At the end of the year I enjoy looking back at what I’ve read in the last twelve months and seeing what’s stuck with me. It’s a way of reviewing what I’ve learned, and an opportunity to thank the authors. With a ‘to-read’ list as long as I am tall, it’s also a good way of setting some priorities about what to read up on next.
In no particular order, here are some books I enjoyed in 2015:
Don’t even think about it, by George Marshall
Of this year’s titles, this is perhaps the one must-read for anyone working on environmental issues. Marshall looks at how we communicate climate change, explains why certain messages fail to connect, and shows how some can even be counter-productive to certain audiences. The book delves into the psychology of climate change, why it doesn’t appear to concern us, and how we can talk about it in ways that actually make a difference. (Buy on Hive, Amazon UK, Amazon US)
The most good you can do, by Peter Singer
How can you spend your time and money to maximum effect in the world? That’s the question inspiring the ‘effective altruists’, and the book is Peter Singer’s overview of the movement that he sparked. Radical elements aside, the movement challenges the way we live and give, what our priorities are and how much good we could do if we stopped and thought about it a bit more. (Buy on Hive, Amazon UK, Amazon US)
The winning of the carbon war, by Jeremy Leggett
During 2015, Jeremy Leggett wrote and released a chapter a month of this book, free of charge, on his website. It provided a unique insight to the back-room wrangling over fossil fuels and climate change, culminating in the COP 21 conference. It’s notable for Leggett’s well argued view that the fossil fuel companies’ business model is obsolete and their dominance is in decline. I hope he is right. (Buy on Amazon UK, Amazon US)
The world beyond your head, by Matthew Crawford
Our attention is a limited resource, and we should value it more highly. The modern world feeds off our attention and is always pioneering new ways to distract us, especially online. To remain authentically ourselves, we must allow ourselves to be captivated by the right things. The world beyond your head is not a particularly easy read, but it is a strikingly original book and one that I’ve thought about for months. (Buy on Hive, Amazon UK, Amazon US)
Stuffocation, by James Wallman
Like the four books above, Stuffocation has a new and important idea at the heart of it: Wallman identifies a shift underway in Western culture, away from materialism and towards experience. The idea of more stuff no longer motivates us, and experiences are becoming a more important signifier of status and identity. If correct, this is one of the big trends of the next fifty years. (Buy on Hive, Amazon UK, Amazon US)
Those are five books that stand out. I also liked Alain de Botton on The News, Joel K Bourne’s The End of Plenty, and Mark Scandrette’s book Free. I didn’t review them here, but Peter Aughton’s The Story of Astronomy was a fascinating read, and I’m currently enjoying William Dement’s review of sleep science, The promise of sleep.
What did you read in 2015? Anything to recommend?