I read a lot. This is both a feature and a bug. At any given time, I’ll usually be reading 3-4 different books, in a mix of electronic and physical formats. Inspired by my mom’s example, about this time in 2014 I decided to keep a book journal. Below you’ll find my list of all the books I finished in 2015, more or less in the order in which I finished them. I omitted any book that I gave up on before finishing, as well as those that I’m still working on. I didn’t think to jot down a short review for each book as I finished it, and I’m not about to take the time to do so now. I have embedded a few notes for books that I thought were particularly good. Or not.
- F5: Devastation, Survival, and the Most Violent Tornado Outbreak of the 20th Century: riveting tale of the 1973 tornado superoutbreak, set just a few miles from where I now live.
- American Sniper
- Defending Jacob: unsettling chronicle of a good kid gone bad.
- Hardwired (Walter Williams): original cyberpunk that didn’t age well.
- Girls of Atomic City (audio): historical recounting of women’s work at Oak Ridge during WW II. Incredibly annoying narRAtion.
- The Counterfeit Agent: reread this to get ready for Twelve Days
- Twelve Days: might need to re-read this soon to get ready for The Wolves
- The Racketeer: meh. Not my favorite Grisham, but not bad.
- Afterparty (audio): unexpectedly moving tale of chicanery and redemption, with superb narration
- From Gym Lifter to Competitive Powerlifter: very informative, with an easy conversational style
- Daughter of the Sword (Bein): terrific mix of modern and feudal Japan, with a complex intertwined storyline that moves along swiftly.
- Year of the Demon (Bein): just as good as its predecessor.
- When Penguins Flew and Water Burned: thoroughly enjoyed this memoir of a USAF B-52 navigator. Very educational too.
- Station Eleven: as good as its reputation suggested
- Whisper of Stars: enjoyable, if implausible, novel set in a near-future dystopia
- Building the H Bomb: memoir of one of the original Los Alamos H-bomb team.
- The Heist: predictably good Daniel Silva novel.
- The Hope: I may have accidentally learned something about the formation of the State of Israel from this.
- Avogadro Corp: The Singularity: an email system becomes superintelligent. I sure hope my friends in Redmond don’t read this and get ideas.
- Stiff (audio): I love Mary Roach and this book is a great example of why.
- The Glory
- The Jakarta Pandemic
- The Park Service
- Pirates of Pensacola
- Black Flagged Alpha
- Trident Deception (audio): completely implausible. Don’t bother.
- Season in Hell
- The God Hunter: like Ghostbusters but for grown-ups.
- Flowers for Algernon
- Allan Quatermain: surprisingly entertaining relic from a long-gone era.
- Already Gone
- Angles of Attack: love all of Marko Kloos’ writing. One of the best science-fiction writers currently working IMHO.
- Robert A. Heinlein: In Dialogue with his Century, vol 1: superbly readable biography of an incredibly influential man.
- Song of Kali: read this and you’ll never want to visit India. Gross, borderline racist, and not all that interesting. Far from Simmons’ best work.
- Robert A. Heinlein: In Dialogue with his Century, vol 2: just as good as volume 1.
- The Martian (audio): excellent audio treatment of one of my favorite recent books. The characters actually have distinct voices and accents thanks to the narrator’s excellent work.
- Nuclear Family Vacation: a husband-and-wife team tour major nuclear installations around the globe (including Huntsville). Interesting but dated.
- Cadillac Jukebox
- Draw Blood: second in a series of books by my friend Jason Bovberg. Cracking good zombie/post-apocalypse novel.
- To Honor You Call Us, For Honor We Stand, Brothers in Valor: excellent old-style space opera featuring a naval officer named (wait for it) Robichaux from (better yet) Nouvelle Acadie.
- On Hallowed Ground: The Story of Arlington National Cemetery: compelling story of how we got the Arlington of today. Crisply written and fast moving; full of historical trivia.
- All the Light We Cannot See: meh.
- Year’s Best Science Fiction, 32nd Annual Edition
- Mongoliad, Book 1 (audio): Awful, confused mess.
- The Devil’s Waters: Terrific novel centering on USAF pararescue jumpers.
- The Player of Games and Consider Phlebas: why have I waited this long to read Iain Banks’ Culture novels?
- Three-Body Problem: didn’t deserve the critical acclaim heaped on it. Scientifically ridiculous, culturally interesting.
- The Empty Quarter
- The Red: First Light: superb emergence-of-AI story set in the near future.
- The Red: Trials
- The Colonel’s Mistake: arresting novel set in Azerbijan and surroundings, featuring a burnt-out CIA officer. Dan Mayland is a hell of a thriller writer.
- The Leveling, Spy for Hire, and Death of a Spy: the next three of Mayland’s books featuring the characters from The Colonel’s Mistake.
- Prince of Tides
- The Silkworm: excellent noirish mystery by J.K. Rowling. A grown-up book, written for grown-ups.
- Zero History: can’t go wrong with William Gibson.
- The Annihilation Score: more enjoyable than Stross’ other Laundry novels because it has much less Bob Howard in it.
- Chasing the Phoenix: another of my top five for the year. Sly, sly, and more sly.
- Scrum: a Breathtakingly Brief and Agile Introduction
- The Library at Mount Char: surprising, depressing, and exhilirating. Another of my year’s top five. Thanks to Tim for pointing it out.
- Exo: another solid Steven Gould novel.
- Seveneves (audio): This might be the book that cures me of reading Neal Stephenson.
- Guaranteed Heroes: see above but for William Lashner.
- The Short Drop: superb debut thriller.
- The Devil’s Horn: the third of Robbins’ series featuring USAF rescue jumpers, and by far the worst. Tedious.
- Red Cell: another excellent debut, this one by a former CIA analyst.
- Two Hours: the Quest for the Impossible Marathon: one of my top 5 books for the year.
- The Grove
- Time Loves a Hero
- Man in the High Castle: typical Philip K. Dick: weird.
- The Teller
- Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time (audio): I kept expecting this to get better. It didn’t.
- Tipping Point: The War With China – The First Salvo: I love David Poyer’s writing and I sure hope he writes the missing half of this book.
- Cold Shot: sequel to Red Cell. Equally good.
- Invasive Species: truly scared me. Why do humans always assume that we’re the highest product of evolution? Evolution doesn’t stop, y’know.
- Fallen Angel: needs much, much better proofreading, but Chuck Logan still writes a mighty taut book, with ringing dialog and relatable characters.
- The Cairo Affair: ever read a book and find that you’re rooting against the protagonist? Yep, me too.
- Echopraxia: intellectually dense writing that doesn’t stop to explain anything. Keep up or else.
- Every Clime and Place: Marines! In space! Some of them are women! Thoroughly enjoyable if uninventive.
- Iron Gate: clunky tale of American intervention in South Africa. Maybe the author’s other books are better?
That’s it. Time to start working on my 2016 list.
7 responses to “2015: the books I read”
Pingback: My Reading List from 2015 - Paul Cunningham
Thanks for that, Paul– there are definitely some books on your list that I want to add to mine.
Just finished reading and highly recommend “Memoirs of a Hack Mechanic” by Rob Siegel http://www.bentleypublishers.com/bmw/history/memoirs-of-a-hack-mechanic-by-rob-siegel.html
This looks fascinating, John– thanks for posting it.
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