The Books I Read in 2015
Going into last year I had the idea that I would read 40 books. I once heard a really smart person I admire say that they read about 56 books a year so I figured this was the year I step up my game and be the type of man/book reader/thinking person I always wanted to be. Needless to say — I failed.
Below is the complete list — in order — of books I read last year, including a few poorly thought out reviews of some.
Hatching Twitter: A True Story of Money, Power, Friendship, and Betrayal by Nick Bilton
This was my first book of the year and remains one of my favorites. It is nonfiction but reads like a thriller and is begging to be made into a movie directed by David Fincher. Read it!
Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
In a year where I read very little fiction, this book stood out to me as great fiction. It is about a band of Shakespearian actors traveling around a post apocalyptic Great Lakes region, performing plays and preserving culture for those who still on earth. Need I say more?!?
The Trouble with Poetry by Billy Collins*
*Ok so this is technically a book of poetry but since my overall reading was so limited this year I am counting it as a full on book! Plus poetry is hard to read and understand so what it lacks in page count it makes up for in depth. Billy Collins is an American treasure and I am super happy I started reading him this year. Next time you are at the book store, just stop by the Poetry section and read one of his poems, any one at all, and I personally promise that you will fall in love. Unless you don’t have a soul, in which case you won’t like his poetry but that is the least of your problems.
New Slow City by Living Simply in the World’s Fastest City by William Powers
The whole concept of this book is about trying to live a slow, simple, quiet life in New York. It sounds impossible and after reading this book, I still think it is. I don’t know why but instead of calming me down this book made me angrier and angrier. I don’t even know why I finished it. That being said, that is more a reflection on what is wrong with me than with this book — if the concept sounds interesting you should still check it out.
Neither Here Nor There: Travels in Europe by Bill Bryson
Bill Bryson is a god among men. If you read anything he writes and don’t find it funny I probably won’t like you.
Notes from a Small Island by Bill Bryson
^See note above^
Bossypants by Tina Fey
Read this entirely in one sitting while visiting my mom in the hospital. It managed to cheer me up during a dark time but I would NOT recommend reading it in this manner!
Becoming Steve Jobs: The Evolution of a Reckless Upstart into a Visionary Leader by Brent Schlender and Rick Tetzeli
If you reach Walter Isaacson’s biography of Steve Jobs than you should also read this. It paints a more complex picture of his life, showing that he wasn’t just a mad genius, but also a sensitive human being. It also digs deeper into his years away from Apple for all you hardcore nerds out there.
Creativity Inc: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand In the Way of True Inspiration by Ed Catmull
This book is more for a business minded person that a creative one. It takes you inside of Pixar but not as deeply as I would have liked.
Fever Pitch by Nick Hornby
This is much much better than the movie adaptation starring Jimmy Fallon. It takes place in London and is about an obsessive Arsenal fan. It is a must read for anyone who digs sports.
Eight World Cups: My Journey through the Beauty and Dark Side of Soccer by George Vecsey
Soccer/Sports nerds only — this one goes deep into the magic of the World Cup but only if you find the World Cup magical.
Long-Range Goals: The Success Story of Major League Soccer by Beau Dure
Would only recommend this to the nerdiest of soccer nerds and even then I would hesitate to recommend it.
If for any reason you are interested in soccer in America, you should read The Beckham Experiment instead.
One Summer: America 1927 by Bill Bryson
This is another favorite of mine from this year. One, because Bill Bryson can write about anything and make it interesting and Two, because 1927 was a crazy year for America. It’s about flying and baseball and crime and it’s amazing. Spoiler Alert: Charles Lindberg was a Nazi (sort of)
The Right Stuff by Tom Wolfe
When I grow up I want to be a fast talking, hard drinking fighter pilot/astronaut. If you also share this dream of mine you should read this book twice. It is the true story of America’s first ever astronauts and what a story it is. Easily the best book I read this year, possibly one of the best I have ever read. Spoiler Alert: John Glenn is an overachiever.
The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
In a year where I read very little fiction, this book stood out to me as not very good fiction. The concept is interesting though — maybe listen to like, the abridged version on Audible?
The Martian by Andy Weir
I was going through a major space phase in my life while reading this (see The Right Stuff) so I pretty much loved everything about it. It is fun as hell and I loved the way it was written. If you were a human being in 2015 you probably read this or saw the movie adaption so I don’t need to explain what this is about.
