Blogging the Bookshelf

Blogging my bookshelf – one book at a time

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Yearly Reading Diary

2017

  1. “Crocs in the Cabinet: Northern Territory Politics – an Instruction Manual on how NOT to run a government”, Ben Smee and Christopher Walsh
  2. “City Limits: Why Australia’s Cities Are Broken and How We Can Fix Them”, Jane-Frances Kelly and Paul Donegan
  3. “Easternisation: War and Peace in the Asian Century”, Gideon Rachman
  4. “Gallipoli Sniper: The Life of Billy Sing”, John Hamilton
  5. “Britain, China and Colonial Australia”, Benjamin Mountford

2016

  1. Kinglake-350“, Adrian Hyland. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  2. Australia and India: Mapping the Journey“, Meg Gurry. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  3. What I talk about when I talk about running“, Haruki Murakami. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  4. Big White Lie: Chinese Australians in White Australia“, John Fitzgerald. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  5. The Speechwriter“, Barton Swain. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  6. Fresh off the Boat“, Eddie Huang. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  7. The New Gold Mountain: The Chinese in Australia 1901-1921“, C.F. Yong. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  8. Is Australia an Asian Country?“, Stephen FitzGerald. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  9. Becoming Australian” Migration, Settlement, Citizenship“, Brian Galligan, Martina Boese and Melissa Phillipps. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  10. Australia’s Asia: From Yellow Peril to Asian Century“, Agnieszka Sobocinska and David Walker. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  11. The Eye of the Sheep“, Sophie Laguna. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  12. Firing Line: Australia’s Path to War“, James Brown. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  13. Balancing Act: Australia Between Recession and Renewal“, George Megalogenis. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  14. The Lucky Country“, Donald Horne. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  15. Mateship: A Very Australian History“, Nick Dyrenfurth. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  16. The Healing Party“, Micheline Lee. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  17. Visiting the Neighbours: Australians in Asia“, Agnieszka Sobocinska. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  18. Behind the Beautiful Rivers: Life and Death and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity“, Katherine Boo. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  19. Reclaiming Patriotism: Nation Building for Australian Progressives“, Tim Soutphommasane. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  20. The Australians“, John Hirst. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  21. Hammer of the Left: The Battle for the Soul of the Labour Party“, John Golding. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  22. Death of a Red Heroine“, Qiu Xiaolong. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  23. A Loyal Character Dancer“, Qui Xiaolong. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  24. The Road to Ruin: How Tony Abbott and Peta Credlin Destroyed Their Own Government“, Niki Savva. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  25. A Murder Without A Motive: The Killing of Rebecca Ryle“, Martin McKenzie-Murray. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  26. City of Thorns: Nine Lives in the World’s Largest Refugee Camp“, Ben Rawlence. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  27. Keating“, Kerry O’Brien. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  28. One of Us: The Story of a Massacre and its Aftermath“, Asne Seirstad. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  29. Exceptional People: How Migration Shaped Our World and Will Define Our Future“, Ian Goldin, Geoffrey Cameron, and Meera Balarajan. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  30. The Hate Race“, Maxine Beneba Clarke. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  31. Underground Airlines“, Ben Winters. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  32. Do Not Say We Have Nothing“, Madeleine Thien. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  33. Not Quite Australian: How Temporary Migration is Changing the Nation“, Peter Mares. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  34. Black Flags: The Rise of ISIS“, Joby Warrick. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  35. Black Water“, Louise Doughty. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  36. Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis“, Robert Putnam. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  37. It Can’t Happen Here“, Sinclair Lewis. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  38. CEO, China: The Rise of Xi Jinping“, Kerry Brown. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  39. The Man in the High Castle“, Philip K Dick. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  40. “The Return: Fathers, Sons and the Land in Between”, Hisham Matar. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  41. How to Survive a Plague: The Inside Story of How Citizens and Science Tamed AIDS“, David France. Buy –Borrow – Toss

2015

  1. “The Wife Drought”, Annabel Crabb. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  2. “Australia’s Defence: Towards a New Era?”, Peter Dean, Brendan Taylor, Stephan Fruhling. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  3. The Power and the Glory“, Graham Greene. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  4. The Accidental Guerrilla: Fighting Small Wars in the Midst of a Big One“, David Kilcullen. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  5. The Way of the Knife: The CIA, a secret army and a war at the ends of the Earth“, Mark Mazzetti. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  6. War from the Ground Up: Twenty-First Century Combat as Politics“, Emile Simpson. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  7. Demokrasi: Indonesia in the 21st Century“, Hamish McDonald. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  8. 10:04“, Ben Lerner. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  9. Fifty Shades of Grey“, EL James. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  10. Diary of a Foreign Minister“, Bob Carr. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  11. The Last Vote: The Threats to Western Democracy“, Philip Coggan. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  12. The Rosie Project“, Graeme Simsion. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  13. Confessions of a Failed Finance Minister“, Peter Walsh. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  14. The Gillard Project: My Thousand Days of Despair and Hope“, Michael Cooney. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  15. The Girl on the Train“, Paula Hawkins. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  16. Geek Heresy: Reclaiming Social Change From the Cult of Technology“, Kentaro Toyama. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  17. Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy“, John LeCarre. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  18. This House of Grief“, Helen Garner. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  19. Port Moresby Mixed Doubles: Stories of Expatriates in Papua New Guinea“, Michael Challinger. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  20. Throwim Way Leg: An Adventure“, Tim Flannery. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  21. The Long Green Shore“, John Hepworth. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  22. Between the World and Me“, Ta-Nehisi Coates. Buy Borrow – Toss
  23. Murphy’s Lore: Tales from the West“, Robert Murphy. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  24. Blood Year: Terror and the Islamic State“, David Kilcullen. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  25. “Catch and Kill: The Politics of Power”, Joel Deane. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  26. “The Long Haul: Lessons from Public Life”, John Brumby. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  27. “Watson’s Pier”, Joshua Funder. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  28. “Comrade Ambassador: Whitlam’s Beijing Envoy”, Steven FitzGerald. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  29. Growing Up Asian in Australia“, Alice Pung. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  30. Australia’s Second Chance: What Our History Tells Us About Our Future”, George Megalogenis. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  31. Restless Continent: Wealth, Rivalry and Asia’s New Geopolitics”, Michael Wesley. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  32. Faction Man: Bill Shorten’s Path to Power”, David Marr. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  33. Purity“, Jonathan Franzen. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  34. Holding the Man“. Timothy Conigrave. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  35. Imagined Communities“, Benedict Anderson. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  36. Condemned to Crisis?“, Ken Ward. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  37. Political Amnesia: How We Forgot How to Govern“, Laura Tingle. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  38. Start Up Nation: The Story of Israel’s Economic Miracle“, Dan Senor and Saul Singer. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  39. Coming of Age: Growing up Muslim in Australia“, Amra Pajalic and Demet Divroren. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  40. Beauty is a Wound“, Eka Kuniawan. Buy –Borrow – Toss

