Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Top Ten Reads, 2016

This week the Broke and the Bookish  invite readers to think about their top ten books for the year.

Twenty-sixteen started off with a bang: no less than five top-ten contenders appeared in January, and four of them survived to make the list. (Data and Goliath was edged out by a similar book.). These appear in the order of my reading them.

1. How I Killed Pluto and Why It Had it Coming, Mike Brown (Science)

That book would have made this list just for the title, but here astronomer Mike Brown -- the man whose discovers of Kuiper Belt objects put Pluto into a new perspective, demoting it from the planetary society --  not only delivers a personal history of the discoveries, but demonstrates how the science is done.

2. Picking Up:  On the Streets and Behind the Trucks with the Sanitation Workers of New York City, Robin Nagle

Journalist follows and interviews sanitation workers in New York City, throwing light onto the constant work required to keep the Big Apple  from drowning in an ocean of Starbucks cups and hamburger wrappers -- or from being completely paralyzed by snow in the winter!

3. Future Crimes:  Everything is Connected, Everyone is Vulnerable, and What We Can Do About It, Marc Goodman

What a book this was: pick your terror: data collection,  credit card breaches, compromised items on home networks turning against their owners, war...it was an all-round eye-opener.

4. Ain't My America: The Long, Noble History of Antiwar Conservatism, Bill Kauffman (Politics)

Here Bill Kauffman remembers the good old days, when opposing war and meddling abroad was the default American attitude.

5. The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, Robert Heinlein (Science Fiction)

The American revolution in space, but an even more ambitious one!

6. All Other Nights, Dara Horn (Historical Fiction)

Civil War historical fiction + mystery + unrequited devotion  + Jewish communities of the South.

7. Brideshead Revisited, Evelyn Waugh (English Literature)

A sentimental novel about the passing of Old England before the Great War, and of a love higher than romance.

8. Sphere, Michael Crichton (Science Fiction)

Sci-fi meets horror in the depths of the ocean, where no light reaches and where sits a mystery: a ship from the far future, evidently built by humans.

9. All the Shah's Men,  Stephen Kinzer (History/Geopolitics)

The history of night in 1956, when the United States began its first steps into becoming a noxious imperial power in the middle east.  It has yet to escape the Chinese finger trap of middle-east intervention, as one bit of manipulation leads to unforeseen consequences that are manipulated away to create unforeseen consequences that have to be manipulated away but create unforseen...*sigh*

10. The Porch and the Cross, Kevin Vost

Very accessible introduction to the Stoics, with generous quoting from not only the big two, but Seneca and Musonius Rufus as well.


  1. I'm definitely going to add Future Crimes to a future triple coming @ some point next year. I feel that I should be reading slightly less history and slightly more modern (post-45) and future facing things - but that's in the future [grin].

    My 2016 review will be up on Monday 2nd Jan.

    1. I'll be reading a few futurey-books this coming year, too -- more details to come. I'm planning on breaking up my annual review to avoid the big Wall of Text.

  2. Adding Picking Up to my TBR list! I hope 2017 brings even more good reads into your life.

    My Top Ten Tuesday

  3. Fascinating list! All Other Nights and Brideshead Revisited added to my TBR.

    Check out my TTT at: https://kellyfbarr.com/2016/12/27/top-ten-tuesday-42/

  4. Great list! Two of my all time favorites (Heinlein and Waugh). Of the others The Porch and the Cross intrigues me the most.

    1. I found it an incredibly helpful reminder of why I admire Stoicism so much, as well as my introduction to Musonifus Rufus. I was tempted to make it my pick of the year, but Future Crimes brought so much useful information to the table it recommended itself.

  5. Ah, I'm glad to see How I Killed Pluto as no. 1. I've been eyeing it for awhile and now I know I can pick it up and enjoy it! :-) Happy reading in 2017!

  6. The Moon is Harsh Mistress is one of my lifelong favorites. I found it to be friendlier, more community orientated version of libertinism then the brand of that philosophy that is currently popular.

    I read Sphere a very long time ago. I remember liking it.

    All your choices look great. In particular, I may try to get to The Porch and the Cross this year.

    1. I have a friend who calls himself an arch-conservative, but he tries to listen to opposing views through different podcasts. He tells me he's heard about "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress", and always from people who went from respectable politics to balls-to-the-wall anarchism. "Stephen," he says to me, "What the HELL is in that book?"

      I just laugh.


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