The Best Books I Read in 2015

by eric

Previous editions: 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011.

Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End
Atul Gawande
The author, a surgeon, explores how end-of-life care in the U.S. developed and why its outcomes are so often poor, as his own father nears death. He suggests that thoughtful treatment choices be guided by the patient’s reflection on a series of questions.

The Nurture Assumption: Why Children Turn Out the Way They Do
Judith Rich Harris
Research suggests that about half of our traits are inherited–children are shaped 50% by nature, 50% by nurture.  It is widely assumed that nurture means “parenting.”  In this compelling book, Harris argues that long-term parental influence (beyond genetics) is negligible.  Instead, the child’s peer group dominates.

All Joy and No Fun: The Paradox of Modern Parenthood
Jennifer Senior
Empathetic and keenly observed vignettes of parenthood in America today.

Giant Telescopes: Astronomical Ambition and the Promise of Technology
Patrick McCray
Briefly, a history of the Gemini telecopes, but really a much broader story of the evolution of optical astronomy in the U.S.  Shows how institutional tensions and Congressional fiat gave the U.S. a minority share in two telescopes rather than a true national facility.

Thank You for Your Service
David Finkel
A harrowing but important book following a group of Iraq veterans as they reenter their lives back home.

Us Conductors
Sean Michaels
Beautiful, achingly sad historical fiction about the life of the Russian Lev Sergeyevich Termin—inventor, lover, spy, and political prisoner.

Death & Co
David Kaplan, Nick Fauchald, and Alex Day
Innovative cocktail recipes and techniques from the cutting-edge New York bar.

The Old-Fashioned: The Story of the World’s First Classic Cocktail, with Recipes and Lore
Robert Simonson
A detailed history of the Old Fashioned cocktail—sugar, bitters, spirit, twist.