2011’s Reading List


The Four-Hour Body by Tim Ferriss

Ferriss left me thinking a lot about hacking in 2011. Not just one’s body, but everything. I didn’t put much of this into practice in 2011, but for 2012, I’ll be trying more of it.

Crush It! by Gary Vaynerchuk

Left me saying “fuck yeah!” and inspired me greatly. This is one of those, like King’s On Writing… that I will probably read every year or two.

SuperFreakonomics by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner

Didn’t have the same impact as the first.

What the Dog Saw: And Other Adventures by Malcolm Gladwell

Gladwell continues to be one of my favorite non-fiction writers, and this is a collection of his shorter essays. Good stuff.

What is Your Dangerous Idea?edited by John Brockman

One of only three actual paper books I read in 2011, this is a collection of short essays from leading thinkers, scientists, businesspeople, and artists. It was hard to put down, fun to read, and a goldmine of ideas if you’re the creative sort. I’ve got two others from the series — What We Believe But Cannot Prove and What are You Optimistic About?, both of which are on my must-read list for 2012.

Dude, You’re Gonna Be a Dad!: How to Get (Both of You) Through the Next 9 Months by John Pfeiffer

One of only three actual paper books I read in 2011. Pregnancy/parenting prep. Funny as all heck, and useful, too. Now in the hands of my brother-in-law.


A Deepness in the Sky by Vernor Vinge

Re-read. Vinge’s stuff is always full of big ideas and yet manages to be a fun read. Despite the dreary conditions most of the main character find themselves in, this book is one that I can re-read on a whim.

On the Beach by Nevil Shute

In 2011 I had a tendency to read apocalyptic fiction. This is one of the classics.

Wastelands: Stories of the Apocalypse edited by John Joseph Adams

Short fiction with varying types of apocalypse.

Engineering Infinity edited by Jonathan Strahan

Another science fiction collection. Okay.

A Mighty Fortress by David Weber

Book four in the Safehold series. I waited for paperback pricing and bought it on the Kindle. (A rant about e-book pricing is due sometime in the near future.) Good, as usual.

Up Against It by M.J. Locke

Hard SF, set about 400 years in the future. Big ideas, big stakes, and a fun read.

WWW:Wake by Robert Sawyer
WWW:Watch by Robert Sawyer
WWW:Wonder by Robert Sawyer

Sawyer is generally one of my favorite SF writers, as he is very very good at the human side of the equation. While the premise of the WWW series is a bit of a stretch (emergent intelligence), it was still an okay read. Not his strongest, but certainly not the weakest, either.

The Year’s Best Science Fiction: Twenty-Seventh Annual Collection edited by Gardner Dozois

More SF short fiction. Dozois, as usual, does a great job of separating the wheat from the chaff.

I Remember the Future by Michael A. Burstein

Great writer. This is his short fiction.

A Fire Upon The Deep by Vernor Vinge

Re-read. More Vinge! I read this one in anticipation of its sequel (see below) coming out.

Fuzzy Nation by John Scalzi

I can’t say enough good about Scalzi as a writer — he’s got a great, biting sense of humor, creates loveable, memorable characters, and wields the emotional knife deftly. I’ve laughed and cried with his characters, and his books always get purchased the day they’re available. This is a “reboot” of the SF classic Little Fuzzy, and I liked it more than the original.

Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson

Re-read, for like the 100th time or so. This is the book that made me switch majors to English/Creative Writing. It still holds up fairly well. Computer hacker, skateboard courier, punk rock music, hyperinflation, Sumerian myth, and neurolinguistic theory rolled up into one fucking awesome crescendo of fun.

Steal Across the Sky by Nancy Kress

I keep hoping to find Kress creating stuff like her Beggars in Spain series, and I’m always a little disappointed.

Saturn’s Children by Charlie Stross

Stross tries his hand at space opera with obvious influences by Heinlein. Not my favorite of his works, but still won’t dissuade me from buying more.

Fast Forward 1: Future Fiction from the Cutting Edge edited by Lou Anders
Fast Forward 2 edited by Lou Anders

SF short stories, both. Good stuff.

Behemoth by Scott Westerfield

Steampunk. Yeah, if it’s done well, I like it. The sequel to Leviathan. A good read. I need to buy the conclusion in 2012.

Plague Year by Jeff Carlson
Plague War by Jeff Carlson

Nano-holocaust genre. Fast reads, interesting premise. There’s a third book in the series, which I should read in 2012.

Crossfire by Nancy Kress
Crucible by Nancy Kress

I had to have my memory jogged with regards to what I was read. Seriously. It could be that I had devoured a ton of stuff in 2011, or that the series just didn’t stick with me.

Federations edited by John Joseph Adams

More SF short fiction.

How Firm a Foundation by David Weber

Book five of the Safehold series. Things need to start working toward some sort of a conclusion after this one.

The Lifecycle of Software Objects by Ted Chiang

Chiang is the man, and while this was (I think) roughly novella length, I’m still counting it for the emotional impact and the depth of ideas and the thinking it produced after I read it.

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Easily my favorite book of the year. From the moment I heard Ernie Cline do his “Airwolf” spoken word (google it), I wanted him to write a novel. This was fucking epic in every way.

The Affinity Bridge by George Mann

Steampunk-ish. Victorian era. It bored me.

Machine Man by Max Barry

Barry wrote the acclaimed Jennifer Government, which bored the shit out of me. (Someday I’ll re-try it.) This, however, kept me highly entertained. Definitely worth reading.

The Children of the Sky by Vernor Vinge

This goes down as the biggest disappointment of the year. I waited years for this book (after reading A Fire Upon the Deep a few times) and in the end, I found it to be generally blah. It’s a definite set-up for a third book, hwoever, and maybe Vinge can redeem himself.

World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War by Max Brooks

Yes and no. Yes, it was fairly entertaining, even without a strong thread running through it. No, they should not make a movie out of this.

Year’s Best SF 16 edited by David Hartwell and Kathryn Cramer

Yes, there are two annual “best SF” anthologies. Both of those anthologies manage to have some great tales in them. However, I am frequently frustrated by overlap.

The Engine of Recall by Karl Schroeder

A collection of the author’s short fiction — everything from near-future stuff set here on Earth, to space opera stuff. Good reads.

The Gladiator by Harry Turtledove

My first encounter with the Crosstime Traffic series. Fun. I’m interested in picking up a few more of Turtledove’s books in this series.

The Mote in God’s Eye by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle

A classic of the SF genre, and it generally bored me to tears.

11/22/63 by Stephen King

The first King novel I’ve read in years and I plowed through it in a matter of days.

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