2017 was a good year for reading. I was planning on 17 books, because I’m cheesy like that, but I read 26! My plan to read through my bookcase is going very well. Towards the end of the year I got myself a Kindle. I don’t want to accumulate more physical books in my house, so this is the way to go for me. Without further ado, the 26 books of 2017!
My Orwell phase
1. Some thoughts on the common toad – George Orwell
This has been the year of Orwell for me. I had his books in my list for a long time. Orwell has an easy writing style that explains complicated thoughts in the most effortless way. There’s one thing I kept from this book: “Every time you commit an antisocial act, make a note of it in your diary, and then, at the appropriate season, plant a tree to be a pleasure for tens of thousands of people for generations to come.”
2. Books v. cigarettes – George Orwell
Orwell’s essays are quite autobiographic. Among lighter essays, there are two that stayed with me, a long essay on his childhood and another one about a hospital stay in France. It’s really difficult to read about another human being suffering. This book, although heavy, will give you an insight about how Orwell ideas came in shape.
3. 1984 – George Orwell
A must-read book for everyone. It’s no luck this is a classic.
The feminist reads
4. Men explain things to me – Rebecca Solnit
This was my first feminist read ever. I’m not a classic feminist. In fact, I may not be a feminist at all. I’m an advocate of equal rights among all human beings regardless the race, the gender, etc. I have been lucky in my life not to experience any discrimination and this book made me realize how women may be treated differently. I’m not sure how to judge this book compared to its genre, as I haven’t read much on this topic. However, this is a collection of essays that have been published before on the Internet. In fact they are available online and I felt it was a waste of money. (Sorry, not sorry!)
5. Testosterone Rex: Myths of Sex, Science, and Society – Cordelia Fine
I don’t usually fight on the Internet with people, but I did on the Goodread reviews of this book. I don’t know how accurate the scientific conclusions the author draws are, but I know how confirmation bias works and I can imagine scientists wanting to confirm their world view. This is how a human brain works. Is sex a social construction? Well, that discussion goes way beyond this book and you’d have to go deep into research to be able to decide for yourself. My take-away from this book was that a ton more research is needed on the topic.
6. The Joy of Sex – Alex Comfort
This came as a gift. If you already have an open mind, there’s nothing you’ll learn from it. If you don’t have an open mind, I don’t think you’ll pick it up in the first place.
7. The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom – Miguel Ruiz
First hate of the year. This is supposed to be a book directed to everyone, regardless of their beliefs. Everyone, apart from people who are non-secular. The author repeats the same (really good) ideas again and again and again, as if the reader does not understand. The worst part is that he supports them using non-facts, which bothers me, because his ideas are really good and you don’t have to support them with stupid arguments. Also this book is in need of an editor, who will remove half of it.
8. Facing Codependence: What It Is, Where It Comes from, How It Sabotages Our Lives – Pia Mellody
A very practical guide to co-dependend behaviors. After reading this, it was easy to notice when a behavior was off. The only downside is that it doesn’t go beyond this. There are no suggested ways to face the problem. Maybe it’s best to ask a specialist in person though, instead of looking at a book for help.
9. Talk Like TED: The 9 Public-Speaking Secrets of the World’s Top Minds – Carmine Gallo
Took me more than 6 months to finish. Although very practical, I felt this book dragged on for too long (This is a problem I have with most books though. Where are the editors?). I wouldn’t recommend it. The only upside is that this book took me into the world of TED, where I watched amazing presentations from talented speakers in a variety of topics. You don’t need a book to do that though.
10. Organizing for Your Lifestyle: Adaptable Inspirations from Socks to Suitcases – Jane Stoller
I consider myself an organizing expert, but I got this book as PR and then I fell into the trap of organizing. The author has a very different lifestyle from me, but I kept some of her suggestions. I wrote a full review of this book here.
11. The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing – Marie Kondo
The second organizing book is very hyped up, but not without a reason. The author suggests a novel approach to tidying up, one that I found very useful. She claims people who follow her approach, never rebound to clutter. Having read her book, I went ahead and let go of things I had stored for years. It’s a must-read.
12. Kids don’t need a psychologist. They need parents! – Nikos Sideris
Nikos Sideris probably knows my family. That’s what I felt at least when I read this book. He mentions several behaviors as examples, that have happened to me at one point or another. This book is targeted towards parents and I still feel that I need a psychologist to help me navigate the world of being an offspring.
