Books Magazine

Favourite Books I've Read This Year

Posted on the 31 December 2015 by Cathy Leaves @cathyleaves
My non-fiction reading is essentially a divide between reading about technology, innovation, AIs, theories of information, and personal essays and biographies. I have loved all of these books, and taken a lot away from them. The tech ones combine oddly in my head with all of this year's fiction that has centered on the consequences of artificial intelligence, pondering the human condition, and questions of identity, privacy and data. Rebecca Solnit and Maggie Nelson write about transformation, family and illness - Solnit about her mother's Alzheimer's and her own personal attempt to rebuild her life around that and a cancer diagnosis, while also placing her own stories in a fictional context of writings about the arctic and Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, Nelson about the co-transformation of pregnancy and transitioning. 
Nick Bostrom: Superintelligence: Paths, Dangers, Strategies.Richard Florida: The Great Reset. James Gleick: The Information: A History, a Theory, a Flood.Tim Wu: The Master Switch: The Rise and Fall of Information Empires.Robert Wright: Nonzero: The Logic of Human Destiny.Grégoire Chamayou: A Theory of the Drone.
Rebecca Solnit: Men Explain Things To Me.Rebecca Solnit: The Faraway Nearby.Maggie Nelson: The Argonauts. Carrie Brownstein: Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl.Margo Jefferson: Negroland. A Memoir. Ta-Nehisi Coates: Between the World and Me.The Complete Rolling Stone Interview with Susan Sontag. 
I made an unwritten promise to myself to only read fiction not written by white men, but broke that promise for The Traitor Baru Cormorant. I cannot recommend this story about a heroine willing to sacrifice everything in a dystopian world highly enough. Baru, born of two fathers and a mother, charters the rise of a homophobic empire and decides to rise inside of it (this is also a political thriller about accountancy!) to instigate a revolution. The story poses all kinds of questions about what Baru is forced to give up to obtain her goal. Oddly connected to that, Chinelo Okparanta's Under the Udala Trees is the story of a Nigerian girl after the civil war falling into complete love and lust with another girl without having the vocabulary or theory to theorise that love, and the social and very personal fall-out. Shadowshaper and Broken Monsters in retrospect are like a dialog about horror moving into an urban landscape and the people who find themselves chosen to cope with it - artists, in both cases but both novels are all the more beautiful for their capacity to map where they are set. Courtney Summers' portrays of teenagers fighting with everything the world throws at them is captivating, in the case of This is Not a Test, it's zombies and the end of the world, but everything else is impressive too. Same goes for Emily St. John Mandel - Station 11 is science fiction after the end of the world and charting the course of humans, where their choices and coincidence lead them, but both of her other novels are recommended. 
Daniel José Older: Shadowshaper.Chinelo Okparanta: Under the Udala Trees. Seth Dickinson: The Traitor Baru Cormorant. Lauren Beukes: Broken Monsters. Courtney Summers: This Is Not a Test.Emily St. John Mandel: Station 11.Roxane Gay: An Untamed State. James Baldwin: Another Country.
Lithub: Rebecca Solnit: Men Explain Lolita To Me, December 17, 2015The New York Times Magazine: Has Europe Reached the Breaking Point, December 15, 2015
The Atlantic: The High-Stakes Race to Rid the World of Human Drivers, December 1, 2015The New Yorker: The Doomsday Invention, November 23, 2015The Guardian: The solace of an Australian summer – when cricket brought hope and light, November 20, 2015Wired: Get Up, Stand Up, November 2015Bookforum: Bookforum talks with Carrie Brownstein, October 28, 2015
Autostraddle: “Carol” Is Even Better Than You’ve Heard, Is Maybe The Best Lesbian Movie Ever Made, October 24, 2015
The Guardian: The genius of The Great British Bake Off, October 6, 2015The Atlantic: The Black Family in the Age of Mass Incarceration, October 2015The Paris Review: Don't Be Evil, August 12, 2015
Wired: The Genesis Engine, August 2015.Hazlitt: A Midlife Crisis by Any Other Name, July 20, 2015NY Mag: ‘I’m No Longer Afraid’: 35 Women Tell Their Stories About Being Assaulted by Bill Cosby, and the Culture That Wouldn’t Listen, July 26, 2015The Guardian: How to think about Islamic State, July 24, 2015The New York Review of Books: Edge of Europe, End of Europe, July 21, 2015The Guardian: Don't cry for Shane Watson, one of Australian cricket's great anti-heroes, July 14, 2015Esquire: When the End of Human Civilization Is Your Day Job, July 7, 2015Huffington Post Highline: The Myth of the Ethical Shopper, July 2015Huffington Post Highline: The Lost Girls, July 2015The Atlantic: The U.S. Supreme Court Fulfills Its Promises on Same-Sex Marriage, June 26, 2015
Autostraddle: Pretty Little Liars Episode 601 Recap: One Hundred Years of Solitude, June 9, 2015The New York Times: Edward Snowden: The World Says No to Surveillance, June 4, 2015The New York Times The Agency, June 2, 2015Wired: Silk Road: The Untold Story, May 23, 2015The New Yorker: Search and Rescue, May 4, 2015
The Guardian: Paul Krugman - The case for cuts was a lie. Why does Britain still believe it?, April 29, 2015The Atlantic: Nonviolence as Compliance, April 27, 2015
The Guardian: Forty years on from the fall of Saigon: witnessing the end of the Vietnam war, April 21st, 2015The Atlantic: The Myth of Police Reform, April 15, 2015The Guardian: Inside the Kremlin’s hall of mirrors, April 9, 2015Backchannel: The Woman Who Hacked Hollywood, April 8, 2015The Monthly: The Case for Compromise, April 2015Foreign Policy: Operation Charlie Foxtrot, March 27, 2015The Atlantic: The Gangsters of Ferguson, March 5, 2015The Atlantic: What ISIS really wants, March 2015The A.V. Club: Future problem solvers: How Parks And Recreation beat the odds and went out on top, February 24, 2015Wired: Why Parks and Recreation’s Final Season Was Its Best Ever, February 23, 2015Vogue: How a Snowdenista Kept the NSA Leaker Hidden in a Moscow Airport, February 19, 2015DIY: A New Wave. A Comprehensive Guide to Sleater-Kinney, January 19, 2015The Intercept: The Drone Papers

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