Books I’ve read in 2017

Return­ing to what is some­thing of an annu­al tra­di­tion, these are the books I’ve read in 2017. I set myself the goal of get­ting to 36 and man­aged 38 in the end. They’re list­ed below with some com­men­tary on par­tic­u­lar­ly mem­o­rable or oth­er­wise note­wor­thy reads. To make things a bit more user friend­ly I’ve gone with four broad buck­ets although as you’ll see with­in each the picks range across gen­res and sub­jects.

Fiction

I always have one piece of fic­tion or nar­ra­tive non-fic­tion going. I have a long-stand­ing ‘project’ of read­ing cult clas­sics. I can’t set­tle on a top pick for the first cat­e­go­ry so it’s going to have to be a tie between Lowry’s alco­hol-drenched tale of lost love in pre-WWII Mex­i­co, and Salter’s unmatched lyri­cal prose treat­ment of a young couple’s liaisons as imag­ined by a lech­er­ous recluse in post-WWII France.

When I feel like some­thing lighter I tend to seek out sci-fi writ­ten from before I was born. (Con­tem­po­rary sci-fi more often than not dis­ap­points me with its lack of imag­i­na­tion, or worse, nos­tal­gia for futures past. I’m look­ing at you, Cline.) My top pick here would be the Stru­gatsky broth­ers, who blew me away with their weird tale of a world for­ev­er changed by the inex­plic­a­ble vis­it by some­thing tru­ly alien.

I’ve also con­tin­ued to seek out works by women, although I’ve been less strict with myself in this depart­ment than pre­vi­ous years. Here I’m ashamed to admit it took me this long to final­ly read any­thing by Woolf because Mrs Dal­loway is every bit as good as they say it is. I rec­om­mend seek­ing out the anno­tat­ed Pen­guin addi­tion for addi­tion­al insights into the many things she ref­er­ences.

I’ve also some­times picked up a new­er book because it popped up on my radar and I was just real­ly excit­ed about read­ing it. Most notably Dolan’s retelling of the Ili­ad in all its glo­ri­ous, sad and gory detail, updat­ed for today’s sen­si­bil­i­ties.

Literary non-fiction

Each time I read a nar­ra­tive treat­ment of his­to­ry or cur­rent affairs I feel like I should be doing more of it. All of these are rec­om­mend­ed but Kapuś­cińs­ki tow­ers over all with his heart-wrench­ing first-per­son account of the Iran­ian rev­o­lu­tion.

Non-fiction

A few books on design and tech­nol­o­gy here, although most of my ‘pro­fes­sion­al’ read­ing was con­fined to aca­d­e­m­ic papers this year. I find those to be a more effec­tive way of get­ting a han­dle on a par­tic­u­lar sub­ject. Books pub­lished on my méti­er are noto­ri­ous­ly fluffy. I’ll point out Löw­gren for a tough but reward­ing read on how to do inter­ac­tion design in a non-dog­mat­ic but reflec­tive way.

I got into left­ist pol­i­tics quite heav­i­ly this year and tried to edu­cate myself a bit on con­tem­po­rary anti-cap­i­tal­ist think­ing. Fisher’s book is a most inter­est­ing and also amus­ing diag­no­sis of the cur­rent polit­i­cal and eco­nom­ic world sys­tem through a cul­tur­al lens. It’s a shame he’s no longer with us, I won­der what he would have made of recent events.

Game books

I decid­ed to work my way through a bunch of role­play­ing game books all ‘pow­ered by the apoc­a­lypse’ – a fam­i­ly of games which I have been aware of for quite a while but haven’t had the oppor­tu­ni­ty to play myself. I like read­ing these because I find them odd­ly inspi­ra­tional for pro­fes­sion­al pur­pos­es. But I will point to the orig­i­nal Apoc­a­lypse World as the one must-read as Bak­er remains one of the design­ers I am absolute­ly in awe of for the ways in which he man­ages to com­bine sys­tem and fic­tion in tru­ly inven­tive ways.

  • The Per­ilous Wilds, Jason Lutes
  • Urban Shad­ows: Polit­i­cal Urban Fan­ta­sy Pow­ered by the Apoc­a­lypse, Andrew Medeiros
  • Dun­geon World, Sage LaTor­ra
  • Apoc­a­lypse World, D. Vin­cent Bak­er

Poetry

I don’t usu­al­ly read poet­ry for rea­sons sim­i­lar to how I basi­cal­ly stopped read­ing comics ear­li­er: I can’t seem to find a good way of dis­cov­er­ing worth­while things to read. The col­lec­tion below was a gift, and a delight­ful one.

