Best books I read in 2015


Jason Collins


January 18, 2016

A touch late, but as for earlier years, my list comprises the best books I read in the year, not the best of those released in the year (in fact, almost every book I read was released before 2015). It’s a short list - I read only 20 or so non-fiction book this year - but here it is:

Triumph of the City: How Our Greatest Invention Makes Us Richer, Smarter, Greener, Healthier, and Happier by Edward Glaeser. A strong message for environmentalists.

Spent by Geoffrey Miller. I included this book in my 2011 list, but read it again this year in preparation for a presentation I was giving. It deserves to be listed again. Evolutionary psychology at its most readable.

Uncontrolled:The Surprising Payoff of Trial-and-Error for Business, Politics, and Society by James Manzi. It should be read by every social scientist.

I read a bunch of long classics, including Tolstoy’s War and Peace and Anna Karenina, and Conrad’s Nostromo (fantastic). One strong recommendation is Richard Flanagan’s The Narrow Road to the Deep North.

As an aside, I also re-read Daniel Kahneman’sThinking, Fast and Slow. I included it in my 2012 list, and my rating of it has dropped. The last four years haven’t been kind to some sections. (I posted about this here).

I’ve got a dozen or so sets of notes from books I read last year that I hope to turn into posts in the near future - including for The Triumph of the City, Kenrick and Griskevicius’s The Rational Animal, Saad’s The Consuming Instinct, Thiel’s Zero to One, Levitin’s The Organized Mind and Taleb’s Antifragile.

And although I’ve got copies, I haven’t yet read Garett Jones’s Hive Mind, Joe Henrich’s The Secret of Our Success or Greg Ip’s Foolproof (although I have been giving out the first two of these as Christmas presents).

Past lists: 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014.