2019: the year in books

Back in 2009 I started posting a summary at the end of the year of what I read during the year (see my posts from 2009201020112012201320142015, 2016, 2017, 2018) and people have been enjoying it, so here I present the 2019 end-of-year post. I set a moderate goal of 50 books this year but after reading a record 101 books last year, I slacked off a bit in 2019 and only read 44. Next year I’m setting myself a goal of reading 50 books again as I have a lot of lengthy biographies and other history books I want to tackle.

For the record, I mostly read ‘real’ books – i.e. not in electronic form – I really don’t like reading off a screen. Yes, I’ve seen electronic readers – we both have iPads – but I don’t like reading electronically. Having said that, I did read 13 books electronically this year out of necessity (insurmountable luggage weight and volume restrictions on one of our dive trips). I also don’t ‘speed read’ – I read quickly and make lots of time for reading.

Why do I track metrics? Because I like doing it, and being able to compare against previous years. Some people don’t understand the logic in that – each to their own :-)

I went back-and-forth over the last few days about which book to nominate as my favorite, and I couldn’t come to a decision, so just like in most years, I give you my favorite 3 books: The Garden of Evening Mists by Tan Twan Eng, The Perfectionists: How Precision Engineers Created the Modern World by Simon Winchester, and The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck. All three are superb books and I strongly recommend you give them a try – I was tempted to pick The Grapes of Wrath as the single best book but couldn’t bring myself to drop the other two. You can read my review of them in the top-10 list below.

Now the details. I enjoy putting this together as it will also serve as a record for me many years from now. I hope you get inspired to try some of these books – push yourself with new authors and very often you’ll be surprisingly pleased. Don’t forget to check out the previous year’s blog posts for more inspiration too.

As usual I leave you with a quote that describes a big part of my psychological make-up:

In omnibus requiem quaesivi, et nusquam inveni nisi in angulo cum libro!

Analysis of What I Read

I read 16,056 pages, which is an average of 43.99 pages a day. The chart below shows the number of pages (y-axis) in each book I read (x-axis).

The average book length was 365 pages, which is shorter than most previous years and that’s because I read a few short classics on my iPad while on trips.

 

Compared to previous years I read almost no science fiction or fantasy fiction, and a lot more history and historical fiction than last year.

The Top 10

I read a lot of excellent books this year and once again I couldn’t whittle it down to a top-10, so here is my top 12. If you don’t read much, at least consider looking at some of these in 2020. It’s impossible to put them into a priority order so I’ve listed them in the order I read them, along with the short Facebook review I wrote at the time.

#2; Savage Continent: Europe in the Aftermath of World War II; Keith Lowe; 496pp; History; January 18 (As school kids, at least in the UK, history classes taught us that WWII ended, and that was it, and I haven’t read anything about that period of history since my school days. In reality, violence and horror went on throughout Europe for years after the official end of the war. I learned a huge amount from this book that I didn’t know about, including the vengeance that occurred (against occupying forces, camp guards, collaborators), forced migrations of whole populations, ethnic cleansing, reuse of the concentration camps, economic collapse and mass starvation, and more. The book covers the period from the end of the war through end of the 1940s when Europe became relatively stable. Hugely interesting, shocking, and eye-opening, and a great primer for my continuing Cold War readings, as it also describes how the Soviet-backed communists established themselves in many countries. Highly recommended!)

 #4; What a Fish Knows: The Inner Lives of Our Underwater Cousins; Jonathan Balcombe; 304pp; Nonfiction; February 8 (Contrary to popular belief, fish do have intelligence, just not like humans. Fish can recognize individuals, learn to use tools, plan for a future event (a grouper signaling to a moray to hunt cooperatively, or a grouper pointing head down at prey hidden in a hole), play, and more. We generally think of fish as dumb things that lead simple lives, but reality is much more complex. This book is a fascinating exploration of what and how fishes perceive, feel, think, know, breed, and are exploited, drawing on myriad scientific studies and interactions. Highly recommended!)

 #7; The Last Days of Night; Graham Moore; 384pp; Historical Fiction; April 8 (This is an excellent fictionalization of the true events in the A/C – D/C ‘current war’ between Edison and Westinghouse in the late 1800s that led to the creation of General Electric. It’s a great page-turner and hugely interesting to me as I’d never read the details of the war before. Highly recommended!)

 #14; The Idea Factory: Bell Labs and the Great Age of Innovation; Jon Gertner; 422pp; History; June 27 (Amazon’s precis says everything I’d say: “From its beginnings in the 1920s until its demise in the 1980s, Bell Labs-officially, the research and development wing of AT&T-was the biggest, and arguably the best, laboratory for new ideas in the world. From the transistor to the laser, from digital communications to cellular telephony, it’s hard to find an aspect of modern life that hasn’t been touched by Bell Labs. In The Idea Factory, Jon Gertner traces the origins of some of the twentieth century’s most important inventions and delivers a riveting and heretofore untold chapter of American history. At its heart this is a story about the life and work of a small group of brilliant and eccentric men-Mervin Kelly, Bill Shockley, Claude Shannon, John Pierce, and Bill Baker-who spent their careers at Bell Labs. Today, when the drive to invent has become a mantra, Bell Labs offers us a way to enrich our understanding of the challenges and solutions to technological innovation. Here, after all, was where the foundational ideas on the management of innovation were born.” Highly recommended!)

 #19; The Map of Knowledge: A Thousand-Year History of How Classical Ideas Were Lost and Found; Violet Moller; 336pp; History; August 12 (This is a fascinating book that explains how ancient Greek knowledge survived the fall of the Roman Empire and suppression by Christianity (for being ‘pagan’) and was reintroduced in the Middle Ages to fuel the renaissance in Europe. It follows three key Greek texts – Euclid’s Elements, Ptolemy’s The Almagest, and Galen’s writings on medicine – plus Arab discoveries as they move around the Mediterranean. Seven cities are highlighted, where the texts either originated, translated, copied or a combination – Alexandria, Baghdad, Cordoba, Toledo, Salerno, Palermo, and Venice – along with the eclectic people mainly responsible. Highly recommended!)

