Some of the books I’ve read in 2020


The most recommended are in bold, with some exposition on the most mentionable.

Best book of the year: The Ministry for the Future

History / now—ish

  • The Pillars of the Earth
  • The Forest
  • Doomsday Book — I first read one of Connie Wills historical fictions which use time-travel as a device* to explore the past years ago and wanted to return. At the start of lockdown I read this for some escapism.. only to promptly discover it was all about the plagues of 14th century UK. Not only that, the ‘current day’ story line (ie that experienced by the team who didn’t time-travel) is set in the 2050s during one of the regular recurring outbreaks of a virulent flu-like virus which forces complete local lockdowns. And not only that but there’s also a scene where they’re worried about running out of loo-roll. Written in 1992.
    * see also PastWatch by Orson Scott Card.


  • Way Station
  • The Ministry for the Future — lots of credible ideas to a pathway through the climate crisis which highlights the innovations and policies required to get us there, as well as what they would look like in practice. Focuses on economic reform, tech, and personal stories. Very much a Kim Stanley Robinson book, it embraces the relentless ability we humans have to screw things up and act too late and for dumb reasons, and shows how every crisis can be an opportunity to do better.
  • Devolution
  • Star Maker — epically big in scope. Typical Olaf.
  • Nightfall
  • Pacific Edge: The Three Californias Triptych, Book 3
  • Heaven’s River: Bobiverse, Book 4
  • The Sandman
  • Quantum Garden: The Quantum Evolution, Book 2
  • Children of Ruin — the second book I’ve read by Adrian Tchaikovsky. Special mention because of the wealth of xenobiology ideas herein, which actually mainly serve to expand our theory of mind and consciousness to other species here on Earth. ie if you want to know how an octopus might thing, and what it feels like to be one, have a read.
  • The Quantum Magician
  • The Long Earth


  • The Tales of Max Carrados
  • Complete works of Sherlock Holmes
  • When You Finish Saving the World — written by Jesse Eisenberg (yes, the actor one), I find these characters utterly relatable.
  • Norse Mythology
  • It Can’t Happen Here


  • The War on Normal People


  • Self Compassion
  • So Good They Can’t Ignore You
  • Why Are We Yelling?: The Art of Productive Disagreement
  • How to Have a Good Day: Think Bigger, Feel Better and Transform Your Working Life
  • The Power of Vulnerability: Teachings of Authenticity, Connection, and Courage
  • Happy: Why More or Less Everything Is Absolutely Fine
  • Reboot: Leadership and the Art of Growing Up

Ed Dowding

Ed Dowding

Founder, strategist, writer, gadfly, TED talker, world-record holder, and (foolishly) reality-TV farmer. DOES: Innovation, Product, Advocacy THINKS: Regenerative Systems, Institution design, 300 year horizons

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