The Best Books of 2016

Well folks, we did it. We made it to the end of 2016, despite its every attempt to kill us in the process (knock on wood…there’s still a few weeks, I guess).

And now that it’s December 12th (only 13 shopping days until Christmas), we’ve reached the point of no return — your inbox is stuffed with deals, you’re coasting into some deserved time off, and creative projects are on hold until the New Year.

But the best part about the end of the year? Lists!

So for the next couple weeks, I’ll look back on my favorite things from the past year and give a few recommendations on how to spend that holiday cash burning a hole in your pocket. This week, the best books of 2016!

My Favorite Books of 2016 (in no particular order)

The Inevitable: Understanding the 12 Technological Forces That Will Shape Our Future by Kevin Kelly

Predicting the future, especially the future of technology, has thus far been a fools errand. If you don’t believe me, just ask the Jetsons (although that was closer to the truth than an imagined future in which we’d all be riding seahorses…).

and other predictions from the year 2000

Kelly’s The Inevitable is not a book about flying cars, AI enslavement, or the singularity. It’s a book about looking at today’s technologies and following the “inevitable” trend lines to their likely conclusions. It answers the question, “how is what we’re doing today going to shape the technology of tomorrow?”

But What If We’re Wrong? Thinking About the Present As If It Were the Past by Chuck Klosterman

Speaking of predictions, which artist do you think future historians will hold up as the icon of rock and roll? Which book(s) will the people of 2500 consider 21st Century classics? For how many more years will we tolerate football’s brutality?

With his signature blend of cogent analysis and anecdotal wit, Klosterman attempts to answer these questions while reminding us that the popular artist today won’t necessarily be remembered tomorrow.

My Father, the Pornographer by Chris Offutt

If the title isn’t enough to pique your interest, then I don’t know what I can do for you.

This beautifully written, tragi-comic memoir begins with the death of Offutt’s abusive father. In an effort to help his aging mother, Chris returns to his family home in rural Kentucky to sort through his late father’s archives. There, he uncovers an obsession that runs much deeper and darker than he ever realized.

Unseen City: The Majesty of Pigeons, the Discreet Charm of Snails & Other Wonders of the Urban Wilderness by Nathanael Johnson

Many environmental books focus on discovering and protecting pristine wilderness: national parks, remote jungles, rugged nature. But what about the nature all around us?

In Unseen City, Johnson argues that nature is all around us — that natural beauty is hiding in plain sight. It’s a bite-sized, fun, and informative romp through our local environment, one that’s sure to change your perspective and teach you more about your backyard than you ever knew existed.

The Creative Tarot: A Modern Guide to an Inspired Life by Jessa Crispin

I’ll be the first to say that astrology, tarot, and fortune telling are a little…out there. But that doesn’t mean we should write them off completely.

In The Creative Tarot, Crispin lays out a more rational approach to the cards, explaining how they can be used as a storytelling device, one that uncovers the patterns of the present to bust through creative blocks.

I was so enamored with her approach — one that eschews the normal love-money-career use of the tarot and applies them directly to the creative process — that I bought and use a deck…and I’m not a crazy person. Right?

Hopefully there’s a book or two in here that would make a great gift for a friend or loved one, or, at least, a nice addition to your library. And if not, I don’t know…go see a Star War or something.


Each week, I write a new article helping busy people find meaning and fulfillment through sustainable creative habits. If you enjoyed this week’s letter, you can sign up to get them delivered to your inbox each week by digital carrier pigeon.

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