Monday, December 31, 2018

2018 Roundup: Best-Of and Pie

Well, dear readers, another year has come and gone. It's been a good year here, though not as active as usual. My goal is 150 books a year, and I barely made that this year, with 154 books read. I blame The Sims 4, which I acquired in June during a sale and subsequently became my favorite activity to combine with podcasts.  Looking on what I read, technology edged out everything else -- and honestly, that goes beyond my reading,  because I've been subscribing to more tech channels and listening to a lot of synthwave this year.

As usual, nonfiction predominates, totaling 64% this year which is right in line with my usual average. History, Science, and Technology were the leaders there.  Ebooks came in strong this year, accounting for 44% of my reading.  When I converted all of my booklists into Excel and imposed a uniform categorization, I noticed that female authors were....scarce, usually under 10% of my reading. This year I had an unannounced goal of reading more female authors, and consider the 22% they managed to be an improvement.

This year's highlights, with the top ten in bold.

Science fiction had a banner year -- 17 books, not counting Star Trek and Star Wars, and most of them  were hits this year. as I discovered and explored the works of John Scalzi (Agent to the Stars), Cory Doctorow (Little Brother and Pirate Cinema), and Ernest Cline (Ready Player One  &; Armada) I also read Andy Weir's second novel, Artemis.  I experienced RPO, uniquely, across three mediums: I listened to the Audible presentation first, watched the movie, and read the physical book.  A special note about Ready Player One: I read the book, listened to the Audible experience, and watched the movie.  I really liked that book.  It's one I've already started to re-read.

Star Trek also had a strong year,  with nine titles between The Fall,  Vanguard, Section 31, and the Mirror Universe series.  My favorite was David Mack's Ceremony of Losses, followed by Rise Like Lions, which put the Mirror Universe in a good position for future stories beyond tired rebels v alliance tropes.

In History, always queen of the stacks, my favorite was easily Exploding the Phone, a history of the phone-pheaking movement which later gave rise to the first computer hackers. Ian Mortimer's A Time Traveler's Guide to Medieval England was another favorite. I also want to mention Skygods, a history of Pan Am, and Fares Please!, a social history of trolleys, buses, and subways in America.  Fool's Errand and The Looming Tower were also notable.

Biographies had an uptick this year,  and Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson was so good that I wound up reading a series of Apple-related books because of it.

Science had an OK year, fine on numbers but lukewarm on quality. Two science books didn't get full reviews. Ends of the EarthGut, and This is Your Brain on Parasites  stood out from the rest.

Technology had a healthy year, and I especially enjoyed  The One Device and The Art of Invisibility

Historical Fiction practically didn't exist this year, with under five titles. The Memory of Old Jack and Anne of Avonlea  were the most exceptional titles, and they're only arguably historical fiction.  I picked up the latest Cornwell novel on release, and...well, turned it back in. I like the Saxon stories, but at this point Uhtred is old and tired, and I can't tell the last few books from each other.

Religion and Philosophy were...well, even more nonexistant, with one standout title in philosophy (How Adam Smith Can Change Your Life), books on religion? I did read Anthony Esolen's Nostalgia, which partially involves religion, but wasn't overtly about it. Religion  was a strong presence in books like From Achilles to Christ and Further Up and Further In: A Guide to Narnia, however.  Caitlin Doughty's Smoke Gets In Your Eyes, reflections on working in a funeral home, arguably has a place here. What are religion and philosophy, after all, except attempts to make sense of the world -- and our inevitable departure from it?

Looking back, I'm not entirely comfortable with the paucity of more meaningful books as opposed to technology,  but one year doesn't make a pattern. I've had years where I was obsessed with France, or health. We'll see how things look next year!

What I Read in 2018

Books in bold were superior favorites. 

-- January --
1. The Rooster Bar, John Grisham
2. Star Trek the Fall: Ceremony of Losses, David Mack
3. Star Trek the Fall: The Poisoned Chalice, James Swallow
4. Poetry Night at the Ballpark, Bill Kauffman
5. Lessons from a Lemonade Stand,  Connor Boyack
6. Star Trek the Fall: Peaceable Kingdoms, Dayton Ward
7.  Grocery: The Buying and Selling of Food in America,  Michael Ruhlamn
8. Amsterdam: A History of the World's Most Liberal City,  Russell Shorto
9. Fools and Mortals, Bernard Cornwell
10. Munich, Robert Harris
11. Fares, Please! A Popular History of Trolleys, Horsecars, Streetcars,Buses, Elevateds, and Subways, John Anderson Miller
12. Every Man a King, Bill Kauffman
13. Fool's Errand: Time to End the War in Afghanistan, Scott Horton
14. The Truth about Nature, Stacey Torino
15. 1906, James Delassandro (Historical Fiction)
16. The Indian in the Cupboard / The Return of the Indian, Lynn Reid Banks