 #21; The Garden of Evening Mists; Tan Twan Eng; 352pp; Fiction; September 11 (What a wonderful book! Definitely the best book of the year so far, it totally sucked me in as a page turner and I bought his debut novel as soon as I finished this one. From Amazon: “Malaya, 1951. Yun Ling Teoh, the scarred lone survivor of a brutal Japanese wartime camp, seeks solace among the jungle-fringed tea plantations of Cameron Highlands. There she discovers Yugiri, the only Japanese garden in Malaya, and its owner and creator, the enigmatic Aritomo, exiled former gardener of the emperor of Japan. Despite her hatred of the Japanese, Yun Ling seeks to engage Aritomo to create a garden in memory of her sister, who died in the camp. Aritomo refuses but agrees to accept Yun Ling as his apprentice “until the monsoon comes.” Then she can design a garden for herself. As the months pass, Yun Ling finds herself intimately drawn to the gardener and his art, while all around them a communist guerilla war rages. But the Garden of Evening Mists remains a place of mystery. Who is Aritomo and how did he come to leave Japan? And is the real story of how Yun Ling managed to survive the war perhaps the darkest secret of all?” Highly, highly recommended!)

 #22; The Marshall Plan: Dawn of the Cold War; Benn Steil; 608pp; History; September 17 (Continuing my loose ‘Cold War’ year of reading, this book does an excellent job of detailing the events leading up to the creation and implementation of the famous Marshall Plan. It helped with the reconstruction of post-war Western Europe as a barrier against the expansion of communism from the East, and was an extraordinary undertaking by the US to reintegrate Germany into society after the horrors it inflicted during WWII. It also can be said to have precipitated the Cold War, as Stalin’s instructions to countries under the Soviet thumb to refuse US aid effectively created the Iron Curtain and the division of Soviet vs. US spheres of influence in Europe. The book is quite the page turner and gives the complete history in a really engaging and interesting way, and now I’m looking forward to reading Steil’s The Battle of Breton Woods. Highly recommended!)

 #31; The Perfectionists: How Precision Engineers Created the Modern World; Simon Winchester; 416pp; Nonfiction; November 3 (Winchester’s books are always extraordinary and this one was really superb. As an engineer by education and training, this topic is fascinating. He orders the book by increasing precision, starting with a bored cylinder for James Watt’s steam engine in 1776 that had a tolerance of the width of a shilling, and ending with machines in the LIGO gravity-wave detection facilities (which can measure light to a precision of 1 ten-thousandth the width of a proton, or in another definition, the distance from Earth to Alpha Centauri A to an accuracy of less than the diameter of a human hair). Entertaining, *hugely* educational, and highly recommended (and also all the other books he’s written). Enjoy!)

 #32; The Lovely Bones; Alice Sebold; 352pp; Fiction; November 28 (I’ve seen this many times in airport bookshops and realized at the start of the flight that I had it on my iPad (don’t take real books on Asia dive trips any more) so gave it a whirl. What a page turner! Excellent novel about a girl who is murdered and then watches (from her heaven) her family, friends, and killer continue with their lives over the next 10 years. Very well written, and well deserved #1 best seller at the time. Highly recommended!)

 #33; A Farewell to Arms; Ernest Hemingway; 352pp; Fiction; November 28 (This is an excellent semi-autobiographical novel based on Hemingway’s time as an ambulance driver in Italy during WWI. It’s about an American ambulance driver who’s injured and falls in love with an English nurse during his convalescence. Once back at the front he gets caught up in a shambolic retreat and deserts to run away with his love. Hugely gripping and highly recommended!)

 #35; The Call of the Wild; Jack London; 64pp; Fiction; November 29 (What an excellent book! This is definitely on my short list for one of the best books of the year. It follows the life of Buck, a huge St. Bernard/shepherd mix, who is stolen from a life of privilege in CA and transported to the harsh life on a dog team in Alaska. Gradually Buck transforms into a leader and a legend, eventually reverting completely to a wild state. Hugely enjoyable and highly recommended!)

 #42; The Grapes of Wrath; John Steinbeck; 464pp; Fiction; December 17 (Wow. What a fantastic book. It’s an extremely powerful story about the struggles and deprivations of a mid-West family being thrown off their land and moving West to the Shangri-la of California during the Great Depression era of the US in the 1930s. Sometimes horrific and sometimes uplifting, it’s a total masterpiece. Hugely recommended!)

The Complete List

And the complete list, with links to Amazon so you can explore further. One thing to bear in mind, the dates I finished reading the book don’t mean that I started, for instance, book #2 after finishing book #1. I usually have anywhere from 10-15 books on the go at any one time so I can dip into whatever my mood is for that day. Some books I read start to finish without picking up another one and some books take me over a year. Lots of long airplane flights and boat trips help too!

  1. The Cold War: A New History; John Lewis Gaddis; 352pp; History; January 5
  2. Savage Continent: Europe in the Aftermath of World War II; Keith Lowe; 496pp; History; January 18
  3. Bookshops: A Reader’s History; Jorge Carrión; 304pp; Nonfiction; January 20
  4. What a Fish Knows: The Inner Lives of Our Underwater Cousins; Jonathan Balcombe; 304pp; Nonfiction; February 8
  5. London Underground: 1863 onwards (all lines and extensions); Paul Moss; 189pp; History; April 2
  6. Browsings: A Year of Reading, Collecting, and Living with Books; Michael Dirda; 256pp; Nonfiction; April 6
  7. The Last Days of Night; Graham Moore; 384pp; Historical Fiction; April 8
  8. Barkskins; E. Annie Proulx; 736pp; Historical Fiction; April 10
  9. Dragonfly in Amber; Diana Gabaldon; 752pp; Historical Fiction; April 13
  10. Flood of Fire; Amitav Ghosh; 624pp; Historical Fiction; April 17
  11. Raven Black; Ann Cleeves; 384pp; Fiction; May 7
  12. White Nights; Ann Cleeves; 400pp; Fiction; May 16
  13. Red Bones; Ann Cleeves; 404pp; Fiction; June 9
  14. The Idea Factory: Bell Labs and the Great Age of Innovation; Jon Gertner; 422pp; History; June 27
  15. Blue Lightning; Ann Cleeves; 368pp; Fiction; July 5
  16. The Catalogue of Shipwrecked Books; Edward Wilson-Lee; 416pp; History; July 6
  17. U-Boat 1936-45 (Type VIIA, B, C and Type VIIC/41); Alan Gallop; 160pp; History; July 7
  18. K Blows Top: A Cold War Comic Interlude Starring Nikita Khrushchev, America’s Most Unlikely Tourist; Peter Carlson; 352pp; History; August 1
  19. The Map of Knowledge: A Thousand-Year History of How Classical Ideas Were Lost and Found; Violet Moller; 336pp; History; August 12
  20. Ten Caesars: Roman Emperors from Augustus to Constantine; Barry Strauss; 432pp; Biography; September 8
  21. The Garden of Evening Mists; Tan Twan Eng; 352pp; Fiction; September 11
  22. The Marshall Plan: Dawn of the Cold War; Benn Steil; 608pp; History; September 17
  23. The Secret Scripture; Sebastian Barry; 320pp; Fiction; September 25
  24. Cicero: The Life and Times of Rome’s Greatest Politician; Anthony Everitt; 400pp; Biography; September 29
  25. Heart of Oak: A Sailor’s Life in Nelson’s Navy; James McGuane; 192pp; History; October 1
  26. The Trojan War: A New History; Barry Strauss; 288pp; History; October 4
  27. Dronescapes: The New Aerial Photography from Dronestagram; Dronestagram; 288pp; Photography; October 5
  28. Cold Earth; Ann Cleeves; 400pp; Fiction; October 14
  29. War of the Wolf; Bernard Cornwell; 352pp; Historical Fiction; October 15
  30. The Skinner; Neal Asher; 583pp; Science Fiction; October 18
  31. The Perfectionists: How Precision Engineers Created the Modern World; Simon Winchester; 416pp; Nonfiction; November 3
  32. The Lovely Bones; Alice Sebold; 352pp; Fiction; November 28
  33. A Farewell to Arms; Ernest Hemingway; 352pp; Fiction; November 28
  34. The Purloined Letter; Edgar Allan Poe; 64pp; Fiction; November 29
  35. The Call of the Wild; Jack London; 64pp; Fiction; November 29
  36. Diary: A Novel; Chuck Palahnuik; 272pp; Fiction; November 30
  37. Never Let Me Go; Kazuo Ishiguro; 304pp; Fiction; December 3
  38. The Scarlet Letter; Nathaniel Hawthorne; 256pp; Fiction; December 6
  39. Through the Looking Glass; Lewis Carroll; 128pp; Fiction; December 7
  40. Fugitives And Refugees: A Walk in Portland, Oregon; Chuck Palahnuik; 175pp; Nonfiction; December 7
  41. In The Woods; Tana French; 464pp; Fiction; December 14
  42. The Grapes of Wrath; John Steinbeck; 464pp; Fiction; December 17
  43. Gulliver’s Travels; Jonathan Swift; 288pp; Fiction; December 20
  44. East of Eden; John Steinbeck; 603pp; Fiction; December 26

