I typically like to reflect on my previous years reading closer to the beginning of the next year. We are just entering March, so I’ve missed doing that.
My goal entering 2017 was to revisit some past favorites. I started this goal without setting a number, so I’ll just have to trust how I feel about it.
In 2017, I reread Frank Herbert’s Dune and John William’s Stoner. I also read new-to-me books by the authors David Foster Wallace, Haruki Murakami, George Saunders, and Neal Stephenson. I’ve also reread a George Saunders book in the first part of 2018.
I mostly achieved 2017’s goal. If I had reread another book, I’d consider it 100% completed, but I’m going to count reading some favorite authors towards the goal.
I read a total of 49 books for a total of 17,853 pages. I also read every issue of Amazon’s Day One weekly periodical1.
The number of five-star books I read this last year was low compared to previous years.
I only gave out seven five-star ratings. Two of the seven were books I reread. Title links are affiliate links to Amazon and the review links are to my review on Goodreads.
- Stories of Your Life and Others - Ted Chiang (my review)
- A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again: Essays and Arguments - David Foster Wallace (my review)
- Dune - Frank Herbert (my review)
- Lilith’s Brood - Octavia Butler (my review)
- Stoner - John Williams (my review)
- The Sense of Style: The Thinking Person’s Guide to Writing in the 21st Century - Steven Pinker (my review)
- Shoe Dog - Phil Knight (my review)
Below are more details on some of the above five-star books and some shoutouts for some non-five star books. Looking back over my books, I’d recommend any four-star or higher book without hesitation but am not going to put them all here.
Lilith’s Brood by Octavia Butler
Lilith’s Brood was one of the last books I read in 2017. It is a three book series published as a single book. It is amazing. This series achieves precisely what I want in a great science fiction book. I highly recommend this book. Reading this book reminded me why I love reading.
A quote from a non-fiction essay by Octavia Butler describes why good science fiction is fantastic.
But still I’m asked, what good is science fiction to Black people? What good is any form of literature to Black people? What good is science fiction’s thinking about the present, the future, and the past? What good is its tendency to warn or to consider alternative ways of thinking and doing? What good is its examination of the possible effects of science and technology, or social organization and political direction? At its best, science fiction stimulates imagination and creativity. It gets reader and writer off the beaten track, off the narrow, narrow footpath of what “everyone” is saying, doing, thinking—whoever “everyone” happens to be this year. And what good is all this to Black people? - Octavia Butler
The Sense of Style by Steven Pinker
Yes, I read a book on writing and think this is one of the top books I read last year. I initially read a Kindle edition from my local library and then immediately bought the hardcover so I can reference it while writing.
The writing is great. The book is humorous. I’d highly recommend to anyone that writes. I should reread this.
Dune by Frank Herbert
Dune is a classic for a reason. It was still great my second time through it. If you haven’t read Dune, you are missing out.
If you read it on a Kindle, I have a custom Kindle dictionary that makes reading it more pleasurable.
Stoner by John Williams
It is still unclear to me why I like this book so much, but I do. The writing is crisp. The story is depressing.
Stories of Your Life and Others by Ted Chiang
Over the years I’ve started to enjoy reading short story collections. Every story in this collection was great. I devoured this book and then everything else I could find by Ted Chiang.
Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty
This is a massive book. It probably deserved five-stars. It presents a ton of information to the reader. It is boring. It also made me think about the role of taxes in society and changed my thoughts about them.
If you’ve been putting this off, you can probably skip to the last section and still get a lot from this book.
Bobiverse Series by Dennis Taylor
This is a fun light-hearted science fiction series. It still manages to explore some deep topics. Read the description and if it sounds interesting to you, pick it up.
Similar to last year, April and September were times when I wasn’t reading a ton.
This year physical books made a comeback. I checked out more physical books from the library this year than in the past.
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My average rating went down a bit.
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I read a lot of non-fiction books this year. Only two of them were directly related to software.
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There are a few more books on writing that I’ve wanted to read for a while. I’m planning on reading at least one of them this year. I’m also want to read more Octavia Butler.
Unfortunately, this periodical has ended after years of publishing once a week. I’m bummed. I really enjoyed receiving a short story and poem once a week.↩