As always, I wel­come sug­ges­tions for what to read next. I’m shoot­ing for 36 again this year and plan to pro­ceed rough­ly as I’ve been doing lately—just mean­der from book to book with a bias towards works that are non-anglo, at least as old as I am, and prefer­ably weird or inven­tive.

Pre­vi­ous years: 2016, 2015, 2011, 2009.

Books I’ve read in 2016

I’ve read 32 books, which is four short of my goal and also four less than the pre­vi­ous year. It’s still not a bad score though and qual­i­ty wise the list below con­tains many gems.

I resolved to read most­ly books by women and minor­i­ty authors. This lead to quite a few sur­pris­ing expe­ri­ences which I am cer­tain­ly grate­ful for. I think I’ll con­tin­ue to push myself to seek out such books in the year to come.

There are only a few comics in the list. I sort of fell off the comics band­wag­on this year main­ly because I just can’t seem to find a good place to dis­cov­er things to read.

Any­way, here’s the list, with links to my reviews on Goodreads. A * denotes a par­tic­u­lar favourite.

Favourite music albums of 2016

I guess this year final­ly marked the end of my album lis­ten­ing behav­iour. Spotify’s Dis­cov­er and Dai­ly Mix fea­tures were the one-two punch that knocked it out. In addi­tion I some­how stopped scrob­bling to Last.fm in March. It’s switched back on now but the dam­age is done.

So the data I do have is incom­plete. I did still delib­er­ate­ly put on a num­ber of albums this year. But I won’t post them in order of lis­tens like I did last year. This is sub­jec­tive, unsort­ed and hand-picked. I will even sneak in a few albums that were pub­lished towards the end of 2015.

My sources includ­ed Pitchfork’s list of best new albums which used to be how I dis­cov­ered new music and still wields some influ­ence. I cross-ref­er­enced with Spotify’s top songs of 2016.

So first Spo­ti­fy tells me what to lis­ten to and then it gives me a list of things I actu­al­ly lis­tened to. This is get­ting weird…

Any­way, here they are. A * marks a par­tic­u­lar favourite.

  • A Tribe Called Quest – We Got It From Here… *
  • Solange – A Seat At the Table
  • Hamil­ton Lei­thauser + Ros­tam – I Had A Dream That You Were Mine
  • The Avalanch­es – Wild­flower *
  • Blood Orange – Free­town Sound
  • Whit­ney – Light Upon the Lake
  • Car Seat Head­rest – Teens Of Denial *
  • Chance The Rap­per – Col­or­ing Book *
  • ANOHNIHOPELESSNESS
  • Moody­mann – DJ-Kicks *
  • Grimes – Art Angels *
  • Float­ing Points – Elae­nia
  • The Range – Poten­tial *
  • Sepal­cure – Fold­ing Time
  • Jami­la Woods – HEAVN

Here’s a playlist which includes a cou­ple of more albums if you want to have a lis­ten.

Books I’ve read in 2015

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.

Favourite music albums of 2015

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.

  1. DJ Koze – DJ Kicks ❤️ (Just a flaw­less mix of delight­ful tunes that lift the spir­it.)
  2. 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.)
  3. Tame Impala – Cur­rents (The falset­to gets on my nerves some times, but the open­ing tracks have an irre­sistible groove to them.)
  4. 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.)
  5. 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.)
  6. 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.)
  7. Kendrick Lamar – To Pimp A But­ter­fly (All over the place. I dig the nods to P-Funk.)
  8. 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.)
  9. Dr. Dre – Comp­ton (Not avail­able on Spo­ti­fy but I men­tion it here because I enjoyed the return to uncom­pli­cat­ed west side hiphop it offers.)
  10. 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.)
  11. Miguel – Wild­heart (Eas­i­ly the best R&B album of the year. Ver­sa­tile, sexy, musi­cal­ly inter­est­ing.)
  12. Roy­al Headache – High (Great throw­back to punk that sounds fresh at the same time. Great lyrics.)
  13. 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.)
  14. 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.)
  15. Maji­cal Cloudz – Are You Alone? (I return to this for its inti­mate atmos­phere.)

