January 10, 2010

Yearly Book Review

Okay I should’ve written this by year end, where everybody was summarizing the year that would soon pass. However I’ve been busy back then, and just found the right mood to get down writing something at the end of my winter break.

In this past year of 2009 I read more books than any previous year – that is, counting only non-textbooks and excluding abbreviated versions. I used to defy novels in general and read non-fictions only, but I recently found that novels play their indispensible role in leisure reading.

Over all I read seventeen books, as follows:

Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner, Freakonomics
There are just too many reviews on this marvelous title to behavioral economics. It was from this book I first came to understand what behavioral economics really is, and grew my love for it. Recommended.

Barack Obama, Dreams form My Father
A brilliant memoir. Touching and unforgettable. After reading this, I truly understood why Obama is capable of the presidency of a great nation. Recommended.

Randy Pausch with Jeffrey Zaslow, The Last Lecture
Memoir from a moribund professor. This book talks about the meanings of life and the importance of realizing one’s dreams. It also teaches the way to face a pending death. Recommended.

Peter Taylor (ed.), A Day Saved and Other Modern Stories
An interesting little anthology of stories written by famous writers of the 20th century.

Cal Newport, How to Become a Straight-A Student
A fantastic guide to succeeding in college with many useful advices streamlined into a system, some of which I had already used before reading it.

-, How to Win at College
Another guide from the same author. It includes some seventy tips for college students. Better suited for a freshman, since many of those tips need to be worked on since enrollment in college. I’ve written another article about this book.

Paul Krugman, The Conscience of a Liberal
From the Nobel laureate. I remember the first several chapters are an economic history of U.S. with detailed interpretation. Later the author gives solutions to the economic problems as in 2005, including the universal health care. Recommended for people interested in the U.S. economy or medical economics.

David Colander, The Making of an Economist, Redux
If you are thinking about getting a PhD economics, and you have not read this book, you should read it. From it I learned what grad school in economics is really like.

David Packard, The HP Way
I found it on a bookshelf in my father’s study. It is written by the cofounder of the Hewlett-Packard company (HP), and tells the story of how they turned a workshop in a garage to become the biggest PC maker in the world.

Roger E. Backhouse, The Penguin History of Economics
The author is obviously knowledgeable on the subject, and I did learn a lot about how my field of study evolved since pre-Plato eras. I would admit that it is a little boring to read, with relatively plain language and structure. Probably there are more enjoyable titles on the topic.

Haolan Ma (ed.), American Literature
Claimed to be selected from high school literature textbooks used in the United States. Poorly edited, with spelling errors every now and then. Though the articles included are all truly gorgeous.

Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass
This is my first encounter with poetry written in English. Actually I do not like reading (near) modern poetry that much. And for classical poetry, I only enjoy them when reciting out loud. Despite these, Whitman’s Leaves was amazing in how he embraced progressive ideology (some can even be considered progressive today).

Yutang Lin, My Country and My People
Dr. Lin’s book on China was almost defining when it was first published in 1935 in America, soon becoming a bestseller. Its description of China and the people of China are accurate and vivid. Though the majority of the books may be obvious to a college student from China, it probably still retains its charm to a Western mind.

Charles F. Haanel, The Master Key System
The grandfather of all modern self-help success books. Somewhat too abstruse, probably due to age. Since I’ve read quite a few similar books when in junior high school, not many ideas came fresh to me.

Anthony Bozza, Whatever You Say I Am
A biography of the rapper Eminem I bought in the Heathrow Airport of London way back in high school. I've started to read it ever since and have just finish last summer. Besides a biography, it also includes a history of hip-hop culture.

Best Nonfiction This Year

Tim Harford, The Undercover Economist
Harford is inborn with an economist’s mind. The Under Cover Economist covers topics from behavioral economics, pricing strategies, monetary economics, asymmetric information, development, international trade, and more. He explains each topic with easy-to-understand and real-life examples that help an economics lay-person to understand and apply in everyday thinking. If you are a student of economics, this book will give you more interesting examples of what you learned in Principles; if you are not familiar with the study of economics, this book tells you what it is and how economics can help achieve what you desire.

Best Novel This Year

Bernhard Schlink, The Reader
My Aunt recommended it to me. When I first started to read it, I thought it was just a usual romantic novel. But soon I discovered that it was much more than that. It is a book of war and ethics, of sin and redemption.

1 comment:

  1. Hello

    Thanks for sharing. If u like Freakonomics, I bet u will like .....The Economic Naturalist: In Search of Explanations for Everyday Enigmas
    by Robert H. Frank

    Remember me? hehee