2018: the year in books – a new record!

Back in 2009 I started posting a summary at the end of the year of what I read during the year (see my posts from 2009201020112012201320142015, 2016, 2017) and people have been enjoying it, so here I present the 2018 end-of-year post. I set a moderate goal of 50 books this year but obliterated that and broke my 2009 record of 100 books by reading 101. It was a really enjoyable reading year as I finally read a large number of classic fiction books that have been on my list for many years. Next year I’m setting myself a goal of reading 50 books again as I have a lot of lengthy biographies and other history books I want to tackle.

For the record, I mostly read ‘real’ books – i.e. not in electronic form – I really don’t like reading off a screen. Yes, I’ve seen electronic readers – we both have iPads – but I don’t like reading electronically. Having said that, I did read about 40 books electronically this year out of necessity (insurmountable luggage weight and volume restrictions on two of our trips). I also don’t ‘speed read’ – I read quickly and make lots of time for reading.

Why do I track metrics? Because I like doing it, and being able to compare against previous years. Some people don’t understand the logic in that – each to their own :-)

Last night I looked through the list of books I’d read to pick my top ones, and although I couldn’t pick a single title as the top one, there was really no contest for my favorite two books of the year: The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien and The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams. I’ve read LOTR 4 times now and I don’t know how many times I’ve read the Hitch-Hikers series. If you’ve never read them, I strongly recommend you give them a try. You can read my review of them in the top-10 list below.

Now the details. I enjoy putting this together as it will also serve as a record for me many years from now. I hope you get inspired to try some of these books – push yourself with new authors and very often you’ll be surprisingly pleased. Don’t forget to check out the previous year’s blog posts for more inspiration too.

As usual I leave you with a quote that describes a big part of my psychological make-up:

In omnibus requiem quaesivi, et nusquam inveni nisi in angulo cum libro!

Analysis of What I Read

I read 27,480 pages, which is an average of 75.29 pages a day. The chart below shows the number of pages (y-axis) in each book I read (x-axis).

The average book length was 272 pages, which is a lot shorter than previous years and that’s because I read a lot of classics on my iPad while on trips. The obvious outlier in the chart is The Lord of the Rings.

I read a lot more fiction than in previous years.

The Top 10

I read a lot of excellent books this year and once again I couldn’t whittle it down to a top-10, so here is my top 12. If you don’t read much, at least consider looking at some of these in 2019. It’s impossible to put them into a priority order so I’ve listed them in the order I read them, along with the short Facebook review I wrote at the time.

 #4; The Remains of the Day; Kazuo Ishiguro; 256pp; Fiction; January 15; (Wow – what a wonderful book! I picked this up as Ishiguro won the 2017 Nobel Prize for Literature, and this particular book of his won the Booker Prize in 1989. The book is a series of reminiscences by Mr Stevens, the perfect butler, of his time working for Lord Darlington between the two World Wars as he takes a week-long trip into the English countryside in the late 1950s. There are really three stories – Stevens himself and his misguided, blinkered trust in his master, Lord Darlington’s involvement in machinations with Germany, and Stevens’ relationship with the housekeeper, Miss Kenton. It’s beautifully written, and Ishiguro captures the essence of the anachronistic, stiff-upper lip butler to perfection. *Highly* recommended. I have no doubt this will be in my top-10 for 2018.)

 #11; The Old Man And the Sea; Ernest Hemingway; 128pp; Fiction; February 4; (This is the first Hemingway book I’ve ever read, and I really enjoyed it. It’s about the truly epic struggle between a currently unlucky, 80+ year old Cuban fisherman and an enormous marlin he hooks way out in the sea. Hemingway’s writing is excellent and I found it compelling and evocative. Highly recommended!)

 #31; The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy; Douglas Adams; 160pp; Science Fiction; February 26; (I haven’t read the Hitch Hiker series since 1999, so thought it about time for a reread. The Earth is blown up to make way for a hyperspace bypass, but 5 minutes before the culmination of the computer program it was running, for the mice who owned the planet… Everyone should read these – wonderful stuff! 42!)

 #33; Foundation; Isaac Asimov; 320pp; Science Fiction; February 28; (Can’t believe I haven’t read the Foundation series until now! This is Asimov’s classic story of the Foundation; ostensibly created to preserve mankind’s knowledge once the Empire collapses, but actually the seed of the next Galactic Empire and the brainchild of Hari Seldon who can see the future through mathematically extrapolating from the present. Well written and gripping – highly recommended for sci-fi fans!)