You should also listen to this interview with the author or any others you can find on the internet. His story is a really inspirational one.
The Art of Memoir by Mary Karr
I will admit I have never read any of Mary Karr’s books but I am sort of working on a personal writing project and thought this book would be helpful and it a lot of ways it was. I also heard an interview with Karr on NPR that made me go home and download this book write away. She teaches a graduate course on memoir writing and this book basically covers what she teaches in her course. Also, if you haven’t figured out that I am white by the end of this paragraph you need to get better at picking up on context clues.
As far as books about writing I think nothing beats On Writing by Steven King. I would start here before going full-Karr.
Bella Tuscany by Frances Mayes
I don’t know why I like France Mayes as much as I do. I read her first book, I read her second book (this one) and I am currently reading her third. If she has a fourth (I think she might) — I will probably read that too. These books are all about a middle aged woman (Frances) looking out the window at the Tuscan landscape while she slices tomatoes and reflects about her life back in America. Like, why the hell do I like these books?!? I can’t put them down even though I should and for that reason I recommend you at least try it if only so we can one day grab a beer and gossip about Frances.
Harry Potter and The Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling
If you don’t dig Harry Potter you are probably an ISIS sympathizer. Seriously, J.K. Rowling has gotten me through some dark sh*t and you know she has done the same for you.
Started In 2015 But Not Finished:
The Job: True Tales from the Life of a New York City Cop by Steve Osborne
This guy started telling stories about being a cop in New York at Moth events which got him a book deal. Each chapter tells a different story and I am just about done reading it — I would recommend listening to some of his stories online before buying this to see if you like his humor.
Mother Tongue: English and How it Got That Way by Bill Bryson
Chasing the Game: America and the Quest for the World Cup by Filip Bondy
Your Fathers, Where Are They? And the Prophets, Do They Live Forever? by Dave Eggers
I love David Eggers as much for his books as for his knack of finding the most pretentious book titles possible (see list below). That being said — after loving The Circle and A Hologram for the King, I found this book hard to get through and ultimately gave up on it. If you’d like to give it a try, you can borrow my copy.
- A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius
- You Shall Know Our Velocity
- The Unforbidden is Compulsory
- The Day Before The Day We Met for The First Time**
- How the Water Feels to the Fishes
- What is the What
**Note: I made this one up myself, but you probably couldn’t tell. Hopefully when Dave Eggers gets around to reading this list he will reach out to me for help titling his next novel. I got you Dave! Also — if you are thinking about stealing that title from me for your own little book project, think again! That title will either be used by me or my soon-to-be-good-friend, Dave Eggers.
Johnson’s Life of London: The People Who Made the City that Made the World by Boris Johnson
I was in the mood to read about european history — you know how you get into those moods from time to time right? — so I picked this book up and have been slowly reading it every since. I aspire to be a better looking Boris Johnson one day. Anyone who lives in New York and thinks it is the center of the universe should read this book.
A Soccer Fan Follows His Team Around Italy in Search of Dreams, National Character and…Goals! by Tim Parks
#GIRLBOSS by Sophia Amoruso
This book is not just for women and fans of hashtags — Sophia’s story of building a huge business from her garage is funny and informative and inspiring. I would have finished it in 2015 but I left it in my apartment before I went away for the holidays.
Harry Potter and The Order of The Phoenix by J.K. Rowling
Everyday in Tuscany by Frances Mayes
More or Frances being Frances. Lots of looking at hills and stars and cyprus trees and pondering what went wrong in first marriage while dreaming of what to make for dinner. I hate myself for reading this. I shouldn’t finish it but I will.
A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James
This book is bigger than most apartments in New York City and has 70+ characters in it, most of which speak in a Jamaican slang that is incredibly hard to understand. That being said, this has been one of the best books I have read in a while. It is about crime and communism and reggae music and love and reads like an epic poem. When I am not reading this book I am listening to Bob Marley while researching neighborhoods of Kingston and Montego Bay and reading articles about Rastafari. It will take me a long time to finish but thats the point maybe?
Also Marlon James is an awesome human and you should listen to his interviews, even if it is just to hear his accent.
Armada by Ernest Cline
Ready Player One was a very fun book to read — even if some of the references went over my head. Cline’s follow up book is proving to be fun so far but certainly not as exciting to me as his first.