19,831 Pages Later

Marc on 2021-01-09

I've spoken before about my fondness for always having a book on the go and 2020 was no different. Thanks in no small part to spending the overwhelming majority of it at home as we wait for the world to heal.

Although there is plenty of joy to be gained from reading for pleasure alone, broadening your horizons by diving into subject-matter and topics outside your usual field of interest or expertise is something I find deeply important. Hence why this year I made an effort to sample everything from Sci-Fi to Neo-Westerns and Health-guides to Biographies. However, knowing what books to pickup for yourself can be a challenge so to save you the effort, here are some of the standouts I read that I think you should have a look at too - along with a short comment on everything else I read.

The Standouts

Here are some of the books that really took me by surprise and that I think any
reader would be missing out on to not at least give a glance over:

What I Read

As I said in the opening, this year I tried to really sample works outside my
usual interests. While not all of them may have been hits with me, here are some
quick thoughts on everything else I read:

  1. So Good They Can't Ignore You by Cal Newport
    22/12/19 - 10/1/20
    Not as ground breaking as some reviews made out I felt but still a few things to think about regarding career-planning.
  2. What the Buddha Taught by Walpola Rahula
    10/1/20 - 12/1/20
    Interesting, easy to follow, a good read and fantastic introduction.
  3. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep by Philip K Dick
    12/1/20 - 17/01/20
    Slow but good character-building and lots of thought-provoking questions. A real philosophical Sci-Fi.
  4. Bad Blood, Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup by John Carreyrou
    30/01/20 - 03/02/20
    Well written, reads more like a thriller of events just growing increasingly bizarre.
  5. The Last Wish by Andrzej Sapkowski
    04/02/20 - 06/02/20
    An ok read and good introduction to The Witcher however I felt each story started feeling repetitious.
  6. I am Legend by Richard Matheson
    06/02/20 - 07/02/20
    Genuinely harrowing. A fantastic read.
  7. Stoner by John Willaims
    08/02/20 - 13/02/20
    The most interesting "boring" novel.
  8. Them! by Jon Ronson
    18/02/20 - 20/02/20
    OK, an interesting read although not as engaging as The Psychopath Test I found.
  9. The New Me by Halle Butler
    26/02/20 - 27/02/20
    OK, not too bad. Easy to read.
  10. The Pigeon By Simon Suskind
    27/02/20 - 28/02/20
    OK, a good quick read.
  11. Star By Yukio Mishima
    10/03/20 - 11/03/20
    It's Mishima, it's always good.
  12. Desire By Haruki Murakami
    12/03/20 - 13/03/20
    A good collection of short stories, my first exposure to Murakami as well who I think is an author I'll now keep more of an eye out for works by.
  13. Lord of the Flies By William Golding
    17/03/20 - 22/03/20
    Did not click with me.
  14. Brave New World By Aldous Huxley
    22/03/20 - 26/03/20
    Did not click with me unfortunately.
  15. Elon Musk By Ashlee Vance
    6/04/20 - 15/04/20
    A thorough, balanced, and engaging read.
  16. Shoe Dog By Phil Knight
    20/04/20 - 29/04/20
    A surprisingly easy read, an interesting look behind the scenes of Nike.
  17. No Longer Human By Junji Ito
    29/04/20 - 29/04/20
    A great intro to the style of Ito.
  18. Close to the Machine By Ellen Ullman
    06/05/20 - 07/05/20
    Didn't click with me unfortunately.
  19. No Country for Old Men By Cormack McArthy
    07/05/20 - 10/05/20
    My book of the year at the time of reading, an amazing thriller.
  20. So You've Been Publicly Shamed By Jon Ronson
    10/05/20 - 12/05/20
    Pretty good, a varied collection of interesting case studies on the darker side of social-media.
  21. The Vegetarian By Han Kang
    12/05/20 - 14/05/20
    Good but I think some aspects were lost in translation.
  22. The Memory Police By Yoko Ogawa
    14/05/20 - 18/05/20
    Interesting premise but don't think it was explored that well.
  23. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
    21/05/20 - 25/05/20
    A worthy classic in Science-Fiction history.
  24. Ring by Koji Suzuki
    25/05/20 - 30/05/20
    A slow-burn full of creeping dread. Really enjoyed it.
  25. Care of Wooden Floors by Will Wiles
    3/06/20 - 7/06/20
    Really good black-comedy. Strongly recommended.
  26. A Clockwork Orange By Anthony Burgess
    7/06/20 - 9/06/20
    Interesting premise but slang makes it a challenging read.
  27. The Tower of Babylon by Ted Chiang
    14/06/20 - 15/06/20
    Didn't really click with me.
  28. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
    15/06/20 - 19/06/20
    Didn't click with me.
  29. Siddhartha by Herman Hesse
    20/06/20 - 30/06/20
    A great book but it just didn't click with me.
  30. The Discomfort of Evening by Marieke Lucas Rijneveld
    1/07/20 - 05/07/20
    An interesting albeit slow read.
  31. The Man who fell to Earth by Walter Tavis
    08/07/20 - 09/07/20
    Premise was interesting but failed to really hold me.
  32. Post Office by Charles Bukowski
    17/07/20 - 19/07/20
    OK, enjoyed it.
  33. Chess Story By Stefan Zweig
    19/07/20 - 20/07/20
    Short but enjoyable.
  34. I'm Thinking of Ending Things by Iain Reid
    23/07/20 - 25/07/20
    Astoundingly good, I think this is one I'm genuinely going to think about for a long time.
  35. Foe by Iain Reid
    25/07/20 - 27/07/20
