Books 2013

I made it through more books this year largely because I read a lot of epic fantasy, which I can plow through quite fast. In 2014 I hope to increase my audiobook listening and utilize the library more.


# Title Author Pages Start Date End Date
1 Alif the Unseen G. Willow Wilson 433 2012/12/28 2013/01/03
2 The Signal and the Noise: Why So Many Predictions Fail – But Some Don’t Nate Silver 544 2013/1/6 2013/01/19
3 Knife of Dreams (Wheel of Time, #11) Robert Jordan 814 2013/1/19 2013/01/26
4 The Gathering Storm (Wheel of Time, #12; A Memory of Light, #1) Robert Jordan, Brandon Sanderson 1120 2013/1/27 2013/01/29
5 Towers of Midnight (Wheel of Time, #13; A Memory of Light, #2) Robert Jordan, Brandon Sanderson 865 2013/1/30 2013/02/01
6 A Memory of Light (Wheel of Time, #14) Robert Jordan, Brandon Sanderson 909 2013/2/1 2013/02/02
7 C++ Concurrency in Action Anthony Williams 528 2012/12/9 2013/02/02
8 Legion Brandon Sanderson 88 2013/2/16 2013/02/16
9 Debt: The First 5,000 Years David Graeber 534 2013/2/3 2013/02/21
10 The Mongoliad: Book Two (Foreworld, #2) Neal Stephenson, Erik Bear, Greg Bear, Joseph Brassey, Nicole Galland, Cooper Moo, Mark Teppo, Mike Grell 464 2013/2/22 2013/03/03
11 The Poisoner’s Handbook: Murder and the Birth of Forensic Medicine in Jazz Age New York Deborah Blum 336 2013/3/3 2013/03/10
12 The Mongoliad: Book Three (Foreworld, #3) Neal Stephenson, Greg Bear, Mark Teppo, Nicole Galland, Erik Bear, Joseph Brassey, Cooper Moo, Mike Grell 804 2013/3/12 2013/03/21
13 Walkable City: How Downtown Can Save America, One Step at a Time Jeff Speck 320 2013/3/24 2013/03/29
14 The Stockholm Octavo Karen Engelmann 432 2013/3/31 2013/04/08
15 Mistborn Trilogy (Mistborn, #1-3) Brandon Sanderson 2307 2013/4/14 2013/04/29
16 The Lives of Tao Wesley Chu 464 2013/5/1 2013/05/04
17 VB6: Eat Vegan Before 6:00 to Lose Weight and Restore Your Health . . . for Good Mark Bittman 288 2013/5/13 2013/05/13
18 The Emperor’s Soul Brandon Sanderson 167 2013/5/10 2013/05/17
19 RabbitMQ in Action: Distributed Messaging for Everyone Alvaro Videla 314 2013/5/13 2013/05/19
20 The Warded Man (Demon Cycle, #1) Peter V. Brett 434 2013/5/9 2013/05/27
21 The Desert Spear (Demon Cycle, #2) Peter V. Brett 674 2013/5/24 2013/06/03
22 The Modern Web: Multi-Device Web Development with HTML5, CSS3, and JavaScript Peter Gasston 264 2013/5/29 2013/06/08
23 The Daylight War (Demon Cycle, #3) Peter V. Brett 768 2013/6/3 2013/06/08
24 City 2.0: The Habitat of the Future and How to Get There TED Books 119 2013/5/27 2013/06/10
25 Elantris Brandon Sanderson 508 2013/6/9 2013/06/16
26 The Prisoner of Heaven (The Cemetery of Forgotten Books, #3) Carlos Ruiz Zafón 279 2013/6/13 2013/06/22
27 Lexicon Max Barry 400 2013/6/16 2013/06/26
28 Effective C++: 55 Specific Ways to Improve Your Programs and Designs Scott Meyers 318 2013/6/22 2013/06/28
29 The Alloy of Law (Mistborn, #4) Brandon Sanderson 333 2013/6/15 2013/07/01
30 Neptune’s Brood (Freyaverse #2) Charles Stross 336 2013/6/29 2013/07/07
31 Bad Data Handbook: Cleaning Up The Data So You Can Get Back To Work Q. Ethan McCallum 264 2013/7/4 2013/07/10
32 Leviathan Wakes (Expanse, #1) James S.A. Corey 561 2013/6/29 2013/07/15
33 City: A Guidebook for the Urban Age P.D. Smith 400 2013/7/11 2013/07/23
34 Caliban’s War (Expanse, #2) James S.A. Corey 595 2013/4/9 2013/07/23
