It’s been a few years, but I used to write an annual post with my favorite books of the year (e.g.,2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011). I’m going to renew the habit with a short post of mini-reviews of books I’ve read over the past two years.

Favorite Books of 2020

Non-fiction: Rough-hewn Land

This is probably the best geology book I’ve ever read (sorry, Mr. McPhee). Keith Heyer Meldahl takes us along I-80 from the bay area to Laramie, Wyoming. Along the way, he describes the geologic processes that shaped the western half of the continent. Easy-to-understand graphics help make the topic clear to non-geologists. This is also the first book I’ve read to explain the creation of the Rocky Mountains, a topic that most other books brush over with “nobody knows.”

Fiction: Beowulf

This was the year I finally tackled the Seamus Heaney translation of the oldest poem in English history. To my surprise, I found it readable and interesting. The lyricism surprised me, and I found myself reading passages aloud to enjoy the sounds of the poem (my attempt to parse and pronounce the original Old English text only lasted a few pages, but that was fun too).

Favorite Books of 2019

Non-fiction: T. Rex and the Crater of Doom

Throughout my school years, it was a given that the question of how the dinosaurs died out would be forever a mystery. The mystery is no more- there is now definitive evidence, supported by geological evidence around the world, that the dinosaurs were killed by a massive asteroid that hit the earth in what is now Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula. This book describes the event, and the process that the scientific community went through to prove this theory.

2020: The Complete List


  1. Seeing in Sixes 2018
  2. William Henry Harrison
  3. When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing
  4. The Soul of the Camera
  5. Hiking Idaho
  6. Seeing in Sixes 2019
  7. Indistractable
  8. Catastrophe 1914: Europe goes to War
  9. Hiking Trails of Northern Colorado
  10. The Ultimate Bar Book
  11. The Swamp Fox
  12. Rough-hewn Land
  13. Great Ancient Civilizations of Asia Minor (audiobook)


  1. The Sun Also Rises
  2. Well of Shiuan
  3. Hogfather
  4. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
  5. Dungeons & Dragons Monster Manual
  6. Dungeons & Dragons Player’s Handbook
  7. Dungeons & Dragons: The Legend of Drizzt Vol. 1: Homeland
  8. Stiletto
  9. Diamonds are Forever
  10. Morgoth’s Ring
  11. Dungeons & Dragons: Ghosts of Saltmarsh
  12. Dungeons & Dragons: Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide
  13. Beowulf

2019: The Complete List


  1. Head First C#
  2. Images of America: Joshua Tree National Park
  3. Rick Steves Switzerland
  4. The Ottoman Empire (Great Courses Audio Book)
  5. Backpacking Idaho (Falcon Guide)
  6. MOMA Highlights
  7. The Guns of August
  8. Meditation for Fidgety Skeptics
  9. Seeing in Sixes 2017
  10. Origins of Great Ancient Civilizations (Great Courses Audio Book)
  11. Das Deutsche Lichtbild 1935
  12. Backpacking Idaho (Douglas Lorain)
  13. The One Thing
  14. T. Rex and the Crater of Doom
  15. New Zealand: Aotearoa
  16. Exploring the Black Hills & Badlands
  17. Buddha
  18. Globejotting: How to Write Extraordinary Travel Journals
  19. Unspoiled New Zealand
  20. Guidebook to the Geology of the Black Hills, South Dakota 3rd edition
  21. Jewel Cave: The Story Behind the Scenery
  22. Smart Baseball
  23. Martin van Buren and the American Political System
  24. The Accidental Creative: How to be Brilliant at a Moment’s Notice
  25. The Right Stuff
  26. History of the Ancient World: A Global Perspective (Great Courses Audio Book)
  27. The Control of Nature
  28. Amplifying Your Effectiveness


  1. The Integral Trees
  2. Witches Abroad (Discworld)
  3. Superman, Vol 1.: Son of Superman
  4. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
  5. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
  6. Green Lantern: Blackest Night
  7. Aquaman, Vol 1: The Drowning
  8. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
  9. The Lightning Thief
  10. Sauron Defeated
  11. Watchmen
  12. Moonraker

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