 #34; Dune; Frank Herbert; 544pp; Science Fiction; March 1; (I also can’t believe I haven’t read the Dune series until now, as I love the movie. The first book sees House Atreides take over the desert planet Arrakis from House Harkonnen and then lose it amidst treachery and murder. Paul Atreides then becomes the leader of the native Fremen people and becomes the legend they’ve been waiting for, plus all the drama with the giant sand worms and the spice. Well written and gripping – highly recommended for sci-fi fans!)

 #45; The Handmaid’s Tale; Margaret Atwood; 325pp; Fiction; April 2; (Quite a disturbing book about the Republic of Gilead (in what was the USA) where most women are subjugated, men and women are strenuously segregated, and women are not permitted to read. The focus of the book is the Handmaid Offred (Belonging to Fred), whose job is to have monthly, clinical sex with the man whose house she belongs to so that him and his (barren) wife can have a child, although she can remember how society was before. It is a time of dangerously low birth rates due to widespread anti-fertility disease and pollution, and the Gileadean society was the result of a revolution in US. Very well written and interesting to read. Highly recommended.)

 #50; Facts and Fears: Hard Truths from a Life in Intelligence; James R. Clapper; 432pp; Nonfiction; July 7; (Clapper was the Director of National Intelligence from 2010 to 2017, and is a retired Air Force lieutenant-general who spent his entire career in intelligence. The book is excellent. The first 100 or so pages details Clapper’s military career and then it gets into his experiences with and views on a variety of well-known episodes such as Benghazi, Snowden, and the Abbottabad raid that took out Osama bin Laden. The final 100 pages are about the 2016 election, and specifically the Russian interference in the election. Clapper’s views are balanced, professional, and very insightful, as one would expect from someone who was an integral part of (and eventual leader of) the U.S. intelligence community for 55 years, and he writes with a sense of humor too. He holds some of the media, some of Congress, and the current president in disdain for their willful disregard of facts, promulgation of falsehoods, and unwillingness to understand the capabilities and limitations of intelligence gathering and analysis, and considers a variety of moral and ethical questions on facets of intelligence. I found the book hugely interesting and it was obvious that Clapper wanted to write the straight up, unpartisan, and unembellished truth of what the intelligence services did and knew about all these topics, including mistakes that he and they made. Highly recommended! PS In the past when I’ve read and reviewed a book that some people disagree with, I’ve been accused of pushing a political agenda. I find that accusation highly distasteful. I read what I read because I’m interested in a wide variety of subjects and viewpoints, and I present reviews here of everything I read.)

 #65; Things Fall Apart; Chinua Achebe; 209pp; Fiction; July 26; (Excellent book! It follows the life of a clansman from the lower Niger river area in the early to mid-1800s. The first part of the book illustrates how the clan hangs together, its customers and rituals and deities. Then in the second part white men come as missionaries and then as oppressors, which gradually breaks the clan system apart and destroys the old way of life. Which is exactly what happened for much of Africa under colonial rule. Highly recommended!)

 #75; Dracula; Bram Stoker; 336pp; Fiction; August 8; (Excellent book! I love the Francis Ford Coppola movie (and I know many don’t) so I know the story well, but I’ve never read the original book until now. The classic vampire story is quite a page-turner, and written from the perspective of several of the protagonists through the medium of their diaries. Having the movie in my head helped me visualize a lot of the scenes from the book and I’m happy to say that although Coppola and the screenwriter(s) used a lot of artistic license, they did a good job of staying faithful to the story. Highly recommended for any fans of Gothic horror, and anyone who hasn’t read it.)

 #83; The Secret History; Donna Tartt; 576pp; Fiction; September 7; (What an excellent book! It’s about a small group of students at an elite New England college who learn ancient Greek under the tutelage of an eccentric professor. They’re very close-knit and descend into moral bankruptcy when they commit a ritual murder. From that point on the group gradually fractures and they all become psychologically disturbed, with shocking results (without giving away too much). It’s extremely well-written and very engaging – I literally couldn’t put it down during the second half. Highly recommended!)

 #90; The Lord of the Rings; J.R.R. Tolkien; 1184pp; Fantasy Fiction; November 13 (The link is the paperback edition, but I have a magnificent leather-bound edition that cost quite lot as this is one of my favorite books. Unless you were living in a cave in 2001-2003, you can’t have missed at least hearing about the three Lord of the Rings movies that dominated the cinema in each of those years, with the final one (The Return of the King) being one of only three movies ever to win 11 Academy Awards (alongside Titanic, and the 1959 Ben-Hur). I first read TLOTR when I was 11, read it again in college, and then again in 2000 while on parental leave from Microsoft after my first daughter was born, making this my fourth reading. After 18 years, I’d forgotten how rich the storytelling is, and how many things were left out of the movies. The story is very complicated, but can be boiled down to: an evil ring must be taken into the heart of the most dangerous place (Mordor) in the land (Middle Earth) so it can be destroyed, and the task falls to a hobbit, about the most unlikely of all the good races in Middle Earth (men, dwarves, elves, hobbits, and so on). All kinds of side stories happen, leading up to the final battles. You don’t *have* to read The Hobbit first, but it certainly helps. This is an absolutely wonderful book, and I can’t recommend it enough! And the movies are just stunning, especially in their longest Director’s Cut editions – I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve watched them.)

 #96; The Restless Wave: Good Times; Just Causes; Great Fights; and Other Appreciations; John McCain; 416pp; Nonfiction; December 16; (As I mentioned in my post here after he passed away, McCain was a true American patriot, a many-times decorated war hero, served our country for 60 years, and was also the son and grandson of 4-star U.S. Navy admirals. I bought this book the day before his death, as I wanted to read what he had to say about his political life in what was probably his final opportunity. It’s a very well-written (in part no doubt due to his partnership with his long-time friend, speech writer, and ghost writer Mark Salter) and frank memoir. Given his vociferous opposition to Trump, I was expecting an excoriating attack but when he did criticize, it was subtle and classy. He actually had about as much criticism for Obama (around foreign policy weakness and mistakes) and Bush (on the war in Iraq). McCain’s outright vitriol was all directed at Vladimir Putin, who he calls an “evil man”. No matter whether you agreed with McCain’s politics or not, I think his book is worth reading, especially as a plea for America to champion human rights and democracy across the world, and for an end to the gridlocked U.S. political system. I *highly* recommend it. The Amazon precis says everything I would, so here it is: “Written while confronting a mortal illness, McCain looks back with appreciation on his years in the Senate, his historic 2008 campaign for the presidency against Barack Obama, and his crusades on behalf of democracy and human rights in Eastern Europe and the Middle East. Always the fighter, McCain attacks the “spurious nationalism” and political polarization afflicting American policy. He makes an impassioned case for democratic internationalism and bi-partisanship. He tells stories of his most satisfying moments of public service, including his work with another giant of the Senate, Edward M. Kennedy. Senator McCain recalls his disagreements with several presidents, and minces no words in his objections to some of President Trump’s statements and policies. At the same time, he offers a positive vision of America that looks beyond the Trump presidency.”)

