Ten noteworthy books I read in 2015

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Since getting a Kindle last Christmas, I have started reading even more. This is my personal list of noteworthy books I read in 2015. In no particular order, we have:

  1. Seveneves, by Neal Stephenson: A truly epic tale of the near-extinction and re-birth of humanity. In some ways, this book even rivals the love I feel towards Stephenson’s Cryptonomicon. Read this if you are even slightly interested in science or space.

  2. The Psychology of Invention in the Mathematical Field, by Jacques Hadamard: I was overjoyed to find this in the bargain bin of a bookshop. Hadamard studies nothing less than the way mathematicians invent (or discover) mathematics. The result is an engaging work with (unfortunately) vague answers that are not generally applicable. Still, it rekindled my interest in these topics and I look forward to reading more formalized works from this area.

  3. Effective Modern C++, by Scott Meyers: Meyers continues to amaze me with his in-depth knowledge of this most peculiar programming language (…as majestic as troops with banners…). If you want to do serious work with C++11 or C++14, read this book. No excuses.

  4. Embassytown, by China Miéville: A captivating story about humanity’s contact with a truly alien race and their unique language. If you ever wondered about what a species would live like if the (discredited) Sapir-Whorf hypothesis was fully true, you will enjoy this book as much as I did.

  5. Parable of the Sower, by Octavia E. Butler: Set in a failing world that is not much unlike our own, Butler describes the tale of a young woman and her struggle for survival. In contrast to many other books describing an apocalyptic event, this one really hit a spot because the reader can feel the world crumble while reading—and the fall is not preceded by loud bangs but rather by quiet whispers.

  6. The Opposite of Loneliness: Essays and Stories, by Marina Keegan: Published posthumously after the untimely death of this young writer, this is a collection of her work. At times, it was painful to read with the knowledge that the spark of a great writer that is easily glimpsed in the book would never mature. The stories speak of a hunger for life, of possibilities, of uncertainty, and of fear. If you read only one essay, read Even Artichokes have Doubts.

  7. Goddess of the Market, by Jennifer Burns: After reading this biography of Ayn Rand, I may finally re-read her books with more sympathy and more appreciation. Read this if you think that Atlas Shrugged is “not a book to be tossed away lightly—it should be hurled with great forced”. At the very least, you may understand the thought patterns of political conservatives and libertarians better.

  8. After the Fall, Before the Fall, During the Fall, by Nancy Kress: In my ongoing quest to read more books written by women, I had already encountered the writings of Nancy Kress. Although this was also a book about the apocalypse, I enjoyed the way Kress intertwined multiple perspectives about The Fall. Although the resolution of the novel is slightly campy, this is still a gripping tale.

  9. Muse of Fire, by Dan Simmons: Shakespeare in space—what’s not to love? After Simmons wrote himself into my heart with his extremely intelligent Hyperion Cantos and the epic Ilium/Olympos books, Muse of Fire was another formidable book in the genre of “literary science fiction”.

  10. Visualization Analysis and Design, by Tamara Munzner: A must-read in my profession. Munzner gives us a flexible framework that helps us think in a more structured manner about doing visualization.

According to goodreads, I read 63 books this year, with a total of 19131 pages. The shortest book I read had 60 pages, while the longest had 880. The average number of pages was 314. I initially wanted to read 25 books this years but got somewhat carried away.

Good reading for 2016!