The Best of Non-Fiction

ThinkingIt’s been quite a year of reading for me!  While it’s entirely possible that I manage to snag and read the best book in the world over the last few days of the year, here are what I think are the best of the non-fiction books I’ve read this year.

Thinking Fast & Slow – Kahneman – This book is brilliant.  It felt like a whole psychology course pushed into a book.  It helped me understand the mental processes between instinct and ration.  I was interested for the statistical processes and marketing implications.  The book is thick, but very worthwhile.

The Signal & the Noise – Silver – Anyone following US politics has heard of Nate Silver and his ability to predict elections.  Giving my interest in politics, big data, and statistics, I was anxious to read this book.  It didn’t cover everything I had hoped (Silver spends most of the time on weather prediction and online gambling), but it was helpful in understanding probabilities and why people tend to be bad at them.

emperorThe Emperor of all Maladies – Mukherjee – This book has been on my book bucket list, as it’s been recommended by so many people.  All those people were right.  The book is outstanding.  The description as a biography of cancer sells the book short.  This is the story of cancer since modern civilization and the people who have fought it.  While having a deeper understanding of cancer is terrifying, the story of how we’re getting better at fighting it was heartening.

Paying for the Party – Armstrong & Hamilton – This book is a sociological study of the understudy of the US large public university.  I was impressed with the analysis of class in America and how institutions like public higher education are hailed as the way to help people out of the lower classes, while actually reinforcing class.

Canadian Ways – Harris & Harris – I found this book in a small used bookstore.  It was written by a US schoolteacher in the 1930s to explain Canadians to their students.  Full of great insights about Canada and Canadians, I was enthralled by the similarities and differences to the country today.

I read so many great non-fiction books this year.  Can’t wait to get to more great books!


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