I didn't read as many books as I would've liked to this year. Hopefully 2015 will be better.
Key: Unlinked means I do not recommend it. Linked and bolded means it's one of my top recommendations for the year. Linked but not bolded is somewhere in between.
The Power Broker by Robert Caro
This is the best book I have ever read. "Yes, I know it's long, but trust me, you'll wish it was longer." Reading this book ruined the next few books I read a little bit.
Hard Landing by Thomas Petzinger Jr.
Serviceable book about the history of the airline industry. A good read if you are interested in airlines.
Release It by Michael T. Nygard
I read this book for work. A number of things it talks about are still important now--some things are a little old. Definitely a good read if you want to think about how to run large web services
Design of Everyday Things by Don Norman
I really enjoyed this book. It went through design methodologies for simple and complex objects. It got me to think a little more consciously about the things that anger me in everyday life.
A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again by David Foster Wallace
This collection of essays was awesome. I wish there were more. As you can see, I tried to fill the void that ASFTINDA left me by reading some Chuck Klosterman later in the year. While Chuck's writing is very good and similar in style, I don't think DFW can be beat. Reading this made me almost want to break my no-fiction rule and read Infinite Jest. I guess we'll see about that 2015.
The Hard Thing About Hard Things by Ben Horowitz
While this was just a bunch of collected blog posts from Ben Horowitz, I still found this to be a good quick read. His writing and story telling is good; he makes a bunch of really good points about running a business.
I had been suggested these books a while ago and only read them this year. Klosterman's writing is humorous and entertaining; I enjoyed nearly every essay even when the topic was something I didn't care about (sports, old TV shows, etc).
Flash Boys by Michael Lewis
Do not read this book. Scott Locklin has a pretty good explanation about why this book sucks. The thing that baffled me about the book was that Michael Lewis kept making the argument that "no-one knew what was going on [in algorithmic trading." I found this especially funny because during the time he was writing about I was in college and even as a college student I was able to figure out what was going on.
Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman
This was another book that angered me. Maybe I should swear off social science books with white covers. The general impression that I got is that Kahneman knows what he's talking about and does good science, but it seems disingenuous to me to in one chapter claim that most social scientists' experiments are not properly run and then in another chapter expect the reader to believe that Kahneman's experiments were run correctly sans an explanation of experimental procedure. Similar to other social science books with off-white or white covers, Kahneman dumbs down the material to the point of condescension
Capital in the 21st Century by Thomas Piketty
Long, dry, but good. I'll be honest, I didn't quite finish it, but the parts that I read I would recommend.
Team Ben by Wife
A well written explanation of the history of competitive Super Smash Bros. Melee community told through Wife. This was a pretty good read--even though a lot of the material was covered in the documentary. It definitely got me to want to play more Smash--something that tournament reports should strive to do.
Growing Rails Applications in Practice by Henning Koch and Thomas Eisenbarth
A serviceable but forgettable book about how to deal with Rails codebases as they grow in size.
The Inmates Are Running the Asylum by Alan Cooper
A lot of things in this book were interesting. I wish there was less engineer bashing. I don't know what kind of world Cooper lived in such that he had to type cast engineers in the most stereotypical nerdy way. In my mind, regardless of how many PMs or Designers are attached to the project, there are always going to be UX concerns that are up to the individual engineer. If you don't believe an engineer has a good product sense (for that product), then they shouldn't be working on that project.
No Place To Hide by Glen Greenwald
I know that this shouldn't have happened, but after all the Snowden leaks came out last year, I somewhat lumped them together into a "the government is evil" sentiment. This book did a good job to walk through each of the leaks, explain them in-depth, and explain why each one was important. The story telling about how Greenwald met Snowden is a riveting story--I think that Greenwald does a better job at telling that story than Poitras does in Citizenfour.
Dataclysm by Christian Rudder
Rudder explains through beautiful graphs and explanations things he has seen in the internet age. I think that it's unfortunate that the general public's reaction to this book (and the Facebook report) was to think that A/B testing on users was evil. I think Rudder does a good job explaining why that's not the case. This is one thing that I wish I could go to every person and calmly explain to them why it is not evil. Unfortunately, I don't think there is enough time to do that.
Zero To One by Peter Thiel
He rehashes a lot of the things that were in his original class (I read the class notes when they came out in 2012). I disagree with him on some things, but this is a relatively short read.
While it is clear that for Stone, writing is not his strongest suit, the stories in this book are entertaining. It gives a less gruesome view of what happened in the earlier days of Twitter than compared to those written by Nick Bilton.
IV by Chuck Klosterman
An anthology of Klosterman's writing with newly written notes/prefaces. These stories are kind of hit or miss. I think one needs to be really craving Klosterman writing in order to make his or her way through this one.
Hacking the Xbox by bunnie
This book was awesome. It's too bad I only read this book this year--I wish I read this when I was much much younger. I actually prided myself on hacking every device I ever received. Unfortunately, I never dug too deep into the hardware aspects of it; I mainly read and followed guides on the internet. I appreciate that bunnie released this for free. He also helped my family out on our trip to Shenzhen this year by introducing us to Cyril Ebersweiler.