2014

  1. Twilight of the Elites: America After Meritocracy“, Christopher Hayes. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  2. The Narrow Road to the Deep North“, Richard Flanagan. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  3. “The Blunders of Our Governments”, Anthony King and Ivor Crewe. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  4. “A Premier’s State”, Steve Bracks. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  5. “The Australian Moment: How we were made for these times”, George Megalogenis. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  6. “How Labour Governs”, Vere Gordon Childe. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  7. “My Promised Land: The Triumph and Tragedy of Israel”, Ari Shavit. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  8. “Just So Happens”, Fumio Obata. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  9. “A Constellation of Vital Phenomena”, Anthony Marra. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  10. “Boomerang: Travels in the New Third World”, Michael Lewis. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  11. “Battlelines”, Tony Abbott. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  12. “Why Australia Prospered: The Shifting Sources of Economic Growth”, Ian McLean. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  13. “Night Games: Sex, Power and Sport”, Anna Krien. Buy –Borrow – Toss.
  14. “Decoded: A Novel”, Mai Jia. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  15. The Stalking of Julia Gillard“, Kerry-Anne Walsh. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  16. Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage“, Alice Munro. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  17. The People’s Republic of Amnesia: Tiananmen Revisited“, Louisa Lim. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  18. “The Silence of the Lambs”, Robert Harris. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  19. “Red Dragon”, Robert Harris. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  20. Turing’s Cathedral: The Origins of the Digital Universe“, George Dyson. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  21. The Geek Manifesto: Why Science Matters“, Mark Henderson. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  22. Weapons of Mass Diplomacy“,  Abel Lanzac & Christophe Blain. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  23. The Interestings“, Meg Woltizer. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  24. Profiles in Courage“, John F Kennedy. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  25. Trinity: A Graphic History of the First Atomic Bomb“, Jonathan Fetter-Vorm. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  26. Let’s Talk About Love: Why Other People Have Such Bad Taste“, Carl Wilson. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  27. The Rise and Fall of Australia“, Nick Bryant. Buy –Borrow – Toss.
  28. The Political Bubble: Why Australians Don’t Trust Politics“, Mark Latham. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  29. The Economics of Just About Everything“, Andrew Leigh. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  30. The Submission“, Amy Waldman. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  31. Disconnected“, Andrew Leigh. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  32. “Race Against The Machine: How the Digital Revolution is Accelerating Innovation, Driving Productivity, and Irreversibly Transforming Employment and the Economy”,  Erik Brynjolfsson, Andrew McAfee. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  33. The Good Fight: Six years, two prime ministers and staring down the Great Recession“, Wayne Swan. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  34. Exodus: Immigration and Multiculturalism in the 21st Century“, Paul Collier. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  35. Changing Shape: institutions for a digital age“, Martin Stewart-Weeks, Lindsay Tanner. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  36. The Divine Comedy“, Clive James, Dante Alighieri. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  37. “A Cambodian Prison Portrait”, Vann Nath. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  38. Pol Pot: The History of a Nightmare“, Philip Short. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  39. Facing the Torturer“, Francois Bizot. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  40. “Zero to One: Notes on Start Ups, or How to Build the Future”, Peter Thiel. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  41. “Her Father’s Daughter”, Alice Pung. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  42. “Laurinda”, Alice Pung. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  43. “Fun Home”, Alison Bechdel. Buy –Borrow – Toss.
  44. “Are You My Mother?”, Alison Bechdel. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  45. “The Last Vote: The Threats to Western Democracy”, Philip Coggan. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  46. “Fire and Ashes: Success and Failure in Politics”, Michael Ignatieff. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  47. “The Adolescent Country”, Peter Hartcher. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  48. “Dragon’s Tail: The Lucky Country after the China Boom”, Andrew Charlton. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  49. “Engagement: Australia Faces the Asia Pacific”, Paul Keating. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  50. “Inside the Hawke–Keating Government: A Cabinet Diary”, Gareth Evans Buy –Borrow – Toss
  51. “Reports from a Turbulent Decade”, The Lowy Institute. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  52. “There Goes the Neighbourhood: Australia and the Rise of Asia”, Michael Wesley. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  53. “Anzac’s Long Shadow: The Cost of Our National Obsession”, James Brown. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  54. “Power Shift: Australia’s Future between Washington and Beijing”, Hugh White. Buy –Borrow – Toss

