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The Best Books I Read in 2018


I was just flipping through my folder of draft posts and came across an unpublished list of my favorite books I read in 2017. I’ve been intending over the last few weeks of doing the same for 2018, so I’m taking the old draft as a wake-up call. Rather than let my good intentions lay fallow for another year, I’m choosing instead to lower my standards and share the list without much additional commentary:

  • Principles of Product Development Flow, by Donald Reinertsen.
  • Reasons and Persons, by Derek Parfit.
  • How Emotions Are Made, by Lisa Feldman Barrett
  • The Sciences of the Artificial, by Herbert Simon
  • A New Stoicism, by Lawrence Becker
  • The Wizard and the Prophet, by Charles C. Mann.
  • Against Method, by Paul Feyerabend
  • Midlife, by Kieran Setiya

And the forgotten list from 2017:

  • Achieving Our Country, by Richard Rorty.
  • Happy City, by Charles Montgomery.
  • The Path, by Michael Puett.
  • Walkaway, by Cory Doctorow.
  • A Burglar’s Guide to the City, by Geoff Manaugh.
  • I Am a Strange Loop, by Douglas Hofstadter.
  • The Real World of Technology, by Ursula M. Franklin.
  • Philosophical Chemistry, by Manuel DeLanda.
  • Notes on the Synthesis of Form, by Christopher Alexander.
  • Draft No. 4, by John McPhee.

I should (and still intend to) write more about at least some of these books. For now, I’ll simply observe that — while I chose these books with no particular plan — they do address some common themes: the ethical and social practice of design, the nature of consciousness and subjective experience, decision making, the place of humans within technological systems, what it means to “know”, and how we orient ourselves to the past and future. In short, building a good life and finding my place within the world.

Here’s to another year of exploring.