Things I Read This Year: Book Recs

booksbooksbooksBetween January 2014 and today, I read 111 books. Goodreads claims that this comes down to 11,211 pages read, but I’d round almost 1,000 pages off that for reference sections. I’ve got the complete list below my comments, alphabetized by authors. These are all books I completed, so they’re all good enough to keep my attention for their pages (exceptions to this rule marked with a red asterisk).

For best all-around writing about psychology, I enjoyed The Secret Life of Pronouns.

If you’re looking to get inspired into more growth mindset, I thought Mindset was bad at science writing and excellent at inspiring me in a way reading the research hadn’t.

For science ethics, The Master Switch and Bad Pharma. (Both of these are highly recommended overall)

For the best habit book I’ve read, Making Habits, Breaking Habits.

A note on Jeffrey Deaver, who takes up much of my fiction section. Do you like mysteries? Do you like plot twists that are consistently surprising but not full of deus ex machina? Do you like human, interesting, dimensional disabled characters? You may like Jeffrey Deaver, one of my favorite mystery writers.

Emily Bazelon wrote the most nuanced Social Issues book I read (Sticks and Stones), with three case studies of bullying and an exploration of the research and attitudes surrounding childhood bullying.

I don’t even like biographies all that much, and I couldn’t put down any of Walter Isaacson’s HUGE bios. (I’m still working on the one on Henry Kissinger)

And before the full list, the top ten books that shaped my 2014, for interestingness or impact or sheer New Ideas:

1. The Virtues of Our Vices, Emrys Westacott
2. The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America, Erik Larson
3. Americanah, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
4. The Master Switch: The Rise and Fall of Information Empires, Tim Wu
5. Sticks and Stones: Defeating the Culture of Bullying and Rediscovering Empathy, Emily Bazelon
6. Making Habits, Breaking Habits, Jeremy Dean
7. Bad Pharma, Ben Goldacre
8. The New Jim Crow, Michelle Alexander
9. The Steerswoman Series, Rosemary Kirstein
10. Good Omens, Terry Pratchett & Neil Gaiman


Why Does He Do That?, Lundy Bancroft
Willpower, Roy Baumeister
An Unconventional Family, Sandra Bem (rr)
Epistemology and the Psychology of Human Judgement, Michael Bishop & J.D. Trout
Feeling Good Together*, David Burns
Making Habits, Breaking Habits, Jeremy Dean
Mindset, Carol Dweck
Stuff: Compulsive Hoarding and the Meaning of Things, Randy O. Frost & Gail Sketekee
Stumbling on Happiness, Daniel Gilbert
Asylums, Erving Goffman
Listening to Prozac, Peter Kramer
The Secret Life of Pronouns, Jay Pennebaker
I Don’t Want To Talk About It, Terrence Real
The Transsexual Empire: The Making of the She-Male*, Janice G. Redmond
Hallucinations, Oliver Sacks
Achilles in Vietnam: Combat Trauma and the Undoing of Character*, Jonathan Shay
Is There No Place On Earth For Me?, Susan Sheehan
Mistakes Were Made (But Not By Me), Carol Tavris & Scott Aronson


All The President’s Men, Carl Bernstein & Bob Woodward
Turing’s Cathedral: The Origins of the Digital Universe, George Dyson
The Trial of Henry Kissinger, Christopher Hitchens
Albert Einstein: His Life and Universe, Walter Isaacson
Steve Jobs, Walter Isaacson
Stateville, James B. Jacobs
The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America, Erik Larson
In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler’s Berlin, Erik Larson
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, Rebecca Skloot
American Psychosis, E. Fuller Torrey
The Master Switch, Tim Wu

Other Non-Fiction

The New Jim Crow, Michelle Alexander
Smarter Than Us, Stuart Armstrong
Sticks and Stones: Defeating the Culture of Bullying and Rediscovering Empathy, Emily Bazelon
Hyperbole and a Half, Allie Brosh
Asian American Women and Men: Labor, Laws, and Love, Yen Le Espiritu
The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down, Anne Fadiman
Thank You For Your Service, David Finkel
Bad Pharma, Ben Goldacre
The Empathy Exams, Leslie Jamison
Orange is the New Black, Piper Kerman
What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions, Randall Munroe
The Unpersuadables, Will Storr (also author of my favorite psychology longform this year)
Tiny, Beautiful Things, Cheryl Strayed
Wild, Cheryl Strayed
The Virtues of Our Vices, Emry Westacott
Adulting: How to Become an Adult in 462 Easyish Steps, Kelly Williams Brown

