Category Archives: reading

2016–the year in books

So for 2016, my book count was a pretty strong 76. Unlike most presidential election years, I managed to read serious books in the months leading up to the election (my normal pattern up till now has been a heavy focus on trade fiction during the most active times of campaigning, and then serious books in later November and December). But I lost the ability to focus in the weeks following the election, and had a semi-lax period up till about Thanksgiving.

Some notable titles (in chronological order, as I read them):

The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters. Not my favorite of her books, but still good.

The Small-Mart Revolution by Michael Shannon made me think very differently about local economic development.

Nearly Everybody Read It edited by Peter Binzen. h/t to Chris Krewson for recommending this history of the Philadelphia Bulletin, as told by its reporters.

The Haters by Jesse Andrews. YA lit for the win.

High Fidelity by Nick Hornby (because it’s probably the third time I’ve read it)

Band of Angels by Robert Penn Warren (second time through)

Brown is the New White by Steve Phillips. I feel like I lived this book, in 2004-2015.

Platform Revolutions ed by Geoff Parker et al. A work-related read, but pretty important in the development of my thinking around digital organizing.

In the Light of What We Know by Zia Haider Rahman

The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead

Homicide by David Simon (again, second read)

The Sellout* by Paul Beatty

Super Sad True Love Story* by Gary Shteyngart

Lovers at the Chameleon Club, Paris 1932* by Francine Prose

*All three of these were deeply affected by my reaction to the election. I’m sure I would have felt differently about all three of them, had I not read them in the wake of Trump’s victory–but I did. I have a feeling I’ll be reading a bunch more dystopian fiction in the coming months…

2015: the year in books

piles-and-shelves-of-books

I read 66 books this year. That’s probably the smallest number since I started keeping track. I’m not sure what kept me from reading as much as normal–but the fact that I didn’t log a single book as read in November probably had something to do with it. It’s definitely a good thing we had that Japan trip, because I got a ton of reading done then (plus, y’know, Japan!).

Here in, chronological order (as in, the order I read them–not the order they were written!) are the best ones I read this year:

The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell

Kaddish & Other Poems by Allen Ginsburg (this is probably my 4th reading of it, though)

Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki by Haruki Murakami

Me & Earl & the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews

The Doubt Factory by Paolo Bacigalupi

A Constellation of Vital Phenomena by Anthony Marra

The Interestings by Meg Wurlitzer

A God in Ruins by Kate Atkinson

Between the World and Me by Ta’nehisi Coates

Capital by Thomas Piketty

 

I’m not sure why this list is so heavily weighted towards men–I read a bunch of books by women this year, but most of them didn’t grab me quite like the others. I also did read my first novel (Orley Farm) by Anthony Trollope, who was a favorite author of my late father-in-law’s. I’m sure I’ll read some more of those–Paul always said if you liked Trollope, you’d have no worries, because he was so prolific. It was definitely interesting to be reading the Trollope at the same time that I was finishing Capital–both because Piketty talks a lot about 19th century writers & novels, and because the main plot of Orley Farm involves a lawsuit that is a sort of side effect of primogeniture.

Anyway, I want to thank those folks who made recommendations — I do a lot of crowd-sourcing book ideas during the course of the year, and I appreciate it when people give me new things to read.