On this final day of the year let’s do some more looking back. The last time I posted books read was in 2011. But that doesn’t mean I stopped reading. On the contrary.
Goodreads tells me I read 36 books in 2015, which was the goal I set myself for this year. I will admit not all of these are big reads. Some are short pamphlets and there is also a comic or two thrown in.
I think I am going to stick with this target for next year and I will also stick with reading widely. A few books were read because of a project at Hubbub for which I felt the need to delve more deeply in the subject matter. This is a good way to stretch intellectually. I also started experimenting with asking people who know me personally what novel I should read next which has led to some delightful discoveries. So I will continue to do that too.
Anyway, here they are in order of date read. Particular favourites are marked with a ❤️. I’ve written short reviews for most of these so I’ve provided links to those too.
- Blue Mars, Kim Stanley Robinson
- Science, Strategy and War: The Strategic Theory of John Boyd, Frans Osinga ❤️
- Play Matters, Miguel Sicart ❤️
- The Vulture, Gil Scott-Herron
- You Need A Budget, Jesse Mecham ❤️
- The Hunters, James Salter ❤️
- Arnhem 1944: The Airborne Battle, Martin Middlebrook
- Generation X, Douglas Coupland
- The Turn of the Screw, Henry James
- The Organisation Man, William Whyte
- The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Mark Twain
- The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain
- On Liberty, John Stuart Mill
- The Man Who Was Thursday: A Nightmare, G.K. Chesterton
- The Riddle of the Sands, Erskine Childers
- Mutual Aid, Pyotr Kropotkin
- The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, Marie Kondo ❤️
- Dubliners, James Joyce
- Adolescent Mental Health: Prevention and Intervention, Terje Ogden
- Ancillary Sword, Ann Leckie
- Kanban and Scrum — Making the Most of Both, Henrik Kniberg
- Personal Kanban: Mapping Work — Navigating Life, Jim Benson ❤️
- Sugar Skull, Charles Burns
- X’Ed Out, Charles Burns
- Agile Game Development with Scrum, Clinton Keith
- Blood Meridian: Or the Evening Redness in the West, Cormac McCarthy ❤️
- A Fire Upon the Deep, Vernor Vinge
- Morgen zijn we in Pamplona, Jan van Mersbergen
- A Visit from the Goon Squad, Jennifer Egan ❤️
- The Invincible Iron Man: Extremis, Warren Ellis
- Design for the Real World: Human Ecology and Social Change, Victor Papanek
- Ocean Sea, Alessandro Baricco
- Ancillary Mercy, Ann Leckie
- Thrown, Kerry Howley
- PACE: A Small Business Owner’s Guide to Complete Cash Flow Clarity, Jesse Mecham
- Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly, Anthony Bourdain
Putting this here so I can point to it. Such an important concept that has really changed the way I approach decision making. I used to operate in something like an observe-decide-act manner. But understanding that you can orient to change your options is crucial for the ability to win.
Orientation is the Schwerpunkt. It shapes the way we interact with the environment — hence orientation shapes the way we observe, the way we decide, the way we act.
Orientation shapes the character of present observation-orientation-decision-action loops — while these present loops shape the character of future orientation.
—John Boyd, Organic Design for Command and Control
Well what do you know, a blog post. Because looking back is the thing people do this time of year and I actually have the luxury of time to look back for a change, I thought I’d compile a list of albums I enjoyed listening to in 2015 that were also released in 2015.
There were quite a few albums I listened to this year that weren’t released in 2015. Those don’t show up here. If you’re curious, there is always Last.fm. Most notably, I discovered The Hold Steady through BEE and got seriously hooked on ‘Boys And Girls In America’. Some of the best rock music made this side of ‘Born in the U.S.A.’, if you ask me.
Anyway, here is a list of the 15 albums from 2015 that I listened to the most, in order of number of plays. A ❤️ denotes a particular favourite. If you want to have a listen, here’s a Spotify playlist.
- DJ Koze – DJ Kicks ❤️ (Just a flawless mix of delightful tunes that lift the spirit.)
- Blur – The Magic Whip ❤️ (Lyrically interesting, sonically a kind of review or repetition of their whole oeuvre. Atmospherically I think they captured the spirit of the times quite well.)
- Tame Impala – Currents (The falsetto gets on my nerves some times, but the opening tracks have an irresistible groove to them.)
- Courtney Barnett – Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit ❤️ (Strong contender for album of the year. Funny, imaginative lyrics and music that simply rocks.)
- Kurt Vile – b’lieve i’m goin down… ❤️ (It is kind of amazing to me how Vile keeps churning out one great record after an other. This is his most optimistic to date.)
- Jamie XX – In Colour (There are a few letdowns on this one preventing it to be the kind of dance music album you play on repeat.)
- Kendrick Lamar – To Pimp A Butterfly (All over the place. I dig the nods to P‑Funk.)
- Everything Everything – Get To Heaven (I binged on this in July and have hardly listened to it since because of the love hate relationship with the singer’s voice. But this remains delightfully eclectic and energetic.)
- Dr. Dre – Compton (Not available on Spotify but I mention it here because I enjoyed the return to uncomplicated west side hiphop it offers.)
- Carly Rae Jepsen – Emotion (Obligatory guilty pleasure. Each year I get hooked on one of these female pop stars. This was Carly Rae’s year.)
- Miguel – Wildheart (Easily the best R&B album of the year. Versatile, sexy, musically interesting.)
- Royal Headache – High (Great throwback to punk that sounds fresh at the same time. Great lyrics.)
- Destroyer – Poison Season (Wasn’t so sure about this one until seeing them live (again) at Le Guess Who? and now that I’ve heard the songs live I understand what they’re trying to do here. These songs are meant to sound BIG.)
- Deerhunter – Fading Frontier ❤️ (Another album of the year hopeful. Most accessible album of a band that continues to fascinate. Musically and lyrically imaginative and exciting.)
- Majical Cloudz – Are You Alone? (I return to this for its intimate atmosphere.)
I should have listened to these more but somehow didn’t. Here they are in no particular order.
- Lower Dens – Escape From Evil
- Ought – Sun Coming Down
- Beach House – Depression Cherry
- Kelela – Hallucinogen
- FKA twigs – M3LL155X
- Ratking – 700 Fill