Reading 2011

Updated 31 Dec 2011

Top books this year

Walk on Water, by Michael Ruhlman (5/5)
It’s absolutely incredible what is now considered routine in pediatric heart surgery, but I wonder if the total cost is really worth it? The differences in mortality between the best and worst hospitals is shocking.

Calling Out For You, by Karin Fossum (5/5)
A murder-mystery with writing as sparse as the Norwegian landscape it describes. Beautiful character development.

The Unfolding of Language, by Guy Deutscher (5/5)
The drivers for the incredible complexity of language boil down to: desire for more expressiveness, economy of energy, and analogy. Oh, and if you don’t like modern changes, remember that every generation has lamented the death of the language, and held the previous 100 years as the pinnacle. Ok, c u l8r.

All the rest

What We Say Goes, by Noam Chomsky (4/5)

Eating the Dinosaur, by Chuck Klosterman (4/5)
An odd but enjoyable collection of chapters on contemporary culture topics (eg, how American football is socialist at heart).

Looking Around, by Witold Rybczynski (4/5)
Short essays on a wide range of topics in architecture for the layman.

Making Software, by Andy Oram & Greg Wilson (4/5)

Stranger in a Strange Land, by Robert A. Heinlen (3/5)
I grokked it better than when I read it as a teenager, but it didn’t do much for me.

Still Life with Woodpecker, by Tom Robbins (4/5)

Machine of Death, by Ryan North, Matthew Bennardo, and David Malki (4/5)
Thirty-four short stories based on the premise of a machine that can accurately predict the means of your death (but often in a maddeningly ambiguous and sometimes ironic way). Lots of inescapable fates after the style of Oedipus.

Chuck Klosterman IV, by Chuck Klosterman (4/5)
Another great collection of essays on pop culture previously published in SPIN, Esquire, etc. More music industry than Eating the Dinosaur.

My Life in France, by Julia Child (4/5)

True Love, by Robert Fulghum (3/5)

Startup Nation, by Dan Senor and Saul Singer (3/5)

Altered Carbon, by Richard Morgan (4/5)
The Matrix meets Blade Runner? But with exchangeable physical bodies (sleeves).

The Creature from Beyond Infinity, by Henry Kuttner (3/5)
Fun but very simple. Like reading a comic.

The Introvert Advantage, by Marti Olsen Laney (3/5)
Lots of interesting nuggets in there for self-reflection, but very repetitive and too self-help for my liking.

Six Days of War: June 1967 and the Making of the Modern Middle East, by Michael B. Oren (4/5)

Wooden Boats, by Michael Ruhlman (4/5)

A Wild Sheep Chase, by Haruki Murakami (4/5)

Teach Us to Outgrow Our Madness, by Kenzaburo Oe (3/5)
I really liked “A Personal Matter”, but this collection of shorter stories seemed like a rehash of similar ideas. Or maybe they came first and I read these in reverse order.

Never Let Me Go, by Kazuo Ishiguro (5/5)

Roasting in Hell’s Kitchen, by Gordon Ramsay (5/5)

Seven-Tenths: The Sea and its Thresholds, by James Hamilton-Paterson (4/5)

Sh*t my Dad Says, by Justin Halpern (4/5)

Bounce, by Matthew Syed (3/5)

Letters from the Hive, by Stephen Buchmann and Banning Repplier (3/5)

Regeneration, by Pat Barker (4/5)

Thick Face Black Heart, by Ching-Ning Chu (3/5)
Somewhat in the style of all the ‘Art of War’ business books. It started out with a couple of great chapters, but quickly devolved into an odd Christian interpretation of the Dharma.

The Wind-up Bird Chronicle, by Haruki Murakami (4/5)
More complex plot than A Wild Sheep Chase. Some similar themes.

Stories of Your Life and Others, by Ted Chiang (4/5)
Spiritual science fiction.

Rashomon and Seventeen Other Stories, by Ryūnosuke Akutagawa (2/5)
A couple of gems, but the rest did nothing for me at all. I guess he gets high ratings because of his historical place in Japanese writing.

Just a Geek, by Wil Wheaton (3/5)

The Sky Is Not The Limit, by Neil deGrasse Tyson (2/5)
I wanted to like this, but… meh. (Some nerd-rage on misrepresenting physics in pop-culture, etc., I couldn’t tell if he was serious).

Volt: Stories, by Alan Heathcock (4/5)


You can also check out everything I've been reading on Goodreads.