18.41, Wednesday 26 Dec 2007

I completed reading 104 books in 2007 (as mentioned last month). Though I'm starting more books this year, for the sake of hitting that magical 2 per week, I won't be finishing any.

I've not kept a record like this before. I have this picture of myself that the books that really change me are all squashed into the last 12 months. But when I look at my bookshelf, it turns out that's not true: I didn't read Catch 22 this year, nor Lolita, nor Black Swan Green (even the Compass Rose, source of The Author of the Acacia Seeds, I picked up last year). Most of my cybernetics and modernism reading was last year (or the year before, even). Some books - like Computer Lib and art catalogues - I consult and dip into but never read cover to cover, so they don't appear in my list. And some, like Le Guin's translation of the Tao Te Ching and Robert Graves' of the Rubaiyat (Omar Khayyam), are so vivid for me I swear I must have read them recently but never made a note.

Anyway. I like books that make me say Ha! a lot. Good ideas are like tickles. In the list below, along with the date I finished the book, I've added a '*' if the book tickled me. If it was a re-read then there's an 'r.'

The reason I've put any stars in December is because I can only tell if a book was awesome for me after some time has past, and at this point it feels as if I've had a 100% awesome reading month. Actually, this month has felt a bit like reading only one or two books: The Catcher in the Rye, The Gum Thief and the Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin are all about the urge to disappear, just in different societies. And the Fabric of Reality and Complexity were similar enough that I wanted to bang their heads together and go 'look! You're talking about a physics which is fine-grained and organic in just the way you other folks talk about economics and cellular automata. Discuss!' Complexity, of course, bounced off the duffers of the generation before... said duffers being the revolutionary stars of From Newspeak to Cyberspeak and Platform for Change, both of which I'd read a couple of months earlier. Super bizarre.

Here's the list.


  • Cities, John Reader (5th, *)
  • Predator's Gold, Philip Reeve (6th)
  • Right Ho, Jeeves, P. G. Wodehouse (8th)
  • Jeeves in the Offing (13th)
  • Infernal Devices, Philip Reeve (14th)
  • Myths to Live By, Joseph Campbell (18th, *)
  • The Inimitable Jeeves, P. G. Wodehouse (18th)
  • Visions of Technology, Richard Rhodes (21st, *)
  • Pandora's Star, Peter F Hamilton (26th)
  • Pushing Ice, Alastair Reynolds (28th)


  • A Darkling Plain, Philip Reeve (4th)
  • Ada or Ardor, Vladimir Nabokov (10th, *)
  • Understanding Comics, Scott Mc Cloud (11th, *)
  • Judas Unchained, Peter F Hamilton (15th)
  • Ring for Jeeves, P. G. Wodehouse (25th)
  • A General Theory of Magic, Marcel Mauss (28th, *)


  • The Outsider, Albert Camus (2nd, *)
  • The Stainless Steel Rat Saves the World, Harry Harrison (4th)
  • Aunts Aren't Gentlemen, P. G. Wodehouse (4th)
  • The Man in the High Castle, Philip K Dick (9th, *)
  • Changing Planes, Ursula K. Le Guin (25th, r., *)


  • The Plague, Albert Camus (2nd)
  • From Russia With Love, Ian Fleming (8th)
  • Timequake, Kurt Vonnegut (14th, r., *)
  • The Reality Dysfunction, Peter F Hamilton (16th)
  • Understanding Radio, Andrew Crisell (20th)
  • The Forever War, Joe Haldeman (22nd, *)


  • The Neutronium Alchemist, Peter F Hamilton (5th)
  • Design for the Real World, Victor Papanek (8th, r., *)
  • The Pinhoe Egg, Diana Wynne Jones (11th)
  • Cosmicomics, Italo Calvino (12th, r., *)
  • The Stainless Steel Rat for President, Harry Harrison (13th)
  • The Myths of Innovation, Scott Berkun (18th)
  • Storm Front, Jim Butcher (20th)
  • Fool Moon, Jim Butcher (27th)


  • Never Let Me Go, Kazuo Ishiguro (2nd, *)
  • Stories of Your Life and Others, Ted Chiang (2nd, r.)
  • Blade Runner, Scot Bukatman (6th)
  • Grave Peril, Jim Butcher (6th)
  • Starship Troopers, Robert Heinlein (15th, r.)
  • Red Mars, Kim Stanley Robinson (20th, r.)


