The Year of Reading Injudiciously
Starting 2017 January, I found myself with a job, and consequently, a commute. I drive to and back from work, and spend about an hour on the road. For the first half of the year, every other week, I also drove four hours or so, one way, because A and I lived in two places. An unexpected side-effect of employment and commute is that I have "read" far more books than I otherwise would have.
I have long given up on listening to
propaganda news and the such on
the radio, so I have resorted to listening to audiobooks in order to
ease some of the commute pain. By the end of the year, I seem to have
"read" 108 books: _ of them are audiobooks.
I have also reluctantly embraced ebooks. The public library offers them whether I check them out or not, and some of my tax dollars pay for that stuff, so might as well get my money's worth, right?
To be clear, I still do have objections to DRM and the megacorp's hegemony over the publishing industry (and the market as a whole), but I am just one tiny inconsequential person and it appears that my feeble resistance is laughably futile.
I have also been reading stuff I normally would not have read. For the first six years of living in the US, I have found US politics not particularly interesting. That changed in November 2016, for the obvious reasons. Ever since, I have been trying to figure out what is really going on with America. I developed an unhealthy obsession with American politics. On that topic, I have read way more than I should have in the past year; some of that is very good and very insightful, some of that happened to be trash.
- Snowden, Ted Rall (2015, paperback).
Edward Snowden provokes extreme reactions: he's either a traitor to you, or a hero. For Rall, Snowden is a hero, and he makes little attempt to hide his admiration for the protagonist of his story. Of the considerable number of people that acquire security clearance, how and why did Snowden became the whistle-blower? This is an exploration in graphic novel format.
- Museum of Mistakes: The Fart Party Collection, Julia Wertz (2014, paperback).
Julia Wertz ran a popular web comic strip, which heralded stories from her own life, and this book is a collection of early ones. I had cut down on webcomic consumption some years back, so I wasn't familiar with her work. I am glad that I found the book: it is really funny, and refreshingly honest.
- Boxers (Boxers & Saints, #1), Gene Luen Yang (2013, paperback).
- Saints (Boxers & Saints, #2), Gene Luen Yang (2013, paperback).
Two-volume graphic novel about the Boxer Rebellion. I remember embarrassingly little of it, except that the art was pretty cool.
- A User's Guide to Neglectful Parenting Guy Delisle (2013, paperback).
- Even More Bad Parenting Advice, Guy Delisle (2014, paperback).
Dad jokes collection that can be actually pretty funny, depending on the kind of sense of humor you posses.
- Scott Pilgrim, Volume 1: Scott Pilgrim's Precious Little Life, Bryan Lee O'Malley (2010, paperback).
I had seen the movie and liked it. I am conflicted as to which I liked better: the movie or the graphic novel.
- Indeh: A Story of the Apache Wars - Ethan Hawke and Greg Ruth.
Graphic novel about Apache wars of the 1870s. Illustration stood out, but the script did not: it is confusing and rambling.
- Couch Tag, Jesse Reklaw (2013, hardcover).
Graphic novel memoir. I liked it at the time of reading, but by the end of the year I remembered nothing of it, so I had to look up to see if I can recall what it was about. What does that tell you?
- The Road to Little Dribbling: More Notes from a Small Island, Bill Bryson (2016, ebook).
Bill Bryson's publishers roped him in to write a follow-up to his popular travelog, Notes from a Small Island, twenty years after it was originally published.
- Wait Wait… Don't Tell Me! Famous People Who Returned Our Calls: Celebrity Highlights from the Oddly Informative News Quiz, Sagal Peter (2009, audiobook).
"Wait Wait…" is my favorite show on radio after "Car Talk", but like I said, I do not really listen to radio anymore. This audiobook suited suited a 4-hour drive once, and that is all I remember about it now.
- Alias the Cat!, Kim Deitch (2007, hardcover)
Trippy and rambling, but I guess that is kind of the point. I did not enjoy this graphic novel on first reading, but it actually is a lot of fun. I should perhaps read it again.
- What Do You Care What Other People Think?, Richard Feynman (2005, audiobook).
Feynman's autobiographical notes. Mostly about losing a loved one, work at Los Alamos National Laboratory, and investigation into space shuttle Challenger's explosion.