17. Sinatra: The Chairman, James Kaplan
18. The Gulag Archipelago, Volume III, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
19. Verbal Judo: The Art of Persuasian, George Thompson
20. The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis, Max Shulman
21. A Time Traveler's Guide to Medieval England, Ian Mortimer
22. Everyday Life of the North American Indian, Jon White
23. House of Rain: Tracking a Vanished Civilization, Craig Childs
24; Overclocked: Stories of the Future Present, Corey Doctorow
25. 9 Presidents Who Screwed Up America, Brion McClanahan
26. The Silent Intelligence: The Internet of Things,  Daniel Kellmereit
27. Atlas ShruggedAyn Rand
28. Gut: The Inside Story of Our Body's Most Underrated Organ, Giulia Enders

-- March --
29. How Adam Smith Can Change Your Life, Russ Roberts
30. This Is Your Brain on Parasites, Kathleen McAuliffe
31. Tomorrowland: Our Journey from Science Fiction to Science Fact,Stephen Cutler
32. Smart Cities: Big Data, Civic Hackers, and the Quest for a New Utopia, Anthony Townsend
33. Star Trek Vanguard: Declassified, various authors
34. City of Fortune: How Venice Ruled the Seas, Roger Crowley
35. Door to Door: The Magnificent, Maddening World of Transportation,Edward Humes
36. The Inevitable: Understanding the 12 Technological Forces That Will Shape Our Future, Kevin Kelly
37. Skygods: The Fall of Pan Am, Robert Gandt
38. Hornblower Addendum, C.S. Forester
39. The World as Stage: William ShakespeareBill Bryson
40. Right Ho, Jeeves! P.G. Wodehouse

-- April (Read of England) --
41. Wisdom and Innocence: A Life of G.K. Chesterton, Joseph Pearce
42. Rifleman Dodd and The Gun, C.S. Forester
43. The Letters of C.S. Lewis, Warren Lewis and Walter Hooper
44. Further Up and Further In: Understanding Narnia, Joseph Pearce
45. A Hobbit, a Wardrobe, and a Great War, Joseph Loconte
46. The Birth of Britain, Sir Winston Churchhill
47. A Time Traveler's Guide to Elizabethan England, Ian Mortimer
48. Redcoat: The British Soldier in the Age of Horse and Musket, Richard Holmes
49. Love Among the Chickens, P.G. Wodehouse

-- May --
50. Star Trek Mirror Universe: Glass Empiresvarious authors
51. Star Trek Mirror Universe: Obsidian Alliances, various authors
52. Star Trek Mirror Universe: Shards and Shadows, various authors
53. Star Trek Mirror Universe:  Rise Like Lions, David Mack
54. Don't Go There: From Chernobyl to North Korea, Adam Fletcher
55. From Achilles to Christ: Why Christians Should Read the Pagan Classics, Louis Markos
56. The Ayatollah Begs to Differ: The Paradox of Modern Iran, Hooman Majd
57. Tales from a Techie: Funny Real Life Stories from Tech Support Matt Garrett
58. The Computer Guy is Here! Mainframe Mechanic, John Sak
59. Mirrors of the Unseen: Journeys in Iran, Jason Elliot
60. The Ministry of Guidance Invites You Not to Stay, Hooman Majd
61. Exploding the Phone: The Teenagers and Outlaws Who Hacked Ma Bell, Phil Lapsley
62. Stuff Matters: Exploring the Marvelous Materials That Shape Our Man Made World,  Mark Midownik
63. Gates: How Microsoft's Mogul Reinvented an Industry,  Stephen Manes and Paul Andrews

-- June --
64.  9 Dragons, Michael Connelly
65. Han Solo Trilogy: The Paradise Snare,  A.C. Crispin
66. Ready Player One, Ernest Cline
67. Replay: The History of Video Games, Tristian Donovan
68. Little Brother,  Corey Doctorow
69. Han Solo Trilogy: Rebel Dawn, A.C. Crispin
70. Han Solo Trilogy: The Hutt Gambit, A.C. Crispin
71. Homeland, Corey Doctorow
72. Star Trek: Brinksmanship, Una McCormack
73. Daemon, Daniel Suarez
74. 50 Popular Beliefs That People Think Are True, Guy Harrison
75. The Switch, Joseph Finder
76. America's Forgotten Founders, Gary Gregg II
77. Fire and Blood: A History of Mexico, T.F. Fehrenbach
78. Armada, Ernest Cline
79. The Art of Invisibility,  Kevin Mitnick