Hon­orary men­tions:

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

Books I’ve read in 2009

This is the last list I’ll be post­ing on stuff from 2009, I promise. After this it’s all about look­ing for­ward. I’ve been track­ing my read­ing on aNobii for some time. Here’s a list of the books I’ve found par­tic­u­lar­ly worth­while, ordered chrono­log­i­cal­ly. My three absolute favorites are marked in bold.

  • Faith in Fakes, Umber­to Eco
  • Cat’s Cra­dle, Kurt Von­negut
  • Stranger in a Strange Land, Robert A. Hein­lein
  • What I Talk About When I Talk About Run­ning, Haru­ki Muraka­mi
  • Black Dogs, Ian McE­wan
  • Out of Con­trol, Kevin Kel­ly
  • Invis­i­ble Cities, Ita­lo Calvi­no
  • Game Design Work­shop (2nd edi­tion), Tra­cy Fuller­ton
  • The New York Tril­o­gy, Paul Auster
  • Fight Club, Chuck Paluh­niuk
  • A Clock­work Orange, Antho­ny Burgess
  • The Image of the City, Kevin Lynch
  • Trainspot­ting, Irvine Welsh
  • Under­world, Don DeLil­lo
  • Rum Punch, Elmore Leonard
  • Dig­i­tal Ground, Mal­colm McCul­lough
  • The Big Sleep, Ray­mond Chan­dler

Com­mon themes: cities, com­plex­i­ty, soci­ety & the indi­vid­ual, inner & out­er space, design.

I’ve been quite picky with what I read last year and will prob­a­bly con­tin­ue to do so this year. Many of these have heaps of dog ears and mar­gin notes and its a won­der­ful feel­ing to have them sit­ting in my stu­dio book­shelf, ready to be picked up and used when required.

My year in cities 2009

Last year was thank­ful­ly much low­er on trav­el than pre­vi­ous ones. We’re almost a week into 2010, I know, but I still thought it would be worth post­ing these.1

  • Van­cou­ver
  • Saint Augus­tine
  • Kuala Lumpur
  • Lon­don

One or more nights were spent in each place. All of these were love­ly in their own way, but KL’s my favorite of the bunch. Best city for food any­where on the plan­et. In case you’re inter­est­ed, I keep track of these on Dopplr.

  1. As per Kot­tke and many oth­ers. []

Four Things Meme

It’s all Peter’s fault, who in turn was ‘tagged’ by Thomas. At least I’m in good com­pa­ny. :-) Here’s a few sil­ly top four lists (not nec­es­sar­i­ly def­i­nite):

Four Jobs I’ve Had

  1. Sec­ond rate paper boy (deliv­er­ing fold­ers and such) in De Bilt, the Nether­lands
  2. Sum­mer job prepar­ing orders of com­put­er hard­ware in Hil­ver­sum, the Nether­lands
  3. Free­lance inter­ac­tion design­er for Leapfrog, my own com­pa­ny
  4. Inter­ac­tion design­er at Bright Alley Inter­ac­tive Com­mu­ni­ca­tion
Four Movies I Can Watch Over And Over
  1. Blade Run­ner
  2. Reser­voir Dogs
  3. Sev­en Samu­rai
  4. Lost in Trans­la­tion
Four Places I’ve Lived
  1. Blokz­i­jl, the Nether­lands
  2. Paris, France
  3. Scha­gen, the Nether­lands
  4. De Bilt, the Nether­lands
Four TV Shows I Love
  1. The X-Files
  2. ER
  3. The Simp­sons
  4. Ren & Stimpy
Four Places I’ve Vaca­tioned
  1. Cos­ta Rica
  2. Indone­sia
  3. Sin­ga­pore
  4. New Orleans
Four Of My Favorite Dish­es
  1. Lamb chops
  2. Spaghet­ti Putanesca
  3. Dutch pan­cakes
  4. Sushi
Four Sites I Vis­it Dai­ly
  1. Blog­lines
  2. Flickr
  3. Last.fm
  4. plazes
Four Places I Would Rather Be Right Now
  1. Pulau Bunaken, Sulawe­si, Indone­sia
  2. Tokio, Japan
  3. Some­where along the Caribbean coast of Cos­ta Rica
  4. The tata­mi of a Take­da Ryu dojo
Four Blog­gers I’m Tag­ging
  1. Edgar
  2. Tom
  3. Iskan­der
  4. Hes­sel (so he can do some­thing with his ‘new’ domain)
Tech­no­rati: , ,