13. Civilization and its discontents – Sigmund Freud
It’s the second time I read this book. If you pick it up, you should read it in one go, or at least without lengthy breaks. Well written and a must-read in my eyes.
14. The autobiography of light – George Grammatikakis
Grammatikakis is a favorite. This books goes through the history of physics from ancient times to now. Even though it is 477 pages long, I devoured every word. Popular science at its finest. It’s unfortunate you cannot find it in English.
15. Berenice’s hair – George Grammatikakis
Very similar to the autobiography of light, “Berenice’s hair” is about cosmology. Once again, I devoured every word and didn’t want this book to finish. I doubt you can find this in English either, but if you do, pick it up. It’s worth it.
16. Pharaoh – Valerio Massimo Manfredi
Gripping crime novel with many historical details. Manfredi is perfect to read on vacations and holidays. His books go fast and are light. The plot was good and I didn’t guess many things until the last chapter, which is always a good thing.
17. Chimaira – Valerio Massimo Manfredi
I picked up a second (and there’ll be a third one for 2018) book from the same line. The main character is different. The plot was not my favorite. I was a bit disappointed, since I liked Pharaoh. This book belongs in the crime novel genre as well, and it can be read fast while laying on the beach or in front of the fireplace.
Fiction and math
18. The Wild Numbers – Philibert Schogt
Most of the books on my selves are novels about mathematics. Even though I wasn’t sold on the writing, I could see myself in the main character. All the difficulties researchers face in a book. I gave this to my parents. Maybe they’ll understand what I dislike in my job.
19. Les Cheveux de Bérénice – Denis Guedj
Denis Guedj is one of my favorite fiction author, in this genre (the mathematical novel). In this story he describes how Eratosthenis calculated the perimeter of the earth, many years before the invention of the GPS. It’s an interesting read that will make you want to travel to Egypt. Loved it and it’s a book I strongly recommend.
20. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll
Now, you’re wondering why I put Alice in the mathematical novel genre, but it was on the same list of books, because Lewis Carroll was a mathematician and you can see the influence in his writing. Of course this book is a must-read.
21. Volvo Lastvagnar – Erlend Loe
I love Erlend Loe and I read several of his books in 2016 and 2017. This one is the second book of the Doppler series. Doppler is a typical Norwegian who gets fed up with his life, leaves his wife and children and moves to the woods. It’s funny, Erlend Loe type of funny. There’s a third book I plan to read in 2018. I don’t think you can find this in English, but if you can then I recommend it (the Doppler series that is).
22. Gone with the Woman – Erlend Loe
This is one of the first books Loe wrote and it’s about a guy whose mind was taken by a woman. Even though when I was reading it, I thought “Come on! Who gets manipulated that much!”, I recognized the main character in many people I know. This book is funny AF. Again, if you can find it in English, go ahead.
The ones friends recommended to me
23. Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine – Gail Honeyman
Before I picked Eleanor Oliphant up, I googled and found that it’s going to be a movie starring Reese Witherspoon. I couldn’t help but imagining her all through the book. If there’s a funny and light, yet serious way, to talk about abuse and mental issues, this is the one. I loved it, every word. RECOMMENDED!
24. A Little Life – Hanya Yanagihara
This book has people liking a lot and people hating it. I fall somewhere in the middle. If find it’s way too long (could be half and probably edited better). The main character is too American in a bad way, he is perfect yet abused massively. Both seem extreme. He can’t be that perfect and that good and even abuse has its limits. All in all, I didn’t feel any empathy for him and that was my main issue. Lastly, it was a very classic story of codependency handled very wrong. Half way through the book, actually before that, I wanted the main character dead and I wanted to tell the rest of the characters that they need counseling. I guess I didn’t like the book after all and I didn’t find it of exceptional literary quality either. If you decide to pick this up, let me know how you liked it.
25. The Saviors of God – Nikos Kazantzakis
I don’t know how it escaped me (maybe because his books were mandatory reading at school), but I hadn’t realized Kazantzakis was a skeptic of religion. In this book, he wrote about his beliefs and philosophy in a very poetic way. In my eyes this is a must read and a masterpiece.
26. In Consolation to His Wife – Plutarch
A self-help book written almost 2000 years ago. What I found interesting is that woman’s place at that time is portrayed in different parts of the book and it’s not a good one. All in all, I kept finding myself referring to this book throughout the year, so I consider it a good one and a must-read.