In 2018 I read more books than ever before. Here are some of my recommendations and thoughts.
I read 21 fiction books and 13 non-fiction ones. The fiction books were all either hard science fiction or pleb science fiction while the non-fiction ones were mostly about psychology or finance.
Top 2018 fiction book
The price for 2018 best fiction book that I read goes to Children of Time by Adrian Tchaikovsky. This book had me so gripped that I spent 5h per day reading it till it was finished.
Children of Time is a wonderful hard Science Fiction novel. It deals with the rise and fall of civilizations and takes a delightful evolutionary angle in the story. The story has a lot in common with A Deepness in The Sky by Vernor Vinge, one of my all-time favorite books.
It also reminded me of Pandora’s Star by Peter F Hamilton, in particular how the Primes civilization (in Pandora’s Star) rises from the unthinking depths to something waging interstellar war. Beyond that these two novels are very different in tone and focus.
Top 2018 non-fiction book
I was going to pick The Righteous Mind by Jonathan Haidt though then realized I beat myself to it by including it in my 2017 book summary.
With The Righteous Mind being disqualified, first place goes to 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos by Jordan Peterson.
This book contains a lot of useful information on personal growth, meaning, ethics and applied psychology. Though who am I kidding, the reason it gets first place is because rule 12 is “Pet a cat when you encounter one on the street”.
Second place goes to Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow. This book is about the human condition, the challenges we have faced as a species and, most important of all, what the outline of those challenges that are up ahead could look like.
While I really liked both 12 Rules and Homo Deus, I was not a fan of the final chapters(s) of either book. Since I read Thinking Fast and Slow I recognized the tendency for Duration Neglect via Peak-end Averaging. Knowing how your own mind tends to go off the rails is so useful.
13 of the 21 novels I read are part of the same series, so it deserves a mention: The Polity by Neal Asher. It has more than a few similarities with The Culture universe by Iain M Banks.
The novel Prador Moon tells the story of how the Culture comes into contact with the war-like Idirans. Caught off balance, the ship minds quickly ramp up military production while fighting a retreating and delaying action. Wait… I meant Polity, Prador, and ship AIs. Not sure how I got those mixed up.
That said the Polity novels lack certain bits of awesome common to the Culture novels, such as the definitely superior Culture ship names and antics. On the flip side, the Prador are much more built out than any alien race in the Culture novels, and so is the Jain threat.
I particularly enjoyed the later (more recent) novels in the series. Recommended for people that like stories of increasing scale in a well built out universe.
Much of what I read is in the form of blog posts and articles. And then there are also many educational videos I watch. Here are some resources that I spend a lot of time-consuming or came across in 2018 that piqued my interest.
- Melting Asphalt – blog with lots of high-density gems
- Naval ravikant – interesting stuff on Periscope and Twitter
- Jordan B Peterson YouTube
- Bret Weinstein – I love this talk (2023 comment: ugh)
In 2018 I, for the first time, read over 1000 pages per month. Such achievement!