Inspired by Ian Brooks, a list of all the books I’ve read this year. (Started on twitter and now imported over here to finish it off). It turned out to be many more than I expected in fact and it has been really motivating to keep track – I always have the idea I’m not reading enough but that isn’t really true.
In the course of my fediverse explorations I’ve discovered Bookwyrm, so I will probably repeat this exercise in 2023’s over there…
First up Gaia Vince’s wonderful Transcendence: I feel this one rather got lost in the Covid19 mess and it’s *such* a shame. A really beautifully written book on what makes us human.
Second, was a foray into the wonderful world of mosses with Robin Wall Kimmerer. This was a book I enjoyed so much I bought a second copy to lend to a friend as I didn’t want to lose my own copy.
Third, and staying with biology, Merlin Sheldrake’s Entangled Life, a book I enjoyed, but not as much as I expected given the subject is quite fascinating. It felt like there was a bit too much author and not enough fungus. However the dense endnotes more than made up for it. A very cool subject and really a good introduction. I could have used a bit more technical content though.
Four was a return to a book started long ago – I finally finished Gabrielle Walker’s book Antarctica, right before a field trip to Greenland. A really great book, full of excellent science and details that show a real love of the continent – though note a few reservations about an infamous scientist who features heavily in the book in the second tweet.
Five: Explaining Humans by Camilla Pang. An unusual book, I would never have chosen this if it hadn’t been for the Royal Society science book prize and that would have been a loss. Really brilliant insights into how some neurodivergent people see the world and at the same time a great introduction to science. Huge recommend.
Six: brilliant, funny, horrifying, tragic, sobering. Hard to describe withou sounding overwhelmingly grim, but worth a read: “This is going to hurt” by Adam Kay
Seven: as I originally tweeted, I read this in the depths of COVID19 fever, and I don’t remember much about it now unfortunately but the impression of a refreshing wander down the lush Irish river remains. John Connelly’s Stream of Everything
Eight: an old and battered favourite also finished on the sickbed, Dorothy L. Sayers Busman’s Honeymoon
Nine: the final part of Patrick Leigh Fermor’s wonderful trilogy travelling through Europe. A book I could hardly bear to finish, the whole journey was so beautiful ly written about a time and a Europe that has vanished forever.
Ten: Nothing but the truth from The secret barrister- another of the funny but utterly shocking genre that apparently the public services in the UK in the 2020s excels in.
Eleven: back to novels and what can I say about this incredible world created by Susannah Clarke in Piranesi? Sumptuously beautiful, you just have to read it. I would never have picked this up but my local bookshop (in Copenhagen!) recommended it and that is as good an argument as any for frequenting my local bookshop in person…
Twelve: perhaps not the most relaxing holiday read but ultimately hopeful: Kim Stanley Robinson’s The ministry for the future. Parts of it were far too real, other parts perhaps unrealistically utopian (and in the light of FTX what exactly *is* that blockchain thing about?). Nonetheless an important work, and the man himself is a rousing speaker I saw and who signed my book at the bloom festival
Thirteen: the first of several children’s/ young adults books on my list – this is a Danish classic but also translated into many languages now. I find it a fascinating concept: what if someone could see your private shame?
Fourteen: who doesn’t sometimes want to go and walk around Spain? An interesting and honest meditation on life, careers and trying to have it all from Alastair Humphreys.
Fifteen: a terrible war ripping through Europe, refugees fleeing the Russian advance and an overloaded ship sailing away through bitter winter weather in the Baltic. Sometimes a little too close for comfort, it certainly explains a lot about our current situation and it’s based on the true but laregly unknown story of the world’s worst ever maritime disaster. This is also YA territory – I read it to assess suitability as a gift for young relatives. It’s extremely well written, though flags a bit at the end. One of those books that stays with you for days after.
Sixteen: And now we enter territory not tweeted. I discovered eReolen’s international section this year. eReolen is the Danish Library system‘s excellent audio and ebook loan service, and it turns out that via the organisation Overdrive who run the Libby app, you can borrow books from all over the world. A revelation. Anyway number sixteen was the classic Ursula LeGuinn “A wizard of Earthsea, a book I really couldn’t put down. I’m slightly amazed I’ve never read it before. Everything they say about it is true.
Seventeen: again in the underrated classics that I’ve somehow never read category – Howl’s Moving Castle by Dianne Wynne-Jones. I came to this via the Japanese Studio Ghibli animated films and again this was read via eReolen. How had I never even heard of this author even though I grew up in the UK? Really brilliantly imaginative, reading it again to kids as a Christmas book this year.
I almost forgot number 18, which is somehow a little strange as it is a book that directed me from a wavering vegetarian towards veganism. I’m not yet (and may never be) a full vegan, but Henry Mance’s “How to love animals” is a clear-eyed look at the emotions, conflicts and contradictions in our relationships with animals, including dog breeding, slaughterhouses, how to deal.with exploding deer numbers and the ecological cascades that result. Very thought-provoking and although I didn’t agree with everything, it at least helped to visualise and resolve some contradictions in my personal philosophy. This is a good review in the Guardian: https://www.theguardian.com/books/2021/may/01/how-to-love-animals-by-henry-mance-review-the-case-against-modern-farming