The City of Mirrors by Justin Cronin
This third book in Cronin's Passage trilogy closes what ranks as one of my favorite series of novels of all time. Although I would consider the trilogy to be science fiction I think it's officially labelled as fantasy fiction. Whatever. For lack of a better word, it's a post-apocalyptic zombie tale. Did you see the movie World War Z with Brad Pitt? Neither did I. Regardless, that movie was based on a zombie tale of the same name. By way of comparison, World War Z is to The Passage as McDonalds is to fine dining IMO. The World War Z book barely qualifies as notes for a screenplay let alone a novel. They did try to make The Passage into a TV series but it only lasted one season. But enough about movies and TV.
The three novels in Cronin's trilogy (The Passage, The Twelve, The City of Mirrors) involve surviving in North America after a plague of some sort has wiped out well over 95% of the human population. Fresh in its premise, vivid in its portrayals, deep in its characters. The kind of book that, after you've turned the last page, fills you with both a deep satisfaction for having experienced the story and a bittersweet melancholy because you have to leave the characters behind.
See more info on the author's website.
Radical Candor by Kim Scott
Scott's book (subtitled Be a Kick-Ass Boss Without Losing Your Humanity) distilled personnel management in the workplace into a simple to understand 2x2 matrix along two axes: your willingness to challenge someone directly and your degree of caring personally.
Of course, radical candor is the sweet spot where you both care and are willing to challenge someone. The other quadrants are labelled ruinous empathy (you care but won't challenge), manipulative insincerity (you neither care nor are willing to challenge), and obnoxious aggression where assholes live (they're very willing to challenge you without caring a bit).
Recommended for everyone who leads other people. See the book's website.
High Output Management by Andy Grove
It was Ben Horowitz's mention of this book in his The Hard Thing About Hard Things that made me buy and read it. Glad I'm did and kinda sorry I hadn't read it years ago. Grove covers so many topics that are covered by other books and wraps them into an overall management philosophy.
I couldn't find a website for Grove or the book so here's a link to the book on Amazon.
The Cruel Stars by John Birmingham
I've said it before and I'll say it again: I should read more science fiction. In The Cruel Stars Birmingham presents future humanity with a great threat. In a world where humans are thick with cybernetics, an enemy of purists threatens our race with destruction. A group of reluctant and flawed heroes are key to humanity's survival. OK, enough with the dust jacket notes. The novel's setting was completely new and unique to me and the true nature of the threat caught me completely off guard. I'm hoping he turns this into a series.
For the record, I was introduced to Birmingham year's ago by Parade magazine from the Sunday paper which I habitually read with my Sunday lunch. Back then it was his After America trilogy in which virtually every living being in the continental U.S. was killed by an energy field that arrived and departed inexplicably. How do you think the rest of the world would act based on that void?
Here's the author's blog.
Red Metal by Mark Greaney
Reminiscent of Larry Bond's Red Storm Rising (co-authored with Tom Clancy who seems to be given all the author credit these days) and from an author of Tom Clancy's Jack Ryan Jr. novels, Red Metal is everything I want in military fiction: the Russians are up to no good, catch the U.S. off-guard and get in some good licks, then we see how the U.S. will respond. Good characters and kick-ass action. Like Clancy when Clancy was at his peak.
Learn more at the author's website.
- The Road by Cormac McCarthy. This post-apocalyptic scenario won't leave you with a warm and fuzzy feeling.
- Colonization: Down to Earth by Harry Turtledove. This is part 2 of an alternate history in which aliens arrive at earth in the middle of WWII. (I'm frustrated by the fact that my library doesn't have the first or third novels in this trilogy. Shame on them.)
- Earth Unaware by Orson Scott Card. This first installment in a trilogy begins the so-called First Formic War, the prequel to Card's Ender's Game. (Again, I choose a novel for which my library lacks the other two. Shame on me.)
- The Second Sleep by Robert Harris. From the author of the fantastic alternate history novel Fatherland, a sleepy English village in the 1400s is shaken by a discovery that hints at a prior civilization.
Looking Forward to 2020
Here's my full list of 2019's reading.