- Clinton Cash: The Untold Story of How and Why Foreign Governments and Businesses Helped Make Bill and Hillary Rich, Peter Schweizer (2015, ebook).
This book investigates connections between the Clinton Foundation's benefactors, and the Clintons' use of their influence to help those very benefactors. Schweizer does not offer conclusive evidence for outright corruption, but there are fourteen chapters of dealings that look bad, and it is rather extensively cited.
I have been looking for point-by-point rebuttals on the allegations, I have not found anything of such nature, yet. There used to be a "brifings" section in Hillary Clinton's website that purportedly did this, but that section no longer exists.
The book's production was supported by Government Accountability Institute (which in turn was bankrolled by some controversial men: Steve Bannon, Robert Mercer, the Koch brothers); it was later made into a graphic novel and a documentary. All this, and many other confounding factors, might have had an effect on the 2016 presidential election outcome.
- In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto, Michael Pollan (2008, audiobook).
Michael Pollan's well-known aphorism ("Eat food. Not too much. Mostly Plants.") unfortunately became way too popular for its own good, as it also acts as a kind of horse-blinkers. Pollan recognizes that not all plant-based food could be "healthy", gives a hat-tip Gary Taubes for Good Calories, Bad Calories, and then goes on to stress the importance of a "balanced" diet anyway.
- The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing, Marie Kondo (2014, audiobook).
If you minimize your possessions to the bare minimum good stuff (the stuff that "sparks joy" within you) by throwing out all the extraneous stuff you do not really need, your life will be awesome. This pitch is repeated ad nauseum; listening to the same thing in someone's robotic monotone made it worse. They should perhaps have decluttered the damn book?
- Think Like a Freak, Steven D. Levitt (2014, audiobook)
Content from Freakonomics blog/podcast, third in the series. Contains useful tips on applying the unconventional approach that the authors made popular.
- No Good Men Among the Living: America, the Taliban, and the War through Afghan Eyes, Anand Gopal (2014, audiobook)
This book covers conflict in Afghanistan, through the eyes of several Afghanis: a Taliban commander, a warlord who sided with the US, and a village housewife.
- Breasts: A Natural and Unnatural History, Florence Williams (2013, audiobook).
In addition to the useful and necessary nutrition, mother's milk also carries a hodgepodge of scary synthetic stuff (paint thinners, flame retardants, and the such), because the fatty tissues in breasts easily absorbs contaminants present in the modern environment. That is just one thing the book informed me about.
- Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity, and Poverty, Daron Acemoğlu and James Robinson (2012, audiobook).
Nations prosper or fail because of the strength or the weakness of institutions they are built on: those that have "inclusive" social systems prosper; those that have "extractive" social systems will fail, regardless of other factors. This is a simple and fascinating thesis (and I believe it to hold true), and the authors offer a tour of the world history to support their thesis.
- Complications: A Surgeon's Notes on an Imperfect Science, Atul Gawande (2003, audiobook).
This is Dr. Gawande's first published book – although he's one of my favorite authors to read, I'm afraid that the newness of the writer shows a bit.
- What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast: And Two Other Short Guides to Achieving More at Work and at Home, Laura Vanderkam (2013, audiobook).
They wake up early and give themselves some time to do things that enrich their life. I do not eat breakfast on most days, so I am afraid that I cannot join the ranks of most successful people. I usually wake up early though, so maybe I have my chances?
- The Best American Travel Writing 2016, Bill Bryson and Jason Wilson (2016, ebook).
This is a collection of travel pieces by various authors. It has some interesting chapters, but I was annoyed by the "Keralan" chapter where the writer describes just the things that she experienced in the tour package and nothing else. Nothing wrong with doing those things or writing about it as such, just do not present that as the "best" travel writing.
- Fooled by Randomness: The Hidden Role of Chance in Life and in the Markets, Nassim Nicholas Taleb (2001, audiobook).
Humans often attempt to attribute random events to non-random causes, and are pretty bad in thinking rationally.
- Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are?, Frans de Waal (2016, audiobook).
You know Betteridges Law of Headlines, and you know the answer to the question posed in the title of this book: no, we are not smart enough to know.
The anthropocentric point of view is a hindrance in understanding how non-humans think and act. Animals are smart in different ways, and human measurements of intelligence is useless in understanding animal intelligence.
