Category Archives: Books

Books 2015

I read fewer non-fiction books in 2015 and fewer books total.

# Title Author Pages Start Date End Date
1 Salt: A World History Mark Kurlansky 494 2014/11/20 2015/01/04
2 The Peripheral William Gibson 485 2014/12/28 2015/01/18
3 Firefight (Reckoners, #2) Brandon Sanderson 432 2015/1/19 2015/01/22
4 City of Lost Dreams (City of Dark Magic, #2) Magnus Flyte 368 2015/1/24 2015/01/30
5 The Emperor’s Blades (Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne, #1) Brian Staveley 480 2014/3/29 2015/02/06
6 The Providence of Fire (Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne, #2) Brian Staveley 737 2015/2/7 2015/02/14
7 Lady of Mazes Karl Schroeder 384 2015/2/20 2015/02/25
8 Quicksilver (The Baroque Cycle, #1) Neal Stephenson 960 2015/3/2 2015/04/19
9 Messenger’s Legacy Peter V. Brett 136 2015/4/19 2015/04/20
10 Perfect State Brandon Sanderson 87 2015/4/22 2015/04/22
11 The Skull Throne (Demon Cycle, #4) Peter V. Brett 681 2014/3/29 2015/05/03
12 The Rebirths of Tao (Tao, #3) Wesley Chu 512 2014/12/7 2015/05/07
13 The Affinities Robert Charles Wilson 300 2015/5/10 2015/05/15
14 Apex (Nexus, #3) Ramez Naam 608 2014/12/7 2015/05/29
15 The Water Knife Paolo Bacigalupi 376 2015/5/31 2015/06/06
16 The Power of Glamour: Longing and the Art of Visual Persuasion Virginia Postrel 288 2015/2/2 2015/06/07
17 Nemesis Games (Expanse, #5) James S.A. Corey 536 2015/6/11 2015/06/21
18 Time Salvager Wesley Chu 381 2015/8/2 2015/08/04
19 The Confusion (The Baroque Cycle, #2) Neal Stephenson 848 2015/6/23 2015/08/23
20 Fool’s Quest (The Fitz and The Fool, #2) Robin Hobb 766 2015/8/29 2015/09/10
21 Seveneves Neal Stephenson 867 2015/9/14 2015/09/30
22 The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet Becky Chambers 417 2015/10/4 2015/10/14
23 Shadows of Self (Mistborn, #5) Brandon Sanderson 383 2014/3/29 2015/10/31
24 The Final Empire (Mistborn, #1) Brandon Sanderson 541 2015/11/1 2015/11/07
25 The Well of Ascension (Mistborn, #2) Brandon Sanderson 796 2015/12/6 2015/11/11
26 The Hero of Ages (Mistborn, #3) Brandon Sanderson 724 2015/12/6 2015/11/21
27 Ancillary Mercy (Imperial Radch, #3) Ann Leckie 363 2015/12/6 2015/12/05
28 Futuristic Violence and Fancy Suits David Wong 384 2015/12/6 2015/12/07
29 Special Topics in Calamity Physics Marisha Pessl 514 2015/12/23 2015/12/26

Audiobooks

# Title Author Length Start Date End Date
1 Flash Boys: A Wall Street Revolt Michael Lewis 288 2015/1/5 2015/01/28
2 The Second Machine Age: Work, Progress, and Prosperity in a Time of Brilliant Technologies Erik Brynjolfsson, Andrew McAfee 320 2015/2/6 2015/03/08
3 The Box: How the Shipping Container Made the World Smaller and the World Economy Bigger Marc Levinson 376 2015/3/15 2015/04/26
4 The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business Charles Duhigg 286 2015/4/28 2015/06/21

Books 2012

I read a considerably larger number of books in 2012 than in 2011, largely because I started rereading the Wheel of Time series, which I can read quickly, and which has a very high page count.

My audiobook consumption dropped quite dramatically once I moved out to California. I haven’t found a good way yet to incorporate them into my schedule.

