Books Read in 2017

FEBRUARY
Black Flags: The Rise of ISIS by Joby Warrick — Worthy reminder of the brutality of the Islamic State terror organization. Warrick does the work of journalism by showing what is going on and how it came about. Evenhanded and (thankfully) short on editorializing.

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A Theory of the Drone by Gregoire Chamayou — Critical look at the use of drones in warfare. Worth reading.

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Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng — Exquisitely crafted work. Excellent.

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How to Defeat Religion in 10 Easy Steps by Ryan Cragun — “A toolkit for secular activists.”

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The Field of Fight by Lieutenant General (Ret.) Michael T. Flynn – Read this to get a sense of how Flynn might influence The Donald. Reinforced my concern that some on the inside may want to form a coalition with Russia to attack Iran. Maybe that will change now that Flynn’s out.

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Animal Money by Michael Cisco — “A living form of money results in the unraveling of the world.” Wonderful, surreal, imaginative, but at 780 pages it’s also quite a commitment. This is the second Cisco book I’ve read, and I’ll keep reading his work, but this was a little too much for me.

JANUARY
Hotel California by Barney Hoskyns – Entertaining. Read it for research.

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Twilight of the Elites by Christopher Hayes — Good enough, I suppose. I picked it up because Ethan Zuckerman mentioned its insurrectionist vs. institutionalist framing, and it was blurbed by a few people I respect. Cogent critique of meritocracy, but I found the proposed solutions a little thin. I rarely read these sorts of books anymore, and probably will continue to avoid them for the foreseeable future.

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Songs of a Dead Dreamer & Grimscribe by Thomas Ligotti – No one writes like Ligotti. There is so much great stuff in here, but I found reading it all at once a little overwhelming. I might have been better served to space out the stories more.

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Melancholy of Mechagirl by Catherynne M. Valente – Valente is brilliant. This collection is a little uneven, but worth it. “Fade to White” is an interesting counter-point to Handmaid’s Tale.

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Gurdjieff An Introduction to His Life & Ideas by John Shirley – Read this for research. Solid introduction by someone better known for their genre fiction work.

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Discovering Scarfolk by Richard Littler – Insanely great. Manages to weave a narrative out of the random ephemera featured at Scarfolk Council. One of the best humor books I’ve read in a long time.

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Chronicles: Volume One by Bob Dylan – Read this one for research, looking for insight to being a popular musician in the 60s and 70s. Well-written, if somewhat uneven.