A reader pointed out that I didn’t write a “best of 2016” post, which is correct, but “best of” strikes me wrong, so I’m going to write about good books that I happened to read in 2016 and that you should read too.
* The Undoing Project: A Friendship That Changed Our Minds by Michael Lewis, probably the best book I read all year, except maybe for Blindsight, but that is so different that the two aren’t really comparable.
* Perfect Rigor: A Genius and the Mathematical Breakthrough of the Century by Masha Gessen, another narrative nonfiction book, though this one emerged and escaped my notice in 2009.
* The Map and the Territory by Houellebecq, still weird and likely always weird; Houellebecq has his misses, especially The Possibility of an Island, but his hits are strong, weird, and different—with “different” too often meaning “bad,” but not in his case.
* Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson, one of those amazing books worth re-reading whenever you can’t find a new book to read.
* The Song Machine: Inside the Hit Factory by John Seabrook, which is novelistic in detail and beautifully reported. I didn’t fully know where the music everyone listens to comes from and now I do.
I’ve been having trouble finding really good novels, though my tastes are idiosyncratic and I don’t have rules for what makes a good novel besides the tautological, “Be really good.” If you have suggestions drop me a line.
The most-visited post I wrote last year is “The race to the bottom of victimhood and ‘social justice’ culture.”