Statistics

  • Total # of books: 33
  • Total length of books: 16,632 pages
  • Total # of audiobooks: 7
  • Total length of audiobooks: 3 days, 7:18:00

Books

# Title Author Pages Start Date End Date
1 Triumph of the City: How Our Greatest Invention Makes Us Richer, Smarter, Greener, Healthier, and Happier Edward L. Glaeser 352 12/22/2011 1/2/2012
2 The Great Stagnation: How America Ate All The Low-Hanging Fruit of Modern History, Got Sick, and Will (Eventually) Feel Better Tyler Cowen 64 1/2/2012 1/3/2012
3 The Gated City Ryan Avent 90 1/9/2012 1/9/2012
4 Ready Player One Ernest Cline 384 1/5/2012 1/9/2012
5 Locavesting: The Revolution in Local Investing and How to Profit From It Amy Cortese 275 1/16/2012 1/25/2012
6 Reamde Neal Stephenson 1044 1/10/2012 2/4/2012
7 The Eye of the World (Wheel of Time, #1) Robert Jordan 752 2/5/2012 2/14/2012
8 The Great Hunt (Wheel of Time, #2) Robert Jordan 705 2/21/2012 2/22/2012
9 The Crash Course: The Unsustainable Future of Our Economy, Energy, and the Environment. Chris Martenson Chris Martenson 336 2/23/2012 3/2/2012
10 Affluenza: The All-Consuming Epidemic John De Graaf, David Wann, Thomas H. Naylor, Thomas H Naylor, David Horsey, Vicki Robin 288 2/5/2012 3/17/2012
11 The Dragon Reborn (Wheel of Time, #3) Robert Jordan 632 3/24/2012 3/26/2012
12 An Unconventional Guide to Investing in Troubled Times Charles Hugh Smith 246 3/27/2012 4/1/2012
13 Terminal World Alastair Reynolds 487 4/1/2012 4/11/2012
14 The Shadow Rising (Wheel of Time, #4) Robert Jordan 1014 4/17/2012 4/28/2012
15 The Fires of Heaven (Wheel of Time, #5) Robert Jordan 926 4/30/2012 5/7/2012
16 Arctic Rising Tobias S. Buckell 304 5/29/2012 5/31/2012
17 Look to Windward (Culture, #7) Iain M. Banks 496 6/5/2012 7/24/2012
18 The Mongoliad, Book One Neal Stephenson, Erik Bear, Greg Bear, Joseph Brassey, E.D. deBirmingham, Cooper Moo, Mark Teppo 432 7/27/2012 8/11/2012
19 Tubes: A Journey to the Center of the Internet Andrew Blum 304 8/15/2012 8/19/2012
20 Some Remarks: Essays and Other Writing Neal Stephenson 336 8/20/2012 9/8/2012
21 Lord of Chaos (Wheel of Time, #6) Robert Jordan 1049 9/9/2012 9/21/2012
22 The Information Diet: A Case for Conscious Consumption Clay A. Johnson 160 9/24/2012 9/27/2012
23 A Crown of Swords (Wheel of Time, #7) Robert Jordan 902 9/22/2012 9/30/2012
24 Before the Lights Go Out: Conquering the Energy Crisis Before It Conquers Us Maggie Koerth-baker 290 10/8/2012 10/18/2012
25 The Hydrogen Sonata (Culture, #10) Iain M. Banks 528 10/2/2012 10/28/2012
26 The Taste of Tomorrow: Dispatches from the Future of Food Josh Schonwald 304 10/31/2012 11/4/2012
27 The New Geography of Jobs Enrico Moretti 304 11/4/2012 11/18/2012
28 Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore Robin Sloan 286 11/19/2012 11/19/2012
29 Four Hour Chef Tim Ferriss 672 11/25/2012 11/30/2012
30 The Path of Daggers (Wheel of Time, #8) Robert Jordan 669 12/1/2012 12/9/2012
31 City of Dark Magic Magnus Flyte 464 12/9/2012 12/15/2012
32 Winter’s Heart (Wheel of Time, #9) Robert Jordan 705 12/16/2012 12/23/2012
33 Crossroads of Twilight (Wheel of Time, #10) Robert Jordan 832 12/24/2012 12/28/2012

Audiobooks

# Title Author Length Start Date End Date
1 The Red Pyramid Rick Riordan 14:32:00 01/10/2012 01/20/2012
2 The Throne of Fire Rick Riordan 12:48:00 02/02/2012 04/02/2012
3 Drop Dead Healthy: One Man’s Humble Quest for Bodily Perfection A.J. Jacobs 10:10:00 04/10/2012 05/23/2012
4 An Economist Gets Lunch: New Rules for Everyday Foodies Tyler Cowen 10:24:00 05/29/2012 05/30/2012
5 The Serpent’s Shadow Rick Riordan 11:23:00 06/04/2012 06/05/2012
6 The Son of Neptune Rick Riordan 13:27:00 06/06/2012 06/13/2012
7 The Nerdist Way: How to Reach the Next Level (in Real Life) Chris Hardwick 6:14:00 09/21/2012 09/22/2012

March Media Consumption

March started out slow, but I read quite a bit at the end.

