On January 1st 2016, I decided on my new year’s resolution. I would read fifty books in 2016. It’s not that much, but since I do most of my reading in terms of articles, audio-books, webpages, excerpts, and assorted school-material, fifty books specifically would be both achievable and challenging. Here is a list of what I actually read, with very short reviews. For the purposes of this list I’m not including things I read for one or two chapters, but the actual books I read at least 80% of.
Books I had to read for school:
- Contemporary Political Philosophy: An Introduction, by Will Kymlicka:
Accessible, interesting, and yet it drags on forever. Kymlicka is nice, and provides a thorough explanation for everything he’s explaining, but he seems to repeat himself a lot, and the book really feels like it could have used another polish or two. Great for anyone looking for an introduction to political philosophy, as my professor noted, but not that great as something to read just for the fun of it. Also Kymlicka is a Liberal Egalitarian and a lot of his arguments kind of boil down to “well, okay, but Liberal Egalitarianism does it better”, which gets really weird when he goes into communitarianism and feminism because… neither of those are trying to do that thing that Liberal Egalitarianism does (I mean, I guess you could argue feminism is but the diversity of feminist philosophy makes that a shaky argument at best), so it’s kind of like a pro-burger guy arguing that burgers are better burgers than salads, at which point the salad person would go “yes. Because salads aren’t burgers. You are a philosopher, right?”
- Introduction to Global Distributive Justice:
Better written, but kind of tiring in some ways that Kymlicka’s wasn’t. I had a hard time finishing the chapters.
- Morton on Philosophy of Mind:
- Heil on Philosophy of Mind:
- Logic textbook:
Weirdly typo-ridden but otherwise good.
- Bio textbook:
Both old and with mistakes that the professor complained about.
- History of Animation textbook:
Pretty great, actually.
- Neurobiology of learning and memory – Rudy
It’s better than last year’s neurobiology textbook. A LOT better. I really liked it actually.
- Making Sense in Psychology, by Margot Northey and Brian Timney.
My school has book piles hanging around, and every time I see a particularly awesome book I take it. Little did I know that in my quasi-kleptomaniac book collecting ways (I swear, I will put them back in the pile or in a Little Free Library when I’m done) I had picked up this exact book! So this book came to me for free by the hand of Lady Luck. Sadly, I ended up not taking the course, but I read it anyway.
- J.L. Austin: A Critique of Ordinary Language Philosophy, by Keith Graham
…honestly, fuck this book… I mean… well yeah. It tried. It wasn’t the book’s fault. I just… well…
- Introduction to Legal Philosophy
I’m taking this course in Spring 2017 but I figured I’d better get a head start.
Books I read for fun:
- The Legal Subjection Of Men (1908)
A surprisingly interesting account of the ways in which women were viewed in late Edwardian England, it was… weird. Because it feels like reading MRAs’ arguments, and listening to all the grievances and complaints that people like that tend to have, only it was written as an argument against female suffrage. Which kind of makes the counter arguments against them seem more powerful.
- On Trial: The Soviet State versus “Abram Tertz” and “Nikolai Arzhak” Transklated, Edited and with an Introduction by Max Hayward (1966)
This book is fucking amazing. I came across it when a friend of mine was taking me to the library like an alcoholic’s friend who thinks “a whole year? Let’s celebrate with a drink!” I’m not joking, I came out of that building with a pile of books that barely fit my backpack.
- Bioethics in Canada, edited by Charles Weijer, Anthony Skelton, and Samantha Brennan.
I loved this book so much. It brings up so many interesting ideas and so many interesting angles. I disagreed with a lot but one must remember that the goal of philosophy is not to disagree, but to know why, and to be able to articulate why. Everything made me think, and I particularly loved the question about drugs that can enhance performance.
- What If, by Randall Munroe
Pretty great. Randall Munroe is awesome.
- Hustlers, Harlots and Heroes, by Krista D. Ball
One of the best and funniest reference books I own
- What Kings Ate and Wizards Drank, by Krista D. Ball
Another of the best and funniest reference books I also own
- But What If We’re Wrong?: Thinking About the Present As If It Were the Past, by Chuck Klosterman
This book is part bullshit part fascinating, and the author did not take the courtesy of separating the two. I read it in one sitting.
