I’ve read over 50 books in the first six months of the year, and some of them were really good. Here are the best books of 2016 (so far).
I thoroughly enjoyed The Oregon Trail: A New American Journey by Rinker Buck. There’s some profanity, and I don’t agree with his opinions on religion, but how can I resist a story of two aging baby-boomer brothers who buy a wagon and mule team, then travel the Oregon Trail? Between angry property owners and Wal-Mart stops, they see some amazing places and have the experience of a lifetime. Oh, and we learn a little about the Oregon Trail and America along the way.
Another true adventure story is Pirate Hunters by Robert Kurson. I recommended this earlier in the year and I’m keeping it on the list because it was just so much fun. Two guys — both accomplished treasure hunters — are on the hunt for a sunken pirate ship. A great story, a page turner.
The best novel I’ve read this year is The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah. Compared to the other novels I’ve read this year, it’s not even close — this is clearly the best. A beautifully written story set in France during World War II. All the elements of a great story are here: compelling characters, intrigue, love, war, danger, risk, beauty, sadness and triumph. It’s deservedly been on all the bestseller lists.
Amazon kept recommending Superforecasting by Philip Fetlock so I finally put it on my reading list. What a great book about how the very best forecasters figure out what’s going to happen in the world. This is the perfect book to read this election year because it emphasizes the importance of logic, humility, and healthy skepticism. The author takes on the pundits who are often wrong in their predictions — or at least succumb to group-think — and explains the importance of forecasts based on an analytical process.
Finally, The Geography of Genius by Eric Weiner is really really good. The author asks why genius seems to blossom in certain places at certain times. So he travels to Athens to understand the age of great philosophers, to Florence to understand the Renaissance, and on to Vienna, Edinburgh, Hangzhou, Calcutta, and of course Silicon Valley. This isn’t just a travel book — it’s a serious study on genius and the elements needed to nurture a culture of genius. Plus the author is remarkably funny and self-effacing. A really good book.
So there you have what I consider the best books of 2016 (so far). Two true adventure stories, one excellent novel, and two books that will make you think differently about how we think! If you want to see more mini-reviews, check out the full list here. And remember, buy a book through these links and Amazon will help a needy kid through PathLight!