This Year in Books 2015
As a senior in high school I decided that it would be a worthwhile goal to read at least one book per month for the rest of my life. To allow for the variation of life, I amended that decision to read at least 12 books per year. I missed my goal in 2009 (11 books) and 2011 (10 books), but made up for it in 2013 (34 books) and 2014 (39 books).
Every year I review the books I read, to share with those I care about what interested me and as a small pool of suggested readings should anyone care to explore.
People often ask how I choose what to read. I try to cycle genres, reading one or two of each before moving on to the next. I think there is tremendous and underappreciated value in reading novels, a theory I will share at some point. I am often inspired by books about spirituality, like the Bhagavad Gita or by Pema Chodron. I try to squeeze in something non-fiction as well.
Below is my list with some brief commentary.
2015 Book Review
Nausea by Jean-Paul Sartre
Sartre is a name that gets thrown around a lot among intellectuals and angsty high school students. While having read about the man who popularized existentialism, I realized I hadn’t read anything by him. I’ll admit I could have given this one a miss. The story is fragmented, plodding, and while thought provoking, not particularly enlightening. Maybe I’m not old (or young) enough. Maybe I don’t fully grasp my impermanence and lack of importance. I’ll stick with something by Camus or Beckett to learn me.
M is for Magic by Neil Gaiman
I really wanted to like Neil Gaiman. I read Neverwehere last year, and loved it. I spent an unfortunate amount of time in a fruitless search for a sequel. M is for Magic, a collection of his short stories was mediocre. I really enjoyed The Graveyard Book, but found the rest to be a bit too pre-teen fantasy for my liking.
A Comparative View of Religions by Johannes Henricus Scholten
The Tao of Pooh by Benjamin Hoff
If you’re not as interested in reading the Tao te Ching, this is a decent substitute. I enjoyed the way the author brought such esoteric concepts down to earth through Pooh.
I Am Ozzy by Ozzy Osbourne
Rich Dad Poor Dad: What the Rich Teach Their Kids about Money that the Poor and Middle Class Do Not by Robert Kiyosaki
Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden
Taking the Leap: Freeing Ourselves from Old Habits and Fears by Pema Chodron
American Gods by Neil Gaiman
This is the novel by Neil Gaiman everyone told me I should read when I said I wasn’t that enthralled with his writing. “His masterpiece,” they said. It was a good read. I enjoyed the creativity of the story, but his writing left a bit to be desired.
The Business of the 21st Century by Robert Kiyosaki
All about multi-level marketing (MLM). I lost respect for the author after reading this. While I believe MLM businesses are ethical and have their place, I was hoping for a bit more out of a book with a title like that.
The Song Celestial, or Bhagavad Gita by Vyasa
I have been meaning to read this for years. The video of Robert Openheimer quoting it when asked what he thought of the nuclear bomb he had created is chilling, “I am become death – the destroyer of worlds.” Fifty percent of my desire to read this book was to read these lines in context. Unfortunately for me, my translation didn’t use them.
The Fires of Heaven by Robert Jordan
If you’re looking for your next fantasy series to fill the void of Game of Thrones or The Fellowship of the Ring I highly recommend the Wheel of Time series.
Stardust by Neil Gaiman
The Naked Pint: An Unadulterated Guide to Craft Beer by Christine Perozzi and Hallie Beaune
While I’m not the hugest drinker of beer, this was one of the most enjoyable reads of the year for me. A lot of other people really like beer, and now I can talk with them about it. It gave me a new appreciation for a substance that is much more complex than I had originally considered. It was also written by two women from Los Angeles. Maybe I will run into them at the filling station.
Bend Sinister by Vladimir Nobokov
It is always a toss-up between Nobokov and Murakami for my favorite author. Their prose is unmatched of the books I have read. I still hold that Lolita is the best book ever written.
A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson
As the title suggests, Bryson runs through the history of science. Beginning with the formation of the universe and detailed descriptions of scientific breakthroughs over time, I very much enjoyed reading this.
Franny and Zooey by J.D. Salinger
Essentials of Philosophy by James Mannion
2015 Book Awards
Best Book: A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson
Most Useful: The Naked Pint: An Unadulterated Guide to Craft Beer by Christine Perozzi and Hallie Beaune
Best Prose: Bend Sinister by Vladimir Nobokov
Best Non-Fiction: A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson
Best Fiction: The Fires of Heaven by Robert Jordan
Most Important: Taking the Leap: Freeing Ourselves from Old Habits and Fears by Pema Chodron
Cheers, happy New Year, and happy reading,