Books

  • John De Graaf, David Wann, Thomas H. Naylor, Affluenza: The All Consuming Epidemic

    I was quite disappointed with this one. I’ve been interested in issues of conscious consumption vs. materialism for a while now, but this was more of a screed than a reasoned discussion. It had strange religious overtones, and was generally so one-sided as to be off-putting. Technology, in particular, is portrayed as “soulless” (whatever that means) and antithetical to a balanced life. It also made me wonder about how various kinds of activism have changed over time. The book was originally published in 2001, but somehow it feels much older to me — more akin to the environmentalism of the 60s and 70s that relied on emotional appeals for things like air and water quality, rather than the more efficiency oriented activism that has become common in light of global warming (think Thoreau vs. Al Gore). Obviously both kinds of activism are important, but I personally find the more quantitive approach much more compelling.

  • Robert Jordan, The Dragon Reborn

    After a long slog through a non-fiction book I didn’t really enjoy, I plowed through this one in three days. I don’t have too much to say other than that I enjoyed it. It focusses a lot more on Perrin and Matt (and the Aes Sedai) than Rand, but the bit with Callandor at the end ranks (in my memory at least) as one of the most iconic scenes in the series.

  • Charles Hugh Smith, An Unconventional Guide to Investing in Troubled Times

    This was another impulse purchase on the Kindle that was better in theory than practice. The question that drove me to read it is one I still think makes sense: There is some evidence that climate change and resource scarcity will have a substantive impact on the world within our lifetimes. Given this, how should we personally prepare and invest for an uncertain future? Unfortunately, the only people writing about this seem to be pretty radical libertarians. I knew nothing about this author going in, but his continued references to the “nanny state” made it pretty clear that we had some fairly dramatic ideological differences. Even though I have serious concerns about his politics, he does make some reasonable points. He focuses not only on investing in the traditional sense, but also on developing skills and social capital, which can be as important as money for surviving hard times. Smith’s vision of the future of employment is also very similar to the gig economy described by Sarah Horowitz in the The Atlantic, which lends it a bit more credibility in my book. In terms of more traditional investments, he advocates investing locally, which may be reasonable, but I would recommend the book Locavesting for a better resource on the topic. The author is also a fan of gold, and while I don’t have strong feelings either way about gold as an investment vehicle, he lost soem credibility with me when he revealed that his primary concern was not gold losing value, but rathe the government seizing it.

Movies

  • 21 Jump Street

    This falls into the “stupid comedy” genre. It’s not something I would normally go to see, but Divya was out of town, I wanted to see a movie, and this had the highest rating on Rotten Tomatoes at the time. It was actually pretty funny, and the two main characters had good chemistry.

  • The Hunger Games

    I saw this with Divya and we both thought that they did a great job adapting the book. They cut out a fair amount, particularly of the events in District 12 before the Games, but this is inevitable with a book-to-movie conversions and I don’t think they cut out anything too major. My major complaint is actually with the shaky camerawork, particularly during the Reaping scene. I very rarely notice the cinematography in movies, but I found this quite distracting.

TV

  • Game of Thrones, Season 1

    After being mocked mercilessly for my television choices last month, I’m happy to report that in March I watched the critically acclaimed first season of Game of Thrones. I read the first three books of the series the summer after sophmore year of college (so ~7 years ago, yikes), so while I have a high-level idea about how the series go, I don’t remember too many of the details. Like the books, the show is quite dark, and it took a few episodes for me to get into it. That said, once I got hooked, I finished the rest of the series in short order. I agree with pretty much everyone that Peter Dinklage’s portrayal of Tyrion is the highlight of the show. Since this is an HBO show, it will be a year before I can watch the second season, but I am certainly looking forward to it.

  • Chuck, Season 3

    Divya and I finally finished watching the third season of Chuck. The beginning was a bit campy, but I thought the season got progressively better. They made some major plot changes at the end of the season, and it will be interesting to see what happens in season 4 now that all of the main characters know Chuck’s secret.

Music

  • Of Monsters and Men, My Head is an Animal

    I’m not very good at reviewing music, so I’ll just say that I particularly enjoyed this album, which I first heard on [the Current][http://thecurrent.org/]. It kind of reminds me of Mumford & Sons, but is perhaps a bit more upbeat.

Articles

  • Jonathan Alter, Meet the New Boss, The Atlantic, Apr. 2012.

