important books of twenty-twelve
Here are some of the most interesting and important books from this year. they may or may not be the "best" of the year, but by my lights, they are better "pickings" for your brain than found elsewhere. i can do quote-mining and tell you how singularly brilliant and seminal these are, but never mind. in all seriousness: quality varies from good to excellent to brilliant. some books, like harlan ellison's bugf#ck seem to have too little in them. [how anyone can come up with a tiny volume of ellison quotes is a puzzle] some, like neal stephenson's some remarks seem to have too much. [he stumbles through leibniz's monadology with literacy and grace. really.]
so here is the first batch. ben goldacre's bad pharma is not officially out in canada until the new year, but came out in england months ago. what causes the delay in publication? not sure, maybe editing required. fitzpatrick & collins-sussman's team geek and coleman's coding freedom are two exceptional books on software development. martin's there are two errors in the title of this book is now the third edition of a rich and entertaining book on philosophical puzzles and paradoxes. plotnik's elements of expression is in its second edition of expressiveness.
second batch is more essential non-fiction and fiction. i did not have enough room to pile all the good books in various genres i read. nate silver's the signal and the noise is getting some mixed reviews from specialists, and i feel it is deserved: it delivers some noise with its signal. mooney's republican brain is a disturbing read. that book in the middle? katz's information design - possibly the smartest book i have seen on the topic since tufte's four volumes, which it displaces quite neatly. [surely "brainpickings" could have had enough clue to pick this for one of its top ten "best" lists] two other books in this group really stand out: macintyre's double cross and taleb's antifragile - deep and rewarding books by two exceptional authors.
this last batch is an art batch, but more about photography. i have other good to exceptional books in this category but i thought they deserve a separate blog entry some other time. rocky nook has been publishing some important books on photography, and no surprise that four books on that table are theirs. tone poems are astonishing, as expected. last but not least, stillman's looking at ansel adams is an essential read for a photographer.