The best books I’ve read this year
I was lucky enough to read a shitload of books this year – these are some of the highlights.
Amazing book about marketing, blogging, journalism and how to play the PR game – lots of it makes me equal parts sad and mad at how malleable/dumb/stupid people can be. It’s also hilarious and a real eye opener for people who don’t work in the marketing/tech/PR industry. It’s also really well written and pretty funny in places.
Do yourself and favour and just buy this now. There are very few books that I’ve read where I’ve deliberately rationed myself to a few pages a day so that I don’t finish it too quickly. This was one of them. A remarkable book, a brilliant story and some truly beautiful prose to boot.
Amazing book about Kevin Mitnick’s adventures. At one point he was the ‘world’s most wanted hacker’. This goes through his various escapades and is a really good introduction to the whole world of hacking right from its earliest days. The fact that it reads like a thriller makes it even better.
I defy you to read this book and not come up with at least three business ideas that might just work…
Beautifully constructed telling of the story of Achilles as told by his friend and lover Patroclus. This won the Orange Prize for Fiction earlier this year – it’s easy to see why.
If you played games, listened to music or had anything to do with pop culture in the 70s and 80s, you will love this. If you missed out on those glory days, read it anyway and use it as a guide to classic games, albums and more from that era. It’s a tie between this and 1Q84 for my favourite fiction book of the year.
People talk a lot about the great American novel. This has to be considered one of the great modern London novels. You can perhaps telegraph the ending a little, but that doesn’t take away from the overall quality of the writing.
An appropriate addition given that this is the time of year when people think most about those habits they may or may not need/want to change. This is filled with brilliant anecdotes and stories about habits – what they are, how they develop and how people and organisations can change them. You will not be able to read this without coming up with ways to get rid of bad habits, foster new habits, create a better working environment and potentially create a new business.
A brilliant spy novel by one of the best of that genre’s current batch. The joy of Cumming’s novels is that there are rarely Bourne-style set pieces of Bond-esque bursts of action. Rather they deal in nuance and shades of grey - giving you a sense of how incredibly taut a spy’s existence must really be. Not far off Le Carré imho…
Slightly late to the party with this one, but it’s an amazing book that deserves a look if you haven’t had the pleasure already. Brilliantly written - almost like Mark Bowden or Sebastian Junger was writing a series of big pieces for Vanity Fair in a post-Zombie era.
There’s a few others on my Referly page – which I’ll be adding to over the next few days. I’ll also add in a few posts on my favourite games, music and movies of the year over the next day or two, but hopefully you’ll find some happy reading in the above list to keep you going in the interim…
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