The year 2020 in books

Books, or essays, finished in 2020. Due to COVID-19 I have spent a lot less time commuting by train. That’s where in the past I did most of my reading. Took me a while to get accustomed to mainly reading at home. I was able to read 40.

The picture shows the physical ones, all the others were read via Kindle or as a PDF.

printed ones

I’ll rate the books from one to three stars. Three of three (3/3) stars being what I thoroughly have enjoyed and would recommend to others who are into the topic of the book or enjoy a good read in general. Giving a book one star neither states the book is bad or I do not agree with it, rather it is something I personally did not enjoy too much.

Der Funke Leben - Erich Maria Remarque - 3/3

Story told through the eyes of a prisoner in a german concentration camp during the last months of the second world war.

Loserthink: How Untrained Brains Are Ruining America - Scott Adams - 2/3

How to evaluate situations and how to effectively discuss your point of view.

Skunk Works: A Personal Memoir of My Years at Lockheed - Ben R. Rich - 3/3

Book on the development of the Lockheed U-2, Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird and Lockheed F-117 Nighthawk by the “father of stealth” Ben Rich. A must read for every engineer. Even if you are not into aerospace engineering.

Who Moved My Cheese? - Spencer Johnson - 1/3

One of the best-selling business books and a fable of how people under management should be flexible and adaptive.

Foundation - Isaac Asimov - 1/3

A science fiction classic published in 1951. Mostly to get to know the old science fiction works. Did not enjoy it too much although enough to finish it.

Zeit zu leben und Zeit zu sterben - Erich Maria Remarque - 3/3

A german soldier on holiday away from the eastern front. Making the most of the days he has back home.

Mundstuhl. Ein bisschen krass muss sein - Ande Werner, Lars Niedereichholz - 1/3

Autobiography of a german comedy duo that has been around for over 20 years.

Aus dem Leben eines Taugenichts - Joseph von Eichendorff - 2/3

I guess some germans read the book in school. I did not, although I knew of its existence. It was mentioned by Erich Maria Remarque in an interview. When he emigrated to the U.S. he read Aus dem Leben eines Taugenichts to feel better. The books is about a guy with a carefree attitude out to see the world.

The Pumpkin Plan: A Simple Strategy to Grow a Remarkable Business in Any Field - Mike Michalowicz - 2/3

The farmer should focus on his biggest pumpkins to win prices at the farmers market, not on all the pumpkins on the field. The book applies the concept to clients of your business.

The World According to Garp - John Irving - 2/3

An almost comical novel about a man who grows up to be a writer. Had this book in german, because it was recommended to me ages ago, but never got around reading it. Bought it in the original language after watching the french animated film “J’ai perdu mon corps”. There Gabrielle, one of the main characters, mentions it as her favorite book.

Writing My Wrongs - Shaka Senghor - 2/3

The transformation of a convicted murderer who spent 19 years in prison, 7 of these in solitary confinement.

Ham on Rye - Charles Bukowski - 2/3

Coming of age story of Bukowskis alter ego. The cynic and misanthropic Henry Chinaski.

Post Office - Charles Bukowski - 2/3

The follow-up to Ham on Rye.

The Bitcoin Standard: The Decentralized Alternative to Central Banking - Saifedean Ammous - 3/3

On the history of money and why Bitcoin is the future.

Good Old Neon - David Foster Wallace - 2/3

A young man tells his psychiatrist stories regarding deception and manipulation. Considered a good entry into the works of David Foster Wallace.

Walking - Henry David Thoreau - 2/3

Essay on nature, exploration and self-reflection while taking a walk.

I Don’t Want to Talk About It: Overcoming the Secret Legacy of Male Depression - Terrence Real - 2/3

The title sums it up. Touching stories. Some would consider it too defeatist.

The Sovereign Individual: Mastering the Transition to the Information Age - James Dale Davidson, William Rees-Mogg - 3/3

Written back in 1997 the book made some astonishing predictions. More than half of them have become reality between 1997 and 2020.

Misguided Medicine: Second Edition: The truth behind ill-advised medical recommendations and how to take health back into your hands - Colin E. Champ - 2/3

A guide on what to eat, or not to eat, to avoid being overly dependendent on doctors.

