On Books

Best-Of Lists

These are updated on a rolling basis, and so are subject to change based on whim and films newly seen. Original posts with remarks and initial rankings: 20162015, 2014, and 2013.

  1. When Breath Becomes Air — Paul Kalanithi
  2. Lab Girl — Hope Jahren
  3. Before the Fall — Noah Hawley
  4. Hero of the Empire: The Boer War, a Daring Escape, and the Making of Winston Churchill — Candice Millard
  5. Kill ‘Em and Leave: Searching for James Brown and the American Soul — James McBride
  6. But What If We’re Wrong?: Thinking About the Present As If It Were the Past — Chuck Klosterman
  7. The Caped Crusade: Batman and the Rise of Nerd Culture — Glen Weldon
  8. Good Clean Fun: Misadventures in Sawdust at Offerman Workshop — Nick Offerman
  9. Wonderland: How Play Made the Modern World — Steven Johnson
  10. When We Are No More: How Digital Memory Is Shaping Our Future — Abby Smith Rumsey
  1. The Hunt for Vulcan: And How Albert Einstein Destroyed a Planet, Discovered Relativity, and Deciphered the Universe — Thomas Levenson
  2. The Typewriter Revolution: A Typist's Companion for the 21st Century —  Richard Polt
  3. The Shepherd's Life: Modern Dispatches from an Ancient Landscape — James Rebanks
  4. Skyfaring: A Journey with a Pilot — Mark Vanhoenacker
  5. Destiny and Power: The American Odyssey of George Bush — Jon Meacham
  6. Step Aside, Pops — Kate Beaton
  7. Inside the Machine: Art and Invention in the Electronic Age — Megan Prelinger
  8. Gumption: Relighting the Torch of Freedom with America's Gutsiest Troublemakers — Nick Offerman
  9. Fates and Furies — Lauren Groff
  10. So You've Been Publicly Shamed — Jon Ronson
  1. Station Eleven — Emily Mandel
  2. The Glass Cage: How Our Computers Are Changing Us — Nicholas Carr
  3. How We Got To Now: Six Innovations That Made the Modern World — Steven Johnson
  4. Five Came Back: A Story of Hollywood and the Second World War — Mark Harris
  5. Dataclysm: Who We Are (When We Think No One's Looking) — Christian Rudder
  6. Annihilation — Jeff Vandermeer
  7. Deep: Freediving, Renegade Science, and What the Ocean Tells Us About Ourselves — James  Nestor
  8. Here — Richard McGuire
  9. What If? Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions — Randall Munroe
  10. The Hard Way on Purpose — David Geffels
  1. Respect Yourself: Stax Records and the Soul Explosion — Robert Gordon
  2. The Good Lord Bird — James McBride
  3. Shady Characters: The Secret Life of Punctuation, Symbols, and Other Typographical Marks — Keith Houston
  4. Paddle Your Own Canoe — Nick Offerman
  5. The Ocean at the End of the Lane — Neil Gaiman
  6. The Little Way of Ruthie Leming — Rod Dreher
  7. Death by Living — N.D. Wilson
  8. The Searchers: The Making of an American Legend — Glenn Frankel
  9. An Astronaut's Guide to Life on Earth — Chris Hadfield
  10. Gray Matters — Brett McCracken
  1. The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion — Jonathan Haidt
  2. Where'd You Go, Bernadette — Maria Semple
  3. Unapologetic — Francis Spufford
  4. The Dog Stars — Peter Heller
  5. The Presidents Club — Nancy Gibbs
  1. The Pleasures of Reading in an Age of Distraction — Alan Jacobs
  2. Maphead: Charting the Wide, Weird World of Geography Wonks — Ken Jennings
  3. Hark! A Vagrant — Kate Beaton
  4. Destiny of the Republic — Candice Millard
  5. The Sisters Brothers — Patrick deWitt
  6. Winter: Five Windows on the Season — Adam Gopnik
  7. Notes from the Tilt-A-Whirl — N.D. Wilson
  1. Empire of the Summer Moon: Quanah Parker and the Rise and Fall of the Comanches — S.C. Gwynne
  2. The Warmth of Other Suns — Isabel Wilkerson
  3. Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption — Laura Hillenbrand
  4. Colonel Roosevelt — Edmund Morris
  5. Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition — Daniel Okrent
  6. Where Good Ideas Come From: The Natural History of Innovation — Steven Johnson
  7. Hellhound on His Trail: The Electrifying Account of the Largest Manhunt in American History — Hampton Sides
  8. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks — Skloot, Rebecca
  9. Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void — Mary Roach
  10. The Worlds of Back to the Future — Sorcha Ni Fhlainn



Publication date in parentheses. More book talking on Goodreads.

