Books Year in Review for 2014

I am a voracious reader (at least that's what my Twitter account says). I have successfully completed my mission of reading fifty (50) books each of the past three years and four out of the past five years. I love to read. Reading is a great way to, not only pass the time, but to learn and grow each and every day. As a general rule, most of the books I read are non-fiction, though I do read a few fiction books every year. The complete list of books that I read this year can be found here. This blog post is meant to cover the highlights, because, really, who wants to read my ramblings of all of the books I read.

If I were asked what the best book I read in 2014, it would be a tie between Bill Nye's Undeniable: Evolution and the Science of Creation and How Google Works by Eric Schmidt and Jonathan Rosenberg. Undeniable is a book that eloquently and coherently rips apart the tenants of creationism. Bill Nye's enthusiasm for science and engineering is pervasive in the book. As is obvious from his debate with Ken Ham, most creationists are not interested in the facts or science, but if you find yourself thinking that a creationist offers any compelling argument, read Bill Nye's book and put your mind at ease.

How Google Works provides plenty of wisdom and anecdotes about management as Google. As a I read the book, I often found myself nodding in agreement and mumbling to myself, "Yes, somebody gets it." I am not generally a note taker while I read books, but I found myself pulling dozens of quotes from the book to go back to later. I think any manager looking at hiring and retaining the best talent would be wise to read How Google Works.

This year, as usual, I read several science books. Most often, I read books about astronomy and astrophysics. This year, two books that I really enjoyed where The Pluto Files: The Rise and Fall of America's Favorite Planet by Neil deGrasse Tyson and Why Is Uranus Upside Down?: And Other Questions About the Universe by Fred Watson. I read Dr. Tyson's book shortly after seeing him lecture in person. I really enjoyed his lecture and his enthusiasm for astrophysics and passing on knowledge came through in The Pluto Files. (Spoiler alert: Another of Dr. Tyson's books will be in next year's Year in Books Review.) Dr. Watson is an astronomer that has written several books. Why Is Uranus Upside Down? is a book that provides answers to many interesting astronomy questions.

Another science book that I read and enjoyed was Randall Munroe's What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions. As the title suggests, the basic premise of the book is that the author answers far-out questions with science. Like many great books, this book is based off the author's blog. So, if you are a fan already, some of the book will be familiar. No matter though, your appreciation for and fascination with our world and universe are sure to explode when reading this book.

When I was in law school, I took a number of criminal law classes. Even though I am not a practicing lawyer, I still am fascinated by the law, and criminal law in particular. This year I read David Feige's Indefensible: One Lawyer's Journey into the Inferno of American Justice. If you find yourself thinking not understanding why people (particularly people that are poor or minorities) have such distrust for our legal system, I implore you to read this book. This book will give you a much different appreciation for how law and order work in America.

One book I read this year, does not fall into my usual pattern of books. Smoke Gets in Your Eyes: And Other Lessons from the Crematory by Caitlin Doughty is an interesting book about the author's job as a mortician. She provides plenty of interesting stories and experiences. More importantly, she provides a base for people to think about and explore their feelings about death.

Well, I think that covers the best books I read this year. I hope you found it useful. If you have thoughts or suggestions, feel free to leave a comment.