- Crisis of Character: A White House Secret Service Officer Discloses His Firsthand Experience with Hillary, Bill, and How They Operate, Gary J. Byrne (2016, audiobook).
Byrne served in the white house during the Clinton presidency, and wasn't pleased to see what he saw and heard from others, and do not want to see or hear any more of it.
- Someplace Like America: Tales from the New Great Depression, Dale Maharidge (2013, ebook).
America has been becoming an increasingly sad place to live for poor Americans, and this is often because no fault of theirs. This book tells stories of some families that lost their livelihoods in the second great depression of 2008, and their struggle for survival.
- Antifragile: Things That Gain from Disorder, Nassim Nicholas Taleb (2012, audiobook).
Some things become stronger when exposed to stress and volatility (the way people build muscle from resistance training, for example). Taleb coined the term "antifragile" to describe this quality, because "resilience" or "adaptability" do not adequately describe it.
- The Case Against Sugar, Gary Taubes (2016, audiobook).
I am yet to finish Taube's Good Calories, Bad Calories; I have read How We Become Fat (the latter appears to be the "lite" version of the former), and I am convinced that he has a good case for what causes obesity and other modern day health troubles; The Case Against Sugar builds a stronger case against sugar, which we have been consuming in historically unprecedented quantities.
- At Home: A Short History of Private Life, Bill Bryson (2010, audiobook).
A history of domestic life: how did the houses we live in came to be the way they are? Bryson goes from room to room (living room, kitchen, bedroom, bathroom…), and describes their evolution. This is pretty western-centric; I believe there is room (ahem) for a similar book on the story of non-western houses.
- Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World, Cal Newport (2016, audiobook).
We are impaired of our ability to do focused deep work in the modern world because our environment is hostile to deep work. Paradoxically, deep intellectual work also happens to be the most valuable kind of work that we can do.
- Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis, J.D. Vance. (2016, ebook)
This turned out to be more of one person's autobiography than what I expected. That in itself isn't a bad thing though: Vance has a story of finding a successful career, in spite of all the odds.
- Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies, Jared Diamond (1997, audiobook).
Eurasian civilization survived and thrived, while many great ancient civilizations have not. This book argues that this is not due to an inherently superior culture, but from certain historic and technological advantages.
- Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future, Peter Thiel and Blake Masters (2014, ebook).
Notes from Stanford CS183, which became a book, and contains the mainstream Silicon Valley wisdom on building high-growth startups, while posing to be contrarian.
- /Low-Carb Fraud, T. Colin Campbell, Howard Jacobson (2014, ebook).
I have been looking for solid counter-arguments against low-carb diet, but sadly found no such thing in this book: it is mostly the tired ad-hominem attacks (on Robert Atkins and Gary Taubes; even has the old story of Atkin's death, which has been rebutted), appeal to authority, and dishonesty (such as: there are no ancestral societies that thrived on a low-fat diet), and just very ranty. A sad wasted opportunity.
- When to Rob a Bank, Steven D. Levitt (2015, audiobook).
Fourth in the Freakonomics series: collection of stories that follow basically the same recipe.
- The Underachiever's Manifesto: The Guide to Accomplishing Little and Feeling Great, Ray Bennett. (2006, hardcover)
Short sweet handbook on being laid back.
- Gang Leader for a Day: A Rogue Sociologist Takes to the Streets, Sudhir Venkatesh. (2008, audibook)
The author's fieldwork while doing his doctoral research took some unexpected turns.
- The Only Game in Town: Central Banks, Instability, and Avoiding the Next Collapse, Mohamed El-Erian (2016, audibook).
The argument is that central banks, when faced with the responsibility of handling the 2008 financial crisis, have done an admirable job. Maybe so, if you are a banker.
- Gratitude, Oliver Sacks (2015, audiobook).
Sacks' posthumously published essays, written after his cancer diagnosis.
- The Revenge of Analog: Real Things and Why They Matter, David Sax (2016, ebook).
Analog things – film cameras, vinyl records, notebooks, brick-and-mortar indie bookstores, board games – waned for a while, unable to stand up to onslaught of digital things, and now they are coming back.
- The Achievement Habit: Stop Wishing, Start Doing, and Take Command of Your Life, Bernard Roth (2015, audiobook).
Accomplishing things you have set out to do is a skill that can be learned.