The Complete List

And the complete list, with links to Amazon so you can explore further. One thing to bear in mind, the dates I finished reading the book don’t mean that I started, for instance, book #2 after finishing book #1. I usually have anywhere from 10-15 books on the go at any one time so I can dip into whatever my mood is for that day. Some books I read start to finish without picking up another one and some books take me over a year. Lots of long airplane flights and boat trips help too!

  1. Raven Rock: The Story of the U.S. Government’s Secret Plan to Save Itself; Garrett M. Graff; 560pp; Nonfiction; January 1
  2. Prince of Fire; Daniel Silva; 432pp; Fiction; January 12
  3. Haynes: Nuclear Weapons: 1945 Onwards (Strategic and Tactical Delivery Systems); David Baker; 192pp; Nonfiction; January 14
  4. The Remains of the Day; Kazuo Ishiguro; 256pp; Fiction; January 15
  5. Safe from the Sea; Peter Geye; 256pp; Fiction; January 19
  6. Sea Power: The History and Geopolitics of the World’s Oceans; Admiral James Stavridis; 384pp; Nonfiction; January 23
  7. Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI; David Grann; 338pp; History; January 26
  8. The Spider Network: The Wild Story of a Math Genius; a Gang of Backstabbing Bankers; and One of the Greatest Scams in Financial History; David Enrich; 528pp; Nonfiction; January 31
  9. Galapagos; Kurt Vonnegut; 336pp; Fiction; February 3
  10. Anthem; Ayn Rand; 112pp; Fiction; February 4
  11. The Old Man And the Sea; Ernest Hemingway; 128pp; Fiction; February 4
  12. The Alchemist; Paulo Coelho; 208pp; Historical Fiction; February 6
  13. Of Mice and Men; John Steinbeck; 112pp; Fiction; February 7
  14. The Pearl; John Steinbeck; 90pp; Fiction; February 8
  15. All Quiet on the Western Front; Erich Maria Remarque; 304pp; Fiction; February 9
  16. Pattern Recognition; William Gibson; 368pp; Fiction; February 12
  17. Less Than Zero; Bret Easton Ellis; 208pp; Fiction; February 13
  18. Anansi Boys; Neil Gaiman; 400pp; Fiction; February 13
  19. The Dubliners; James Joyce; 170pp; Fiction; February 15
  20. Haunted; Chuck Palahniuk; 432pp; Fiction; February 16
  21. Heart of Darkness; Joseph Conrad; 78pp; Fiction; February 17
  22. The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde; Robert Louis Stevenson; 54pp; Fiction; February 18
  23. A Christmas Carol; Charles Dickens; 88pp; Fiction; February 18
  24. One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich; Alexander Solzhenisyn ; 208pp; Fiction; February 19
  25. Childhood’s End; Arthur C. Clarke; 218pp; Science Fiction; February 19
  26. Neverwhere; Neil Gaiman; 400pp; Fiction; February 20
  27. Crash; J.G. Ballard; 224pp; Fiction; February 21
  28. Cannery Row; John Steinbeck; 192pp; Fiction; February 22
  29. Candide; Voltaire; 84pp; Fiction; February 23
  30. The Fall of the House of Usher; Edgar Allen Poe; 52pp; Fiction; February 24
  31. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy; Douglas Adams; 160pp; Science Fiction; February 26
  32. The Restaurant at the End of the Universe; Douglas Adams; 199pp; Science Fiction; February 27
  33. Foundation; Isaac Asimov; 320pp; Science Fiction; February 28
  34. Dune; Frank Herbert; 544pp; Science Fiction; March 1
  35. Life; the Universe; and Everything; Douglas Adams; 160pp; Science Fiction; March 3
  36. Spook Country; William Gibson; 496pp; Fiction; March 4
  37. Treasure Island; Robert Louis Stevenson; 122pp; Fiction; March 5
  38. Dune Messiah; Frank Herbert; 329pp; Science Fiction; March 7
  39. So Long; and Thanks for All the Fish; Douglas Adams; 192pp; Science Fiction; March 8
  40. To The Lighthouse; Virginia Woolf; 310pp; Fiction; March 9
  41. Zero History; William Gibson; 544pp; Fiction; March 11
  42. The Man From St. Petersburg; Ken Follett; 320pp; Fiction; March 12
  43. The Difference Engine; William Gibson and Bruce Sterling; 448pp; Fiction; March 18
  44. Yemen: Dancing on the Heads of Snakes; Victoria Clark; 336pp; Nonfiction; March 30
  45. The Handmaid’s Tale; Margaret Atwood; 325pp; Fiction; April 2
  46. War Factory: Transformation Book Two; Neal Asher; 476pp; Science Fiction; May 22
  47. King Stephen; Donald Matthew; 302pp; History; May 27
  48. The Blackwater Lightship; Colm Toibin; 288pp; Fiction; June 6
  49. As Kingfishers Catch Fire; Gerard Manley Hopkins; 53pp; Fiction; July 4
  50. Facts and Fears: Hard Truths from a Life in Intelligence; James R. Clapper; 432pp; Nonfiction; July 7
  51. The West Highland Lines: Post Beeching; Gordon D. Webster; 176pp; Nonfiction; July 8
  52. The Maltese Falcon; Dashiell Hammett; 224pp; Fiction; July 10
  53. The Crying of Lot 49; Thomas Pynchon; 192pp; Fiction; July 11
  54. The Metamorphosis; Franz Kafka; 60pp; Fiction; July 11
  55. The Prince; Niccolo Machiavelli; 80pp; Nonfiction; July 13
  56. Siddhartha; Herman Hesse; 160pp; Historical Fiction; July 14
  57. The Dharma Bums; Jack Kerouac; 244pp; Fiction; July 16
  58. Me Talk Pretty One Day; David Sedaris; 288pp; Nonfiction; July 17
  59. Imperial Bedrooms; Bret Easton Ellis; 178pp; Fiction; July 19
  60. A Journey to the Center of the Earth; Jules Verne; 160pp; Fiction; July 21
  61. The Pit and the Pendulum; Edgar Allen Poe; 32pp; Fiction; July 22
  62. Foundation and Empire; Isaac Asimov; 320pp; Science Fiction; July 23
  63. Northanger Abbey; Jane Austen; 192pp; Fiction; July 24
  64. The Sun Also Rises; Ernest Hemingway; 256pp; Fiction; July 25
  65. Things Fall Apart; Chinua Achebe; 209pp; Fiction; July 26
  66. The Bell Jar; Sylvia Plath; 244pp; Fiction; July 27
  67. The Great Gatsby; F. Scott Fitzgerald; 180pp; Fiction; July 28
  68. Second Foundation; Isaac Asimov; 279pp; Science Fiction; July 30
  69. The Trial; Franz Kafka; 256pp; Fiction; August 2
  70. The Big Sleep; Raymond Chandler; 231pp; Fiction; August 3
  71. The Age of Innocence; Edith Wharton; 240pp; Fiction; August 4
  72. Choke; Chuck Palahniuk; 304pp; Fiction; August 5
  73. Snuff; Chuck Palahniuk; 208pp; Fiction; August 6
  74. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland; Lewis Carroll; 108pp; Fiction; August 7
  75. Dracula; Bram Stoker; 336pp; Fiction; August 8
  76. On The Road; Jack Kerouac; 304pp; Fiction; August 10
  77. Naked Lunch; William S. Burroughs; 304pp; Fiction; August 11
  78. Rabbit; Run; John Updike; 336pp; Fiction; August 12
  79. Rant: The Oral Biography of Buster Casey; Chuck Palahniuk; 336pp; Fiction; August 13
  80. Pygmy; Chuck Palahniuk; 256pp; Fiction; August 14
  81. Fight Club; Chuck Palahniuk; 224pp; Fiction; August 15
  82. Survivor; Chuck Palahniuk; 304pp; Fiction; August 16
  83. The Secret History; Donna Tartt; 576pp; Fiction; September 7
  84. Warriors of the Storm; Bernard Cornwell; 297pp; Historical Fiction; September 11
  85. The Soul of an Octopus: A Surprising Exploration into the Wonder of Consciousness; Sy Montgomery; 262pp; Nonfiction; October 8
  86. The Saga of Gunnlaug Serpent-tongue; Anonymous; 56pp; Fiction; October 19
  87. Cardinal Wolsey: A Life in Renaissance Europe; Stella Fletcher; 240pp; History; October 21
  88. Other Minds: The Octopus; the Sea; and the Deep Origins of Consciousness; Peter Godfrey-Smith; 255pp; Nonfiction; November 2
  89. Infinity Engine: Transformation Book Three; Neal Asher; 488pp; Science Fiction; November 6
  90. The Lord of the Rings; J.R.R. Tolkien; 1184pp; Fantasy Fiction; November 13
  91. Wintering; Peter Geye; 320pp; Fiction; November 17
  92. On Murder Considered As One of the Fine Arts; Thomas de Quincey; 57pp; Fiction; November 22
  93. The Whereabouts of Eneas McNulty; Sebastian Barry; 336pp; Fiction; November 25
  94. The Diary of a Bookseller; Shaun Bythell; 310pp; Nonfiction; December 1
  95. The Flame Bearer; Bernard Cornwell; 304pp; Historical Fiction; December 9
  96. The Restless Wave: Good Times; Just Causes; Great Fights; and Other Appreciations; John McCain; 416pp; Nonfiction; December 16
  97. Persopolis Rising; James S.A. Corey; 560pp; Science Fiction; December 23
  98. Haynes: NASA Hubble Space Telescope – 1990 onwards (including all upgrades); David Baker; 181pp; Nonfiction; December 25
  99. Aphorisms on Love and Hate; Friedrich Nietzsche; 57pp; Nonfiction; December 26
  100. A More Perfect Heaven: How Copernicus Revolutionized the Cosmos; Dava Sobel; 288pp; History; December 27
  101. Where Wizards Stay Up Late: The Origins Of The Internet; Hafner & Lyon; 304pp; History; December 30

