Category: Non-Fiction

1987, Books, Non-Fiction

The White Pass: Gateway to the Klondike

This is a readable and well-researched history of the building of the White Pass & Yukon Railway. As far as I know, this is Minter’s only book and it’s clearly a passion project. But it’s also the work of a non-professional. As such, it’s better than it should be but it’s also not necessarily a …

2006, Books, Fiction, Non-Fiction, TV

Deadwood: Stories of the Black Hills (2006) by David Milch, David Samuels

For me, Deadwood is probably the second greatest English-language dramatic, fictional television show in the history of the medium. But it is also horribly under-watched (if not completely under-known). I have watched the show through at least 3 times and I still believe it’s kind of a marvel of combining big ideas with a compelling …

2013, Books, Non-Fiction

You Are Now Less Dumb (2013) by David McRaney

In many ways, this is You Are Not So Smart II with all that implies: it’s a similar catalogue of cognitive biases and heuristics that affect our ability to be rational, most or all of which you’ll here on the podcast.One major difference is the chapters are longer; rather than focusing on one bias every few pages …

2015, Books, Non-Fiction

Superforecasting: The Art and Science of Prediction (2015) by Philip Tetlock, Dan Gardner

This is a fascinating book about how human beings can potentially get better at predicting the future and the types of people who are probably better at predicting the future. (Not pundits, I’m sure you’re shocked to hear.) I suspect I would have liked it more had I not already been familiar with Tetlock’s work.

2011, Books, Non-Fiction

You Are Not So Smart (2011) by David McRaney

I got this book years ago, when I still listened to this podcast. And the problem is that, due to this very podcast, I started reading a lot more pop psychology and psychology than I already was. And so, in the interim between this book coming into my possession and reading it, I learned a …

2018, Books, Hockey, Non-Fiction, Sports

The “Down Goes Brown” History of the NHL (2018) by Sean McIndoe

If you follow McIndoe on Twitter or you’ve read him at his professional stops since the original blog, you pretty much know what you’re getting here: quality hockey writing with jokes. However, if you’ve followed him since the blog you’ve likely heard some of this before. And if you’ve ready books about hockey (or read …

2010, 2015, Books, Non-Fiction

Sustainable Energy – Without the Hot Air (2010) by David J.C. MacKay

This is an excellent, detailed analysis of what we need to do to got sustainable. It is currently available online for free and I strongly recommend reading it.

2018, Books, Non-Fiction

The Fifth Risk (2018) by Michael Lewis

This is the first Michael Lewis book I’ve read. Admittedly, that’s pretty weird. I’ve listened to his podcast but somehow never read one of his books until now. And the reason I read this one first is because someone gave it to me, and I haven’t got his more famous ones from the library yet. …

2021, Books, Non-Fiction

Empire of Pain: The Secret History of the Sackler Dynasty (2021) by Patrick Radden Keefe

This is a well-written but maddening and saddening biography of the Sackler family, who are best known as the owners of Purdue Pharma and Purdue Frederick, i.e. the OxyContin people. It’s not really the story of OxyContin or the opioid epidemic, but rather just the history of the family. It’s a revealing story about how …

2014, Books, Non-Fiction

Up, Up, and Away: The Kid, the Hawk, Rock, Vladi, Pedro, le Grand Orange, Youppi!, the Crazy Business of Baseball, and the Ill-fated but Unforgettable Montreal Expos (2014) by Jonah Keri

This is an entertaining and page-turning overview of the existence of the Montreal Expos. It’s clearly written from the perspective of a fan, which is both a good and a bad thing. But it’s also relatively measured in its assessment of why the franchise failed. There’s just one rather big problem hanging over all of …

2018, Books, Non-Fiction

Crashed: How a Decade of Financial Crises Changed the World (2018) by Adam Tooze

This is an exceptionally detailed and sourced book, that is also highly readable. It occasionally walks a fine line between history and a rant, however. (It never does, which is to Tooze’s eternal credit. And even if it it did, it would be a very well-informed one.) I worried about reading a history written literally …

2005, Books, Non-Fiction

The Great Mortality (2005) by John Kelly

This is a frustrating book, which I learned a lot from but also had me rolling my eyes way, way more than it ever should have. It purports to be a history of the Black Death but it’s a really a European history – maybe that’s a tacit assumption given the title – and there …

2009, Books, Non-Fiction

The Buyout of America (2009) by Josh Kosman

The problem with making big predictions in your book is that, when they either do not come true or only partially come true, you kind of look like an idiot. (I should say you “should” look like an idiot because we humans love to listen to people who’ve failed in their predictions time and again. …

2019, Books, Non-Fiction

Say Nothing: A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland (2019) by Patrick Radden Keefe

This is an excellent account of the disappearance of a mother of 10 during The Troubles and the surrounding context. My knowledge of The Troubles comes almost exclusively from films (mostly fictionalized) but Radden Keefe’s book gives a lot of context and history for someone like me who is pretty new to the subject.

