This year was hard on us, like it was for everyone. Between sharing childcare with my wife when we had to pull Penny out of daycare, working full-time, and launching the Long Leaf Pine Slate, I had only a little time left over for leisure reading.
Since our daughter was born, something like 85% of my “reading” is now done on audiobooks, via Audible. Audio is sometimes criticized for not providing the fullness of a traditional words-on-paper (/screen) intellectual experience to the reader, and I find that that’s true. That said, it’s still pretty good, particularly if you actively listen. And anyway, the proper comparison is not between audio and traditional “reading,” but instead between that and not consuming any book content at all. Were it not for Audible, I would consume very few books. It just wouldn’t be feasible with our lifestyle. Audible is awesome.
In the gym, on (more infrequent) grocery trips and in the car, I listen to books. Here’s what I listened to – and, in some cases, even managed to read – in 2020 – and some of my top recommendations.
- The Overstory (Powers) – Far and away one of the best books I’ve read in years. Lyrical and moving. Strongly recommend.
- The Wild Shore (Robinson)
- The Big Short (Lewis) – Everyone loves this book, and I can see why.
- Evicted (Desmond)
- The Shining (King) – A good re-read every few years.
- The Water Dancer (Coates) – “TNC” is one of the most luminary minds in modern American society, hands-down.
- Why We Sleep (Walker)
- Dying of Whiteness (Metzl) – I think this book helps explain a tremendous amount of our modern political moment.
- Against the Grain – A Deep History of the Earliest States (Scott)
- The Gulf: The Making of an American Sea (Davis) – I actually stopped about 60% of the way in. This is a Pulitzer-winning history about the American Gulf states that barely mentions slavery at all. It’s bizarre.
- Alexander Hamilton (Chernow) – As good as everyone says. Strongly recommend.
- Empire of the Summer Moon (Gwynne)
- Super Pumped (Isaac)
- The Doors of Eden (Tchaikovsky) – I sorta put it aside about 70% of the way in. Just got too weird.
- Master of the Senate, Vol III (Caro) – I was expecting this to be pretty dry, but it’s not. Hugely impressed with this chronicle of LBJ’s life.
- Ministry for the Future (Robinson) – I was very disappointed.
- The Fifth Risk (Lewis) – I’m currently listening to this, and can already tell that it’s very good.