- A Room of One’s Own, by Virginia Woolf
Holy shit. Hooooooly shit. Everyone should read this. I don’t mean just because feminism or whatever, a lot of the arguments are kind of obsolete at this point (what female writer doesn’t have a room of her own? And money? People do get jobs to pay bills while their writing isn’t taking off. [Insert joke about English majors offering fries with that here]) but because Virginia Woolf is weirdly funny. The whole first section is just kind of post-modern(ish?) and fascinatingly visual (there’s this thing about a fish, and a cat, and she rants about prunes), her voice is amazing, her parentheticals are a weird kind of both confusing and enthralling… I look forward to reading more stuff by her, honestly, I didn’t think I would like A Room of One’s Own that much but it’s kind of a study in taking things for granted and systematic oppression in a way that makes early 20th century England seem more dystopic than Panem. Coming from a wealthy, vaguely-elitist bipolar writer whose dad was in the Order of Bath, that’s kind of something, you know? A lot of the time when I was reading the Mistborn trillogy I felt like Sanderson’s conception of a “bad” world was actually kind of nice and maybe that was because he lives in Utahpia but if someone who was basically nobility in the early 20th century in England when England was still a massive empire can pull it off, I may have a Sanderson rant coming soon.
- The Pleasure of Finding Things Out, by Richard Feynman
Tiny adorable transcript of an interview with Richard Feynman, available here
- Towards a Political Philosophy of Race by Falguni Sheth
This is the first point of view on race that has MADE SENSE TO ME in my entire life, specially regarding how “the west” treats racial minorities. Philosophy Tube introduced me to her here.
- The Idea of Progress, by J. B. Bury
…Pretty interesting, honestly.
- On Booze, by F. Scott Fitzgerald
I really like his essays more than his fiction.
Onto the juicy stuff!
- This One Sumer, by Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki
An adorable and honest little piece about maturity and stress that feels basically like just following two random girls for a bit during a less-than-ideal summer. Reminded me of childhood and early adolescence, just… in an abstract and conceptual way. Great read. It won’t change your life to read it, but you probably should anyway.
- The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland In A Ship Of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente
Just read this. And then everything else she has written.
- Unicorn Being a Jerk by C. W. Moss
My friend showed me this. It’s pretty absurdist.
- Of Mice And Men, by John Steinbeck
This book is so fucking depressing. I mean, I hate it but I don’t hate it because it’s bad. I just kind of became allergic to it by page 27 or so. I read But What If We’re Wrong? in one afternoon and this book that is maybe half its size took me months.
- El Principito, by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
I read The Little Prince in Spanish because I had never actually read the whole thing, and also Spanish is closer to French as a translation, and also I need to practice. It was pretty great. Gets a little depressing later on.
- The Rime of a Modern Mariner, by Nick Hayes
This beautiful graphic novel about environmentalism and respect and to a lesser extent carelessness is fantastic. I just kind of picked it up when I was in the library one day and then sat down and read it on the spot.
- The Just City, by Jo Walton
This book starts out very rapey. It stays pretty dang rapey. And then THE LAST CHAPTER IS AMAZING and it just left me with my mouth open internally screaming “IT JUST GOT GOOD WHY ARE YOU STOPPING?!”.
- The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald
I re-read this, and it was better than I remembered it being (though, still frustrating. That book would be so much better if it was just an essay), I’d recommend it just for that little section that makes religion and advertising analogous but honestly, Fitzgerald should just have written an essay outlining his ideas and saved everybody else the grief of having to read anything that comes out of Daisy or Tom’s mouths.
- Logicomix, by Alekos Papadatos, Apostolos Doxiadis, and Christos Papadimitriou.
I am uncertain about whether to put this in the fiction or non-fiction category. It’s a great introduction to his life, a wonderful graphic novel and I loved it.