2013

  1. On Warne“, Gideon Haigh. Our greatest cricket writer eschews the diary/biography construct that dominates sports writing and gives us an almost philosophical meditation on the savant-like genius of Shane Warne. As someone who loves the work of both Haigh and Warne, I couldn’t help but swoon for this book. Buy–Borrow – Toss
  2. #”Norwegian Wood“, Haruki Murakami. Along with “All the King’s Men” and “Gatsby”, I re-read this book every couple of years. Not because it is a work of literature of the same quality of those books, but because I first read it at a particular time in my life and I will forever feel like a 19 year old again while reading it. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  3. Gone Girl“, Gillian Flynn. Girl disappears leaving confused husband. Well, it was probably the stand out publishing sensation of the year (50 Shades Aside) and you can understand why. A fantastic pager turner that really sucked me in, but I couldn’t help be left a bit cold by its final fifth (which I will not spoil here). Buy – Borrow – Toss
  4. Every Love Story Is a Ghost Story: A Life of David Foster Wallace“, DT Max. Pop biography of DFW. I love DFW’s style as an essayist and the humanist philosophy that he began to push late in his career really speaks to me. Which makes it all the sadder that he couldn’t seem to take any pleasure in his prose himself, nor take any comfort from the philosophy that he ultimately espoused. While a flawed work, this book left me with a great sense of melancholy thinking about this. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  5. The Fatal Shore: The Epic of Australia’s Founding“, Robert Hughes. The seminal account of Australia’s convict history. ‘Tour de Force’ is one of those phrases that is so over-used as to have become a meaningless, but this book represents everything of the phrase’s original import. A virtuoso piece of writing, scholarship and argument. Even given a subject matter about which most Australians now feel quite knowledgeable of (though did not when Hughes set out to write this book), readers will finish this book with a greater understanding of not just our nation’s history, but its soul.  Buy –Borrow – Toss
  6. The Culture of Complaint: The Fraying of America“, Robert Hughes. A polemic against lazy post-modernism. Hughes’ mastery of both convict era Australian history and of modern culture is enough to make anyone feel inadequate. There is a lot to like in this book, but with the passage of time and the shift in the debate around many of the issues that he tackles, there are aspects of this book where Hughes talks past the modern incarnation of his opponents. That being said, his clarion call for the defence of intrinsic excellence in all forms of culture is just as valuable today as it was twenty years ago.  Buy –Borrow – Toss
  7. Pride and Prejudice“, Jane Austen. Sorry to say that it took me 30 years to get around to Jane Austen (I hadn’t even seen the BBC series before picking this up), but obviously it was my loss. I loved P&P and will have to work my way through the rest of Austen’s works in due course. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  8. Loose: A Wild History“, Ouyang Yu. A complex mix of fiction and non-fiction across a range of genres and geographic settings. Sadly, I couldn’t get into this. I admired its structural ambition, but ultimately it just didn’t hang together well enough for me to feel invested in what was going on. Buy – Borrow – Toss 
  9. After Words: The Post Prime Ministerial Speeches“, Paul Keating. A lengthy collection of Keating’s Post Prime-Ministerial speeches covering the full range of PJK’s polymath interests. Richer than the interview series with Kerry O’Brien and a testament to how much PJK still has to contribute to the Australian body politic. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  10. HhHH“, Laurent Binet. A French Post-Modernist true-fiction, first person account of the writing of a true-fiction account of the assassination of Reinhard Heydrich in occupied Prague (phew!). I had significant reservations about this book coming into it. In general, I find authors who insert their own stories into non-fiction works insufferably self-indulgent. Couple that with my perfectly healthy aversion to French Post-Modernism and this book was carrying a lot of baggage. But despite it all, Binet manages to pull it off in an engaging and reflective way. I ended up kind of loving this book. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  11. Dark Victory: How a Government Lied It’s Way to Political Triumph“, David Marr and Marian Wilkinson. A first class long-form piece of journalism about John Howard’s mendacious use of the Tampa affair in the lead up to the 2001 election. Depressing, but important reading. Still relevant to today’s political debate. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  12. Dark Market: How Hackers Became the New Mafia“, Misha Glenny. Former BBC Eastern-European correspondence tells the story of the early cyber-crime networks. I like Glenny’s journalism, but this isn’t his deepest work. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  13. Jarhead: A Marine’s Chronicle of the Gulf War and Other Battles“. Anthony Swafford. A classic grunt history of the first war in Iraq. Entertaining and insightful. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  14. Madame Bovary“, Gustave Flaubert. Supposedly the original novel and classic tale of forbidden love, but I just couldn’t get into it. I haven’t worked out the French yet. Give me Tolstoy anyday. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  15. American Gods“, Neil Gaiman. Mankind’s gods are down and out in an age in which people worship new idols of money and technology. Entertaining pulp-fantasy fiction. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  16. The Lion and the Unicorn: Gladstone v Disraeli“, Richard Aldous. A joint history of two of the largest figures of early Westminster democracy. I loved this book, full of wonderful factoids about the evolution of the norms of Westminster democracy. DYK that while Gladstone was PM on four separate occasions, he lost his own seat twice? Or that convention used to hold that an MP appointed to the Cabinet used to have to fight a by-election in their seat before they could take up their post? Great stuff. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  17. Romulus, My Father“, Raimond Gaita. Son’s account of his father’s Australian immigrant story. Meaningful, moving, poetic. Just brilliant. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  18. Hanging Man: The Arrest of Ai Weiwei“, Barnaby Martin. The life and arrest of Ai Weiwei told through a series of interviews with the artist. Offers insights on art, repression and modern China. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  19. Rome: An Empire’s Story“, Greg Woolf. An excellent introduction to the Roman Empire. Shorter than Gibbon. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  20. Remembering Babylon“, David Malouf. Semi-historical literary account of Australian pioneers encountering a shipwrecked Englishman who had been living with an Aboriginal tribe for a number of years. I love almost everything that Malouf has written and this is one of his better books. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  21. Wars, Guns and Votes: Democracy in Dangerous Places“, Paul Collier. Academic economist offers a layman’s account of the application of quantitative models and field research to the study of democracy in the third world. Offers plenty of challenging ideas to chew on. Not unlike “The Victory Lab” in parts. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  22. “Game of Thrones”, George RR Martin. I kind of hated myself after reading the Game of Thrones series. They are LONG and there are so many characters and stories that everything blends into an amorphous mass of medieval fantasy very quickly. But somehow I just couldn’t stop reading them. Looking back, it’s a mystery to me why I invested so much time in these books, but I shudder to think at the opportunity cost of it. I’m not linking to it because I don’t want to encourage anyone else to start the habit!  Buy –Borrow – Toss
