Red Plenty (Francis Spufford): This book is a sort of hybrid—a chronicle of the economic life of Soviet citizens, plus an intellectual history of Soviet attempts at non-capitalist ways to solve the “socialist allocation problem” (how to make sure people and organizations get the right goods). Both strands are super interesting and they combine really well. Highly recommended. Read based on the strong recommendation of Bloomberg columnist Matt Levine.
The Power Broker (Robert Caro): Awesome account of the power behind the throne in New York City during the mid-20th century. Robert Moses basically controlled all construction in NYC, and much of the rest of the state, between around 1920 and 1970. Note: I “read” this on audiobook to get around Caro’s turgid writing, and to make the most of an Audible credit (it’s ~80 hours long, normally $60+ but only 1 Audible credit).
Deep Work (Cal Newport): Newport has some good recommendations for maximizing the amount of time you’re able to spend on “deep work,” and I made some solid habit improvements based off of it. However, I’m not sure the book is actually necessary for that, or if it just caused me to spend enough time thinking about habit improvements that I came up with good ones. The book has a fair amount of filler but I didn’t mind skipping over it too much.
Rainbows End (Vernor Vinge): sci-fi book with cool world-building. Set in the nearer future than Vinge’s other work. I’m always fascinated by the stuff Vinge comes up with, but I think I still preferred A Fire Upon the Deep.
High Output Management (Andy Grove): Probably would have been awesome if so much of it wasn’t already encoded in Wave’s management practices.
Travels with Charley in Search of America (John Steinbeck): 80% really fun travel stories, and 20% hot takes starting with “I’m not saying I hate progress, but…” I eventually got bored of the punditry and put it down, but I did enjoy the three-quarters that I read.
Raising Steam (Terry Pratchett): I can’t tell if my tastes changed or if Pratchett got worse, but I didn’t enjoy this as much as his other novels. The plot felt less tight, the characters were less exciting, and the comedy wasn’t as on-point as my image of classic Pratchett.
The Power of Habit (Charles Duhigg): This might have some good parts, but I got frustrated with the enormous amount of sketchy pop neuroscience filler and didn’t finish it.