- Bill The Galactic Hero, by Harry Harrison
This is an old book. Part of that makes it good. I mean, the word Chinger just sounds super-racist in a way that I think few modern writers could manage without cringing or making anyone else cringe. I got annoyed at it very frequently but I think I’ m glad to have read it.
Total books read: 33
I will run some analytics and put them in here later. Demographics will include gender, race, nationality of author and year of publication of the books.
Achievement of New Year’s Resolution:
33/50 = 66 %, looks like I earned a C in my New Year’s Resolution. I need to do better. 50 books for 2017, let’s see how that goes.
Non-Books I Read This Year
New Media Papers
- David Bordwel, The Classical Hollywood Cinema, Chapters 1 and 2
- Richard Brody, “The Movies Aren’t Dying (They’re Not Even Sick)”
- David Denby, “Has Hollywood Murdered the Movies?”
- Elefteria Thanouli, “Post-Classical Narration”
- Geoffrey Sconce, “Irony, Nihilism, and the New American ‘Smart’ Film”
- Elizabeth Gumport, “Made In Manhattan”
- Philip Lopate, “Tiny Furniture: Out There”
- Mark David Ryan and Greg Hearn, “Next Generation Filmmaking”
- Werner Herzog, “On the Absolute, the Sublime, and Ecstatic Truth”
- Ramon Lobano and Mark David Ryan, “Rethinking genre studies…”
- Matt Hills, “Tim is Very Personal”
- Mike Walsh, “You Ain’t Nothin’ but a Slumdog”
- Derek Johnson, “Cinematic Destiny”
- Nick Jones, “Variation within Stability: Digital 3D and Film Style”
- Schrader: Notes On Film Noir.
- Grist: Out of the Past
- Kerr: Out of What Past
- Evans: Double Indemnity
- Altman: A semantic approach
- Damico: Film Noir
- Kolsoff: Humanizing the Voice of God
- Covey: The Genre Don’t Know Where It Came From
- Cawelti: Chinatown
- McGowan: Finding Ourselves on a Lost Highway
- Palmer: The New Sincerity
- Text of the Hays Production Code.
- Oliver Harris “Film Noir Fascination: Outside History, but Historically So”
- Mark L. Berretini “Private Knowledge, Public Space: Investigation and Navigation in ” Devil in a Blue Dress”.
- Frege, The Foundations of Arithmetic
- Frege, Sense and Reference
- Russell, On Denoting
- Wittgenstein, Tractarus Logico-Philosophicus
- Carnap, The Elimination of Metaphysics
- Popper, Conjectural Knowledge
- Ryle, Knowing How and Knowing That
- Smart, Sensations and Brain Processes
- Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations
- Searle, “Minds, Brains and Programs’
- Rodych, Searle freed of every flaw
- Quine, Two Dogmas of Empiricism
- Wright, On Putnam’s Proof that We are Not Brains-in-a-vat
- Cavell, “Must We Mean What We Say?”
I will add to these as I scourge my history, but these are the ones I remember most vividly reading this year.
- “Venezuela’s Bolivarian Democracy: Participation, Politics and Culture under Chávez.” edited by David Smilde, Daniel Hellinger.
I read more than these but I won’t scour my history and these are the ones I really liked.
- Game of Stacks.
- Her Knight in Faded Armour
Super duper recommended!
- The Calculator
It’s like Joss Whedon and Terry Pratchett had a baby.
- How to Tame a God
The first instalment of The Saga of Hug Fortress. So great.
Okay so I may have gone on a Loki Fanfic run
- My Little Mages
I like it.
People I found out about this year
- Nicolas Casey
- Steve Ellner and Miguel Tinker Salas
- Achille Mbembe
- Bell Hooks
- Giorgio Agamben
- David Lewis
- Elizabeth Ashford
- Edward Luttwak
- Jeff McMahan
- Thomas Schelling
- Frantz Fanon
Things I picked up this year that I will be reading next year (hopefully)
- The Just City, by Susan S. Fainstein
I came across this looking for the other Just City book above.
- The Last Of The Wine(?)
- The Strategy Of Conflict by Thomas Schelling.
I need to read this
- The Art of War, by Sun Tzu
I really need to read this.