Monday, January 02, 2012

Books Read in 2011

Every year, I like to look back at all of the books I've read in the previous year. In the days to come, I'll no doubt be putting together a more comprehensive retrospective of my other 2011 activities, but this is a good starting point. So, on to the list (with links to my reviews, when I got around to actually reviewing them):

The Books

  1. Behemoth by Scott Westerfeld (audiobook)
  2. Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
  3. The Wealthy Writer by Michael Meanwell
  4. The Hacker Ethic and the Spirit of the Information Age by Pekka Himanen
  5. A Hacker Manifesto by McKenzie Wark
  6. The Moral Landscape by Sam Harris (audiobook)
  7. Where Good Ideas Come From: The Natural History of Innovation by Steven Johnson (audiobook)
  8. Rollback by Robert J. Sawyer (re-read)
  9. Hacking Work: Breaking Stupid Rules for Smart Results by Bill Jensen and Josh Klein (audiobook)
  10. Reality Is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World by Jane McGonigal (audiobook)
  11. I Am Number Four by Pittacus Lore
  12. The Gospel According to Jesus by Christopher Seay (audiobook)
  13. The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan
  14. WWW: Wonder by Robert J. Sawyer
  15. The Desert of Souls by Howard Andrew Jones
  16. The Amazing Story of Quantum Physics by James Kakalios (audiobook)
  17. The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff
  18. Our Choice by Al Gore (abridged audiobook)
  19. Evil Plans: Having Fun on the Road to World Domination by Hugh McLeod
  20. Quantum Man: Richard Feynman’s Life in Science by Lawrence Krauss (audiobook)
  21. The Hidden Reality: Parallel Universes and the Deep Laws of the Cosmos by Brian Greene (Kindle)
  22. Goblin Tales by Jim C. Hines (Kindle)
  23. Wild Hunt by Margaret Ronald
  24. Soul Hunt by Margaret Ronald
  25. Identity Crisis by Brad Meltzer, Rags Morales, & Michael Bair (graphic novel)
  26. Superman: Earth One by J. Michael Straczynski & Shane Davis (graphic novel)
  27. JLA: Crisis of Conscience by Geoff Johns, et. al. (graphic novel)
  28. Infinite Crisis by Geoff Johns, et. al. (graphic novel)
  29. The Stuff of Thought: Language as a Window into Human Nature by Steven Pinker (abridged audiobook)
  30. Superman: New Krypton vol. 1-4 by Geoff Johns, et. al. (graphic novel)
  31. Feynman by James Octaviani (graphic novel)
  32. Pathfinder Tales: Death's Heretic by James L. Sutter
  33. What Technology Wants by Kevin Kelly (Kindle)
  34. Practical Wisdom: The Right Way to Do the Right Thing by Barry Schwartz & Kenneth Sharpe (audiobook)
  35. Pathfinder Tales: Plague of Shadows by Howard Andrew Jones
  36. Goliath by Scott Westerfeld
  37. Kitemaster & Other Stories by Jim C. Hines (Kindle)
  38. Superheroes: The Best of Philosophy and Pop Culture edited by William Irwin (Kindle - free!)
  39. The Spiritual Power of Nonviolence: Interfaith Understanding for a Future Without War by George Wolfe (Kindle)
  40. Fool Me Twice: Fighting the Assault on Science in America by Shawn Lawrence Otto
  41. A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin
  42. A Clash of Kings by George R. R. Martin (Kindle)
  43. A Storm of Swords by George R. R. Martin (Kindle)
  44. The Lost Gate by Orson Scott Card (audiobook)
  45. The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Graham (Kindle - free or get the illustrated edition!)

Analysis - My Kindle Transformation

The record-keeping this year got a bit more complex, as I caught up on some graphic novels and decided to include them in the count. The total book counts came out to:

  • 26 books read (9 on the Kindle)
  • 7 graphic novels
  • 12 audiobooks

By and large, I've switched to buying new books on the Kindle (on my iPad app), with two exceptions:

  • I know the author and will want the book autographed
  • Review books still come in hardcopy, because publicists have yet to catch on to the idea of offering digital review copies
It took me a while to warm up to the digital books, but I'm finding it a very good format to read, especially on the iPad. The technology has progressed to the point where I do not miss the hardcopy books. Pretty much all of the books that I purchased in the second half of 2011 were in Kindle format.

The major benefit of Kindle (or other digital editions) for me is in the ability to make notes and search the book. The non-fiction I read (and even much of the fiction) is for research purposes, and being able to make notes and highlights within the book as I go is immensely valuable.

A secondary benefit of the iPad is that I am able to read with the lights off while my wife is sleeping. There's an option to switch to a black background with white text, and I find that this doesn't provide the backlighting problems that sometimes can come from a bright white background with black text.

A quick tally indicates to me that about 17 of them were purchased by me (although some were purchased before 2011), 5 were provided as free review copies from the publisher, 2 were obtained as free Kindle editions (links above), leaving 21 that I got from the library, which also now offers Kindle editions.

My number of audiobooks (mostly from the library) have also dropped dramatically, primarily because I've begun listening to podcasts (especially physics podcasts) more often than audiobooks. Also, I have begun working at home full time, so my 4+ hours of commuting time a week is gone, which also drops the amount of time I have to listen to anything.

The History

Here are some of my previous reading lists, offered here merely for the sake of completeness:


Unknown said...

Hey Andrew, what do you think of digital comics, on the whole? Do you think reading Spider-Man on the iPad will become a viable "replacement" for collecting the individual issues? Do you subscribe or use any digital services? I'm curious to know your thoughts on this.

azjauthor said...

Tony - Yes, I have the Comixology, DC Comics, Marvel Comics, and Dark Horse apps on my iPad. (The DC Comic app is really just the Comixology app with a DC-themed skin on it, which downloads only DC Comics.) The handful of "The new 52" comics that I checked out this year was through Comixology, and I've bought a couple of Joss Whedon's comics - one short-run Firefly comic & the Dr. Horrible comic - through Dark Horse. The graphics are very good on these editions, and it's gotten me to buy some comics that I wouldn't have bought the hardcopy editions of, probably, because of the ease of getting them.

The problem is what will happen to the local comic book stores. These are the bread and butter of the comics industry, and I believe that comics companies have a genuine business interest in seeing that they thrive, so there'll have to be some way to help the comics stores. I think they've begun doing things like releasing hardcopies of JLA poly-bagged with codes to get free digital editions ... but, unfortunately, this may be a way of driving people away from the store to the digital store. I, unfortunately, can't think of any good way to build real synergy with the brick-and-mortar stores.