Since 2018, I have kept annual Twitter mini-review threads of all the non-fiction books I have read. Because Twitter is becoming such a mess, this is now the new home for the reviews; as long as I’m on Twitter, you can find them pinned on my profile at twitter.com/smakelainen as well.
Note: Starting from September 2023, I have started posting the book reviews on my LinkedIn page as well. While leaving Twitter/X, it also became possible to do a longer-from review more easily, so the new reviews are longer. I am re-doing some older reviews this format as well, so things will slowly shift to the new format. That new format also includes three items per book:
- A star rating, out of a maximum of 5.
- A dog-ear index. I’m a bit of a heretic when it comes to reading; I read paper books almost exclusively, and highlight the bits I find important – and dog-ear pages I think have really important stuff on them. The dog-ear index is the average number of dog-eared pages per 100 pages.
- The audience, or who I feel the books would be most useful for.
Note: the reviews include product links to Amazon. This is not intended to be seen as a vendor recommendation, merely a way to link to the right product consistently. Please support your local bookstore where possible.
Click the title for the full list so far. The best books of 2023 will be selected at the end of the year.
Click the title for the full list. The best books of 2022 were:
- The Happiness Curve: Why Life Gets Better After Midlife by Jonathan Rauch
- How to Survive the Modern World and A Therapeutic Atlas: Destinations to Inspire and Enchant by The School of Life
- How We Got to Now: Six Innovations That Made the Modern World by Steven Johnson
- How Minds Change: The New Science of Belief, Opinion, and Persuasion by David McRaney
Click the title for the full list. The best books of 2021 were:
- The Extended Mind: The Power of Thinking Outside the Brain by Annie Murphy Paul
- The Power of Strangers: The Benefits of Connecting in a Suspicious World by Joe Keohane
- The Alignment Problem: How Can Machines Learn Human Values? by Brian Christian
- The Lonely Century: Coming Together in a World that’s Pulling Apart by Noreena Hertz
- New Laws of Robotics: Defending Human Expertise in the Age of AI by Frank Pasquale
Click the title for the full list. The best books of 2020 were:
- Life 3.0: Being Human in the Age of Artificial Intelligence by Max Tegmark
- No Man’s Land: The Untold Story of Automation on QF72 by Kevin Sullivan
- Talking to Strangers by Malcolm Gladwell
- How to Make The World Add Up: Ten Rules for Thinking Differently About Numbers by Tim Harford
- The Knowledge Illusion: The myth of individual thought and the power of collective wisdom by Steven Sloman & Philip Fernbach
Click the title for the full list. The best books of 2019 were:
- The Metric Society: On the Quantification of the Social by Steffen Mau
- Face Value: The Irresistible Influence of First Impressions by Alexander Todorov
- Cambridge Handbook of Expertise, 2nd edition by Ericsson et al
- Exactly: How Precision Engineers Created the Modern World by Simon Winchester
- Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World by David Epstein
Click the title for the full list. The best books of 2018 were:
- How Emotions Are Made: The Secret Life of the Brain by Lisa Feldman Barrett
- Meltdown: Why Our Systems Fail and What We Can Do About It by Chris Clearfield and Andras Tilcsik
- Behave: The Biology of Humans at Our Best and Worst by Robert Sapolsky
- FLY! Life Lessons from the Cockpit of QF32 by Richard De Crespigny
- Our Robots, Ourselves: Robotics and the Myths of Autonomy by David A. Mindell