    Nice Profile of Rahm Emanuel as mayor of Chicago. Alter has a history with Emanuel, and the piece is largely favorable, but it touches on some of the complexities of governance in Chicago related to its long history of machine politics.

  • Mark Bowden, The Man Who Broke Atlantic City, The Atlantic, Apr. 2012.

    I should really just subscribe to the Atlantic, as I’ve enjoyed almost every article I’ve read. This one profiles Don Johnson, a gambler who won millions in blackjack from Atlantic City casinos. His trick seems to have been social engineering — he took advantage of the casinos’ desperation for high rollers by convincing them to give him concessions that tilted the odds in his favor. I had no idea that casinos would actually change the rules of the game for high-rollers, but clearly it wasn’t a good idea. I found this gripping throughout.

  • James Bamford, The NSA Is Building the Country s Biggest Spy Center (Watch What You Say), Wired, Apr. 2012.

    This article reports on alleged NSA data-center in Utah that will eventually be used to mine a considerable fraction of domestic internet communications. I don’t really know how much to believe the details in an article like this, but it does cite (and name) a former NSA employee, which I suppose gives it some credibility. In any case, it’s fascinating stuff, though I wish it appeared in a James Bond novel rather than a non-fiction article.

Books 2011

I had a somewhat disappointing year in terms of reading. For whatever reason, I read fewer books and listened to fewer audiobooks in 2011 than in 2010. I hope to change this in 2012. See also my reading from previous years (2008, 2009, 2010).

I also started keeping track of my reading using goodreads, which is a bit easier than doing it myself with Google Docs.

Statistics

  • Total # of books: 16
  • Total length of books: 6977 pages
  • Total # of audiobooks: 9
  • Total length of audiobooks: 4 days, 7:31:03

Books

I reread the books highlighted in yellow.

# Title Author Pages Start Date End Date
1 Cooking for Geeks: Real Science, Great Hacks, and Good Food Station Jeff Potter 398 12/23 01/04
2 The World in 2050: Four Forces Shaping Civilization’s Northern Future Laurence C. Smith 336 01/06 01/08
3 Forty Thousand in Gehenna C.J. Cherryh 444 01/09 01/29
4 The Price of Everything: Solving the Mystery of Why
We Pay What We Do
Eduardo Porter 304 01/30 03/05
5 Makers Cory Doctorow 416 03/12 03/28
6 The Drunkard’s Walk: How Randomness Rules our Lives Leonard Mlodinow 256 04/17 05/18
7 Suburban Transformations Paul Lukez 192 03/10 05/21
8 Dragonlance Chronicles Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman 1030 05/19 06/18
9 Aerotropolis: The Way We’ll Live Next John D. Kasarda and Greg Lindsay 480 06/22 07/03
10 Surface Detail Iain M. Banks 627 07/05 07/18
11 Rule 34 Charles Stross 358 07/21 08/01
12 Master of Shadows: The Secret Diplomatic Career of
the Painter Peter Paul Rubens
Mark Lamster 336 08/03 09/01
13 Kingpin: How One Hacker Took Over the Billion-Dollar
Cybercrime Underground
Kevin Poulsen 288 09/06 09/15
14 The Magician King Lev Grossman 400 09/18 09/23
15 The Information: A History, a Theory, a Flood James Gleick 527 09/26 11/23
16 Revelation Space Alastair Reynolds 585 11/29 12/22

Audiobooks

# Title Author Length Start Date End Date
1 At Home: A Short History of Private Life Bill Bryson 15:57:39 01/10 02/10
2 Why We Get Fat: And What to Do About It Gary Taubes 7:57:55 02/14 03/02
3 The Battle of the Labyrinth Rick Riordan 10:33:29 03/18 05/05
4 The Last Olympian Rick Riordan 11:02:17 05/16 05/17
5 The Hunger Games Suzanne Collins 11:11:32 05/19 05/21
6 Catching Fire Suzanne Collins 11:38:34 08/27 08/30
7 The Money Culture Michael Lewis 6:53:13 08/30 09/02
8 Mockingjay Suzanne Collins 11:40:47 09/02 09/03
9 The Lost Hero Rick Riordan 16:35:37 11/28 12/03

Books 2009

As I promised last year, I kept careful records of every book I read in 2009. In addition to recording the titles and authors, I’ve noted the length of each book and when I read it. Below are some statistics I’ve calculated from this data.

