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Books I read in 2021

I forgot the books section of my review so let's add it in now. I don't keep a record so this is just me piecing it together at the end of the year and I'll have forgotten a few.

Before I start I'm going to make a guess at what the list will look like. I normally read a decent but not enormous number of books: generally I finish maybe 10-20 books, including low-effort fiction, and skim bits from about the same number again. I expect this year was the same. I think my reading was particularly bimodal this year, with the non-fiction being unusually difficult and almost all of the fiction being very easy comfort food rereads.

Marie Kondo was obviously the big inspiration this year but I'm not sure if I read both books this year or last year, I have no sense of time any more.

OK let's find out. Books I finished:

  • Elliott - Existential Kink. Entertainingly weird self-help book that a lot of the Twitter postrats like. Didn't do much for me but then again I didn't do the exercises so wouldn't expect it to.
  • Kondo - The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. Actual life-changing magic like it says on the tin. I did do the exercises, probably more comprehensively than any other book I've ever read.
  • Kondo - Spark Joy. Apparently I did read both this year.
  • Sethi - I Will Teach You To Be Rich. This sounds like a really terrible self-help book, but I actually liked it a lot. Style is shouty American but the content fits well with Kondo, just for money not things.
  • Vygotsky - Thought and Language. This was very good, I wrote about it here and here.
  • Kolakowski - Husserl and the Search for Certitude. Also very good and I wrote a lot of notes starting here.
  • Nelson - On Writer's Block. On emotional aspects of writing more generally, not just writer's block. I thought this was good while I was reading it but it's somehow not very memorable.
  • Portis - True Grit
  • Hartman - Seraphina. Comfort food reread.
  • Hartman - Shadow Scale. Same
  • Pratchett - Small Gods. Same
  • Streatfeild - Ballet Shoes. Same
  • Streatfeild - Apple Bough. Same

plus significant chunks of:

  • Bowker and Star - Sorting Things Out. Interesting content, find the writing style a real slog.
  • Scott - Two Cheers for Anarchism. Didn't do much for me, feel like I learned enough Scott for my purposes by reading everyone's blog posts on legibility
  • Dutilh Novaes - Formal Languages in Logic. Been picking at this slowly the last two years.
  • Derrida - Voice and Phenomenon. Started writing a series of notes (starts here) on this and then bailed because it was too hard. I might now have enough background to go back.
  • Cisney - Derrida's 'Voice and Phenomenon'. This is the secondary source I got to help me after I bailed. It's very useful.
  • Husserl - The Philosophy of Arithmetic. Not exactly a page-turner but I want to understand a few bits. Some notes here, hopefully more soon.
  • Salmon - An Event, Perhaps (this is a biography of Derrida. I'm still reading it, not sure whether I'll finish it or not - it's good and very clear but I don't care so much about his later stuff)
  • Dantzig - Number: The Language of Science. Old pop book about maths, also still reading and not sure if will finish.
  • Matthew - The Meaningful Money Handbook. I wanted a UK-specific money book to go with the Sethi one. It's not exciting but it's fine.
  • Kondo and Sonenshein - Joy at Work. Review here
  • Smith - On the Origin of Objects. Every so often I bang my head against this book a bit more.
  • Ingalls Wilder - Little House in the Big Woods. Forgot I started this oops
  • Twain - Huckleberry Finn. Every few years I start reading this, enjoy it and then mysteriously stop
  • Lewis - The Screwtape Letters. Started reading on the train a few days ago, may finish but probably can't be bothered

So, yep, pretty much what I expected except I forgot about the self-help. Mix of Husserl/Derrida effortreading and switch-brain-off fiction.