I don’t know if any of these were released in 2017, but all of them really stuck with me, from nonfiction to fiction.
The Story of Your Life and Others by Ted Chiang
The short story of the same name in this collection inspired the movie Arrival, which fascinated me when I saw it. I never imagined that this collection of short stories would be my favorite since Raymond Carver. The writing is beautiful and it’s steeped in realism, science fiction, and philosophy.
Kafka on the Shore & Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami
This was the year I finally started reading Murakami. No idea what took me so long, but I’m currently reading 1Q84 and plan to read all his books. His writing is so poetic and profound.
Stealing Fire by Steven Kotler & Jamie Wheal
An absolutely mindblowing book about the science behind “flow states,” aka being “in the zone.” I’d recommend listening to Steve Kotler on Joe Rogan’s podcast to see if this peaks your interest and then check out the book.
The End of Faith & Waking Up by Sam Harris
Two powerful and difficult reads from Sam Harris, who I think is the most important modern thinker that we have in America. I’d recommend Waking Up to anyone interested in exploring the possibilities of consciousness. The End of Faith is Sam’s critical thesis of all forms of organized religious belief.
The Stand by Stephen King
I read all 1,200+ pages of this book in about two weeks. What a story. What a writer. King is a master. This is a good gateway drug into King’s books if you’re only familiar with the movie adaptations of his work.
Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
Bleeding Edge by Thomas Pynchon
The War of Art by Steven Pressfield
Highly recommended for anyone looking to push themselves creatively and professionally but find something Pressfield calls the “resistance” holding them back.
Tribe by Sebastian Junger
So much to take away from this book, but if there was any one thing, it’s this:
“The most alarming rhetoric comes out of disputes between liberals and conservatives, and it’s a dangerous waste of time because they’re both right. The perennial conservative concern about high taxes supporting a non-working ‘underclass’ has entirely legitimate roots in our evolutionary past and shouldn’t be dismissed out of hand. Early hominids lived a precarious existence where freeloaders were a direct threat to survival, and so they developed an exceedingly acute sense of whether they were being taken advantage of by members of their own group.
But by the same token, one of the hallmarks of early human society was the emergence of a culture of compassion that cared for the ill, the elderly, the wounded, and the unlucky. In today’s terms, that is a common liberal concern that also has to be taken into account. Those two driving forces have coexisted for hundreds of thousands of years in human society and have been codified in this country as a two-party political system. The eternal argument over…liberal and conservative thought…will never be resolved because each side represents an ancient and absolutely essential component of our evolutionary past.”