December Reading List

21:35 Sun 07 Dec 2008. Updated: 17:06 28 Jan 2009
[, , ]

I’m trying to read a lot of books this month, because at the start of the year I set myself a target of reading 75 books… and with less than a month left, I’m at 62. Naturally, in the name of reaching this target, I bought/borrowed a bunch of books…

I just finished Iconoclast, a pop-neuroscience examination of what makes people iconoclasts. It was fairly good, with slightly too much focus on business success for my taste, but with interesting content nonetheless. The next 13 books I hope to read this year (and 3 after that) are as follows:

The Left Stuff: How the Left-Handed Have Survived and Thrived in a Right-Handed World: Melissa Roth’s study of left-handedness. This is partly preying on my pop-neuroscience/pop-psychology weaknesses, and partly preying on my natural interest in things lefty.

Brief Interviews with Hideous Men: a collection of David Foster Wallace short stories. Of his fiction, I’ve only read Infinite Jest, and I’m curious about whether I’ll like his short fiction as much as his short non-fiction. This is a loan/recommendation from Micah in support of my hitting my reading target.

Playing to Win: David Sirlin’s book on succeeding at competitive games. No idea if this will be any good or not, but the hook of the author’s Street Fighter II credentials caught me.

The White Tiger: Avarind Adiga’s debut novel and this year’s Man Booker Prize winner. I’m trying to pay a little more attention to awards in my reading selection.

The Red Hourglass: Lives of the Predators: Gordon Grice’s collection of essays on various predator organisms. I tend to be quite squeamish about that kind of thing, so I’m reading it partly as an exercise in getting past that and partly because I came across a strong recommendation of it somewhere (possibly Salon).

The Art of Learning: An Inner Journey to Optimal Performance: Joshua Waitzkin was a chess prodigy who later became a master of Tai Chi, and this book is his take on effective learning. Given my interest in games and in learning generally, I thought I should pick it up.

Out Stealing Horses: Per Petterson’s novel, winner of the 2007 IMPAC Award. This is my second copy—I left the first on a plane earlier this year.

The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America: Erik Larson’s intertwined history of the World’s Fair architect and a serial killer in 1893 Chicago, comes highly recommended from a number of sources.

Playing Off the Rail: A Pool Hustler’s Journey: David McCumber’s pool/gambling memoir has some strong reviews, and I like to read about pool.

Motherless Brooklyn: I haven’t read much Lethem; this is another loan/recommendation from Micah.

Cosmicomics: Despite being such a huge If On A Winter’s Night A Traveller fan, I haven’t read much Calvino. Another loan/recommendation from Micah.

The Keep: this novel by Jennifer Egan is another Salon recommendation.

The Manuscript: this debut novel by Michael Stephen Fuchs was recommended on/by BoingBoing and involves Richard Francis Burton, so I was more or less compelled to get it.

Why I Write: four essays by George Orwell. I’d never actually read any of them in full and felt I should, particularly “Politics and the English Language”.

The Last Colony: the last (I think) part of John Scalzi’s Old Man’s War series. I enjoyed the first two; essentially light sci-fi reading.

The Fall of the Kings: I was quite impressed with Swordspoint, so I hope that this followup by Ellen Kushner and Delia Sherman is at the same level.

That’s it, a mere 4531 pages (averaging 348.5 per book, which really isn’t too high) in the rest of December. Well, no harm in trying…

The list doesn’t include a number of books that I want to read (or finish) that I think would be tough to do in time, such as Ulysses, The Complete Works of Tacitus, Musashi, Archaeologies of the Future, and The Seven Basic Plots.

Leave a Reply