Stuff I read in 2014

I read 21 books (not including magazines) in 2014. This is the first year I keep count, so I can’t tell if this is impressive compared to a baseline. But next year, I’ll have a number to beat.

Here’s everything I read chronologically from the beginning to the end of the year, with notes.

  1. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green – this made me cry, and was just clever and personal and featured a fictional novel as a central plot device. I really enjoyed it *thumbs nose at haters*.
  2. Out of Our Heads: Why You Are Not Your Brain, and Other Lessons from the Biology of Consciousness by Alva Noë – A fantastic slim new volume furthering an extended mind / embodied cognition hypothesis. Professor Noë is one of my favourites.
  3. Signal to Noise by Neil Gaiman – Moving graphic novel about mortality and art.
  4. Lapsing Into a Comma : A Curmudgeon’s Guide to the Many Things That Can Go Wrong in Print–and How to Avoid Them by Bill Walsh – This is one I knocked off my to-read list after having it on there for yeeears. It wasn’t as fun to read as I’d expected, but I picked up some useful tips on writing style and diction.
  5. Innocent Erendira & Other Stories by Gabriel Garcia Marquez – Any short story collection by Gabo is my kryptonite. I particularly loved “The Sea of Lost Time”.
  6. Phi: A Voyage from the Brain to the Soul by Giulio Tononi – This was probably my least palatable read this year. A cognitive science theory put forward in the most overwrought, pretentious way humanly possible (under the excuse, I think, of making it ‘accessible’), to the point that the thesis itself is lost in the wash.
  7. Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie – This was really good, although a bit ‘hard’ SF for my taste. I’ll read Ancillary Sword in 2015.
  8. The Melancholy of Mechagirl by Catherynne M. Valente – Fantastic collection of Japanese themed short fiction. My first exposure to award winning novella “Silently and Very Fast”, which I loooooved.
  9. English Breakfast by Jay Bernard – A poetry collection penned by London-based poet Bernard while living in Singapore.
  10. This Is How You Lose Her by Junot Diaz – I really enjoyed this. Hauntingly prosodic, and just so sad and true.
  11. Half Life: A Novel by Shelley Jackson – Odd-as-fuck novel about conjoined twins in a world where this has become a common side-effect of nuclear testing.
  12. Collected Stories by Gabriel Garcia Marquez – Another Gabo collection. Mostly re-reads, but some new ones.
  13. The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt – A novel broad and deep enough that the protag feels like a best friend or a relative by the end of it. Ridiculously accomplished and humbling storytelling.
  14. We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson – Eerie, just eerie. Great bit of gothic horror.
  15. An Unnecessary Woman by Rabih Alameddine – Probably the book I was most looking forward to reading this year. Verdict? I needed more eau de Beirut in a novel set in that city — how can Beirut not fully permeate any story set within its borders? The presence of the city wasn’t as strong as I expected. The final 10% of the book was astoundingly moving, though.
  16. How to Suppress Women’s Writing by Joanna Russ – A sarcastic teardown of mansplaining and manframing and all other kinds of misogyny targeting women writers.
  17. Naming, Necessity, and Natural Kinds edited by Stephen P. Schwartz – Excellent, excellent collection of analytic philosophy essays on the Causal Theory of Names.
  18. Light Boxes by Shane Jones – An experimental short novel about depression. I was not as wowed as I expected to be.
  19. At the Mouth of the River of Bees: Stories by Kij Johnson – Varied collection of stories by Johnson. Standouts for me were “Story Kit”, “Spar”, and “The Man who Bridged the Mist”. The collection is worth buying for these stories alone.
  20. City of Stairs by Robert Jackson Bennett – Clever, funny, intriguing fantasy set in a fictional city which is sure to join the ranks of the greatest urban settings ever written.
  21. The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison – I squeezed this novel into the last few days of the year. I’m not sure what kept me glued to this book, as the plot was not the central motivator, but something definitely had me hooked. Really enjoyed this.

Thoughts on my year in reading: I read some great modern philosophy this year, and managed to keep up with a few of the SFF novels generating big awards buzz. Pretty good mix of literary and SFF–I’ll try to continue to read widely in 2015. I also read maybe 300 short stories (mostly slush) so, yeah, not a slouchy year, words-wise.

Since my new Kindle arrived in late November, I’m reading much, much faster. Bodes well for next year.