- How Not to Be Wrong: The Power of Mathematical Thinking, Jordan Ellenberg (2014, audiobook).
Using Mathematics in dealing with day-to-day issues. The audiobook was a drag; perhaps I should read the physical book.
- Shattered: Inside Hillary Clinton's Doomed Campaign, Jonathan Allen (2017, ebook).
Blow-by-blow account of 2016 presidential election; came across as apologia.
- The Unwinding: An Inner History of the New America, George Packer (2013, audiobook).
Story of America in the recent decades, as tols mainly through the stories of three Americans: a former political aide, a failed biodiesel entrepreneur, the daughter of a drug addict who eventually became a community organizer, interleaved with shorter pieces of people such as Sam Walton, Elizabeth Warren, and Jay-Z.
- How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, Joel Pollak and Larry Schweikart (2014).
Dispatches from Donald Trump's 2016 campaign trail, by two campaign insiders. Cheer-leading and blow-by-blow account of the campaign, but from the side of the candidate that won.
- Car Talk Science: MIT Wants Its Diplomas Back, Tom Magliozzi and Ray Magliozzi (2016, audiobook).
I do not find cars very interesting, but Car Talk was my favorite show on NPR, back when I used to listen to NPR, mainly because I loved Tom and Ray's laughter.
- Who Stole Feminism?: How Women Have Betrayed Women, Christina Hoff Sommers (1994, audiobook).
There are "equity feminists", and there are "gender feminists", and the latter have stolen feminism from the real feminists.
- Making It Big in Software: Get the Job. Work the Org. Become Great., Sam S. Lightstone (2010, paperback).
Interviews with people who became successful in computer software business: Steve Wozniak, James Gosling, Marissa Meyer, John Bentley, Marc Benioff, Bjarne Stroustrup, Peter Norvig, Linus Torvalds, Richard Stallman.
My favorite is Richard Stallman's answer to this question: "How do you achieve a work-life balance? How do you keep your software life from dominating everything?"
To this Stallman says: "Why would I want to do that? My work is not programming; it is campaigning for freedom for software users. This is not just a pastime and not just a job. It's the most important thing I know any way to do. I'm proud of it, and when I achieve something, I am very satisfied. It should be the main focus of my life, and it is."
- Team Geek: A Software Developer's Guide to Working Well with Others, Brian W. Fitzpatrick and Ben Collins-Sussman (2012, paperback).
Summary: be nice and be respectful to other people.
- Guilty as Sin: Uncovering New Evidence of Corruption and How Hillary Clinton and the Democrats Derailed the FBI Investigation, Edward Klein.
Clearly the intended audience for this book is not me: it is the angry Republicans who are already convinced that Clinton is guilty of something. Regardless, I read it, and regret reading it. In my defense, I am new to this genre, and I do not know how to tell between the good ones and the really trashy ones.
- Throw Them All Out: How Politicians and Their Friends Get Rich Off of Insider Stock Tips, Land Deals, and Cronyism That Would Send the Rest of Us to Prison, Peter Schweizer. (2011, ebook)
American elected officials engage in a shocking amount of lawful but questionable practices (should not so shocking to me: I'm from India!) while holding a public office, for their own personal benefit, and to the detriment of those whom they are supposed to serve. Schweizer has clearly chosen a camp, and therefore he aims to hurt the opposition – part of this book is about dubious investments in energy companies during Obama years, for example – and that is the great weakness of this book.
- Chaos Monkeys: Obscene Fortune and Random Failure in Silicon Valley, Antonio García Martínez (2016, audiobook).
Martinez regales us with his stories of creating a startup that was acquired by a bigger company (Twitter), and then leaving it to work for Facebook. Entertaining, even though I personally find Silicon Valley's giant success stories less than wholesome.
- One Man's Wilderness: An Alaskan Odyssey, Sam Keith (1973/2011, ebook).
Building a cabin by an Alaskan lakeside, by yourself, and surviving a winter there – that has greater appeal than working on a tech startup, doesn't it?
- Listen, Liberal: Or, What Ever Happened to the Party of the People?, Thomas Frank (2016, audiobook).
The US Democratic party no longer works for the working class people; it has become a party of elites, and it serves, and is served by, what Frank calls "professional class".
- Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right, Arlie Russell Hochschild (2016, ebook).
