Anthony Zhou

Psychology, Economics, Programming, or anything interesting.

My Favorite Books of 2020

I read quite a few books this year. Here are my favorites.

I used to think books were like drugs. And I don't mean garden-variety pills like Benadryl or Tylenol--I'm talking hardcore drugs: nicotine, cocaine, and so on. How did I come to this conclusion? Like many kids, I would often start reading a book and struggle to put it down. I would start reading Percy Jackson in the morning and look up to find the sun was already setting. If addiction is a behavior where dependence on a substance interferes with a person's ability to live a full life, my younger self was a full-blown pothead, if only for books instead of weed.

But I was wrong about books. They're not addictive drugs; instead, they're more like food. I now believe in a more holistic way of thinking about information input and output, by imagining the ideas that come into my head are like ingredients in a blender. Podcasts. Magazines. Movies. Books. Kerplunk. BZHHHH. And out comes a smoothie of new and interesting ideas. This way, books come out looking like a relatively nutritious option (at least compared to TV shows and Instagram feeds).

All that to say, I decided to compile a list of the books I most enjoyed reading this year. Treat this as a list of ingredients, a diverse set of raw materials that can help you achieve a result that is both tasty and nutritious (and they might inspire you to read, too).

General nonfiction

  • Thinking, Fast and Slow -- Daniel Kahneman
  • The Black Swan -- Nassim Nicholas Taleb
  • The Master Algorithm -- Pedro Domingos
  • Scale -- Geoffrey West


  • How I Built This -- Guy Raz
  • The Innovator's Dilemma -- Clayton Christensen


  • Educated -- Tara Westover
  • On Writing -- Stephen King


  • Rich Dad, Poor Dad -- Robert Kiyosaki
  • How to Win Friends and Influence People -- Dale Carnegie
  • When -- Daniel Pink


  • The Remains of the Day -- Kazuo Ishiguro
  • The Alchemist -- Paulo Coehlo
  • The Great Gatsby -- F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • The Road -- Cormac McCarthy
  • The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn -- Mark Twain
  • The Bell Jar -- Sylvia Plath

If you've read any of these books or have other recommendations, feel free to leave a comment below, or drop me a line at

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