2017: the year in books

Back in 2009 I started posting a summary at the end of the year of what I read during the year (see my posts from 2009201020112012201320142015, 2016) and people have been enjoying it, so here I present the 2017 end-of-year post. I set a moderate goal of 50 books this year but I only managed 48 as I spent a bunch of time in the first half of the year catching up with my magazine backlog. Next year I’m setting myself a goal of reading 50 books again.

For the record, I read ‘real’ books – i.e. not in electronic form – I don’t like reading off a screen. Yes, I’ve seen electronic readers – we both have iPads – but I don’t like reading electronically. Having said that, I did read one electronically this year out of necessity, and will have to read a few in 2018 electronically due to insurmountable luggage weight and volume restrictions on one of our trips. I also don’t ‘speed read’ – I read quickly and make lots of time for reading.

Why do I track metrics? Because I like doing it, and being able to compare against previous years. Some people don’t understand the logic in that – each to their own :-)

I went back-and-forth over the last few days about which book to nominate as my favorite, and I just couldn’t come to a decision, so just like in most years, I give you my favorite 3 books: The North Water by Ian McGuire, I Contain Multitudes: The Microbes Within Us and a Grander View of Life by Ed Yong, and Remarkable Books: The World’s Most Beautiful and Historic Works by DK. All three are superb books and I strongly recommend you give them a try. You can read my review of them in the top-10 list below.

Now the details. I enjoy putting this together as it will also serve as a record for me many years from now. I hope you get inspired to try some of these books – push yourself with new authors and very often you’ll be surprisingly pleased. Don’t forget to check out the previous year’s blog posts for more inspiration too.

As usual I leave you with a quote that describes a big part of my psychological make-up:

In omnibus requiem quaesivi, et nusquam inveni nisi in angulo cum libro!

Analysis of What I Read

I read 20,628 pages, which is an average of 56.52 pages a day. The chart below shows the number of pages (y-axis) in each book I read (x-axis).

The average book length was 430 pages, almost exactly the same as last year (429) but shorter than previous years. That’s because I again read a lot of series books where each isn’t hugely long.

I read a lot more nonfiction than in previous years, which is shown by 8 of my top-13 below being nonfiction books.

The Top 10

I read a lot of excellent books this year and I thought as I only read 48 that I’d be able to whittle them down to a top-10, but I couldn’t, so here is my top 13. If you don’t read much, at least consider looking at some of these in 2017. It’s impossible to put them into a priority order so I’ve listed them in the order I read them, along with the short Facebook review I wrote at the time.

 #3; The Bone Tree; Greg Iles; 816pp; Fiction; January 10; (This is the follow-on from the fantastic Natchez Burning, which was my favorite book of 2014, and you really need to read that before this one, as this one continues the story from the next day. This book starts to pull the characters into the Kennedy assassination investigations and links to the extreme racist murders from the 1960s. It’s hard to say more without giving away some of the plot and twists. The writing is excellent, with great dialog, and the book is a real page-turner. The story isn’t complete though – that’s coming in March in Iles’ conclusion to the trilogy: Mississippi Blood. Highly recommended!)