Blood Meridian, or the Evening Redness in the West - Cormac McCarthy - 2/3

The book was mentioned in the Jocko Podcast. It’s extremely violent and incredibly well written. If you study american literature you might be forced to read it. A book I should probably revisit in 10 years.

The Almanack of Naval Ravikant: A Guide to Wealth and Happiness - Eric Jorgenson - 2/3

Knowledge provided by Naval on twitter or on podcasts condensed and put into a book.

The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion - Jonathan Haidt - 2/3

Recommended by Michael Malice on the Lex Fridman podcast. Tries to explain the reason for division between democrats and republicans or christians and atheists.

In Praise of Shadows - Jun’ichirō Tanizaki - 2/3

Written in Japan in 1933 it is a take on the effects of light pollution, made possible by electricity, on aesthetics.

Breath: The New Science of a Lost Art - James Nestor - 2/3

Experiments, history and facts on why breathing through your nose is incredibly important and breathing through the mouth should be avoided at all costs.

The House of God - Samuel Shem - 3/3

A take on the ailments of modern medicine and the troubles of young hospital interns. Read it because it is on Jordan Petersons list of Great Books.

Snow Crash - Neal Stephenson - 2/3

Published in 1992 the book predicts the future and has probably influenced books as Ready Player One, games as the Deus Ex series and Cyberpunk 2077 and technologies such as Virtual Reality.

Wie man eine Bilanz liest - Reinhold Gagel - 2/3

How to read a german balance sheet.

Stubborn Attachments: A Vision for a Society of Free, Prosperous, and Responsible Individuals - Tyler Cowen - 2/3

How to make decisions and why we need to optimize for growth.

Inadequate Equilibria: Where and How Civilizations Get Stuck - Eliezer Yudkowsky - 2/3

On whether one can do better than the status quo.

Notes from the Underground - Fyodor Dostoyevsky - 3/3

Another one of the books on Jordan Petersons list of Great Books. Follows an unlikeable protagonist through some episodes of his life.

The Price of Tomorrow: Why Deflation is the Key to an Abundant Future - Jeff Booth - 2/3

Displays the deflationary tendencies around us and why they are not bad.

Shadow Divers - Robert Kurson - 3/3

Recommended by David Perell on his podcast as an example of a book so well written you feel part of the story. A must read if you are into diving, have enjoyed the movie ‘Das Boot’ or keep an open mind in general.

Sous Chef: 24 Hours in the Kitchen - Michael Gibney - 3/3

Book was recommended in /r/kitchenconfidenial for people who have enjoyed reading Anthony Bourdains Kitchen Confidential. Shows what a chef spends his time on and how the kitchen of an upscale restaurant is run.

Down and Out in Paris and London - George Orwell - 3/3

Another recommendation on /r/kitchenconfidenial. Deals with being poor in Paris and London and spending some time in the kitchens of Paris about 100 years ago.

Der Waldgang - Ernst Jünger - 3/3

Ernst Jünger is mostly known for the World War I book In Stahlgewittern. Known as Storm of Steel outside of Germany. Der Waldgang is part of what could be considered german Alt-Right literature because it describes (silent?) resistance against the ruling government. Putting it on the anarchist literature shelf would be more fitting.

The Gambler - Fyodor Dostoyevsky - 2/3

A quick read on gambling habits and addiction. The famous “This is the last time, tomorrow I will stop”

Neuromancer - William Gibson - 1/3

Another Sci-Fi classic published in 1984. Might read it again in the future to fully grasp its depths. Novel was hard to follow in the beginning but as could have been intented by the author.

Auf den Marmorklippen - Ernst Jünger - 1/3

Published in 1939 it is a how-to for describing landscapes. Considered fiction against the Nazi regime. Although the book was never banned in Germany. Probably because In Stahlgewittern by the same author was enjoyed by Adolf Hitler.

Pacific Crucible: War at Sea in the Pacific, 1941-1942 - Ian W. Toll - 3/3

An intro into naval warfare doctrine around the time leading to World War II. The focus went from battleships to airplanes. Follows the war in the pacific starting with the attack on Pearl Harbour in 1941 to the Battle if Midway in 1942. Describes both the view of the Japanese and the United States in great detail.

Listening Well - William R. Miller - 2/3

How to understand the other side by listening instead of waiting your turn to reply.