I read a lot of books, and this year was no exception. This year my primary reading device was a kindle, and it's amazing how having a portable device rather than a book made reading so much more convenient.1
Here's the books I read this year, divided into fiction and non-fiction, and roughly ordered by how highly I rate them. The links are amazon affiliate links, so if you decide to click through and buy them, I get a small cut.
Hitler: A Biography Kershaw
After visiting Auschwitz last year, I decided I had to learn more about the man behind the atrocities there. This biography paints a great portrait of a man who was probably not as evil as popular opinion supposes, but nonetheless ran and was the figurehead for a horrendously evil empire.
This one was pretty hard going, it actually took over a year to read in stages, but I kept at it because it is obviously a great piece of literature, and has some great ideas. It's a part biographical, part allegorical tale of a trip through the Balkans between the wars, looking at the history that inspires the people of this tempestuous region.
I've been interested in the skewed history of America for a while, and this book is a great alternative look, examining America from the perspective of the underdog, from it's brutal beginnings to the recent past.
Highly recommended, and especially timely as the police brutality of the last year reminds us that the government does not care about it's citizens, but simply stability.
All the Devils are here McLean and Nocera
This was a pretty interesting read. I've been learning a lot about finance this year, and this book dives into the history behind the recent mortgage crisis, looking at what caused it, and how the various financial instruments contributed to the collapse.
It could have been a pretty dry read, but luckily the book does a pretty good job of maintaing enough pace that it turns out to be a pretty easy read.
Salt: A World History Kurlansky
Have you ever wondered about the role of salt in history? No? Neither had I, but this entertaining book looks at the surprisingly large contribution this mineral has had on civilisation.
A series of whimsical and rambling anecdotes about the Atlantic Ocean. The book doesn't really go anywhere, but it's entertaining enough that it doesn't really need to.
Born to Run McDougall
The Bottom Billion Collier
A look at some of the poorest countries in the world, the traps that keep them there, and what developed countries can do about it. Pretty dry, but an important subject.
Cryptography Engineering Schneir
One Up on Wall Street Lynch
The Bogleheads' Guide to Investing, Larimore, Taylor, Lindauer, LeBoeuf
1969: The year everything changedKirkpatrick
The Four Hour BodyFerris
Life Nomadic Tynan
This is classic sci-fi - a sprawling atmospheric world deep in space, embroiled in galactic troubles. Epic.
The End of EternityAsimov
This is one of the best time-travel stories ever. It has all the elements of a thriller, just enough science and paradoxes, and a killer twist at the end.
"Foundation and Empire" and
"Second Foundation" Asimov
Asimovs classic Sci-Fi trilogy - he builds a universe, and then tracks the course of civilisation collapse, and rebuilding. Hard to sum up, but a great read.
Super Sad True Love Story Shteyngart
I do love a good near-future dystopia. This is 1984 for the millenial generation.
This was the book I most looked forward to this year. I even pre-ordered it. I'm a massive Neal Stephenson fan, but this one didn't live up to my expectations. It's a return to his frenetic Snow-Crash style in the form of a thriller. Not nearly the depth of prescience and original thought that I was hoping for.
"Quicksilver" and "Anaethem" Neal Stephenson
To get over my disappointment at Reamde, I reread two of my favorite Stephenson novels. Both of these are highly recommended.
The Dharma Bums Kerouac
The Call of the Wild London
A Canticle for Leibowitz Miller
Rule 34 Stross
"A Game of Thrones" and "A Clash of Kings" Martin
The Bourne Identity Ludlum
King of Foxes Feist
1. (I may write a more detailed post in future, but if you're looking at buying a kindle, my recommendation is the cheap one with buttons, rather than the touch. Buttons are a far more natural interface for this device - the touch feels like a gimmick.)