 #10; Dirty Wars: The World Is a Battlefield; Jeremy Scahill; 681pp; Nonfiction; April 21; (This is an extremely interesting book that investigates the ongoing, autonomous U.S. military operations around the world that have been undertaken as part of the war on terror. It exposes the extrajudicial capture/torture/kill program that was created in secret by the Bush administration (and continued and greatly enhanced by the Obama administration), and operated by the CIA and various Special Forces under the JSOC umbrella in Yemen, Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Somalia. It uses the case of Anwar Awlaki as the center-point of the narrative. He was a U.S. citizen of Yemeni descent, who became an Islamic teacher and, after fleeing the U.S., went on to become an outspoken proponent of violent jihad against the West. He was linked to AQAP and wrote for their Inspire newsletter. I actually downloaded one of the newsletters to read – quite disturbing stuff. It’s a huge book that’s full of factual information without engaging in partisan criticism. Scahill raises some excellent questions about the morality and constitutional legality of such a program, especially when it targets U.S. citizens for death. Whether you agree with such programs or not, the book is well worth reading. Highly recommended!)

 #14; The Revenge of Analog: Real Things and Why They Matter; David Sax; 304pp; Nonfiction; July 11; (What a great book! As a confirmed Luddite, I was really looking forward to the various parts of the book. It covers the resurgence of vinyl records, paper and magazines (check out Stack and Delayed Gratification, both of which I subscribed too), photo film, board games, books, bricks-and-mortar retail, and analog ideas around work, education, and online companies. It’s quite clear that going all digital isn’t what people want. Very interesting, not written in a preachy or manifesto way, and highly recommended!)

 #18; Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal; Eric Schlosser; 362pp; Nonfiction; August 25; (Schlosser’s book is a searing expose of the business practices behind the American fast food industry, focusing on McDonald’s and the giant beef processing companies that supply it. Although written in 2001, the industry is still much the same today (not including those chains that create and cook their food fresh every day). The most shocking thing is really how the industry has pressured the government into reducing and/or removing safety and health inspections from the beef supply chain. Once you read about the meat processing facilities, I’ll be surprised if you ever eat a frozen beef patty again. This is definitely not a go-vegetarian rant, but a level-headed, fact-based examination of how fast food is sourced, processed, and prepared. Highly recommended. (And I also strongly recommend Schlosser’s Command and Control that I read a few years ago.))

 #22; What the Dog Saw: And Other Adventures; Malcolm Gladwell; 448pp; Nonfiction; September 3; (I really enjoy Gladwell’s books (e.g. The Tipping Point, Blink, Outliers) and this one was just as good. Rather than being a book that focuses on a single topic about how to understand ourselves and the world, this is a collection of some of Gladwell’s best long articles for The New Yorker along the same lines. It covers 19 topics, all of which are extremely interesting and thought provoking. Highly recommended! (and all his other books too!))

 #23; Crystal Fire: The Invention of the Transistor and the Birth of the Information Age; Riordan and Hoddeson; 368pp; History; September 3; (This book recounts the history of the development of the transistor, from the beginnings of solid-state physics in the late 1800s and early 1900s through to the invention and fabrication of the first microchips in the early 1960s. It’s also something of a biography of William Shockley, who was arguably the central character in the transistor’s creation, along with John Bardeen and Walter Brattain, fellow Bell Labs employees and co-winners of the 1956 Nobel Prize for Physics. Hugely interesting and very readable – highly recommended!)

 #27; Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity, and Poverty; Acemoglu and Robinson; 544pp; Nonfiction; September 9; (The book puts forth a theory that nations with inclusive economic and political institutions are much more likely to succeed than those with extractive institutions (extractive meaning that the populace is exploited by a small elite for their own gain, inclusive meaning that all citizens are treated equally and property rights are protected by law). It also explains why inclusive institutions developed in some parts of the world and not in others, with exploitative colonialism being a major historical impediment to inclusivity. Lots of interesting case studies and history – highly recommended!)

 #30; The North Water; Ian McGuire; 272pp; Historical Fiction; September 26; (Excellent book! (So good I just picked up all McGuire’s other novels.) Set in the mid-1800s as the whaling industry is coming to an end. A ship sets off for the Greenland waters and many dark things happens. It reminds me of Melville’s Moby Dick, but a lot faster, and a lot more raw. Highly recommend and a possible candidate for my best book of the year!)

 #31; I Contain Multitudes: The Microbes Within Us and a Grander View of Life; Ed Yong; 357pp; Nonfiction; October 1; (What an excellent book! Thanks to Buck Woody for the recommendation. The book explains all kinds of fascinating things about bacteria and our microbiomes, the history of their understanding by science, and how the quest to rid ourselves of them is futile, and in quite a few cases, actually harming people that live in developed nations. More interestingly, it also introduces many scientists who have identified beneficial bacteria and used them to help solve medical or environmental problems – e.g. preventing the dreaded Bd fungus killing a group of frogs, inoculating a group of mosquitoes with a bacteria that prevents them carrying dengue fever, and fecal-matter transplants to help sufferers of persistent C-diff infections – poo pill anyone? Hugely interesting, and written in an entertaining manner, this book is for anyone. Highly recommended!)

 #36; Days Without End; Sebastian Barry; 272pp; Historical Fiction; October 13; (This is my time reading Barry’s work and won’t be the last (already bought 3 more of his books). The book follows a pair of Irish immigrants who join the US army in the mid-1800s, take part in brutally putting down Indians, and fight in the Civil War on the Union side. Very atmospheric and a page turner. Highly recommended!)

 #37; The Lighthouse Road; Peter Geye; 304pp; Historical Fiction; October 14; (Excellent novel, following a misbegotten family in early 1900s north Minnesota – starting with a young Norwegian immigrant woman. Logging, wolves, fishing, orphans, tough times, and heartbreak, lots of heartbreak. Highly recommended.)

 #44; The Little Paris Bookshop; Nina George; 416pp; Fiction; November 18; (I started this last week on the day Coco died as a distraction – what could be more uplifting for a bibliophile than a book about books and a bookshop? It’s a lovely book, about a bookseller who prescribes certain books to ease his customers’ pains. He loses love, takes his floating bookshop downriver, and finds it again. Gentle read and very relaxing. And did I mention it’s about books? Recommended.)

