Before the end of every year, we reach out to the more than 2,500 journalists who work at Bloomberg's 150-plus bureaus around the world and ask them to poll the newsmakers they cover in search of our best books of the year. The results might seem random at first. Going There, the gossipy tell-all from news anchor Katie Couric, has very little in common with a volume that bears the name Lectures on the Philosophy of Mathematics.

Look closer, though, and a few themes emerge. Everyone is curious about crypto. And given the numerous crises we face today, books on leadership and success are as popular as ever among the executive class.

More than anything, the wide variety of topics reflects the various ways people have responded to a challenging year. Some delved into difficult issues via such titles as Empire of Pain, Power, and Rationality. Others found humorous books-- A Very Punchable Face  and Tacky-- more palatable. In other words, think of this list the way you would regard an actor like Matthew McConaughey, whose Greenlights memoir was one of the only books cited twice. It's got range.

Photographs by Janelle Jones for Bloomberg Businessweek, prop stylist: Priscilla Jeong