Movies Are Prayers: How Films Voice Our Deepest Longings by John Larsen (June 2017)
Word by Word: The Secret Life of Dictionaries by Kory Stamper (April 2017)
The Benedict Option
by Rod Dreher (March 2017)
The Book Thieves: The Nazi Looting of Europe’s Libraries
by Anders Rydell (February 2017)
Respect Yourself: Stax Records and the Soul Explosion
by Robert Gordon (February 2017)
Gentleman Boss: The Life of Chester Alan Arthur
 by Thomas Reeves (December 2016)
A Frozen Hell: The Russo-Finnish Winter War of 1939-40
 by William Trotter (December 2016)
But What If We’re Wrong? by Chuck Klosterman (August 2016)
Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman
by Lindy West (July 2016)
Track Changes
 by Matthew Kirschenbaum (June 2016)
Crunchy Cons
 by Rod Dreher (March 2016)
Better Living Through Criticism by A.O. Scott (February 2016)
First Entrepreneur
by Edward Lengel (February 2016) for Library Journal
Herbert Hoover in the White House by Charles Rappleye (February 2016) for LJ
The Shepherd’s Life by James Rebanks (February 2016)
Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff (January 2016)
The Typewriter: A Graphic History
 by Janine Vangool (January 2016)
The Typewriter Revolution
 by Richard Polt (December 2015) 
The Hunt for Vulcan
 by Thomas Levenson (November 2015)
The Guns of August by Barbara Tuchman (November 2015)
Step Aside, Pops by Kate Beaton (October 2015)
We Don’t Need Roads
by Caseen Gaines (September 2015)
The Meaning of the Library by Alice Crawford (July 2015)
So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed
by Jon Ronson (June 2015)
Dataclysm: Who We Are by Christian Rudder (June 2015)
H Is For Hawk by Helen Macdonald (April 2015)
How We Got to Now
by Steven Johnson (January 2015)
Manhunt: The 12-Day Chase for Lincoln’s Killer
 by James Swanson (January 2015)
The Glass Cage: Automation and Us
by Nicholas Carr (October 2014)
by James Nestor (August 2014 – Published at ThinkChristian)
The Word Exchange
 by Alena Graedon (March 2014)
The Race Beat by Hank Klibanoff (January 2014)
An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth by Chris Hadfield (December 2013)
The Little Way of Ruthie Leming by Rod Dreher (October 2013)
Then They Came For Me by Maziar Bahari (September 2013)
Longitude by Dava Sobel (July 2013)
Twelve Years A Slave by Solomon Northup (July 2013)
The Pleasures of Reading in An Age of Distraction by Alan Jacobs (July 2013)
Rutherford B. Hayes: Warrior and President by Ari Hoogenboom (June 2013)
Andrew Jackson: His Life and Times by H.W. Brands (April 2013)
The Reason for God by Tim Keller (March 2013)
Hellhound On His Trail by Hampton Sides (February 2013)
Black Bodies and Quantum Cats by Jennifer Ouellette (August 2012)
Bound for Canaan by Fergus Bordewich (August 2012)
The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien (May 2008)


Favorite Books of 2016
Favorite Books of 2015

Favorite Books of 2014
Favorite Books of 2013
Interview: Alena Graedon, author of The Word Exchange
(June 2014)
Interview: Unprofessional Confessions with Rich Dyson (June 2014)
Two Librarians Discuss: The Fault In Our Stars – Okay? (June 2014)
“Read Books. Often. Mostly Print” – A Rather Bookish Manifesto (June 2014)
A Novel Ninevember (November 2013)