How the Internet Happened, from Netscape to the iPhone, Brian McCullough. An incredibly fun nostalgic romp through the digital world as it developed. I especially enjoyed the chapter on the rise of AOL, being as attached to my AIM program as modern teens are to their social media apps.
War and Peace, Leo Tolstoy. I’m not just sticking it here to brag about reading it (okay, I am a little). I was honestly captivated by Andrei and Pierre’s separate but related growth as men, and of Tolstoy’s view of the war.
Them: Why We Hate Each Other (and How to Heal), Ben Sasse. Politics has for years angered or depressed me , because so much is wrong and nothing seems liable to change in good ways, and Sasse’s book was a heartening reminder that there are people out there who feel the same sense of alienation and are looking for a light out of the darkness.
The Only Plane in the Sky: An Oral History of 9/11. Ordinarily I resist putting December books on my best-of list, because they have an advantage in being recent. But Only Plane in my Sky made this list halfway through, displacing Dan Baum’s Gun Guys. It’s an incomparable reliving of 9/11 through the eyes of a staggering variety of individuals who experienced it — as office workers, taxi drivers, government employees, firefighters, astronauts, etc. If you only ever read one book on 9/11, make it this one. (If you read two, make the other The Looming Tower.)