This is the third year I’ve done this. Overall I read 14 fiction and 17 non-fiction, 31 in total. I reckon that’s about 60-70cm of bookshelf per year, which btw is overfull, any bookcase recommendations appreciated. To save you reading the whole list my favourite books of 2009 were Anathem by Neal Stephenson for fiction, The Ongoing Moment by Geoff Dyer for non-fiction and a special mention for What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami if you do any running. Here’s the full list, this time they’re in the order I read them.
Tokyo Year Zero (Tokyo Trilogy 1) by David Pearce
4*. Atmospheric crime thriller set in Japan immediately after the war ended.
Heat by George Monbiot
4*. Good overview of the issues and a set of good solutions. Still very worrying that we’re not doing anything about any of it.
The Blank Slate by Steven Pinker
4*. Always interesting
A Florentine Death by Michele Giuttari
3*. Crime novel set in Florence written by an Italian policeman.
Gemma Bovery by Posy Simmonds
4*. Funny and sad
The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga
4*. Good story, memorable character.
Psychogeography by Will Self
4*. Excellent compendium of his interesting and funny pyschogeography essays. I think I enjoyed this more than when I read the odd one in the paper.
Perdido Street Station by China Mieville
3* . Good story, I just don’t really like fantasy as a genre.
Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain by Oliver Sacks
-. Didn’t finish, a bit disjointed.
Pattern Recognition by William Gibson
4*. Good to read on the flight between London and Tokyo.
Hokkaido Highway Blues: Hitchhiking Japan by Will Ferguson
2*. Easy read with lots of anecdotes about Japan, nothing more than that.
Cities by John Reader
4*. Really good book about cities, where they came from and what they do. From the table of contents it looked like it might be a linear history but much more interesting than that. “The human gait is inefficient, on a par with penguins.”
The Casebook of Victor Frankenstein by Peter Ackroyd
2*. Dunno, just not the best book to read in the hottest week of the year.
The Ascent of Money by Niall Ferguson
4*. OK, I reckon if I read this again I’ll probably nearly understand the building blocks of the world’s financial system. I’m a bit financially illiterate and this made sense. “The concept of interest was probably derived from the natural increase of a herd of livestock”
Hertzian Tales by Anthony Dunne
3*. Interesting things but a bit too conceptual to be useful. “I use the term ‘genotype’ as an alternative to ‘prototype’ to shift importance away from whether or not a conceptual design technically works, to the ideas it represents”
Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood
4*. Post-apocalyptic tale of GM gone wrong.
The Craftsman by Richard Sennett
4*. Wide-ranging book on craft and craftsmen, it was an interesting read, possibly with a few too many confusing metaphors, but lots of fascinating anecdotes and useful thoughts. I blogged about what it has to say about innovation
A Certain Justice by P.D. James
3*. Standard PD James and Inspector Dalgliesh.
Batman: Year One by Frank Miller
3*. Seemed surprisingly close to the film, if I remember it correctly, though it concentrates on Lieutenant Gordon.
What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami
5*. Anecdotes about his life and what running means. Loved it.
V for Vendetta by Alan Moore.
3*. Again, seemed surprisingly close to the film.
Shapes: Nature’s patterns by Philip Ball.
3*. OK, not as inspiring as I hoped, and not enough detail for me to try simulating things.
The Age of Wonder by Richard Holmes
3*. It took me a while as it was a massive hardback that I didn’t want to carry back and forth in my bag everyday but an interesting journey through ballooning, astronomy and other 18th century science and the beginning of the Royal Society.
A Pale View of Hills by Kazuo Ishiguro
4*. Perfectly formed little book. How do you interpret the ending?
Status Anxiety by Alain de Botton.
4*. Brief look at how people and societies have dealt with status.
Anathem by Neal Stephenson
5*. Immense story of an alternative universe featuring 1000-year old philosophers.
The Ongoing Moment by Geoff Dyer.
5*. I know nothing about American photographers and this was fascinating. Loved his way of drawing connections between photos and photographers.
Wildwood: A Journey Through Trees by Roger Deakin.
4*. Made me want to visit forests. And buy a tree identification guide.
Matter by Iain M. Banks
4*. Latest Culture novel, I read some a few years ago and enjoyed coming back.
Performing Rites: Evaluating Popular Music by Simon Frith.
3*. For work, I’m interested in how people describe their musical taste. Fairly readable for an academic book.
The Secret Life of Birds by Colin Tudge.
3*. Avian equivalent to Wildwood above. Now know lots of useless facts. For instance, squirrels rotate their rear ankles 180 degrees when climbing down trees.
2010 was brought in by What The Dog Saw by Malcolm Gladwell and on the stack for 2010 are The Patient by PD James , Nocturnes by Kazuo Ishiguro, Staring at the Sun by Julian Barnes and The Nature of Technology by W. Brian Arthur.
All reading was tracked by the marvellous bkkeepr and graphed by the velocity of reading, which tells me my last 20 books, with 6936 pages in total, were read in 215 days. There was an average of 346 pages per book. That’s about 32 pages per day (or 1.34 pages per hour).