  23. “A Clash of Kings”, George RR Martin. As above. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  24. “A Storm of Swords”, George RR Martin. As above. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  25. “A Feast for Crows”, George RR Martin. As above. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  26. “A Dance with Dragons”, George RR Martin. As above. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  27. “The Art of Fielding”, Chad Harbach. Superstar college baseball player brought low. Beautifully written coupled with genuine and well drawn relationships between the protagonists makes for a fantastic read – but I thought it drifted a bit towards the end. Very good, but not great. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  28. “Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk”, Ben Fountain. A group of war heroes return to the US of furlough to attend a Dallas Cowboys football game. I thought this book was vastly over-rated. It’s an adequate account of American military pathos, but it was so heavy handed that I was groaning at times.  Buy –Borrow – Toss
  29. The Orphan Master’s Son“, Adam Johnson. I didn’t love this as much as others seemed to. I suspect it suffers from having been released so soon after “Nothing to Envy”, which inevitably makes fiction about the brutality of North Korea seem hollow in comparison. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  30. The Master of Go“, Yasunari Kawabata. Semi-Fictional account of the final, six month long match of an ageing Go Master. ‘Go’ has always fascinated me, I love Japanese literature as a rule and Kawabata is a Nobel Prize winning author… but I didn’t love this book. It was fine, but it didn’t stay with me after I’d finished it.  Buy –Borrow – Toss
  31. “The Smartest Kids in the World and How They Got That Way”, Amanda Ripley. Accessible investigation of the characteristics that underpin the best performing nation’s school systems in the OECD’s PISA tests told through the device of American exchange students studying in this countries. This book has made a lot of ‘best of non-fiction’ lists this year and it’s easy to see why. It packs a lot of information into a very digestible format. For me the biggest take-away was the significance of high-expectations and emphasising the cultural importance of education in driving student performance. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  32. How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity and the Hidden Power of Character“, Paul Tough. Summary of recent academic literature emphasising the importance of non-cognitive skills in children’s ability to succeed academically and in the world outside the classroom. Persuasive and covers much of the same ground as “The Smartest Kids in the World”, from an individual student perspective. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  33. Information Wants to be Shared“, Josh Gans. Aussie Economist Josh Gans posits that with the increasing returns to scale enabled by digital distribution, today information wants to be shared. Offers a more nuanced take than the ‘Information wants to be Free’ crowd. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  34. The Sirens of Titan“, Kurt Vonnegut. Malachi Constant, the richest man of the 22nd century, journeys to Titan at the behest of Winston Niles Rumfoord, a man trapped between dimensions. Classic Vonnegut; wry and mind bending. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  35. Battlers and Billionaires: The Story of Inequality in Australia“, Andrew Leigh. Australia’s best Shadow Assistant Treasurer provides a persuasive and accessible summary of Australia’s growing economic inequality. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  36. Imagining Australia: Ideas for our Future“, Macgregor Duncan, Andrew Leigh, David Madden, Peter Tynan. Enjoyable blue sky thinking from a group of young and idealistic Australians. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  37. Out of the Mountains: The Coming Age of the Urban Guerilla“, David Kilcullen. Australia’s premier counter-insurgency expert posits that in the future, conflict will come ‘out of the mountains’ of rural Afghanistan and Pakistan and into the densely populated, globally and digitally connected, coastal cities of the developing world. In this environment, government, the military and criminal and para-military groups will fight for ‘competitive control’ over cities and communities. As a result, governance, and the exercise of force, have become far, far more complex than ever before. Kilcullen’s expertise in field research means that this book is brimming with detail, data and personal anecdote. Should be an influential book in political circles.  Buy –Borrow – Toss
  38. Barracuda“, Christos Tsiolkas. A champion swimmer from Australia’s multicultural working-class deals with failure. Not Tsiolkas’ best work, but laudable for continuing to give gay and non-anglo characters a greater prominence in Australian literature than they have had for some time. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  39. A Journey“, Tony Blair. Blair’s take on his time in Government. Really, you’re enjoyment of this book will be largely determined by your pre-existing verdict on the man. So a largely self-selecting readership. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  40. The Dawkins Revolution: 25 Years On“, Gwilym Croucher, Simon Marginson, Andrew Norton, Julie Wells. A worthy (if very dry!) collection or articles appraising the impact of one of Labor’s least appreciated, but most significant reforms. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  41. How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia“, Mohsin Hamid. The fictional account of an Asian billionaire told in the style of a self-help book. Hamid is developing quite a unique voice and while this isn’t quite as good as “The Reluctant Fundamentalist”, I enjoyed it very much. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  42. This Town: Two Parties and a Funeral and Plenty of Valet Parking“, Mark Leibovich. Tales of how Washington is a cynical and self-interested place. I really detested this book. There isn’t much easier in journalist than writing cynical pieces about politics. Sure US politics is broken, but I didn’t come away from this book feeling like I understood any of the main actors any better than I already do. Every political actor is a two-dimensional self-promoting cynic in Leibovich’s world and the only participants in the system who are granted the complexity of being even flawed human beings are a handful of journalists from a more noble golden age. Meh. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  43. The Dinner“, Herman Koch. A family convenes at a high end restaurant to confront a family secret. Described to me as ‘The Dutch Gone Girl’, which I can see to a certain extent. It was certainly a page turner at times, but ultimately it didn’t grab me in the same way and the ending left me even colder than the ending of Gone Girl. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  44. China’s War With Japan: The Struggle for Survival“, Rana Mitter. Much as Antony Beevor used newly opened Soviet archives to popularise the story of the Eastern Front of WW2, Mitter uses new Chinese attitudes to archival material to provide a new perspective on the second Sino-Japanese War. Offers many insights to into subsequent events in Chinese domestic politics in the 20th century and particularly the tensions in the Chinese-US relationship. Highly recommended. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  45. Gaysia: Adventures in the Queer East“, Ben Law. A whistlestop tour of gay communities and their varying issues in Asia. I read “The Family Law” a few years back and didn’t love it, but I’ve come to find that I like Law’s journalism. I think he’s quite talented and hope he does more reportage than cultural/personal essay writing in his career. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  46. Average is Over“, Tyler Cowen. Cowen argues that the proliferation of technology is driving new extremes of labour force polarisation creating an employment market in which there are a small number of extreme beneficiaries, a larger group of people marketing specialised services to these people and an even larger group of very marginalised people. Buy –Borrow – Toss

