First Half 2016 Reading List
June feels like a good point to reflect on various things for the year, so I thought I'd do a quick post on books I've read this year.
1. Jane Austen – Sense and Sensibility (1811)
A little while ago I read “Pride and Prejudice” and really liked it. I also enjoyed “Emma”. “Sense and Sensibility” was more of a slog for me to get through. I'll still read her other books, but I'm not in as much of a hurry as before. Worth noting that you can get her ebooks for free from Project Gutenberg (and of course most libraries should at least have a couple of her books).
2. Larry Niven – Ringworld (1970)
An enjoyable bit of old scifi that has held up well. I plan to check out more of his work (both in the Ringworld universe, and other).
3. Donald Hall – The Selected Poems of Donald Hall (2015)
While I love writing poetry, I don't often read it. I saw this book in the library and thought I'd give it a shot. It's a collection he hand-picked that spans his entire career, so there's a nice variety and of course a changing style (and content focus).
4. Graham Hancock – Fingerprints of the Gods: The Evidence of Earth's Lost Civilization (1995)
I occasionally watch Joe Rogan's channel on youtube; he does long (3-4 hour) interviews, one of which included Hancock. His ideas might seem far fetched, but damn they're interesting and fun to speculate about. The writing isn't the greatest, in particular because the book is probably 400 pages too long, but I'll be checking out his more recent follow up out of sheer curiosity.
5. Neal Stephenson – Seveneves (2015)
I'm a big fan of his books. “Cryptonomicon” was the first book I ever read that described programming (and programmers) accurately. And math, for that matter, outside of a text book or research white paper. It also involved some historical fiction, which is generally a great way to hook me on a story. “Diamond Age” and “Snow Crash” are both fun scifi thrillers, while “The Baroque Cycle” trilogy is an epic historical fiction tale (again: hooked). “Anathem” is almost like historical fiction meets scifi; a different universe, but with humans and tech and monks and… yeah, it's a fun one I've re-read fairly recently (and will again once I forget the plot points). In “Seveneves” we start in modern times and go beyond, so varying degrees of modern science and then of course straight up scifi. Parts of it are edge of your seat thrill-ride, but the latter parts slow down for the most part. I enjoyed it overall. If you like knowing how things work, he's a fun writer who does not slack on research.
6. Bill Bryson – A Walk in the Woods (1998)
I read “Wild” last year and was disappointed with the writing; that one concerns the story of a young woman who hikes the PCT out West, while this book is about a middle-aged guy (forget the movie; it's not someone 20 years into retirement) who's hiking the AT in the East. It was her first novel (I believe), while he's an accomplished author. To put it simply, the difference is stark. I didn't skip any parts, he's humorous, insightful, and knowledgeable. Better than the movie, to be sure.
7. Felicia Day – You're Never Weird on the Internet (Almost) (2015)
Like a lot of people, I discovered her with the short form web series “The Guild”, as well as the musical “Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog” (which is saying something, since I'm normally not into musicals. At all). Her memoir is funny and engaging (definitely written in her voice, if you're familiar at all). Highly recommended.
8. Vernor Vinge – A Fire Upon The Deep (1993)
I know, I know. Back to scifi. I can't help it. I actually read the 2nd book in this series (“A Deepness in the Sky”) a number of years ago, but since that book's story predates this one in its universe's timeline by 30,000 years… I don't think it mattered all that much. I'm a little over halfway done and should finish it in the next week or so (scifi and fantasy books don't tend to last too long once I start). It's interesting so far, although I'd have to give the nod to the other book over this one.
I'm not sure. I might hit up the library to see if anything tickles my fancy. Feel free to pass along suggestions. History, historical fiction, fantasy, scifi, classics, and modern fiction are all in my wheelhouse. If you'd like to track my progress for the rest of the year, I try to keep things up to date on Goodreads as well as on my personal site, which will occasionally include reviews.
Update: 2nd half list available for your viewing pleasure