  • The Naked God, Peter F Hamilton (2nd)
  • The Cult of the Amateur, Andrew Keen (8th)
  • Green Mars, Kim Stanley Robinson (8th, r.)
  • The Real Toy Story: Inside the Battle for Britain's Youngest Consumers, Eric Clark (10th, *)
  • Blue Mars, Kim Stanley Robinson (16th, r.)
  • Misreadings, Umberto Eco (17th, r.)
  • Visual Function: An Introduction to Information Design, Paul Mijksenaar (17th)
  • The Martians, Kim Stanley Robinson (21st, r.)
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, J K Rowling (21st)
  • Death Masks, Jim Butcher (24st)
  • Blood Rites, Jim Butcher (26th)
  • Informal, Cecil Balmond (30th, *)


  • Still Life with Woodpecker, Tom Robbins (3rd, r.)
  • Proven Guilty, Jim Butcher (4th)
  • 84 Charing Cross Road, Helene Hanff (5th)
  • A Theory of Fun, Raph Koster (5th, *)
  • The Player of Games, Iain M. Banks (8th, r.)
  • The Adventure of English, Melvyn Bragg (15th, r.)
  • Jpod, Douglas Coupland (22nd)
  • Look to Windward, Iain M. Banks (24th, r.)
  • The E-Myth Revisited, Michael E. Gerber (31st)


  • Distress, Greg Egan (1st, r.)
  • Six Memos for the Next Millennium, Italo Calvino (3rd, *)
  • Spares, Michael Marshall Smith (9th, r.)
  • Samarkand, Amin Maalouf (12th, r.)
  • Schild's Ladder, Greg Egan (18th, r.)
  • The Space Merchants, Frederik Pohl and C. M. Kornbluth (21st)
  • Dead Beat, Jim Butcher (23rd)
  • The Pattern on the Stone, W Daniel Hillis (24th)
  • Quarantine, Greg Egan (28th, r.)
  • West with the Night, Beryl Markham (29th)


  • Altered Carbon, Richard Morgan (5th)
  • Gateway, Frederik Pohl (6th)
  • Platform for Change, Stafford Beer (8th, *)
  • God Knows, Joseph Heller (13th, *)
  • Broken Angels, Richard Morgan (16th)
  • New Musical Resources, Henry Cowell (16th)
  • Blue Monday: Stories of Absurd Realities and Natural Philosophies, AUDC (Robert Sumrell and Kazys Varnelis) (18th, *)
  • Atlas of Novel Tectonics, Reiser and Umemoto (22nd)
  • Larklight, Philip Reeve (22nd)
  • The Game, Diana Wynne Jones (27th)
  • From Newspeak to Cyberspeak: A History of Soviet Cybernetics, Slava Gerovitch (31st, *)
  • Reflections on the Name of the Rose, Umberto Eco (31st)


  • The Meaning of it All, Richard Feynmann (1st, r.)
  • Pacific Edge, Kim Stanley Robinson (4th, r.)
  • Woken Furies, Richard Morgan (9th)
  • The Sirens of Titan, Kurt Vonnegut (13th, r.)
  • The Gold Coast, Kim Stanley Robinson (19th, r.)
  • Miss Wyoming, Douglas Coupland (26th, r.)
  • Consuming Life, Zygmunt Bauman (27th, *)
  • The Day of the Triffids, John Wyndham (28th)
  • The Art of Innovation, Tom Kelley and Jonathan Littman (30th)


  • The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald (1st)
  • The Fabric of Reality, David Deutsch (7th)
  • The Catcher in the Rye, J. D. Salinger (7th)
  • The Gum Thief, Douglas Coupland (8th)
  • The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin, David Nobbs (9th, r.)
  • Complexity, M. Mitchell Waldrop (12th)
  • The Raw Shark Texts, Steven Hall (14th)
  • A Fool's Alphabet, Sebastian Faulks (16th, r.)
  • Let your words be few: symbolism of speaking and silence among seventeenth-century Quakers, Richard Bauman (18th)
  • The Fountainhead, Ayn Rand (22nd)
  • I Seem To Be a Verb, R. Buckminster Fuller, Jerome Agel and Quentin Fiore (24th)
  • Pedagogical Sketchbook, Paul Klee (25th)

I could say a whole bunch about pretty much any book on this list, and I would love to but time prevents it. But if there's one you'd like to hear more about, drop me a mail and I'll post a story about it here.

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