Hochschild's reports from Louisiana, interviews with Tea Party supporters, and the such. In spite of being hurt by damage done to their immediate surroundings by local petrochemical industry, people support it; Hochschild tries to understand why.
- Why I Am Not a Feminist: A Feminist Manifesto, Jessa Crispin (2017, audiobook).
Crispin do not like contemporary feminism; it is hard for me to figure out precisely why and whom she dislikes.
- The Lion in the Living Room: How House Cats Tamed Us and Took Over the World, Abigail Tucker (2016, audibook).
Appu cat and Ammu cat adopted us seven years ago, and today it is impossible for us to imagine a life without the two of them. We are very devoted, and we are hardly alone in cat-craze. Considering the limited utility of cats (as compared to dogs) to humans, this is a mystery. They might even cause us harm (toxoplasmosis) while controlling our irrational brains. Cats! How do they do that?
- Kerplunk!: Stories, Patrick F. McManus (2008, audibook).
I've been informed that this is not the most funny McManus book. I haven't read any of his other books. I found this one to be quite funny.
- /An Evening with Garrison Keillor, Maya Angelou, Laurie Colwin and Tom Wolfe: A Gala Evening of Readings to Benefit the Homeless/ (1991(?), audiobook).
I think I will claim this to be a "book", for the purpose of claiming an exaggerated reading list.
- [[http://www.sasquatchbooks.com/book?isbn=9781570614194&rare-encounters-with-ordinary-birds-by-lyanda-lynn-haupt][Rare Encounters with Ordinary Birds]]/, Lyanda Lynn Haupt (2004, audiobook).
Haupt has excellent mastery on the craft of writing, and I loved that the most. Delightful.
- Prison Island: A Graphic Memoir, Colleen Frakes (2015, ebook)
Memories of spending teen years in McNeil Island, WA, which had the last prison island in the US.
- What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions, Randall Munroe (2014, audiobook)
Answers to hypothetical questions, but you already know that. Audiobook version did not work for me – my attention kept wandering, and just could not keep it on a short leash.
- /The Effective Engineer: How to Leverage Your Efforts In Software Engineering to Make a Disproportionate and Meaningful Impact/, Edmond Lau (2015, paperback).
There's some good commonsense advice: most starting programmers could do a lot worse than reading this book. But I am a Battle Hardened Grizzly Veteran and a Cynic (some of those adjectives are false, except the one about being a cynic). I do not buy the myth of 10x engineers, and I do not agree that software development is engineering.
- The Genius of Birds, Jennifer Ackerman (2016, audiobook).
This could be a companion book to Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are?: we are not smart enough to know how smart birds are, either.
- My Little Town, Garrison Keillor (2011, audiobook).
Keillor keeps making fun of the people of his imaginary hometown.
- Glass House: The 1% Economy and the Shattering of the All-American Town, Brian Alexander (2016, audiobook).
I have seen a lot of old small towns and industrial cities all over the US Midwest in a state of ruin: in fact, those that are not are rare. They all used to be prosperous places.
Lancaster, Ohio is one such rundown town. It used to be an entirely different place in its heydays, back when the hometown company, Anchor Hocking Glass, thrived. What happened?
This book answers the broad question of what happened to industrial America, not just specific questions about Lancaster.
- What's the Matter with Kansas? How Conservatives Won the Heart of America, Thomas Frank (2004, ebook).
Perhaps this is the best known book on the rise of conservatism in middle America. But midwest wasn't always like this: old midwest leaned left, a lot left, than today. Also explores origins of the strange mix of economic conservatism and social conservatism.
- The Chemistry Between Us: Love, Sex, and the Science of Attraction, Larry Young and Brian Alexander (2012, audiobook).
Our relationships cannot be attributed solely to cognitive processes; hormones play a surprisingly large part.
- Stories: An Audio Collection, Garrison Keillor (1992, audiobook).
These stories are not about Lake Wobegon, Minnesota, but I was still entertained.
- The World Beyond Your Head: On Becoming an Individual in an Age of Distraction, Matthew B. Crawford (2015, audiobook).
I do not know of quite what Mr. Crawford was going on about, but it is quite apparent that he is a very concerned and very smart man. I have previously read his other book, Shopcraft as Soulcraft, and I was hoping to learn something from this one. Other than perhaps that focused work is good work, but we already know that.