2012

  1. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings”, Maya Angelou. Autobiography of African-American poet and writer. Tackles strong themes (Early 20th C Southern US racism and poverty, child rape, family break-down etc) beautifully and without excessive morbidity or sentimentally. A worthwhile read. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  2. The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo”, Stieg Larsson – I resisted this for a long time, but caved when the Slate Culturefest reviewed it and gave it a tentative thumbs up. I liked it despite myself but the critiques about it’s very stereo-typically ‘male’ outlook are justified. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  3. American Psycho”, Brett Easton Ellis – Genuinely shocking. I was surprised that it is actually as explicit/offensive as claimed. I was also surprised by how little plot there was.  That being said, it did have amusing stretches. The soliloquies on 80s music (particually Phil Collins) are genuinely brilliant. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  4. “20 Fragments of a Ravenous Youth”, Xiaolu Guo. A teenage village girl runs away from her home to a series of menial jobs and unfulfilling relationships in Beijing.  A strong punk affectation, but an interesting snapshot of youth in a rapidly changing China. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  5. The 9/11 Report: A Graphic Adaptation”, Sid Jacobson and Ernie Colon. An abridged graphic adaptation of the 9/11 Commission’s report on the events leading up to September 11, 2001. A surprisingly effective medium for conveying the chronology of what occurred, but less effective when dealing with the report’s policy recommendations. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  6. Zoo Quest for a Dragon”, David Attenborough. An old fashioned adventure story. In the mid-1950s, David Attenborough travels to remote Indonesia in an effort to capture a Komodo Dragon for the London Zoo and a BBC TV Series. The complete naivety of Attenborough’s three man production team (the knew next to nothing about the Dragons at the start of the trip and were ultimately prevented from removing one from the country at the end of the trip) is charming for its time but somewhat astonishing today. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  7. In Search of Civilization: Remaking a Tarnished Idea”, John Armstrong – An examination of the concept of Civilisation and it’s value in a post-modern world. I came to this with high expectations imagining an update of Kenneth Clarke, only to be disappointed. I’ve enjoyed Armstrong’s previous books (particularly ‘Conditions of Love’), but this one couldn’t hold my interest. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  8. Leaves of Grass”, Walt Whitman. Peerless poetry. Accessible on a superficial level, but always rewarding closer reading. Universally enriching. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  9. The Way of the Greeks”, Edith Hamilton. A very high quality cliff’s notes to the philosophy, history, drama and art of the ancient Greeks. A favourite of RFK, Hamilton’s work conveys the extraordinary achievements of this fertile period of history with the respect and depth necessary to do the topic justice, but in a way that is accessible to those innocent of the classics.  Buy –Borrow – Toss
  10. The Noodlemaker”, Ma Jian. A collection of short stories of modern China told through a series of drunken dinners between two friends with a shared history of conflict. Dark, satirical modern Chinese fiction. The book jacket described it as Kunderaesq and I have to be cheap and derivative and agree. Recommended. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  11. The Uninvited”, Geling Yan. More Modern Chinese Satire. An unemployed Chinese factory worker discovers that by posing as a journalist he can eat at the free buffet’s of Chinas nascent PR industry. The protagonist is drawn into a mystery but I’d already lost interest by then. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  12. A Good Fall”, Ha Jin. A collection of short stories exploring the experiences of the Chinese immigrant community in the United States. Ha Jin is a favourite author of mine and his simple prose is perfect for a collection of stories about immigrants struggling to connect in an alien environment. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  13. Mudslingers: The 25 Dirtiest Political Campaigns of All Time”, Kerwin Swint. A straightforward list book cataloging the roughest political campaigns in US history. If nothing else this is worth reading to comprehensively disabuse oneself of the notion that there was once a golden era of politics in which gentlemen debated the public interest in a Habermasian public sphere. The dirtiest campaigns in this book are frequently the oldest ones…   Buy –Borrow – Toss
  14. Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned”, Wells Tower. Perfectly adequate collection of modern literary short stories. Promised much but didn’t quite transcend the genre.  Buy –Borrow – Toss
  15. Life and Fate”, Vasily Grossman – Epic historical fiction covering the sweep of the Eastern Front of WW2 from the perspective of an extended Russian Jewish family. With a scope that stretches from Stalin in the Kremlin, to a unit of Russian soldiers besieged in Pavlov’s House during the battle of Stalingrad, to a Commissar in a Russian tank battalion leading Operation Uranus, to a Russian General in a Nazi concentration camp, to a Jewish scientist working on an atomic bomb while being hounded by Stalin’s secret police, to a Jewish child walking into the gas chambers in Auschwitz the canvas of this book is awe inspiring. And all written by a Russian Jewish journalist who lived with the Red Army from Stalingrad to Berlin. It’s no coincidence that this book was named to invoke “War and Peace”. Truly one of the Great Books of the 20th Century.  Buy –Borrow – Toss
  16. The Road”, Cormac McCarthy. Father and Son travel across post-apocalyptic landscape with little hope or overt purpose. Grim, unrelenting utterly parodic of McCarthy’s oeuvre.  Buy –Borrow – Toss
  17. Me Talk Pretty One Day”, David Sedaris – Humorous autobiographical essays. I read this as a palate cleanser after The Road. Largely pointless and lacking in substance/meaning. I enjoyed this so little that it made me uncomfortable at my intellectual snobbery. Far inferior to Augusten Burroughs in this genre. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  18. If this is a Man”, Primo Levi – Adorno might have said that there could be no poetry after Auschwitz, but “If This is a Man” is not only bears witness for the most horrific event of the 20th century, but does so in an indisputably artistic manner. Levi marshals the moral power of art to leave the reader greatly shaken. Given its brief length this really should be a must read for all thinking people. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  19. American Born Chinese”,  Gene Luen Yang. Graphic novel of the school life travails of a Chinese-American Boy interspersed with the myth of the Monkey King and the Journey to the West. Works in a weird way but nothing earth shattering. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  20. Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress”, Dai Sijie. Two young school friends are sent  for re-education in rural China as part of Mao’s Cultural Revolution. They discover a cache of European novels and use them to woo a ‘Little Chinese Seamstress’. A cute concept and elegantly written  Buy –Borrow – Toss