-- July --
80. How to Watch TV News, Neil Postman and Steve Powers
81. How the Post Office Created America,  Winifred Gallagher
82. What If? Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Questions, Randall Munroe
83. The Invaders: How Humans and their Dogs Drove Neanderthals to Extinction,  Pat Shipman
84. A Crack in Creation: Gene Editing and the Unthinkable Power to Control Evolution,  Jennifer Doudna
85. The Second Machine Age,  Erik Byrnjolfson
86. The Grid: Electrical Infrastructure for a New Era, Gretchen Bakke
87. Anne of Avonlea,  Lucy Maud Montgomery
88. From Russia with Love, Ian Fleming
89. The Ends of the World, Peter Brannen
90. Brave New World RevisitedAldhous Huxley
91.  We the Living, Ayn Rand
92.  Among the Wild CybersChristopher L. Bennett

 -- August--
93. Machine Man, Max Barry
94. Artemis,  Andy Weir
95. ST DS9: Force and Motion, Jeffrey Lang
96. Broad Band: The Untold Story of the Women Who Made the Internet, Claire Evans 
97. The Hiding Place, Corrie ten Boom
98. The New Tsar: The Rise and Reign of Vladimir Putin, Steven Lee Myers
99. Pirate Cinema, Corey Doctorow
100. The Believing Brain,  Michael Shermer
101. Agent to the Stars, John Scalzi
102. Old Man's War, John Scalzi

-- September --
103. Centauri Dawn, Michael Ely
104. Smoke Gets In Your Eyes and Other Lessons from a Crematory, Caitlin Doughty
105. Antiquity, N.F. Cantor
106. Fly Girls Keith O'Brien
107. Fire and Fury, Michael Wolff
109. The Water Will Come: Rising Seas, Shrinking Cities, and the Remaking  of the Civilized World,  Jeff Goodell
110. Our Only World, Wendell Berry
111. First Light: The Search for the Edge of the Cosmos, Richard Preston
112.  Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom, Cory Doctorow
113.  A Nation Challenged,  The New York Times
114.  The Looming Tower: Al-Queda and the Road to 9/11, Lawrence Wright
115. Digital Filmmaking for Kids,  Nick Willoughby
116. Build Your Own PC for Dummies, Nick Willoughby
117. The Iran Wars: Spy Games, Bank Battles, and the Secret Deals that Reshaped the Middle East, Jay Solomon
118. Within Arm's Reach: The Extraordinary Life and Career of a Special Agent in the United States Secret Service,  Dan Emmett

 -- October --
119. Church of Spies: The Pope's Secret War Against Hitler, Mark Riebling
120. An Iron Wind: Europe Under Hitler, Peter Fritsche
121. Frankenstein, Mary Shelley
122. The Shining, Stephen King
123. Very Good, Jeeves, P.G. Wodehouse
124. Oliver Twist, Charles Dickens
125. Dispatches from the Muckdog Gazette, Bill Kauffman
126. The Memory of Old Jack, Wendell Berry
127. Fear: Trump in the White House, Bob Wooward
128. Bikeonomics: How Cycling Can Save the Economy, Elly Blue
129. The PrinceMachiavelli
130. The Bicycle Diaries: My 21,000-Mile Ride for the Climate, David Kroodsma

-- November--
131. Troubleshooting Your PC For Dummies, Dan Gookin
132. Great Rulers of the African PastLavinia Dobler and William Brown
133. Talking to the Ground: One Family's Journey on Horseback Across the Sacred Lands of the Navajo, Douglas Preston
134. The Arabian Nights, trans. Hussein Hadawy
135. H+, Gary DeJean (Science Fiction)
136. Nostalgia: Going Home in a Homeless World, Anthony Esolen (Society and Culture)
137. Coffee to Go: Travels in Europe by Truck, Neil Hobbsc
138. The Cathedral and the Bazaar: Musings on Open Source by an Accidental Revolutionary, Eric Raymond
139. The Mind of the Market, Michael Shermer
140. ST S31: Disavowed, David Mack

--December --
141. ST S31: Control, David Mack
142. Pinpoint: How GPS is Changing Technology, Culture, and Our Minds,Greg Milner
143. Steve Jobs,  Walter Isaacson
144. Hubble: Window on the Universe, Robin Kerrod
145. The One Device: A Secret History of the iPhone, Brian Merchant
146. The Perfect Thing: How the iPod Shuffles Commerce, Culture, and Coolness, Steven Levy
147. Minimalism: The Path to an Organized, Stress-Free, and Decluttered Life; Gwyneth Snow
148. Seeing Further: The Story of Science and the Royal Society, Bill Bryson
149. Insanely Great: The Life and Times of Macintosh, Steven Levy
150. Talk Southern To Me: Stories and Sayings to Accent Your Life, Julia Fowler
151. Rise of the Rocket Girls, Nathalia Holt
152. Calypso, David Sedaris
153. The Reckoning, John Grisham
154. Dreamland: The True Story of America's Opiate Epidemic, Sam Quinones