Every Christmas I get a load of new books as presents, some of them random, some of them requested. It always prompts me to draw up something of a reading list for the next couple of months, and that’s a good opportunity to look back at what I’ve read over the last year as well. To keep up with what is now a blog tradition, here are five recommendations from last year’s reading.
The Switch, by Chris Goodall
Goodall cements his position as my favourite energy commentator with this clear and compelling explanation of the shift underway in the energy world – away from coal and towards solar power. It’s impeccably researched, full of genuinely pioneering projects and technologies, and full of hope.
The Wealth of Humans, by Ryan Avent
Avent argues that the digital revolution will turn out to be every bit as disruptive as the industrial revolution. We are on the cusp of enormous changes, and the future we are creating for ourselves will depend on how we manage those new technologies. An important and ambitious book, and an eloquent and compassionate one too.
Doing Good Better, by William MacAskill
The award for ‘most sacred cows slain’ goes to MacAskill for this highly original guide to doing more good in the world. Provocative books are often cynical, but MacAskill is a real enthusiast for generosity, and wants everyone to know the difference they can make with smarter giving. If you give to charity, no matter how occasionally, you should read it.
Being a Beast, by Charles Foster
I’ve read several natural history books this year and this is the only one I reviewed on the blog, as it’s just an extraordinary book. Foster wants to know how animals experience the world, so he goes out into the woods and lives like them as closely as he can. It sounds gimmicky, but it’s strangely profound. Being a Beast is both scientific and surreal, lyrical and primal, and a thoroughly unique read.
Reinventing Prosperity, by Graeme Maxton and Jorgen Randers
A late entry and I haven’t had a chance to review it yet, but Maxton and Randers make the list for their book on managing the economy for sustainability and equality. I particularly admired their presentation, the way that complex issues are dealt with in clear and accessible language. If you want to read up on visionary ideas without the economic and political jargon, then pick up Reinventing Prosperity.
Outside of the blog and its themes, the two books I’ve enthused about most are Marilynne Robinson’s novel Gilead, and Grounded, by theologian Diana Butler Bass.
What have you read this year that I should be adding to my reading list?