the UK property market, and really got me thinking.  I might not agree with 100% of what he was arguing, but he was right on a lot, and I learned a lot.

PostCapitalism, by Paul Mason.  I didn’t find it as good as his shorter pieces.  I wrote about it here.

Saving Capitalism: For the many, not the few, by Robert Reich.  This is also in my top three for the year, I wrote about it here.

You are not so Smart, by David McRaney.  I’m fascinated by how we think, and how we get things wrong, so I felt I should read this book which has got very good reviews.  I did learn a few new things, but most of it covered ideas that I was already familiar with.  

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, by JK Rowling.  I couldn’t justify queuing for weeks, or paying £500 for the a scalped ticket, so I read the screenplay - and loved it.   I will hopefully get a chance to see it on stage one day.

Back to the Future of Socialism, by Peter Hain.  Written around the time of the 2015 election, this looked at the British Labour party, its record and its ideals.  I wrote about it here.

His Dark Materials Trilogy, by Philip Pullman.  I’m not really into fantasy, let alone fantasy aimed at children, but a friend persuaded me to read this - I at least get what the fuss (good and bad) is about.

The Return of the Public: Democracy, Power and the Case for Media Reform, by Dan Hind.  Interesting historical perspective, insight and ideas.  

Ethics in the Real World, by Peter Singer.  An excellent collection of articles, compiled over the years, but still relevant today.  I don’t agree with him on everything (apparently I’m not a consequentialist), but I do agree with him on a lot, and he does a great job of explaining his thinking.

Things to make and do in the fourth dimension, by Matt Parker.  One for the maths geeks, I’m afraid.  

The Wealth of Humans: Work and its Absence in the 21st Century, by Ryan Avent.  A very good book, this only just missed out on being in my top three for the year.  It considers, in a clear and rational way, how labour and capital are rewarded, and how this calculation has changed over time, particularly in light of technology, globalisation, and corporate know-how.  Highly recommended.

The Joy of Tax, by Richard Murphy.  I had considered reading this for a while, but had been put off by some bad reviews.  In the end I’m very glad did read it, the positives did outweigh the negatives, and I will be quoting examples from the book for some time.   (I note that it focusses primarily on the UK system, but would still be relevant for those in other countries.)

Politics: Between the Extremes, by Nick Clegg.  Another one that only just missed out my top three, I was left with a much greater appreciation for the challenges our MPs face, particularly those in the centre.  Highly recommended.  

The Globalization Paradox, by Dani Rodrik.  I loved this, and it made by top three (though you’d need an interest in economics to enjoy it).  I wrote about it here.

The Undoing Project: A friendship that changed our minds, by Michael Lewis.  The story of behavioural psychologists Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky, who contributed so much to our understanding of our irrationalities.  I wrote about it here.


Now onto 2017 - I’ve got a decent list of books I want to read, but I’m always grateful for suggestions.