- Twitter: The Comic (The Book): Comics Based on the Greatest Tweets of Our Generation, Mike Rosenthal (2014).
Read, and forgot all about what was in it. Which makes it, you know, just like twitter dot com.
- Dear Ijeawele, or a Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (2017, audiobook).
Practical suggestions on raising a feminist child. Or, what you would call a normal child.
- How to Be Black, Baratunde R. Thurston (2012, audiobook).
Humorous take on being a black person in America.
- I'm Tempted to Stop Acting Randomly, Scott Adams (2010, ebook).
Scott Adams has pariah status in certain circles. This he mostly earned during the 2016 presidential election, and prior to that, by other shenanigans. But I still kind of like Dilbert, what can I do?
- The Liberal Redneck Manifesto: Draggin' Dixie Outta the Dark, Trae Crowder, Drew Morgan, and Corey Ryan Forrester.
- NPR Laughter Therapy: A Comedy Collection for the Chronically Serious.
- Pearls Hogs the Road: A Pearls Before Swine Treasury, Stephan Pastis.
- The Book of Obama: From Hope and Change to the Age of Revolt, Ted Rall (2012, ebook).
- Photojournalism: 150 Years of Outstanding Press Photography, Reuel Golden.
I am the kind of photographer who spends an unreasonable amount of money on gear and then shoots pictures of cats and flowers in the yard. The photographs presented in this book are powerful, and they've greatly embarrassed me.
- The Great Life Photographers, Gordon Parks.
- The Dictator's Handbook: Why Bad Behavior is Almost Always Good Politics, Bruce Bueno De Mesquita and and Alastair Smith (2012, audiobook)
Not even dictators can completely get away with doing whatever they want: they must strive to keep the support of their core backers, or they will be thrown out of power soon enough. The same principles are at work in democracies as well.
- Batman: The Killing Joke, Alan Moore.
I did not grow up with western superhero comics. This book taught me that I do not really care for superhero comics. The art is nice though.
- The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream, Barack Obama.
- Portrait Revolution: Inspiration, Tips, and Techniques for Creating Portraits, Julia Kay.
- Start Sketching & Drawing Now: Simple techniques for drawing landscapes, people and objects, Grant Fuller.
- */How to Draw Comics: From the Legendary Co-Creator of Spider-Man, the Incredible Hulk, Fantastic Four, X-Men, and Iron Man/*, Stan Lee.
- Relish: My Life in the Kitchen, Lucy Knisley.
- Spy Secrets That Can Save Your Life Deluxe: A Former CIA Officer Reveals Safety and Survival Techniques to Keep You and Your Family Protected, Jason Hanson.
- How the Hell Did This Happen?: The Election of 2016, P.J. O'Rourke.
- Devil's Bargain: Steve Bannon, Donald Trump, and the Storming of the Presidency, Joshua Green.
- What Happened, Clinton, Hillary Rodham.
- Way Off the Road: Discovering the Peculiar Charms of Small Town America, Bill Geist.
- Our Revolution: A Future to Believe In, Bernie Sanders.
- The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers, Ben Horowitz.
- National Geographic Photography Field Guide: Travel, Robert Caputo.
- Don't Vote It Just Encourages the Bastards, P.J. O'Rourke.
- My Friend Dahmer, Derf Backderf.
- Sex Criminals, Vol. 1: One Weird Trick, Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky.
- The Destruction of Hillary Clinton, Susan Bordo.
- Brain Bugs: How the Brain's Flaws Shape Our Lives, Dean Buonomano.
- Men Without Women, Haruki Murakami.
- After We Kill You, We Will Welcome You Back as Honored Guests: Unembedded in Afghanistan, Ted Rall.
- Two Brothers, Fábio Moon and Gabriel Bá.
- The Death of the Liberal Class, Chris Hedges.
- What Every American Should Know About Who's Really Running America, Melissa L. Rossi.
- Story of Little Babaji, Helen Bannerman and Fred Marcellino.
- The Wrong Enemy: America in Afghanistan, 2001-2014,Carlotta Gall (2014).
Gall reported for the New York Times from Afghanistan since the 2001 US invasion. Her insight is that the real enemy the US faces in Afghanistan is really Pakistan's ISI and military intelligence, who uses terrorists as a pawn in their geo-political game to keep India, Iran, and Russia in check.