Books kept me company in 2020, a year when company was in short supply. I do most of my reading while running, in the form of audiobooks. I ran more miles this year than ever before and, due to uncertainty around the spread of COVID-19, ran most of them solo. This, combined with some other factors like the Northern California wildfires and moving back home with my parents, meant I had a lot of time to myself. I spent this time listening to podcasts, thinking, and, yes, reading.

I picked up World War Z at the start of the pandemic. The book describes a zombie virus outbreak in a small village in China, the botched national responses and cover-ups, and the horrific first-person accounts of the zombie war. It was entertaining at first but soon came too close to reality.

I read a lot of fiction this year as an escape, ranging from Fredrik Backman’s eloquent new book, Anxious People to the mind-bending sci-fi story Recursion. On an emergency flight to my parents’ house, I closed my window shade on the expanse of smoke below us and dove into The Great Alone, physically and mentally escaping the horrific Northern California wildfires.

As always, books were my primary running companions. Nassim Taleb, David Sedaris, and Anthony Bordain all kept me company through over three thousand miles on roads and trails. Captivating books, especially fantasy, kept me motivated and mentally alert during the slow miles which are the bread-and-butter of long-distance running. I couldn’t wait to get out the door to continue listening to the Broken Earth series, or Neal Stephenson’s bizarre Snow Crash.

Here’s a list of books I read this year. You can find past years’ book lists on Medium (2019, 2018), or can follow me on Goodreads for up to date book ratings.

  1. The Beach, Alex Garland (recommended)
  2. Stealing the Corner Office, Brendan Reid
  3. Good to Go: What the Athlete in All of Us Can Learn from the Strange Science of Recovery, Christie Aschwanden
  4. Secrets of the Millionaire Mind, T. Harv Eker
  5. The Sellout, Paul Beatty (recommended)
  6. Dear Girls, Ali Wong
  7. In the Distance, Hernan Diaz (recommended)
  8. Can’t Hurt Me, David Goggins
  9. Running with Sherman, Christopher McDougal
  10. Skin in the Game, Nassim Taleb (recommended)
  11. The Signal and the Noise, Nate Silvers
  12. Golden Gates: Fighting for Housing in America, Conor Dougherty
  13. World War Z, Max Brooks (recommended) ← Start of the pandemic
  14. The Fifth Season, N. K. Jemisin (recommended)
  15. The Obelisk Gate, N. K. Jemisin (recommended)
  16. The Stone Sky, N. K. Jemisin (recommended)
  17. Red, White and Royal Blue, Casey McQuisten (recommended)
  18. Antifragile, Nassim Taleb (recommended)
  19. Lord of the Flies, William Golding (recommended)
  20. Enlightenment Now, Steven Pinker (recommended)
  21. The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories, Ken Liu
  22. The Fish That Ate the Whale: The Life and Times of America’s Banana King, Rich Cohen (recommended)
  23. How to Be Alone, Lane Moore
  24. White Fragility, Robin DiAngelo & Michael Eric (recommended)
  25. Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less, Greg McKeown
  26. The Food Lab, J. Kenji López-Alt (recommended)
  27. The Five Wishes of Mr. Murray McBride, Joe Siple
  28. The Hidden Life of Trees, Peter Wohlleben (recommended)
  29. Anxious People, Fredrik Backman (recommended)
  30. The Great Alone, Kristin Hannah (recommended)
  31. Kitchen Confidential, Anthony Bourdain (recommended)
  32. Jonathan Livingston Seagull, Richard Bach (recommended)
  33. Recursion, Blake Crouch (recommended)
  34. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Hunter S. Thompson
  35. Snow Crash, Neal Stephenson
  36. Caffeine, Michael Pollan (recommended)
  37. The Best of Me, David Sedaris (recommended)
  38. How to Do Nothing, Jenny Odell
  39. The Happy Runner, David Roche and Megan Roche
  40. Letters from a Stoic, Seneca (recommended)

Software Engineer and Runner

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