2017 Reading List

December 26, 2017 • 5 mins read

Overall, another good year of reading. One thing I noticed this year that I want to correct next year is the range of topics and time periods I seem to indulge in. Next year I’d like to be more structured and better plan my reading; thinking about the topics I want to read about and keeping up to date on new and upcoming texts.


Wheels Within Wheels

by Dervla Murphy

Dervla Murphy retells her difficult upbringing and young adult life in Ireland. A brutally honest autobiography by my favourite travel writer.


Dubliners

by James Joyce

I’ve been fascinated with James Joyce this year. Dubliners paints a picture of Ireland at the turn of the 20th century through 15 short stories exuding realism.


The Happy Prince and Other Tales

by Oscar Wilde

The magic of Oscar Wilde never fails to satisfy. I particularly enjoyed The Rose and Nightingale.


The Trial

by Franz Kafka

My first taste of the troubled mind of Kafka. I think this book highlights how absurd and unpredictable life can be.


Out on the Wire: Uncovering the Secrets of Radio’s New Masters of Story

by Jessica Abel

A fun graphic novel about public radio and how to create good stories.


Seeing Is Forgetting the Name of the Thing One Sees

by Lawrence Weschler

This book explores the life and work of Robert Irwin and it really helped me understand art—especially art that I would have previously dismissed without much thought. Robert’s work is particularly interesting—a fascinating career.


The Library of Alexandria: Centre of Learning in the Ancient World

by Roy MacLeod

A collection of essays discussing theories and facts about the great library. Some essays better than others.


Full Tilt: Ireland to India on a Bicycle

Dervla Murphy

Another fascinating adventure with the wonderful Dervla Murphy. A hardened vagabond and an incredibly inspiring women.


Ulysses

by James Joyce

Ulysses was difficult to read (I’m sure you haven’t heard that before) but it stands out as a truly unique piece of literature. I enjoyed reading it, but finished it feeling like I needed a second round—I think I’ll give it a year, though.


Stardust

by Neil Gaimen

This was good, but I really struggled to get into it and I don’t know why. It has all the makings of great Gaimen fantasy but I never quite got drawn into the story.


The Innovators

by Walter Isaacson

Loved this. A fascinating overview of some of the pioneers of modern computing. From Ada Lovelace to Licklider to Gates.


Dark Matter

by Blake Crouch

Yes! Really suspenseful fiction. Kept me on the edge of my seat from start to finish.


Where Wizards Stay Up Late: The Origins of the Internet

by Katie Hafner & Matthew Lyon

Another fascinating piece of text on the beginnings of the Internet.


Sick Cities: Psychology and Pathology of American Urban Life

by Mitchell Gordon

It’s interesting reading these books ~50 years after they were written to compare projections of that time with today. Economics, population growth, urban expansion, transportation have in some cases blown their expected projections.


by Tim Urban

Tim Urban making difficult topics easy to understand. If you want to learn about brain machine interfaces, start here.


The Physics, Biology, and Environmental Ethics of Making Mars Habitable

by Christopher P. McKay & Margarita M. Marinova

This is a more technical insight into making Mars habitable, which is interesting. It was, however, published in 2001 so some of the research and data has most likely changed.


Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind

by Yuval Noah Harari

A fairly broad and digestible account on the history of human kind.


Deep Thinking: Where Machine Intelligence Ends and Human Creativity Begins

by Garry Kasparov

A really fascinating look at AI from the perspective of a chess Grandmaster. A lot of focus on Kasparov’s matches against Deep Blue—the chess-playing computer built by IBM.


The Death and Life of Great American Cities

by Jane Jacobs

As ever, Jane Jacobs takes a compassionate and spirited approach to discussing the topic of urban planning.


What Happened

by Hillary Rodham Clinton

Regardless of what is said about Hillary Clinton in the press, she comes across a genuine and caring person. It’s without a doubt she would’ve been a better president than he who got elected, she was robbed.


Occupy

by Noam Chomsky

Several interviews and conversations with Chomsky. A lot of repeated points due to the nature of this “pamphlet series”. Time would be better spent reading Chomsky’s other work.


A Leg to Stand On

by Oliver Sacks

This was great. Sacks takes a seemingly straightforward scenario and explores it to its fullest. His medical descriptions and his storytelling are very enjoyable.


On Tyranny

by Timothy D. Snyder

A lot of good lessons in this book.


A People’s History of the United States

by Howard Zinn

The history lesson they don’t teach in schools, American schools anyway. A pretty dense look at America’s history from Columbus right through to the turn of the 20th century, recommend if you’re into history of class, capitalism, racism, war, politics.


The Portrait of the Artist

by James Joyce

Probably the most accessible of Joyce’s work. This follows the early life of Stephen Dedalus, one of the main characters in Ulysses.


The River of Consciousness

by Oliver Sacks

The final body of work from the great Oliver Sacks. Quite abstract, looking at many different areas of life and science but with the same Oliver Sacks charm I’ve grown to love.