  21. Novel without a Name”, Duong Thu Huong. A Viet-Cong unit leader travels across Vietnam to visit his home village after 10 years of guerilla warfare. Poetic and polemical. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  22. Once Upon a Moonless Night”, Dai Sijie. A Western academic seeks a Buddhist sutra once owned by last emperor of China. I’ve like Dai Sijie’s other books and I thought the concept was interesting, but the text was too florid for me to be able to get engaged with this book.  Buy –Borrow – Toss
  23. Shakespeare”, Bill Bryson. Everything you expect from Bryson. A short, light fact-filled but analysis-light account of the life and works of Will Shakespeare. Engaging but not life changing. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  24. My Reading Life”, Bob Carr. Former NSW Premier and current Minister for Foreign Affairs writes about the books that have had the greatest impact on his life. Inspired me to make a greater effort with the French and Russian classics next year. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  25. Ready, Player One”, Ernest Cline. Ecentric billionaire and creator of a massively multi-player virtual reality world dies and establishes an elaborate 80s geek culture public contest to win his bequest. Harmless science fiction. The author gave away a Delorean as part of his book tour so that’s pretty cool. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  26. Arguably”, Christopher Hitchens. A collection of more than 100 of Hitchens’ essays on history, politics and culture. First class. Talking about Hitchens’ essays is one of the few contexts in which you can use the word ‘Orwellian’ as a complimentary adjective. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  27. Inside the Canberra Press Gallery: Life in the Wedding Cake of Old Parliament House”, Rob Chalmers. 60 year veteran of the Canberra Press Gallery gives a first hand account of life in the gallery in Old Parliament House. Equal parts fascinating, rambling and salacious. A testament to the uniqueness of Australian Democracy. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  28.  “The Master and Marguerita”,  Mikhail Bulgakov – The Devil visits Soviet Moscow. Magic realism ensues. Quite bizare at times and not for everyone. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  29. Death Note: Vol 1 – 108“, Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata. One of the most significant Japanese Mangas. The son of the Tokyo police commissioner finds a magical note book that enables the owner to kill any individual by writing their name in the book. The story goes through the looking glass when the protagonist begins using the book to kill of the worlds criminal class and starts mind bending game of cat and mouse with a secretive super cop. I don’t think I’ve ever read anything ‘twisty-er’ than this before. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  30. Darkness at Noon“, Arthur Koesteller. An old Bolshevik is arrested and tried by the secret police for treason against the state. It’s what you would get if you combined Kafka and Orwell and added a dimension of moral responsibility (and hence complexity). One of the classics of the 20th century, though a book that you suspect will fall from public awareness as memories of the Soviet Union fade. A story that could only be written by someone who was both an ex-communist and who has been jailed for an extended period. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  31. Huey Long“, T. Harry Williams – Barnstorming biography of Louisiana demagogue, Governor and Senator, Huey Long. Anecdotes of the craft of politics abound and while this is a hefty tome, it doesn’t read long once you get into the rythms of Southern Democratic politics. Highly recommended. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  32. God is Not Great“, Christopher Hitchens. No one does polemic like Hitchens and “God is Not Great” manages to must the same passion and rage as “The God Delusion” without indulging in the same contempt and condescension for the religious. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  33. A Moveable Feast“, Ernest Hemingway – Hemingway on Hemingway (and Fitzgerald and Stein and Pound) in inter-war Paris. A pocket-sized classic filled with genuine insights on life and the artistic process. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  34. The Western Canon: The Books and School of the Ages“, Harold Bloom – I’ve been listening to this via audiobook for the better part of a six months now (33+hours). Bloom reads it and he sounds just as sententious as you’d expect. There’s a lot of meaty substance in this and some worthy critiques of modern academic literary studies, but the bulk is reactionary pomposity. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  35. Captain China Volume 1“, Chi Wang and Jim Lai – A Chinese nationalist response to Captain America. Captain China saves President Obama from an assassination attempt. It’s exactly as bizarre as it sounds.  Buy –Borrow – Toss
  36. Stiff“, Shane Maloney. Electorate Officer for a Western Melbourne State Labor Minister is drawn into an intrigue of industrial scheming and murder. A high quality gumshoe genre book. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  37. Crescent and Star: Turkey Between Two Worlds“, Kinzer, Stephen. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  38. #”Burr“, Gore Vidal – The story of a Revolutionary War hero, Senator and the first Vice-President of the United States to kill someone in a duel while in office. Arguably better than “Lincoln” if only because of its close (and often defamatory) imaginings of the most prominent figures in the Revolutionary USA, but regardless a must read for anyone with an interest in early US history. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  39. The Rise of the Fifth Estate“, Greg Jericho.First hand account of the emergence of social media as a new voice in the Australian political ecosystem and the ructions that this caused for existing institutions. A great way for new-comers to catch up on the online events of the past six years.  Buy –Borrow – Toss
  40. #”Joh: The Life and Political Adventures of Johannes Bjelke-Petersen“, Hugh Lunn. Recent events in Queensland inspired me to grab this one off the bookshelf for a re-read.   Buy –Borrow – Toss