Reading Statistics

  • Total pages read: 18031
  • Avg. pages per month: 1502.58
  • Avg. pages per week: 346.75
  • Avg. pages per day: 49.40
  • Longest book: A Pattern Language, 1166 pages
  • Shortest book: Brunelleschi’s Dome, 165 pages
  • Longest time to read a book: A Pattern Language, 48 days
  • Shortest time to read a book: What I Talk About When I Talk About Running, 1 days

In addition to the average number of pages, I also computed the distribution of the number of pages read each month. For this I assume that I read at a constant (i.e. the same number of pages per day). This is clearly not true, but it still shows the basic trends.

Finally, I’ve plotted a histogram of the lengths of the books I read. As one would expect, the largest buckets are between 200 and 400 pages.

Here is the complete list of books I read in 2009. The rows highlighted in yellow are books I reread this year, and those highlighted in green are books I listened to in audiobook form. In the later case I used Amazon for the number of pages. Of course, the number of pages is approximate, and I make no claims to consistency about things like handling front and end matter or different editions.

# Title Author Pages Start Date End Date
1 The Book of Air and Shadows Michael Gruber 496 01/04 01/07
2* Cryptonomicon Neal Stephenson 918 01/08 02/15
3 Grammar Snobs are Great Big Meanies June Casagrande 199 01/13 01/23
4 Freakonomics Steven D. Levitt, Stephen J. Dubner 336 02/13 02/15
5 Sustainable Urbanism: Urban Design with Nature Douglas Farr 300 02/17 03/07
6* The Diamond Age Neal Stephenson 455 03/07 03/22
7 Emergency: This Book Will Save Your Life Neil Strauss 418 03/29 04/03
8 The Big U Neal Stephenson 308 04/09 04/25
9* Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces that Shape Our Decisions Dan Ariely 304 04/18 04/20
10* A Pattern Language Christopher Alexander, Sara Ishikawa, Murray Silverstein, Max Jacobson, Ingrid Fiksdahl-King, Shlomo Angel 1166 04/27 06/13
11 Zodiac Neal Stephenson 316 05/12 05/19
12 Super Crunchers: Why Thinking-By-Numbers is the New Way to be Smart Ian Ayres 320 05/14 05/19
13* Gig: Americans Talk about their Jobs John Bowe, Marisa Bowe, Sabin Streeter, eds. 670 05/19 05/24
14 Excession Iain M. Banks 451 05/24 06/04
15 Food Matters Mark Bittman 298 06/05 06/06
16 Home Witold Rybczynski 232 06/07 06/14
17 Adventures in Architecture Dan Cruickshank 283 06/14 06/25
18 The City in Mind James Howard Kunstler 252 06/15 06/25
19* Cyteen C.J. Cherryh 696 06/27 07/10
20 The Great Good Place Ray Oldenburg 368 07/11 07/18
21 In Praise of Slowness Carl Honore 336 07/19 07/21
22* The Bldg Blog Book Geoff Manaugh 272 07/27 08/01
23 Three Novels of Ancient Egypt Naguib Mahfouz 648 08/02 08/10
24 What I Talk About When I Talk About Running Haruki Murakami 192 08/15 08/15
25 The Angel’s Game Carlos Ruiz Zafón 544 08/16 08/20
26 Against a Dark Background Iain M. Banks 613 08/22 09/01
27 American Houses Gerald L. Foster 416 09/04 09/13
28 Create Your Own Economy Tyler Cowen 272 09/11 09/13
29* The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo Stieg Larsson 590 09/16 09/26
30 The Endless City Ricky Burdett and Deyan Sudjic, eds. 481 09/26 11/08
31 Farm City: The Education of an Urban Farmer Novella Carpenter 288 09/28 10/09
32 The Best American Travel Writing 2009 Simon Winchester, ed. 384 10/03 10/18
33 The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-to-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich Timothy Ferriss 320 10/09 10/12
34* The Geography of Bliss Eric Weiner 335 10/20 10/24
35* Regenesis C.J. Cherryh 585 11/08 11/16
36* Getting Stoned with Savages J. Maarten Troost 256 11/09 11/13
37 The Sex Lives of Cannibals J. Maarten Troost 288 11/13 11/16
38 Brunelleschi’s Dome Ross King 165 11/17 11/26
39* Green Metropolis David Owen 368 11/23 12/07
40 The Crystal World J.G. Ballard 210 12/01 12/12
41 The Girl who Played with Fire Stieg Larsson 503 12/14 12/18
42 The Magicians Lev Grossman 402 12/19 12/21
43 The Lost Symbol Dan Brown 528 12/22 12/29
44 Intown Living: A different American Dream Ann Breen, Dick Rigby 249 12/21 12/26

Update: I’ve added stars to those books that I particularly like.