In no particular order (except the first):
Entangled Life: How Fungi Make Our Worlds, Change Our Minds & Shape Our Futures by Merlin Sheldrake. A book about fungi, yet fascinating throughout. The author is clearly passionate about the topic . This is an understudied area of the natural world and the author takes pains to communicate the wonder of fungi in clear language. Fungi’s ability to coordinate with other organisms as well as display a form of decentralized ‘intelligence’ is fascinating. My book of the year.
The Bridge: Natural Gas in a Redivided Europe by Thane Gustafson. Well thought out book about the natural gas industry in Europe. The interest pieces revolves around how economics and geopolitical objectives may be in tensions as Russia and Europe decide how their energy futures will evolve.
The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel. A novel on the interconnection of life, the nature of integrity, and–tangentially–a hotel.
The Power of Moments (Why Certain Experiences Have Extraordinary Impact) by Chip Heath and Dan Heath. Of the self-help variety and can be skimmed quickly. Key takeaway: the benefits of putting forth extra effort to celebrate–and create–special moments for yourself and those around you is well worth the effort. A good life lesson.
The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath. A classic which I had never read before this year. Fictional but provides insight into mental illness.
The Honjin Murders by Seishi Yokomizo. Excellent. For those who like murder-mysteries. Short read as well.
Jellyfish by Peter Williams. Short book just about jellyfish. Worth reading if interested on an introduction to the the topic. Fantastic illustrations as well.
The Dawn of Eurasia: On the Trail of the New World Order by Bruno Maçães. Interesting geopolitical almost long-form essay on Eurasia, the growing importance of central Asian countries, and how the growth of Eurasia should impact US policy. Thoughtful throughout.
The Origins of You: How Childhood Shapes Later Life by Jay Belsky, Avshalom Caspi, Terrie E. Moffitt, Richie Poulton. Nature or nurture? Belsky and colleagues review decades of research to see what the answer is on topics such as crime, educational outcomes, drug use and other topics. Also discusses the notion of epigenetics: that life experiences may have a larger impact on people genetically predisposed (positively or negatively) to reach to such experiences.
The Adversary: A True Story of Monstrous Deception by Emmanuel Carrère. Book on murder and deception. A chilling true story that will stay with you long after you put it down.
Never Enough: The Neuroscience and Experience of Addiction by Judith Grisel. Fascinating book on addiction where the author is a neuroscientist, an addiction scholar and a former addict. Interesting throughout.
Other books of the year:
Tyler Cowen (fiction, non-fiction)