Category: Books

2016 In Books

thefirstfifteenlivesofharryaugustBelow is my disappointing list of 16 books read in 2016 (but at least it corresponds to the year…). I felt I did a lot of reading, but I guess it didn’t amount to a lot of books. Some of them took me a while to get through. For example, The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August was by far the best book I read in 2016, but it also took a while to get through. I suppose that moving to my year primarily consisted of:

  • Applying to grad schools programs and attending visiting days/weekends all across the country.
  • Writing an MA thesis
  • Moving to a brand new city
  • Starting a new PhD program in linguistics

So it’s not that I’m without excuses. But still, I wish I had read more. I do think I read a lot of linguistics/machine learning/cogitive science papers, and wish I had tracked those better. 

As always, credit for this idea goes to Robin. Her 2015 list can be found here. The only useful tool I’ve found for converting an Amazon library to a list can be found here. Surprisingly, or not, Amazon makes exporting this list tremendously difficult.

Nonetheless, here are the books I read this year, in reverse chronological order:

Time Travel: A History James Gleick
The Undoing Project Michael Lewis
Arrival Ted Chiang
Slaughterhouse-Five Kurt Vonnegut
The Signal and the Noise Nate Silver
The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August Claire North
A Wrinkle in Time Madeleine L'Engle
Xenocide Orson Scott Card
Speaker for the Dead Orson Scott Card
Cumulus Eliot Peper
Ender's Game Orson Scott Card
The Cobweb Neal Stephenson
Red Rising Pierce Brown
Interface Neal Stephenson
14 Peter Clines
Infinite Jest David Foster Wallace

2015 Bookshelf

Here are the books I read in 2015, with some statistics below. I neglected to do this last year, which was disappointing. Here is my 2013 list. I got this idea completely from Robin. Here is her 2014 list [Update 12/26/16: And Robin’s 2015 list.]

The table is arranged by the order in which I read the books.

The Last Firewall William Hertling
How We Got to Now Steven Johnson
The Innovators Walter Isaacson
Breakfast of Champions Kurt Vonnegut
The Windup Girl Paolo Bacigalupi
Measuring Up Daniel M Koretz
The Language of Food Dan Jurafsky
Wool Hugh Howey
The Turing Exception William Hertling
Sphere Michael Crichton
Good Omens Neil Gaiman
Seveneves: A Novel Neal Stephenson
Neuromancer William Gibson
The Martian Andy Weir
Armada Ernest Cline
Old Man's War John Scalzi
The Fold Peter Clines
Station Eleven Emily St. John Mandel
We, the Drowned Carsten Jensen
American Gods Neil Gaiman
Modern Romance Aziz Ansari
The New York Nobody Knows William B. Helmreich
The Little Drummer Girl: A Novel Le Carre


  • In 2015, I read 23 books, for an average reading time of 15.9 days per book.
  • Of the 23 books, 17 (74%) were fiction.
  • Of the 17 fiction books, 5 (29%) can be classified as dystopian stories. I wonder if this is more a reflection of the overall zeitgeist, or just my own reading interests. While I’m none too happy about the current state of politics and policy, I consider myself an optimist at heart.
  • During 2015, I read 2 of the 4 books in William Hertling’s amazing Avogaro series, about an A.I singularity in the not too distant future. The books are engaging and well thought out. Hertling knows his technology, and doesn’t try to create a completely ridiculous/far flung singularity. Rather, the cause of the singularity is subtle and seems within reason, and the far-reaching consequences are profound and well thought out. I mention this for 2 reasons:
    • Read his books! He’s fun, his books are cheap and he deserves a lot more readers.
    • This is a good insight into how capricious the publishing industry is. I think Hertling is just as good as an Ernest Cline or Peter Clines, he just hasn’t been “discovered” yet.

2013 in Books

Title Author
The Restaurant at the End of the Universe Adams, Douglas
Life, the Universe and Everything Adams, Douglas
The Affair: A Jack Reacher Novel Child, Lee
Persuader (Jack Reacher, No. 7) Child, Lee
Without Fail (Jack Reacher, No. 6) Child, Lee
Echo Burning (Jack Reacher, No. 5) Child, Lee
Running Blind (Jack Reacher, No. 4) Child, Lee
Tripwire (Jack Reacher, No. 3) Child, Lee
Die Trying (Jack Reacher, No. 2) Child, Lee
Rob Delaney: Mother. Wife. Sister. Human. Warrior. Falcon. Yardstick. Turban. Cabbage Delaney, Rob
Veins Drew
The Name of the Rose Eco, Umberto
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close Foer, Jonathan Safran
The Art of Fielding: A Novel Harbach, Chad
Russell Wiley Is Out to Lunch Hine, Richard
Hackers: Heroes of the Computer Revolution Levy, Steven
Astronauts and Heretics Marcinko, Thomas
Cloud Atlas Mitchell, David
How We Test Software at Microsoft Page, Alan, Johnston, Ken, Rollison, Bj
Devil's Plaything Richtel, Matt
2312 Robinson, Kim Stanley
Shooting Star Sabbagh, Karl
Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore Sloan, Robin
Cryptonomicon Stephenson, Neal
Reamde: A Novel Stephenson, Neal
Snow Crash Stephenson, Neal
The Diamond Age Stephenson, Neal
Anathem Stephenson, Neal
A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again Wallace, David Foster

First off, let it be known that I completely stole this idea from a fellow grad student, Robin. It sounded like a fun idea, and since almost all of these were on my Kindle, pulling up the list took all of 15 seconds.


  • I read 6 non-fiction books, and 23 works of fiction
  • 2 authors (Lee Child and Neal Stephenson) accounted for 12 (33%) books
  • 30% of what I read (11 books) could be classified as science fiction
  • I had no idea that I read so many Jack Reacher books. I did a ton of unpleasant, frequent airport travel in the first half of the year, and the mindless gluttony of the books, combined with short chapters, made them ideal for airport lounges and seat 3B. Nevertheless, I feel like a person who just mindlessly ate an entire bag of potato chips, and is now staring at the empty bag.