    No book should have this many plot twists and still be this incredible.
  36. Dead Execs Don't Get Bonuses by Dr Joel K. Kahn
    02/08/20 - 03/08/20
    Interesting look at Heart Disease with a few interesting things I'm sure I'll remember and put in practice.
  37. Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace
    27/07/20 - 04/08/20
    This is a masterpiece albeit an incredibly challenging read.
  38. A Man Becomes Himself by Mathijs Koenraadt
    07/08/20 - 08/08/20
    Interesting read.
  39. In The Miso Soup by Ryū Murakami
    12/08/20 - 14/08/20
    Enjoyed it, not sure if it would have benefited from being longer though.
  40. The Devil All The Time by Donald Pollock Ray
    15/08/20 - 19/08/20
    Really excellent and gripping read on par with No Country both in quality and style.
  41. Little Eyes by Samanta Schweblin
    20/08/20 - 22/08/20
    Interesting but felt the concept could have been taken further.
  42. A River in Darkness: One Man's Escape from North Korea by Masaji Ishikawa
    24/08/20 - 25/08/20
    A challenging but good read, consistently shocking.
  43. Limbo by Marko Pandza
    26/08/20 - 28/08/20
    Felt the concept could have been taken further.
  44. The Ridge by John Rector
    01/09/20 - 02/09/20
    Decent, not that ground-breaking but a decent read.
  45. Blitzed by Norman Ohler
    02/09/20 - 07/09/20
    Very interesting and thorough read.
  46. One Billion Years to the End of the World by Arkady Strugatsky
    10/09/20 - 11/09/20
    Didn't click with me.
  47. Writing to Learn By William Zinsser
    14/09/20 - 17/09/20
    Interesting, a few things I'll keep in mind when it comes to writing.
  48. Deep Work By Cal Newport
    23/09/20 - 27/09/20
    Possibly the most important non-fiction book I'll read this year.
  49. The Future of Feeling by Kaitlin Phillips
    27/09/20 - 29/09/20
    An interesting book with some well-researched points to think about but it seemed to gradually become obsessively focused on VR.
  50. Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982 by Cho Nam-Joo
    29/09/20 - 30/09/20
    An ok read but I felt like something was lost in translation.
  51. The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat by Oliver Sacks
    30/09/20 - 01/09/20
    Pretty interesting, certainly unique case studies.
  52. Another Day in the Death of America by Gary Younge
    01/10/20 - 03/10/20
    A challenging but excellent read on a difficult issue.
  53. Never Use Futura by Douglas Thomas
    04/10/20 - 04/10/20
    A fascinating look at a cultural powerhouse of a font.
  54. The Great Successor by Anna Fifield
    04/10/20 - 05/10/20
    A deep dive on an interesting figure.
  55. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time by Mark Haddon
    05/10/20 - 06/10/20
    My first re-read of the year, still an excellent and unique book.
  56. Zucked by Roger McNamee
    09/10/20 - 09/10/20
    Ok but didn't really grab me.
  57. The Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham
    09/20/20 - 10/10/20
    Didn't click with me.
  58. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
    10/10/20 - 10/10/20
    A short but poignant read.
  59. Machines Like Me by Ian McEwan
    10/10/20 - 13/10/20
    An excellent and genuinely thought-provoking read.
  60. Fire Season by Phillip Connors
    14/10/20 - 16/10/20
    An interesting but slow read.
  61. The Stranger by Albert Camus
    17/10/20 - 17/10/20
    Didn't really click with me.
  62. Essays By George Orwell
    17/10/20 - 19/10/20
    Interesting, it was fascinating reading a different side of Orwell.
  63. Never Let Me Go By Kazuo Ishiguro
    19/10/20 - 21/10/20
    An interesting read but didn't really click for me.
  64. Ten Arguments For Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now by Jaron Lanier
    21/10/20 - 21/10/20
    A decent read.
  65. A Monk's Guide to a Clean House and Mind by Shoukei Matsumoto
    21/10/20 - 21/10/20
    A far more enjoyable and thought-provoking read than I was expecting.
  66. How to Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy by Jenny Odell
    24/10/20 - 26/10/20
    Didn't click with me unfortunately.
  67. How Will You Measure Your Life? by Clayton M. Christensen
    07/10/20 - 26/10/20
    Didn't click with me.
  68. Countdown to Zero Day by Kim Zetter
    27/10/20/ - 02/11/20
    An enjoyable, thorough read that looks at the Stuxnet worm from every angle.
  69. The Postmortal by Drew Magary
    02/11/20 - 04/11/20
    An enjoyable what-if.
  70. Think Again: How to Reason and Argue by Walter Sinnott-Armstrong
    16/11/20 - 20/11/20
    A fascinating look at how we can improve conversation on almost every topic.
  71. The War of Art By Steven Pressfield
    21/11/20 - 22/11/20
    Not the book I was expecting but still good.
  72. Underland: A Deep Time Journey by Robert Macfarlane
    22/11/20 - 29/11/20
    A fascinating look at the often forgotten world that lies beneath our feet.
  73. Grief Is The Thing With Feathers By Max Porter
    30/11/20 - 01/12/20
    A short but poignant read.
  74. Atomic Habits by James Clear
    02/12/20 - 04/12/20
    A fantastic easy-to-read and easy to implement guide to effective habits.
  75. Song For The Unravelling of The World by Brian Evenson
    26/12/20 - 30/12/20
    An astoundingly good variety of short Horror stories.
  76. The Life and Death of Yukio Mishima by Henry Scott Stokes
    29/12/20 - 31/12/20
    A fascinating read that clarified much of the mystery around Mishima.