  41. Ocean of Words“, Ha Jin. A collection of short stories revolving around a Chinese military base on the Chinese-Russian border during the Cultural Revolution. In addition to being a sensitive and insightful story-teller, Ha Jin focus on the individual in a totalitarian state is a valuable rejoinder to the stereo-type of the Chinese masses. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  42. Ransom: A Novel“, David Malouf – A retelling of the encounter between Priam and Achilles in the Illiad. A moving book that works on the small scale of human emotion and the larger scale of cultural expectation at the same time. Recommended. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  43. Gang Leader for a Day: A Rogue Sociologist Takes to the Streets“, Sudhir Venkatesh. Sociology graduate student embeds himself with a gang leader in a Chicago housing project. Told in a narrative, confessional style rather than as a sociological treatise which makes the book both accessible and surprisingly intimate. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  44. The Victory Lab: The Secret Science of Winning Campaigns“, Sasha Issenberg – In depth study of the growing application data driven, empirically social psychology tactics in modern political campaigning. The 50% of this book that is good is very good, but it meanders a lot in the middle parts by telling the story chronologically (as campaigns and political scientists floundered while trying to get rigor into what they were doing). Buy –Borrow – Toss
  45. Freedom“, Jonathan Franzen – I had put off reading this for more than 12 months as I wanted to consume it free from the climate of hype that surrounds everything that Franzen produces. You can believe the hype though as this was an extraordinary book. Frazen’s close studies of the late 20th century American middle-class and their family dynamics really are extraordinary. If you didn’t like ‘The Corrections”, you probably won’t like this either, but in many ways this book exceeded its predecessor. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  46. Leaving the Atocha Station“, Ben Lerner – An interesting read. I didn’t like it, but might recommend it. It’s a book that’s prompted a number of good debates with friends and if nothing else it’s great source material for trolling the literary set. I’m convinced there’s an aspect of satire to the book – the author is taking the piss out of the self-seriousness of the protagonist. Sentences like this are inexplicable otherwise: “It didn’t matter; every sentence, regardless of its subject, became mimetic of the action of the train, and the train mimetic of the sentence, and I felt suddenly coeval with its syntax.” But if you take it at face value, a more  cynical interpretation is that the language of literary poetry in the book is used not for satire or to create room for the projection of meaning by the reader (a theme explored by the protagonist), but merely as a signalling tool to demonstrate literary acuity. It’s all about the author rather than the reader. In the hands of a virtuoso this can be forgivable as it’s fun just to go on the ride with them, but in the hands of even just a ‘good’ writer it serves no purpose but to stroke the writer’s ego within their community of practice. It’s no better than French Philosophy. The best parts of this book were the exploration of projection/communication that come in the sections of dialogue where the protagonist is struggling to understand the local language. I thought the paragraphs where he unfolded the potential meanings of what he was hearing in Spanish were quite beautiful and close to my favourite parts of the book: eg “she might have described swimming in the lake as a child, or said that lakes reminded her of being a child, or asked me if I’d enjoyed swimming as a child, or said that what she’d said about the moon was childish.” A nice device that I would enjoy in a poem (or even series of poems) but if it was the premise of the entire book I thought it was a reach.  Buy – Borrow – Toss
  47. Don’t Go Back to Where You Came From: Why Multiculturalism Works“: Tim Soutphommasane – One of the books of the year for those interested in Australian politics and policy making. Southphommasane makes a persuasive case that the Australian model of multiculturalism, founded on the rights and obligations of citizenship, has been uniquely successful – particularly in comparison to the vastly different approaches employed in Europe. One of those rare books that has led me to think about an issue very differently after reading than before. – Buy –Borrow – Toss
  48. This is How You Lose Her“, Junot Diaz – An entire collection of short stories about male infidelity? An interesting subject for a concept album. Diaz faculty for description – particularly of women – is very impressive, but he’s also a very sensitive writer and he paints a nuanced picture of the emotional life of his characters. Reminded me of Raymond Carver’s “What we Talk About When We Talk About Love” in some respects. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  49. The Signal and the Noise: Why So Many Predictions Fail But Some Don’t“, Nate Silver – NOT just a book about polling and political punditry, but rather a very detailed examination of the limitations of forecasting and prediction across a range of subject areas (including weather, hurricanes, earthquakes, terrorism, baseball, politics, economic forecasting). The book’s focus on the limitations of statistical forecasting is high irony given the (generally) uninformed criticisms Silver faced during the 2012 Presidential Election Campaign. Silver’s  explanation of the limitations of Fischerian statistical inference (particularly the scourge of statistical significance and overfit models) should be included in all introductory statistics courses. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  50. World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War“, Max Brooks – A pastiche of first person accounts from across the globe of a zombie apocalypse. Largely Sci-Fi escapism despite Daniel Drezner’s (partly tongue in cheek) efforts to talk up the geo-political insight of the differing international approaches to the end of the world portrayed in this book. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  51. On Our Selection“, Steele Rudd – As someone who has family roots on the Darling Downs stretching back to the days of Dad and Dave it pains me to say it, but this book has not aged well. The slapstick comedy doesn’t really translate across generations and the constant stories of animal cruelty as humour were enough to put even me off. Go to Henry Lawson if you’re looking for an Australian literary taste of this period.  Buy –Borrow – Toss
  52. What We Talk About When We Talk About Love“, Raymond Carver – Brief and obtuse, but strangely  moving. I can see why this book is still considered to be so influential 30 years after it was written. I was particularly delighted to unexpectedly come across a short story (“So Much Water, So Close to Home”) that was obviously the inspiration for the Paul Kelly song “Everything’s Turning to White” and the eponym for the Album from which it comes. If you havent’ read any Carver before, this should give you a feel for the books oeuvre.  Buy –Borrow – Toss
  53. The Great Books“, David Denby – New York movie critic re-takes Columbia University’s mandatory ‘Great Books’ course in middle age wrestling with the canon of Western Civilization alongside Freshmen and Sophomores. A good, high level introduction to the Great Books coupled with a sensible discussion of the cultural role and relevance in a modern, pluralistic society. Buy –Borrow – Toss

