Reading list 2010

I often get asked about what books I’m reading, so around March of this year I started keeping track of what I am presently reading and what I’ve read already. I only include books that I finished here; I’m still reading sporadically through Manzoni and the second volume of Isaac Asimov’s Guide to Shakespeare and there have also been a few books that I picked up and abandoned here and there. I read a lot of Project Gutenberg books this year; P.G. Wodehouse always makes for excellent travel reading on a smartphone. It turns out that I read about one book per week now, which is considerably down from the days when I ripped through several science fiction and fantasy books per week. On the other hand, it takes a bit longer to get through Procopius and Dante than Heinlein and McCaffrey.

Anyhow, here’s the list, divided by how well worth reading I happened to find the book. This isn’t a statement about the quality of the book or the writing, just whether I happened to enjoy it or found it to be either useful or thought-provoking. For example, I think Gladwell is vastly overrated, but he’s quite readable and I picked up one tremendously useful insight from an essay in What the Dog Saw. And while it’s no secret that I don’t think much of Sam Harris’s ability to make his case, I quite enjoyed the fact that he dared to try making it as well as how he went about it. It’s always difficult to narrow it down to a single choice, but I think the most interesting book I read this year was probably Bourrienne’s Memoirs of Napoleon.

Five Stars
Memoirs of Napoleon, Louis de Bourrienne
Life of Nelson, Volume I, Alfred Mahan
Life of Nelson, Volume II, Alfred Mahan
Blood, Sweat and Chalk, Tim Layden
Free Trade Doesn’t Work, Ian Fletcher
The Divine Comedy, Inferno, Dante
This Time It’s Different: A Panoramic View of Eight Centuries of Financial Crises, Carmen Reinhart & Kenneth Rogoff

Four Stars
The Moral Landscape, Sam Harris
The Fuller Memorandum, Charles Stross
The Makers of Ancient Strategy, VDH ed.
What the Dog Saw, Malcolm Gladwell
Asimov’s Guide to Shakespeare, Vol. I, Isaac Asimov
The Armada, Garrett Mattingly
Goblin Moon, Teresa Edgerton
My Own Kind of Freedom, Stephen Brust
Economic Calculation in the Socialist Commonwealth, Ludwig von Mises

Three Stars
The Economic Consequences of the Peace, John Maynard Keynes
Making Money, Terry Pratchett
The Letters of Cicero Vol. 1, M. Cicero
Space Cadet, Robert Heinlein
Ensign Flandry, Poul Anderson
A Circus of Hells, Poul Anderson
The Rebel Worlds, Poul Anderson
The Day of Their Return, Poul Anderson
Agent of the Terran Empire, Poul Anderson
The Persian Wars, Procopius
The Father of Us All, Victor Davis Hanson
Eugenie Grandet, Honore de Balzac
A Feast for Crows George RR Martin
The Magician, W. Somerset Maugham
Death at the Excelsior, P.G. Wodehouse
The Coming of Bill, P.G. Wodehouse
The Cutting of Cuthbert, P.G. Wodehouse
The Adventures of Sally, P.G. Wodehouse
Jill the Reckless, P.G. Wodehouse
Mike and Psmith, P.G. Wodehouse
Mike at Wrykin, P.G. Wodehouse
A Damsel in Distress, P.G. Wodehouse
The Gem Collector, P.G. Wodehouse
The Girl on the Boat, P.G. Wodehouse

Two Stars
The Greatest Show on Earth, Richard Dawkins
The Stress of Her Regard, Tim Powers

One Star
On the Road, Jack Kerouac
The Diary of a U-boat Commander, Stephen King-Hall