December 2023 reading list
Book of the month - brutal but brilliant
The final list:
- Fire Weather: A True Story from a Hotter World by John Vaillant
- Hiking with Nietzsche: Becoming Who You Are by John Kaag
- Subvert! A philosophical guide for the 21st century scientist by Dan Cleather
- How Big Things Get Done: The Surprising Factors Behind Every Successful Project, from Home Renovations to Space Exploration by Bent Flyvbjerg and Dan Gardner
- A Brief History of Earth by Andrew H. Knoll
- Make A Zine by Joe Biel with Bill Brent
- Stolen Sharpie Revolution by Alex Wrekk
- Interstellar by Avi Loeb
- Wintering: The Power of Rest and Retreat in Difficult Times by Katherine May
- The Way of the Hermit: My 40 years in the Scottish wilderness by Ken Smith with Will Millard
- The Great Post Office Scandal: The Story of the Fight to Expose a Multimillion Pound IT Disaster Which Put Innocent People in Jail by Nick Wallis
What? You’ve not read Fire Weather yet? It came out in May and I’m annoyed I left it so long - crack on. Hiking with Nietzsche is also excellent and certainly if I was going to dive into Nietzsche then it is, arguably, an essential primer. In fact, it largely persuaded me that there was no need to do that but I can make do with Kaag.
I thought Subvert! by Dan Cleather was tremendous. It wasn’t exactly what I expected and it was broader and more expansive, roaming across the role of science and society. How Big Things Get Done may have the longest subtitle of any book I have seen for a while but also comes highly recommended. Anyone embarking on any large project will benefit. Interstellar should probably come with an asterisk. I got half-way through and skimmed. There is a 2-star review A great story badly told° on Amazon that summarises a lot of my views on it. Loeb has been described as an “excellent motivational speaker for the importance of science”° but personally I found Dan Cleather far more compelling.
Wintering is a lovely book and although it is short it still felt a little stretched in its later parts. It’s beautifully written and I’m very happy to recommend. The Way of the Hermit is great too though I am some reservations about the underlying message. Finally, I made a big effort to finish The Great Post Office Scandal this year, just the day before the ITV drama aired°, and it was entirely worth it. I will post some further notes soon but it could easily be book of the month as well.
That brings me to 103 books for the year.