I don’t make New Year resolutions on the basis that I have little resolve. Furthermore, I hate to set myself up for failure by promising something and then not succeeding – which I did last year by aspiring to write 500 words a day during the year and then ending up nowhere near that figure.
However, I have been tracking the books I read over the year and that’s been a good way of keeping me in the habit of reading. The tablet revolution might have given folks easy access to downloadable books, but I’m afraid games, videos, and social media account for most of what people do with all this wonderful technology. So just because it’s technologically feasible to get a book on demand, actually plowing through words on a page turns out to be hard work.
Which is why logging my reading habits has definitely helped. I didn’t quite hit the 60 mark as I did in 2011 but some of the books I read were rather heavy going and looooong!
So for the curious – and those looking for inspiration on what to read during the coming year – here’s the 2012 list in order of when I finished each one. And if you don’t have time to read a whole book (shame on you!) you can click on the Dude Link button to download a summary document.
- Peter Cook: A Biography – Harry Thompson
Bio of one of the UK’s most beloved “alternative” comedians. Dudes’ Review
- The Greatest Show on Earth – Richard Dawkins
Lucid account of the process of selection in evolution.
- The Angel on the Roof – Russell Banks
Collection of 31 stories from over thirty years of writing.
- The Innovator’s Dilemma – Clayton Christenson
Innovation as both good and bad, and how to deal with it.
- Forward the Foundation – Isaac Asimov
Classic space opera sci-fi from a master.
- The Origin of Speech – Peter MacNeilage
A neo-Darwinian account of the origin and evolution of speech.
- Hatred at Home – Andrew Welsh-Huggins
Home-grown terrorists in Ohio after 9/11.
- The New York Trilogy – Paul Auster
Three off-beat detective novels in one; postmodernist fiction.
- A History of the English Language – Elly van Gelderen
Textbook with a companion web site.
- An Aegean Prophecy – Jeffrey Siger
Detective fiction set in Greece.
- Thinking, Fast and Slow – Daniel Kahneman
Psychologist looks at cognitive bias in the business world.
- Ovid’s Metamorphoses – Charles Martin translation
A new (2005) translation of Ovid’s indispensable classic.
- Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal – Jeanette Winterson
Witty biography of growing up in the north of England – like I did!
- A Canticle for Leibowitz – Walter M. Miller
Award-winning classic post-apocalypse sci-fi story.
- Capturing New Markets – Stephen Wunker
Adapting your business to evolving consumer demands.
- Ghosts of Empire – Kwasi Kwarteng
How British colonial policies have shaped the world.
- Freedom for the Thought that We Hate – Anthony Lewis
The First Amendment and its defenders.
- Word Origins and How We Know Them – Anatoly Liberman
Etymological detective work at its best.
- “I” is an Other – James Geary
How metaphor is embedded in our thinking.
- Triplanetary – E.E. “Doc” Smith
Classic space opera from the 40’s.
- The Strange Affair of Spring Heeled Jack – Mark Hodder
Steampunk in an alternative Victorian era.
- You Are Not So Smart – David McRaney
Why being deluded and biased is simply human.
- And a Bottle of Rum – Wayne Curtis
A history of rum and the rum trade.
- IQ84 – Haruki Murakami
A novel about a novel in a parallel world.
- The Curious Case of the Clockwork Man – Mark Hodder
More steampunk adventures in an alternative Victorian age.
- Empire: What Ruling the World Did to the British – Jeremy Paxman
Three hundred years of Empire in Paxman’s unique style.
- Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman – Haruki Murakami
Collection of stories written between 1981 and 2005.
- Everything is Obvious – Duncan J. Watts
The nonsense of “intuitive” and “obvious” exposed.
- Nothing: A Very Short Introduction – Frank Close
What’s left if you take matter away? Is “nothing” something?
- The Kingdom by the Sea – Paul Theroux
A three-month trip around the UK.
- Pedro Paramo – Juan Rulfo
Stunning magical realism set in Mexico. Dudes Review.
- Why Does the World Exist? – Jim Holt
Philosophers ask why is there something rather than nothing.
- My Family and Other Animals – Gerald Durrell
Life with the Durrells on Corfu in the 1930’s.
- Ready Player One – Ernest Cline
21st century sci-fi romp with one foot firmly in the 1980’s!
- Daemon – Daniel Suarez
Sentient internet threatens to take over the world.
- Freedom (TM) – Daniel Suarez
Follow up to best-selling Daemon.
- Omnitopia – Diane Duane
Companies fight to control virtual worlds.
- The Flaw of Averages – Sam Savage
Probability and management; don’t bet your shirt on anything!
- American Gods – Neil Gaiman
Award-winning fantasy about gods, myths, and America.
- Ill Fares the Land – Tony Judt
Contemporary materialism and selfishness examined.
- 50 Reasons People Give for Believing in God – Guy Harrison
Arguments against theism.
- Incarnation – Daniel Easterman
Political thriller with mystical overtones.
- Kitchen Confidential – Anthony Bourdain
Sex, drugs, rock and roll – and a kitchen!
- Prospero in Hell – L. Jag Lamplighter
Fantasy about Shakespeare’s Propero character’s family.
- The Connected Company – Dave Gray
How modern companies have to become more connected.
- Neverwhere – Neil Gaiman
A fantasy set in two Londons – the real and a parallel one.
- Choke – Chuck Palahniuk
The life and near-deaths of a con artist.
- If Houses Why Not Mouses? – Damien O’Brien
Etymology and how historical sound change affects words.
- Hard-boiled Wonderland and the End of the World – Haruki Murakami
Two plot lines become one in a surreal fantasy about memory.
- All in a Word – Vivian Cook
Bits and bobs about words and phrases.
- The Dreamthief’s Daughter – Michael Moorcock
Nazis, magical swords, multiverses, and Moorcock as usual.
- The Story of English in 100 Words – David Crystal
Why English is how it is through 100 words.
- A Dash of Style – Noah Lukeman
How to improve your punctuation and, hence, your writing.
- Mortality – Christopher Hitchens
Hitchens’ final essays as he was dying of cancer.