Blog | Literature | Non-Fiction

The Best Books of 2016

. 1 min read

Best Fiction

Nicholson Baker: The Mezzanine
Katja Petrowskaja: Vielleicht Esther
Thomas Bernhard: Das Kalkwerk
Primo Levi: If This Is a Man

You can't read everything at once and so it is that I only read If This Is a Man this year. Its status as a classic is totally deserved. One of the best novels about the Holocaust. I hesitate to file it under fiction. The Mezzanine by Nicholson Baker is one of the funniest novels I've read in recent years. If you like the work of W.G. Sebald you'll love Vielleicht Esther by Katja Petrowskaja.

Best Short Story Collection

Lucia Berlin: A Manual for Cleaning Women

Best Book I Wish I Had Read Years Ago

Marcus Aurelius: Meditations

If you're looking for a good introduction to stoicism there is no better place to start than right at the source.

Best Science

Morten H. Christiansen: Creating Language. Integrating Evolution, Acquisition, and Processing
Itai Yanai & Martin Lercher: The Society of Genes
Andrea Wulf: The Invention of Nature
Lawrence M. Krauss: A Universe from Nothing

Best Book About Claude Lévi-Strauss

Philippe Descola: Par-delà nature et culture
Emmanuelle Loyer: Lévi-Strauss
Tom McCarthy: Satin Island

Philippe Descola is a former student of Lévi-Strauss and is currently chair of anthropology at the Collège de France, a position previously held by Lévi-Strauss. Beyond Nature and Culture is his magnum opus. Emmanuelle Loyer has written the definitive biography of Lévi-Strauss. I greatly enjoyed Satin Island. Its first-person narrator is a consultant ethnographer tasked with writing a Great Report that sums up our era. Had I seen the job description I would have instantly applied.

Best History & Economics

Frank Trentman: Empire of Things
Peter Frankopan: The Silk Roads. A New History of the World
Timur Kuran: The Long Divergence: How Islamic Law Held Back the Middle East

I learned a great deal from all three of these books.

Most Disappointing

Laurent Binet: La septième fonction du langage

I loved HhHH but La septième fonction du langage is a joke stretched too far.