I set two reading goals for 2015 – to read fifty two books for the year and to have fifty percent of those books be by women. Unlike most of the other goals I set this year, I actually accomplished both of these.I’m pretty happy with that.
Now that I’m a dad who almost never goes out, and a commuter to midtown, reading fifty two books didn’t seem that hard. Neither did reading twenty six books by women. That said, making an effort to read women was something new this year. I am so glad I did it. Without that goal, I doubt I would have read my favorite book of the year, the Argonauts. Nor do I think I would have read my favorite fiction book of the year, Station Eleven.
Also new this year was a resolution to write a short review of every book I read. The theory is, if it is worth reading, its worth jotting down at least 100 words about it. So this year, I did that. The links in this post point to those reviews.
Before we get to the super boring list, here’s some slightly less boring highlights and lowlights:
Best Non-Fiction Book: Tied between The Argonauts by Maggie Nelson and Coates’s Between the World and Me. Honestly, if you want to be able to think about race in this country today, you need to read Between the World and Me. And if you want to think deeply about love, or gender, or family, or theory, or any combination thereof, you should read the Argonauts. Both books are about 200 pages. You can read both. Get to work.
Best Fiction Book: There were a number of contenders for this title this, but the book the haunted me the most after finishing it, the book that got me talking and thinking the most was Mantel’s Station Eleven. It gets the crown. This was billed as an SF novel. And that it is. But its so much more. If you’re interested in quality fiction, its worth a look.
Worst Fiction Book / Worst Non-Fiction Book: Usually, I read at least a couple of books which i hated. This year, not so much. If forced, I’d say Kaplan’s Jewish Meditation isn’t very good, but its not THAT bad. All in all, I picked really well this year.
Some statistics worth noting:
•As discussed above 26 of the 52 books I read were by women, but a pathetic two books were written by African American writers. A single book by a South Asian Indian writer and not a single book by a Latino, East Asian, or Native American. That is embarrassing. I don’t know how far into quotas I want to go with my reading, but I’ll definitely be making some efforts to change those stats in the coming year.
20 of the 52 books (or about 38%) were fiction. That’s less than pervious years, not that I noticed, but perhaps this is a start of trend?
Interested in what I have planned for 2016? Check it out here.
Below is a complete list of the books with my annotation of whether I recommend it for the general reader, recommend it for the enthusiast interested in the subject matter, or if I think you shouldn’t bother at all. Remember, I have no taste.
1. The Organized Mind, Daniel Levitin – Recommended for the enthusiast.
2. Thrown, Kerry Howley – Recommended
3. A Spy Among Friends, Ben Macintyre – Recommended for the enthusiast.
4. Eat And Run, Scott Jurek – Recommended for the enthusiast.
5. Last American Man, Elizabeth Gilbert – Recommended
6. Jewish Meditation, Aryeh Kaplan – Not Recommended
7. Wild, Cheryl Strayed – Recommended for the enthusiast.
8. Critique of Criminal Reason, Michael Gregorio – Recommended for the enthusiast.
9. Baltimore Blues, Laura Lippman – Recommended for the enthusiast.
10. Last Spymaster, Gayle Lynds – Not recommended
11. Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, Annie Dillard – Recommended
12. In the Woods, Tana French – Recommended
13. In the Kingdom of Ice, Hampton Sides – Recommended
14. All the Old Knives, Olen Steinhauer – Recommended
15. Station Eleven, Emily St. John Mandel – Recommended
16. You Are An Ironman, Jacques Steinberg – Recommended for the enthusiast
17. Between You & Me, Mary Norris – Recommended
18. Spring Chicken, Bill Gifford – Recommended for the enthusiast.
19. City of Stairs, Robert Jackson Bennett – Recommended for the enthusiast.
20. Just City, Jo Walton – Recommended for the enthusiast.
21. Hellhound On My Trail, Hampton Sides – Recommended
22. The Whites, Richard Price – Recommended
23. God Help The Child, Toni Morrison – Recommended
24. I’ll Have What She’s Having, Rebecca Harrington – Recommended for the enthusiast.
25. Manhunt, James Swanson – Recommended
26. The Miernik Dossier, Charles McCarry – Recommended for the enthusiast.
27. Natural Born Heroes, Chris McDonald – Recommended for the enthusiast.
28. Savage Harvest, Carl Hoffman – Recommended
29. Seveneves, Neil Stephenson – Recommended for the enthusiast
30. Book of Numbers, Joshua Cohen – Recommended for the enthusiast
31. Goddess Pose, Michelle Goldberg – Recommended for the enthusiast
32. Broken Monsters, Lauren Buekes – Recommended
33. Iron War, Matt Fitzgerald – Recommended for the enthusiast
34. Between the World and Me, Ta-Nehisi Coates – Recommended
35. The Longest Race, Ed Ayers – Recommended for the enthusiast
36. Night Film, Marisha Pessl – Recommended for the enthusiast
37. The Argonauts, Maggie Nelson – Recommended
38. Vegan Before Six, Mark Bittman – Recommended
39. In the Freud Archives, Janet Malcolm – Recommended
40. Classics: A Very Short Introduction, Mary Beard and John Henderson – Recommended for the enthusiast.
41. Dept of Speculation, Jennifer Offill – Recommended for the enthusiast.
42. Martial Bliss, Margaretta Barton Colt – Recommended for the enthusiast.
43. Confronting the Classics, Mary Beard – Recommended for the enthusiast.
44. Riddle in the Labyrinth, Margalit Fox – Recommended for the enthusiasts.
45. The Magicians, Gini Graham Scott, Ph.D.– Recommended for the enthusiast
46. Just Kids, Patti Smith – Recommended
47. I Love Dick, Chris Kraus – Recommended
48. Shapeshifter, Samir Chopra – Recommended
49. Power of the Dog, Don Winslow – Recommended
50. Blue Zones, Dan Buettner – Recommended
51. The Cartel, Don Winslow – Recommended
52. The Big Short, Michael Lewis – Recommended