35 The First 20 Minutes: Surprising Science Reveals How We Can: Exercise Better, Train Smarter, Live Longer Gretchen Reynolds 257 2013/7/16 2013/07/27
36 Abaddon’s Gate (Expanse, #3) James S.A. Corey 566 2013/7/15 2013/08/03
37 The Dragon’s Path (The Dagger and the Coin, #1) Daniel Abraham 555 2013/7/24 2013/08/17
38 The King’s Blood (The Dagger and the Coin #2) Daniel Abraham 517 2013/8/18 2013/08/20
39 Interactive Data Visualization for the Web Scott Murray 272 2013/7/27 2013/08/21
40 Terra Nova: The New World After Oil, Cars, and Suburbs Eric W. Sanderson 352 2013/8/11 2013/08/23
41 The Tyrant’s Law (The Dagger and the Coin, #3) Daniel Abraham 512 2013/8/24 2013/09/06
42 Ninety Percent of Everything: Inside Shipping, the Invisible Industry That Puts Clothes on Your Back, Gas in Your Car, and Food on Your Plate Rose George 304 2013/9/8 2013/09/17
43 Introduction to Tornado Michael Dory, Adam Parrish, Brendan Berg 138 2013/9/12 2013/09/18
44 The Golden Compass (His Dark Materials, #1) Philip Pullman 399 2013/9/15 2013/09/24
45 Average Is Over: Powering America Beyond the Age of the Great Stagnation Tyler Cowen 304 2013/9/21 2013/09/29
46 The Subtle Knife (His Dark Materials, #2) Philip Pullman 326 2013/10/1 2013/10/11
47 Twilight of the Elites: America After Meritocracy Christopher L. Hayes 2013/10/11 2013/10/24
48 The Amber Spyglass (His Dark Materials, #3) Philip Pullman 518 2013/10/14 2013/11/04
49 The Incrementalists Steven Brust, Skyler White 304 2013/11/6 2013/11/21
50 The Deaths of Tao Wesley Chu 464 2013/12/3 2013/12/17
51 Steelheart (Reckoners, #1) Brandon Sanderson 384 2013/12/23 2013/12/28


# Title Author Length Start Date End Date
1 The Mark of Athena Rick Riordan 15:08:00 2013/12/01 2013/12/21

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.


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


# 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


# 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

Places 2012

I’ve combined my year end list of travel destinations (previously: 20072008200920102011). Last winter, I travelled to the Bay Area several times for interviews. I stayed in a few different towns (Sunnyvale, San Jose), but for simplicity I only included San Francisco. I also drove across the country again, which explains the stops in Laramie, Salt Lake City, and Reno. In June I returned to Northfield for Reunion, and I visited Chicago with Divya in October. My only international travel was to Istanbul for VLDB, which was awesome. Istanbul reminded me somewhat of Budapest with more Arab/Islamic influence, and it’s definitely a place I would like to return.

  • Omaha, NE*
  • Ithaca, NY*
  • San Francisco, CA*
  • Mountain View, CA*
  • Laramie, WY
  • Salt Lake City, UT
  • Reno, NV
  • Northfield, MN
  • Salem, OR
  • Istanbul, Turkey
  • Chicago, IL

View Places 2012 in a larger map

March Media Consumption

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


  • 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.


  • 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.


  • 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.


  • 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][]. It kind of reminds me of Mumford & Sons, but is perhaps a bit more upbeat.


  • 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.