How much do we really know?

I have been slowly reading through Katrina by Gary Rivlin. The book, written 10 years after Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans, analyzes the storm’s aftermath and the process of rebuilding. The politics here are riveting, and it is both heartening and disheartening to see how a city can come together around tragedy — as well as still bitterly fight the “old fights.”

So far though, the bigger lesson to me is how much the media got wrong in the days immediately after the storm — and this is crucial — how much of that coverage later drove decision-making about what to do in the city long-term.

This in some ways is not a revelation — it is hardly surprising that some facts are wrong given how rapid the

Continue reading...

My Favorite Books of the Year 2017

It’s another year, and another year of great books. One of the goals of this year was to write more reviews of books that I have read — as you can see from the archives, that failed miserably except for a capsule blog post about Cixin Liu’s Three Body Problem. I am making no promises about this next year.

That said, there were a number of great books that I read this year, and I hope more people read them as well. As I wrote about last week, I am attempting to be more deliberate with what I am reading. So there is more fiction this year, and I hope that trend continues next year.

Pachinko by Min Jin Lee

This was the single

Continue reading...

The Problem of Books

I have two problems: one is that I read a lot of books. The other is that I buy a lot of books. Unfortunately, my credit card is more plentiful than my time these days, which means that I have an increasingly large number of books that I haven’t read yet. I even bought a separate bookcase in order to hold all of these volumes. I currently have approximately 300 books in my apartment, and about 20% of those are unread.

I read a post (which I have since lost) which said that the basic rule of books is that if you bought a book and haven’t read it within a decade, you probably should just find a way to give it away.

Continue reading...

What I Read Last Year (2016 Edition)

As always, I read a lot last year. Pocket seems to indicate that the number of articles I saved for later reading was around 1,400, or roughly 3.83 articles per day. Add in additional newspaper consumption plus books, and it was another year in which my information diet goals were completely ignored.

It's hard to sort of explain all of that consumption – or to remember it. Reading is one of those depressing activities that sparks the imagination while we are doing it, but is so fleeting that just moments later we often forget exactly what we just saw.

That said, there were some excellent books and articles that I think stood out from the rest. I want to highlight them and encourage you

Continue reading...