Books I read in 2014

  • Written by: Marko Samastur
  • Published on:
  • Category: Catchall

As expected I read less this year than usual. Much less even, only 10 books. It was a very busy year, but this was still at the lower bound of what I expected. I intend to look at reasons why in my year review post which should be up early next year.

I am fairly satisfied by the mix of work-related and pleasure reading even if I failed to read anything substantial in Slovenian this year (started The Trial by Franz Kafka which I don’t expect to finish in few hours that are left of this year).

All non-fiction books were read on my tablet as was The Quiet American which I downloaded once I ran out of books in Vietnam. Reading on tablets did not improve noticeably this year and I still would not recommend it, but they are handy. I think e-ink readers did get to the point where they offer the best of both worlds and I am seriously reconsidering them. However I loathe DRM so I do not expect to buy e-only copy of books I care about any time soon.

As always unaffiliated links point to Amazon and are there only for those that are at least fine (which is all of them this year). Bold is reserved for those I found best: The Vagrants, Soldiers of Salamis and The Quiet American .

  • Smut: Stories by Alan Bennett. Sex is rarely as funny as in this two stories, but the second story kind of peters out as if the author ran out of ideas to resolve the twisted mess.
  • Developing Backbone.js Applications by Addy Osmani. A very good, but occasionally slightly dated introduction to framework. Still highly recommended.
  • Instant Handlebars.js by Gabriel Manricks. Cover says it all: short, fast and focused examination of Handlebars.js. Great if you prefer books to online reading.
  • Backbone.js Cookbook by Vadim Mirgorod. A quick dive into Backbone.js best when paired with previous book on the topic.
  • The Vagrants by Yiyun Li. A mesmerising and very depressing portrait of oppression in post cultural revolution China and its effect on people that I can’t recommend highly enough. Rarely hopeful, often unpredictable and always well written.
  • Writing Idiotmatic Python 3.3 by Jeff Knupp. A short but informative collection of tips on how to write “pythonic” code. The only real downside is book’s price.
  • Pure by Andrew Miller. Works best when establishing atmosphere of late 18th century Paris and easy engaging read that turned out to be a bit of disappointment for me. I wish author had as much courage as he does talent.
  • Soldiers of Salamis by Javier Cercas. Undoubtedly the best book I read this year. An intelligent, compassionate and humane chronicle of a quest to uncover truth behind a myth from the end of Spanish civil war. I dare you not to be moved.
  • The Pragmatic Programmer: From Journeyman to Master by Andrew Hunt, David Thomas. Of no use to those who are not programmers and should be required reading for those who are. I am not sold on all views and suggestions, but it has already influenced my work profoundly.
  • The Quiet American by Graham Greene. I downloaded this one when I ran out of books in Vietnam and decided to do the cliche thing. Greene is a writer for those who prefer thrillers with a bit more literary ambition and this one doesn’t disappoint either. Gripping, well written and even prophetic considering it was finished a decade before USA got to experience all the things it warned it about.

I have big plans for 2015 so to read 20+ books sounds lovely, but not achievable. Instead I will aim for 15, preferably of some heft and avoid fluff except when on vacation. For a change I also have a very specific goal which is to finally finish GEB even if I discover that I don’t like it.

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