Non-Fiction, Feminism

Misinformed Consent, Lise Cloutier-Steele
Women, Race, & Class, Angela Davis
Bad Feminist, Roxane Gay


Life After Life, Kate Atkinson
Americanah, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Alice I Have Been, Melanie Benjamin
Against the Tide, Elizabeth Camden
Shadow of the Hegemon, Orson Scott Card
Speaker For The Dead, Orson Scott Card
Stories of Your Life and Others, Ted Chiang
The Maze Runner, James Dashner
The Kill Room, Jeffrey Deaver
A Maiden’s Grave, Jeffrey Deaver (rr)
Mistress of Justice, Jeffrey Deaver (rr) 
The October List, Jeffrey Deaver
Praying for Sleep, Jeffrey Deaver (rr)
Triple Threat: Three Original Stories, Jeffrey Deaver
XO, Jeffrey Deaver (rr)
Fault Line, Christa Desir
Room, Emma Donoghue
Dark Places, Gillian Flynn
If I Stay, Gayle Forman
An American Heiress, Daisy Goodwin
An Abundance of Katherines, John Green (rr)
Looking for Alaska, John Green
Paper Towns, John Green
Fear of Flying, Erica Jong
Beekeeping For Beginners, Laurie King
The Bones of Paris, Laurie King
Touchstone, Laurie King
The Language of Power, Rosemary Kirstein
The Outskirter’s Secret, Rosemary Kirstein
The Steerswoman, Rosemary Kirstein
The Stepford Wives, Ira Levin
Every Day, David Levithan
Will Grayson, Will Grayson, David Levithan
The Screwtape Letters, C.S. Lewis
Alice in Tumblr-land, Tim Manley
A Clash of Kings, George R.R. Martin
A Dance With Dragons, George R.R. Martin
A Feast of Crows, George R.R. Martin
A Game of Thrones, George R.R. Martin
A Storm of Swords, George R.R. Martin
Reconstructing Amelia, Kimberly McCreight
Perdido Street Station, China Meiville
Woman on the Edge of Time, Marge Percy
The Abstinence Teacher, Tom Perotta
Battle Magic, Tamora Pierce
Tortall and Other Stories, Tamora Pierce
Guards! Guards!, Terry Pratchett
Moving Pictures, Terry Pratchett
Pyramids, Terry Pratchett
Small Gods, Terry Pratchett
Wee Free Men, Terry Pratchett
Good Omens, Terry Pratchett & Neil Gaiman
The Amber Spyglass, Phillip Pullman
The Golden Compass, Phillip Pullman
The Subtle Knife, Phillip Pullman
Divergent, Veronica Roth
Daemon, Daniel Suarez
Freedom™, Daniel Suarez
Sophie’s Choice*, William Styron

With many thanks to Miri for leading by example and making me feel encouraged to read more, to Mike for getting me Good Omens and starting the Pratchett binge, to Leah for consistent good book choices, and to Jesse, for his bookshelves.


3 thoughts on “Things I Read This Year: Book Recs

  1. Thanks for sharing, that is really interesting. I noticed that almost all of what you’ve read is from the past 50 years (C.S. Lewis was the only exception I saw). So you’re missing the ancients, medieval writers, the Enlightenment, Elizabethans, 18th century, 19th century, most of the 20th century…

    1. There’s a reason for that! Mostly, the reason is that I’ve read a bunch of it in previous years. My favorite book is a collection of Sherlock Holmes, followed closely by some of Agatha Christie’s. I tried Le Mort d’Arthur but had trouble finishing it, loved The Canterbury Tales, and like all of Jane Austen, except Pride and Prejudice. The problem is that at the pace I read, current writers are the only ones that keep writing.

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