What happens when you ask over 15k people to name the best book they’ve read this year?

What happens when you ask 15,800+ smart people what the best book they’ve read this year is? That’s exactly what I recently did on Twitter.

Here is what people said.

Hunger — A true classic of modern literature that has been described as “one of the most disturbing novels in existence.”

The Painted Bird — “Through the juxtaposition of adolescence and the most brutal of adult experiences, Kosinski sums up a Bosch-like world of harrowing excess where senseless violence and untempered hatred are the norm.”

The History of Love — “a hauntingly beautiful novel about two characters whose lives are woven together in such complex ways that even after the last page is turned, the reader is left to wonder what really happened.”

The Catcher in the Rye — Believe it or not, I read this for the first time last year.

The Signal and the Noise — “examines the world of prediction, investigating how we can distinguish a true signal from a universe of noisy data.” I loved this book. (Pair with Thomas Bayes and Bayes’s Theorem.)

Promise at Dawn: A Memoir — A romantic, thrilling memoir that has become a French classic.

The Box: How the Shipping Container Made the World Smaller and the World Economy Bigger — This is the third time someone has recommend this book to me.

Abundance: The Future Is Better Than You Think — Arianna Huffington says: “it’s a reminder of the infinite possibilities for doing good when we tap into our own empathy and wisdom.”

Breakout Nations: In Pursuit of the Next Economic Miracles — “To identify the economic stars of the future we should abandon the habit of extrapolating from the recent past and lumping wildly diverse countries together.”

Human Action: A Treatise on Economics — “the first comprehensive treatise on economics written by a leading member of the modern Austrian school of economics.”

Compelling People: The Hidden Qualities That Make Us Influential — “You will never look at people the same way again—including yourself—after this lively look at how we make character judgments.”

The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles — I bought this a few weeks ago.

The Success Equation: Untangling Skill and Luck in Business, Sports, and Investing — See my interview with the author.

The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right — Gawande is one of my favorite writers.

Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption — “A great story about a young man who grew up on the streets of Southern California to become not only a famous runner but a decorated hero in WWII.”

1493: Uncovering the New World Columbus Created — “A deeply engaging new history of how European settlements in the post-Colombian Americas shaped the world.”

Eating on the Wild Side: The Missing Link to Optimum Health — … the first book to reveal the nutritional history of our fruits and vegetables. Starting with the wild plants that were central to our original diet, investigative journalist Jo Robinson describes how 400 generations of farmers have unwittingly squandered a host of essential fiber, protein, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. (Pair with The Botany of Desire)

The Quest: Energy, Security, and the Remaking of the Modern World — “Yergin shows us how energy is an engine of global political and economic change and conflict, in a story that spans the energies on which our civilization has been built and the new energies that are competing to replace them.”

What Is Called Thinking — Says one amazon reviewer: “If you read only one philosophy book in your entire life, this is the one to read.”

Antifragile — Just read it.

The Silence of Animals: On Progress and Other Modern Myths — A searching, captivating look at the persistence of myth in our modern world. (This is a continuation of Straw Dogs, a book I recently received)

What’s the best book you’ve read this year?
Leave a note in the comments.

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  1. Yolanda van Wyk says

    Pascal Bruckner’s “The Paradox of Love“.

    Written with so much ‘poetical thought’, that you can only read 2 pages at a time, since you have to ‘re-visit’ them in both your mind and heart. The ‘crux’ of the book?: “the impossibility of living together combined with the difficulty of remaining alone”…

  2. canajun eh says

    In June I read Robert Olmstead’s The Coldest Night I keep a record of books read, I marked it ‘brilliant’.

    It is about Love (hot hot teen love…phew!) and the War in Korea. Oh and horses (Olstead’s big thing, they happen a lot in his books).

  3. Nukethrower says

    Ken Booth’s Strategy and Ethnocentrism discusses the ethnocentric biases that can degrade strategic analysis, strategic planning, and policymaking. It trains analysts to widen their intellectual apertures and to think of themselves as strategic anthropologists in understanding how different national cultures underpin different views and approaches to dealing with problems in the realm of international politics. It’s one of the best books I’ve read in the field of strategic studies over the past 10 years.

  4. Nel_Mezzo says

    Fiction: Generosity by Richard Powers The most generous person in the world and the people who want to learn or own her secret.

    Non-fiction: The Hour Between Dog and Wolf by John Coates The interaction of neuroscience and individual traders…and the resulting effects on markets and society.

  5. Ted says

    I was surprised not to see The Emperor of all Maladies on the list. Published in 2011 so maybe I was just late to the party.

    Written by an oncologist, the book tells the story of medicine’s development in the fight against cancer.

    It does so both rationally and engrossingly – drawing on historic characters, bringing them to live but without sentimentality for them or their patients.

    I realised quite how little I knew about one of the fundamental forces in our biology and was brought up to speed by a book that reads like a thriller. Thoroughly recommended.