2017 in Books
Here are the books I read (or rather, remember reading) in 2017. I don’t think star and number scales are particularly useful, so I mark each book as one of the following:
- Not worth reading
- Worth reading
- Must read
Fall of Giants by Ken Follett
Historical fiction is the best way to learn about, well, history. Ken Follet’s trilogy provides an educational yet exhilarating glimpse into the tumultuous 1900s. Fall of Giants follows characters in Wales, Germany, England, USA, and Russia (and its transition into the Soviet Union) through World War I and the events leading up to it.
Winter of the World by Ken Follett
Winter of the World picks up a few years after where its predecessor left off, with a new generation of characters (the old ones remain, though). The second book covers the rise of fascism in Europe and the subsequent World War II.
Edge of Eternity by Ken Follett
Edge of Eternity covers Richard Nixon and JFK’s presidencies and the Cold War. It provides an interesting look into the life of the average East Berliner during the reign of the Soviet Bloc. Overall, the trilogy is long, but fantastic. Easy: worth reading.
East of Eden by John Steinbeck
Didn’t think I liked literary fiction. Until I read some Steinbeck. I was hooked after the first chapter, and the first chapter is about flowers. Any description of this book will make it sound boring, and this book is anything but boring. Get ready for some serious feels. Must read.
One More Thing by B.J. Novak
B.J. Novak has produced the perfect book to fall asleep to. And I mean that in the best way. The word “whimsical” was invented for groups of short stories like this. Worth reading.
Dune Messiah by Frank Herbert
The second Dune book. If you’ve read the first one, take a second and consider how much you loved it. If you’re like me, it’s possibly your favorite book, and you should consider leaving it at that. If you’re okay with a sub-par book and just want more Dune-iverse, read it. But all in all, it’s not worth reading.
Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckle
A solid sci-fi book. Spaceships have AIs, which can control humanoid creatures. Raises some interesting questions about AI that become more relevant each day. Worth reading.
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
This one is too real. I’m overdue for this one. A dystopian future where “firemen” burn books, rather than putting out fires. Deep, lasting knowledge is frowned upon, in favor of quick dopamine rushes and hyper connectivity. Sound familiar? Worth reading.
Too Like the Lightning by Ada Palmer
All you need to make a successful sci-fi series is a few factions that people can identify with. Luckily, this book has much more. Ada Palmer’s background as a history professor shows: the parallels to the 18th century are apparent (after she explains it, at least) and illuminating. Worth reading.
The Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O. by Neal Stephenson
Ever wanted to understand quantum physics? Time travel? Only Neal Stephenson can tie them together so elegantly. The beginning of the book is a little weak, but it’s worth the slog. Worth reading.
Interface by Neal Stephenson
An earlier work from Stephenson, this novel explores politics and human-computer synthesis. What would it be like if a politician was being controlled by a chip in their brain? The parts that explore the over-the-top demographic targeting are a little too realistic. Worth reading.
Tokyo Ghost Volumes I & II
Beautiful illustrations. Techno-dystopian themes. Action-packed. Worth reading.
The Three Body Problem by Cixin Liu
Definitely the most creative sci-fi novel I’ve read in a long, long time. I’m not sure if it’s just the translation, or if the original text (Chinese) is spectacular, but I suspect it’s a little of both. Explores some fantastic philosophical themes like scientific underdetermination and determinism. If you’re a sci-fi fan, it’s a must read.
The Truth by Neil Strauss
Wow - a follow up from Neil’s days writing The Game, this book follows Neil through poly-amorous relationship escapades. It gets crazy, but I think this has some lasting insights for anyone in any kind of relationship. Must read.
Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki
An interesting little book about the misconceptions that surround money and careers. Worth reading. I plan to re-read it soon.
Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari
The title is boring, but believe it or not this book reads like a thriller. I learned more about what makes humans, well, humans. Learning about our species helps us understand our motivations and institutions. Must read.
The Way of the Superior Man by David Deida
This book explores the “masculine” and “feminine” energies within relationships. It’s a little too spiritual for me at times, but it was certainly worth reading. I wouldn’t recommend this to females, not because it’s sexist, but because it’s targeted at males.
How To Be Miserable by Randy J. Paterson M.D.
Such a refreshing idea. Rather than a typical self-help approach. Dr. Paterson details the 40 things you’d need to do to be unhappy. It’s based on the idea that if you’re unhappy, there’s plenty of things you need to work on fixing before you start getting too introspective. For example, your diet, exercise, relationships. It sounds obvious, but he frames it beautifully. Must read.
Honestly, if you haven’t read these ones already, get to the bookstore and read them ASAP. They are all must read.
Dune by Frank Herbert
The Count of Monte Cristo By Alexandre Dumas
Anathem by Neal Stephenson