2013 audiobook recommendations

The 24 audiobooks I read in 2013 fall into five categories: fiction (9), history (7), economics (3), contemporary non-fiction (3) and personal improvement (2).

Before 2013, I hadn’t listened to much fiction. I ended up enjoying it much more than I expected. Great narrators help.

My top fiction recommendations from 2013 are Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray and Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift. I recommend them for two very different reasons.

I loved the story and characters in Vanity Fair, while Gulliver’s Travels is a thought-provoking commentary on humanity.

My top history recommendation is The Rest is Noise by Alex Ross. It tells the story of 20th century classical music. I found it fascinating and enjoyed following along with the online audio guide.

I really enjoy the Oxford History of the United States and listened to two consecutive volumes last year. I would give the edge to What Hath God Wrought? by Daniel Walker Howe because I really enjoy that somewhat-neglected period of American history from just after Jefferson through the Mexican-American War.

Honorable mention goes to Che Guevara by Jon Lee Anderson. If you want to know Che, read this book.

I also read Democracy in America by Alexis de Tocqueville, but I found it somewhat difficult as an audiobook. I hope to someday revisit this one in print.

If you want to learn more about economics, Economics in One Lesson by Henry Hazlitt is hard to beat. It is simple and short. It’s more conceptual than mathematical, so it is very accessible.

An honorable mention to How Markets Fail by John Cassidy. Although I disagree with some of his analysis and prescriptions, Cassidy raises important challenges and provides useful context about the history of economic thought.

I highly recommend Cal Newport’s So Good They Can’t Ignore You especially for people who want career advice. To get a taste for Newport, start with this New York Times op-ed. I read the op-ed and immediately knew I wanted to read the book. If you are open to being convinced after reading the op-ed, I highly recommend the book.

Overall, my top recommendations from 2013 are Vanity FairThe Rest is Noise and So Good They Can’t Ignore You.

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