For no particular reason, here’s a list of the books I’ve read in the past twelve months, along with a few comments.
Links to postmortems where appropriate.
- 1/27/2013 – A Memory of Light (Robert Jordan & Brandon Sanderson)
- 1/6/2013 – Anna Karenina (Leo Tolstoy, translated by Louise & Aylmer Maude)
- 12/27/2012 – Christian Science (Mark Twain) A gift from my wife’s grandmother. Twain takes a critical look at the Christian Science religion (newly founded, back then) and its founder, Mary Baker Eddy. It’s funny: he wrote the book 100 years ago, and he makes some very definite – and very wrong – predictions about what will happen in 100 years. He thinks the Christian Scientists will take over everything. One less thing to worry about, I guess.
- 12/26/2012 – Freedom (Jonathan Franzen) Just as good as everyone says. A whole web of people with deeply messed-up and deeply interconnected lives. Believable, emotional, powerful.
- 12/22/2012 – The King of Elfland’s Daughter (Lord Dunsany) Reading this book was like eating Godiva chocolate. The first bites are heavenly, but the more you consume, the sicker you get. After a while, you just want it to be over.
- 12/16/2012 – The Post-American World, Release 2.0 (Fareed Zakaria) An insightful look at the future of geopolitics. Surprisingly optimistic, given the title.
- 12/9/2012 – The Customs of the Kingdoms of India (Marco Polo, translated by Ronald Latham) I’m pretty sure this little book is an excerpt from a much longer work by Marco Polo, though the book itself doesn’t bother to give you any context. Anyway, pretty interesting, though Polo’s writing style gets old quick. “And you must believe I am telling you the truth when I say…” Every other paragraph.
- 12/8/2012 – The Final Solution (Michael Chabon) Playful style, and a great idea for a story: a Sherlock Holmes in his eighties comes out of retirement for one last case. Starts off strong, weak ending.
- 12/5/2012 – Tao Te Ching (Lao Tzu, translated by Victor H. Mair) Beautiful.
- 12/4/2012 – The Koran (Muhammad, translated by N. J. Dawood) Not what I had hoped.
- 11/28/2012 – Dracula (Bram Stoker)
- 11/18/2012 – A Canticle for Leibowitz (Walter M. Miller Jr.) Very good book. Difficult to follow sometimes, but it makes you think. Deserves its status as a sci fi classic.
- 11/10/2012 – The Little Prince (Antoine de Saint-Exupery, translated by Katherine Woods) Disappointing. Came across as preachy.
- 11/1/2012 – Being Zen (Ezra Bayda) Interesting.
- 9/23/2012 – Thinking, Fast and Slow (Daniel Kahneman) Very insightful, very good. A sharp look at how our brains work, and how they fail. Reading about cognitive biases means learning your own blind spots. My only complaint is Kahneman’s bloated writing style, which reflects his academic background.
- 9/23/2012 – Batman: The Long Halloween (Jeph Loeb, with art by Tim Sale)
- 9/23/2012 – The War of Art (Steven Pressfield) A useful kick in the pants for creative types, though some of it gets pretty far into left field.
- 8/14/2012 – Famine Diary: Journey to a New World (Gerald Keenan, edited by James J. Mangan) The actual journal of an Irish immigrant who came to Canada fleeing the great potato famine. The fact that it’s true makes it all the more heartbreaking. Unfortunately, the editor far overstepped his bounds (in my opinion), not merely selecting or abridging but actually rewriting most of the text in his own words.
- 8/14/2012 – The Doors of Perception and Heaven and Hell (Aldous Huxley) If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to take a hallucinogen (in this case, mescaline) then this is the book for you.
- 8/11/2012 – Rashomon and Other Stories (Ryunosuke Akutagawa, translated by Takashi Kojima) Some stories were better than others, but the title story “Rashomon” was beautiful.
- 8/10/2012 – Atonement (Ian McEwan) Very good.
- 8/7/2012 – The Necklace and Other Short Stories (Guy de Maupassant, translator unknown) I picked this up because I’d read and loved “The Necklace” in high school, but his story “Boule de Suif” (literally, “Ball of Fat”) was perhaps even better. Depressing, but skillfully done and true to human nature.
- 8/4/2012 – The Cathedral and the Bazaar (Eric S. Raymond) A sort of manifesto for the philosophy of open source, Linux, and hackerdom. Insightful. This was the first I’d heard about the idea of a gift economy.
- 7/7/2012 – Regarding the Pain of Others (Susan Sontag) Sort of interesting, but not what I’d hoped.
- 7/5/2012 – The Martian Chronicles (Ray Bradbury)
- 7/3/2012 – Magnificent Desolation (Buzz Aldrin) The autobiography of the second man to set foot on the moon. After reaching the apex of his career, Aldrin has nothing left to achieve, and his life falls apart. Depression, alcoholism, one failed marriage after another. But he gets it together in the end, and today he’s living a reclaimed life.
- 7/3/2012 – Twelve Angry Men (Reginald Rose) Exquisite. Very short. You can read this in a couple hours, and you should.
- 6/16/2012 – Mockingjay (Suzanne Collins) Sort of disappointing.
- 6/10/2012 – Catching Fire (Suzanne Collins) Good, but not great.
- 5/8/2012 – Atlas of Remote Islands (Judith Schalansky) Not a normal atlas. All the islands in this short book give you a map and a brief, true story about them. This kind of thing just fascinates me.
- 5/6/2012 – Outliers (Malcom Gladwell)
- 4/8/2012 – Mimus (Lilli Thal, translated by John Brownjohn) A good book.
- 3/26/2012 – The Hunger Games (Suzanne Collins)
Any thoughts? Questions?
What have you read lately?