 #47; Remarkable Books: The World’s Most Beautiful and Historic Works; DK; 256pp; Nonfiction; December 25; (Merry Christmas! Just finished book #47 this year. As you all know I’m seriously addicted to books and reading – a true bibliophile. I’ve been working through this wonderful book during December reading about a few books each day. Here’s the Amazon blurb about it that describes is better than I can:<begin> A beautifully illustrated guide to more than 75 of the world’s most celebrated rare and seminal books and handwritten manuscripts ever produced with discussions of their purpose features and creators. From ancient masterpieces such as The Art of War written on the leaves of bamboo to the stunningly illustrated Birds of America to Chairman Mao’s Little Red Book Remarkable Books delves into the stories behind the most incredible tomes ever produced offering an insight into their wider social and cultural context and is chronologically ordered to demonstrate the synergies between the growth in human knowledge and the bookmaking process. Alongside breathtaking images of the books and manuscripts themselves close-up views draw out interesting features which are discussed in greater detail while biographies tell the lives of the people who produced them. This coffee table–worthy book is wrapped in a textured jacket with gold foil making it a great gift for those with an interest in literature and art and design. <end> I’m familiar with many of the books covered especially the illustrated manuscripts from the Middle Ages as those are of particular interest to me. It really is a fantastic book itself and I hugely recommend it!)

The Complete List

And the complete list, with links to Amazon so you can explore further. One thing to bear in mind, the dates I finished reading the book don’t mean that I started, for instance, book #2 after finishing book #1. I usually have anywhere from 10-15 books on the go at any one time so I can dip into whatever my mood is for that day. Some books I read start to finish without picking up another one and some books take me over a year. Lots of long airplane flights and boat trips help too!

  1. Memories of Ice: A Tale of the Malazan Book of the Fallen; Steven Erikson; 1187pp; Fantasy Fiction; January 3
  2. The Wine-Dark Sea; Patrick O’Brian; 295pp; Historical Fiction; January 5
  3. The Bone Tree; Greg Iles; 816pp; Fiction; January 10
  4. Indonesia, Etc.: Exploring the Improbable Nation; Elizebath Pisani; 416pp; Travel; January 22
  5. The Life of Elizabeth I; Alison Weir; 656pp; History; February 20
  6. Forbidden Places: Exploring our Abandoned Heritage; Sylvain Margaine; 256pp; Photography; March 1
  7. House of Chains: A Tale of the Malazan Book of the Fallen; Steven Erickson; 1040pp; Fantasy Fiction; March 27
  8. The Origins of Political Order: From Prehuman Times to the French Revolution; Francis Fukuyama; 608pp; Nonfiction; April 2
  9. Fresh Air Fiend: Travel Writings; Paul Theroux; 480pp; Travel; April 9
  10. Dirty Wars: The World Is a Battlefield; Jeremy Scahill; 681pp; Nonfiction; April 21
  11. Shift; Hugh Howey; 608pp; Science Fiction; May 10
  12. A Night Without Stars; Peter F. Hamilton; 640pp; Science Fiction; May 25
  13. Babylon’s Ashes; James S. A. Corey; 538pp; Science Fiction; June 27
  14. The Revenge of Analog: Real Things and Why They Matter; David Sax; 304pp; Nonfiction; July 11
  15. The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F*ck; Sarah Knight; 224pp; Nonfiction; July 29
  16. The Bat; Jo Nesbo; 384pp; Fiction; August 18
  17. The Kingdom by the Sea: A Journey Around the Coast of Great Britain; Paul Theroux; 368pp; Travel; August 23
  18. Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal; Eric Schlosser; 362pp; Nonfiction; August 25
  19. The Commodore; Patrick O’Brian; 303pp; Historical Fiction; August 28
  20. Bleak House; Charles Dickens; 1088pp; Fiction; August 28
  21. The Yellow Admiral; Patrick O’Brian; 264pp; Historical Fiction; August 29
  22. What the Dog Saw: And Other Adventures; Malcolm Gladwell; 448pp; Nonfiction; September 3
  23. Crystal Fire: The Invention of the Transistor and the Birth of the Information Age; Riordan and Hoddeson; 368pp; History; September 3
  24. The Hundred Days; Patrick O’Brian; 272pp; Historical Fiction; September 5
  25. Blue at the Mizzen; Patrick O’Brian; 252pp; Historical Fiction; September 6
  26. Book 21 / The Complete Aubrey/Maturin Novels; Patrick O’Brian; 65pp; Historical Fiction; September 6
  27. Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity, and Poverty; Acemoglu and Robinson; 544pp; Nonfiction; September 9
  28. Midnight Tides: A Tale of the Malazan Book of the Fallen; Steven Erikson; 960pp; Fantasy Fiction; September 15
  29. Dark Intelligence: Transformation Book One; Neal Asher; 402pp; Science Fiction; September 23
  30. The North Water; Ian McGuire; 272pp; Historical Fiction; September 26
  31. I Contain Multitudes: The Microbes Within Us and a Grander View of Life; Ed Yong; 357pp; Nonfiction; October 1
  32. Thirteen Days: A Memoir of the Cuban Missile Crisis; Robert F. Kennedy; 222pp; History; October 4
  33. The Peripheral; Willam Gibson; 485pp; Science Fiction; October 5
  34. Dust; Hugh Howey; 480pp; Science Fiction; October 10
  35. Night of Knives: A Novel of the Mazalan Empire; Ian C. Esslemont; 304pp; Fantasy Fiction; October 12
  36. Days Without End; Sebastian Barry; 272pp; Historical Fiction; October 13
  37. The Lighthouse Road; Peter Geye; 304pp; Historical Fiction; October 14
  38. Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore; Robin Sloan; 288pp; Fiction; October 25
  39. Neutron Star; Larry Niven; 285pp; Science Fiction; October 25
  40. Archipelago: Portraits of Life in the World’s Most Remote Island Sanctuary; Middleton and Liittschwager; 264pp; Photography; October 26
  41. Atlas of Remote Islands; Judith Schalansky; 144pp; Nonfiction; October 27
  42. The Technician; Neal Asher; 503pp; Science Fiction; November 9
  43. Atlas of Cursed Places: A Travel Guide to Dangerous and Frightful Places; Olivier Le Carrer; 144pp; Nonfiction; November 15
  44. The Little Paris Bookshop; Nina George; 416pp; Fiction; November 18
  45. Platform Souls: The Trainspotter as 20th-Century Hero; Nicholas Whittaker; 288pp; Nonfiction; November 24
  46. Origin; Dan Brown; 461pp; Fiction; December 8
  47. Remarkable Books: The World’s Most Beautiful and Historic Works; DK; 256pp; Nonfiction; December 25
  48. Mrs Rosie and the Priest; Giovanni Boccaccio; 54pp; Fiction; December 27