I read too many good books this year to have one “best” of the year, so I’m breaking all the top books out into categories. This time it’s nonfiction!
Again, to clarify, saying a book is best of the year doesn’t necessarily mean it was written in 2018; just that I read it in 2018. My apologies to all the great books written this year that I haven’t gotten around to yet. On to the picks!
Best Nonfiction Book of 2018
Hold On to Your Kids – Gordon Neufeld and Gabor Mate
If you have kids, or plan to have kids, or work with kids, or know kids, or ever meet any kids, or anticipate that you may one day climb out of your pressurized, germ-proof clean room in your underground bunker and encounter a kid, I strongly encourage you to read this book. It’s a brilliant, comprehensive study of what drives kids away from good influences and toward bad ones, along with some practical guidance on what to do about it.
It’s the kind of advice that just makes sense when you read it. It’s not explicitly Christian, but there are a couple of wink, wink moments in it that make you think that the authors might be coming from a Christian perspective, and the guidelines fit well if you’re trying to make Biblical child-rearing a priority. Parents, please, please, please read this book. Couldn’t recommend it too highly.
Antifragile – Nassim Nicholas Taleb
A study of things that actually get stronger when exposed to chaos, why that happens, and how to take advantage of it. Taleb is an extremely big fan of Taleb, but he’s also an extremely smart and perceptive dude. If you don’t mind him talking about how smart he is and how dumb everybody else is (which, frankly, is pretty amusing in itself), then this book can radically change your perspective on the world. Don’t try to escape chaos; expect it, and make yourself antifragile.
Conspiracy – Ryan Holiday
The absolutely bananas story of how billionaire Peter Thiel and Hulk Hogan teamed up to sue the gossip site Gawker into bankruptcy. Yes, this is a true story.
I rated this book four stars instead of five, because while the author spins an interesting yarn, it’s still obvious that there’s a layer of public relations and marketing between him and the parties involved. And because at the end where he discusses the consequences of the suit to the press and free speech, Holiday careens off into the fever swamp where every bad thing leads to and/or is caused by Trump. Still, it’s an engrossing read. And it’s terrifying to realize that, if you want to keep people from destroying you on the internet, you basically have to have the unlimited resources of a tech billionaire. And even then it’s a long shot.