1740s, Books, Non-Fiction

An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding (1748) by David Hume

I have always encountered Hume in quotes and summaries. At some point, it to the point where I felt weird that I hadn’t ever actually read any David Hume, one of the most referenced/cited philosophers of his age and arguably one of the most important ever. (The same could be said of Spinoza, whom I …

1901, 1902, 1917, Books, Non-Fiction

Three Sea Stories: Typhoon, Falk, The Shadow-Line (1902, 1901, 1917) by Joseph Conrad

This is a collection of three pretty great Conrad novellas, the rather incredible Typhoon, Falk and The Shadow-Line. Though all three are not of the same quality, to show off many of the things that make Conrad great, including his ability to innovate and create tension at the same time. I sort of feel like …

2011, Books, Non-Fiction

Thinking, Fast and Slow (2011) by Daniel Kahneman

S0, I made the mistake of reading The Enigma or Reason before I read this much more famous book. That’s a mistake because the central argument of The Enigma of Reason is that the dichotomy (or tichotomy) of the brain is an illusion, that it doesn’t fit evolution. Whether it was philosophers or current psychologists, …

1987, Books, Non-Fiction

Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway (1987) by Susan Jeffers

This self-help book is only 34 years old, yet it feels like it was written some time earlier, perhaps in the ’60s even. Reading this book, especially after you’ve read more recent self-help books, is like going back in time. It’s incredible how sophisticated self-help and “wellness” has gotten in the interim. (That is both …

2016, Books, Non-Fiction

Algorithms to Live By: The Computer Science of Human Decisions (2016) by Brian Christian, Tom Griffiths

This is a pretty excellent overview of computer science theories relevant to our daily lives. As someone who took computer science only once, in high school, I didn’t know so much of this and found most of it (accept the game theory chapter) basically entirely new. Every chapter contains new discoveries and new, provocative ideas.

2019, Books, Non-Fiction

Alchemy: The Dark Art and Curious Science of Creating Magic in Brands, Business and Life (2019) by Rory Sutherland

Reading this book, I can’t help but wonder “who is this for?” It’s like a Greatest Hits or Best of for evolutionary psychology and behavioural economics but filtered through the mind of someone with no attention span (or who strongly believes his readers don’t have one). It’s utterly bizarre and works only as a very …

2020, Books, Non-Fiction

American Madness (2020) by Tea Krulos

(Way) Before Pizzagate there was the Phantom Patriot’s raid on Bohemian Grove. I had never heard of this before I read this book and completely missed any news coverage of the story, if there was any. So I’m glad I read this alternately hilarious and saddening story of one man’s obsession with conspiracies and his …

1955, Books, Non-Fiction

The Age of Reform (1955) by Richard Hofstadter

When I picked this up I wondered, “Why the hell am I reading a history book written in 1955?” My experience with much older history is that it is incomplete, lacking more modern insights that have since become general knowledge. But I knew of Hofstadter’s reputation, I’d read his most famous article at some point …

2020, Basketball, Books, Non-Fiction, Sports

The Victory Machine (2020) by Ethan Sherwood Strauss

This is a portrait of the Warriors that is both fascinating and maddening. I am not super familiar with Strauss beyond his podcast guest appearances on the Lowe Post and maybe the odd article I’ve stumbled across but I don’t know how much I’ll be seeking out his writing after this.

1984, 1994, 2007, Books, Non-Fiction

Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion (1984, 1994, 2007) by Robert Cialdini

When this book was published in 1984, it was probably one-of-a-kind, and an absolute must-read. A pop psychology treatment on how businesses (and con men) manipulate us into buying things we don’t want, there was probably not much else out there like it. It’s a landmark and it was likely essential reading pre-internet.

1992, Books, Non-Fiction

A Practical Study of Argument (1992) by Trudy Govier

I’m still not quite sure this textbook found its way into my reading pile. My best guess is that it came from the trove from my former boss. (I can almost hear him quoting the book.) Regardless of where it came from, I really didn’t know what I was in for. I didn’t know, for …

2020, Books, Non-Fiction

10% Less Democracy: Why You Should Trust Elites a Little More and the Masses a Little Less (2020) by Garrrett Jones

This is a frustrating book. I agree with some of what he says and he inspired me to come up with some additional ideas. But I find the presentation ill-thought out, and I find his perspective limited, and rather traditional.

2006, Books, Non-Fiction

War and Peace and War: The Rise and Fall of Empires (2006) by Peter Truchin

This is a provocative and ambitious (and lay) summary of an attempt to create a science of history by an evolutionary biologist. It is compelling and well-written. (Though my copy isn’t so well edited…) It is also flawed, which it basically must be given what he is trying to achieve. It’s absolutely worth your time, …