My 52 Books of 2015

By February 28, 2016Reading

Here are all the books I read in 2015. At the end, I’ve included some comments, reflection, and analysis.

NB: the first # after each book is my initial rating on Goodreads; the second is my more recent revised rating. Years from now these will surely change further!


Must-Reads!

The ones you shouldn’t miss. I promise these are superb.

Great Reads!

Ones I really enjoyed, but…for whatever reason seem less essential.

Probably Worth a Read!

These are pretty good. They’ll likely neither disappoint nor elate you.

No Need to Read!

Skip without guilt…life is too short for mediocre books.


Statistical overview:

  • Total books read in 2015: 52
  • Fiction: 19
  • Nonfiction: 30
  • Poetry/Other: 3
  • Average rating: 4.13 (Goodreads) / 3.94 (More granular post-hoc ratings)

Comparison:

For the sake of comparison, here are my lists for the last two years:

My 56 Books of 2013
My 48 Books of 2014

The last few years I’ve been trending more towards reading fiction. (Fiction books read, past three years: from 10 to 13 to 19; nonfiction down from 45 to 33 to 30.) I think this is good; it’s important to keep a good balance!

Also, overall a slightly higher average Goodreads rating, and a few more books I loved. Not that different, but I like to think I’m gradually getting better at only choosing to read books I think will be really good! (However I’m still clearly reluctant to abandon bad books partway through…)

This year I went back and re-rated the books I read on a more granular scale. This led to fairly significantly lower ratings overall; it seems I tend to rate books more harshly after some time has passed…though around 25% did garner a slightly higher rating the second time around!

Favorites:

Mostly clear from above, but I’ll reiterate how good Moby Dick and Don Quixote are — two incredible classics, both vying for “greatest novel ever” status. If I’d read just these two books it still may have been my best year ever for reading fiction.

I also really loved Le Ton beau de Marot. It’s a fantastically compelling exploration of translation, and a rare book that could only come from of decades of obsession by a marvelous mind.

Least favorites:

Clear from above, so I won’t add detail here. Still only around 4 or 5 books I regret reading (similar to previous years), which seems not bad a ratio.

Challenges:

The last couple years I’ve identified roughly six books per year that I found somehow challenging. This year I’d list Moby Dick, Don Quixote, Le Ton beau de Marot, The Anthrobscene, Founders at Work, and The Intelligent Investor in that category. None really stretched me, though, and I feel like I should keep trying harder here!

Surprises:

Origins of Form (surprisingly fascinating); An Episode in the Life of a Landscape Painter (surprisingly beautiful writing); Bolo’Bolo (surprising ideas); The Starship & The Canoe (surprising adventure); Meditations (surprisingly repetitive); A Bestiary of Booksellers (surprisingly cool format/conceit for a book); The Periodic Kingdom (ditto); Bartleby the Scrivener (surprisingly short); The Martial (surprisingly thin, and disappointing dialogue/characterization); So You Want to Be a Librarian (surprisingly impoverished in imagining what librarianship can be).


Do you have a similar list? I’d love to see it! Feel free to share as a response here, or holler at me on Twitter!

Also published on Medium.

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