2011

  1. “The Berlin Stories”, Christopher Isherwood – Writers, artist and bohemians in Weimar Berlin push the boundaries of social norms in the shadow of the rise of Nazism. Tells the story of a homosexual English writer in Berlin without ever conceding the existence of homosexuality. Layered with subtext and obtuseness, so exactly to my taste. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  2. “The Picture of Dorian Gray”, Oscar Wilde – English dandy and aristocrat enters into faustian bargain to preserve his youthful good looks. Reading Wilde is like running around a playground of the English language. Witticisms and homilies abound. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  3. “Tender is the Night”, F Scott Fitzgerald – A wealthy American couple deal with a wife’s mental illness and a husband’s insecurities while jet setting through 1930s Europe. Ah, Dick Diver – The most unfortunately named protagonist in literature. An interesting on though. The relationship between the two protagonists is beautifully and painfully realistic. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  4. “Casino Royale”, Ian Fleming. – You all know what it’s about – spies and poker or something.  Trash. Unreconstructed misogyny and homophobia. Not as mendacious as others in the James Bond series (eg Goldfinger), but still probably a net negative contribution to society. That aside, I still can’t help myself from reading them. A guilty pleasure I guess. The books are darker than the films. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  5. “The God Delusion”, Richard Dawkins – God doesn’t exist and if you continue to believe otherwise in spite of overwhelming evidence to the contrary you are either stupid or mentally ill.  You can’t disagree with the logic or the verdict, but the way the case is put makes you wonder what is the point. It’s not the kind of book that’s going to persuade many with religious faith. Overall more irritating than enlightening. Buy – Borrow –Toss
  6. “Lust, Caution”, Eileen Chang – A novella of short stories set in WW2 Shanghai. This book makes you feel like you’re listening to middle aged Chinese women gossiping to each other in a tea room. A gossipy and melodramatic feel, but well constructed and ultimately effective. The circumstances of Chang’s personal life adds a layer of intrigue to reading the title story. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  7. “The Maltese Falcon”, Dashiell Hammett – Hard bitten private eye juggles competing gangsters and a femme fatale in search of a fabulous antique. Not quite as good as The Thin Man, but still one of the best private eye mysteries. Sam Spade is one of the great characters of American literature. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  8. “The Big Sleep”, Raymond Chandler – Private Eye gets caught up in the nefarious affairs of a wealthy patriarch and his amoral daughters. This book comes highly rated in the genre and was certainly enjoyable, but thinking back now, there’s very little of it that I can recall. There witty dialogue, I remember that much. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  9. “The Same Man: George Orwell and Evelyn Waugh in Love and War”, David Lebedoff –A dual biography of George Orwell and Evelyn Waugh, with the premise that these contemporaries lives shared more parallels than their very different personas would suggest. An enjoyable read, but ultimately the premise was stretched too far to be entirely satisfying. I found some of the themes enlightening (eg Orwell’s life as an Etonian trying to hide the fact and Waugh’s as a non-Etonian trying to pretend otherwise. Sadly, my strongest memory of this book was the factoid that Evelyn Waugh’s first wife was also named Evelyn! Buy – Borrow – Toss
  10. “Why Orwell Matters”, Christopher Hitchens – One of the best essayists of our time riffs off the work of the best essayist of all time providing historical context and modern interpretation. A first class introduction to Orwell’s body of work and its significance for modern politics. All young progressives would do themselves a favour by picking up this book – it will take the blinkers off and dramatically accelerate the evolution of your political thinking. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  11. “After the Quake: Stories”, Haruki Murakami – A collection of surrealist short stories loosely linked by the Kobe earthquake. This is the collection with the story about the giant frog. I am a fan of Murakami’s oeuvre, but I find myself feeling a sense of dread every time I come across one of his increasingly lengthy stand alone novels. In my view, his short story collections are invariably much more enjoyable. You get the same feeling of whimsy and disorientation, but in short bursts that don’t feel like a slog into the unknown. This isn’t quite up there with Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman for my mind, but is excellent nonetheless. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  12. “Darkly Dreaming Dexter”, Jeff Lindsay – Origin story of serial killer who works as a police forensics analyst by day and kills serial killers by night. I hadn’t seen the Dexter TV series so I picked this up to see what it was all about. It’s trash, but harmlessly so. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  13. “Up in the Air”, Walter Kirn – Shallow road warrior businessmen who specialises in facilitating redundancies confronts the emptiness of his existence. Cleverly written, but pretty insubstantial and emotionally unfulfilling. I liked the movie (and George Clooney) better. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  14. “An Education”, Lynn Barber – UK journalist recounts her free loving youth and career as a journalist. I’m a bit embarrassed that I read this book for some reason. It’s a bit of a chick’s book right? The opening chapters dealing with her high school romance were engaging, but I lost interest as the book progressed. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  15. “The Right Stuff”, Tom Wolfe – A non-fiction account of the lives and culture of the military test pilots who comprised NASA’s first manned space program (the Mercury missions). A tad gung ho and rah rah, but justifiably so. A genuinely awe inspiring story of real life human courage and endeavour. Great fun too. The Chuck Yeager stories in particular are mind blowing. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  16. “Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother”, Amy Chua – Intense first generation immigrant mother outlines her parenting philosophy in the form of a memoir of her experiences raising two over-achieving daughters. Far and away the funniest book I read all year. Chua’s complete lack of perspective or self-awareness produces a series of laugh out loud statements of parenting myopia. It’s amazing to think that just a year after this book was released, the phrase ‘Tiger Mother’ now requires no explanation. A phenomenon. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  17. “Parentonomics: An Economist Dad Looks at Parenting”, Joshua Gans – An economics professor tries to apply economic principles to the task of parenting with his own children as guinea pigs. Sadly for Josh, this book didn’t take off in quite the same way as Tiger Mother! But as a new dad with an economics background, I enjoyed it and picked up a few useful tips (Make sure your baby sleeps as far away from mum and dad as possible!). Buy – Borrow – Toss
  18. #“Primary Colors: A Novel of Politics”, Joe Klein – Charismatic Southern Governor seeks the Democratic Presidential nomination in the face of scandal and ethical quandaries. Originally published anonymously and hewing very closely to the real life circumstances of Bill Clinton’s 1992 Presidential campaign, this is probably the second best fictional account of US politics (It will take a lot to knock off Robert Penn Warren’s “All the King’s Men” from the number one spot in this regard). Gets at the core of why people become involved in politics and the trade offs they face once they are players. It’s telling that Joe Klein came to sympathise more with politicians than journalists after his experience with the media after he was outed as the book’s author. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  19. “Consider the Lobster: And Other Essays”, David Foster Wallace – DFW in his purest form; high quality, high brow, humanist essay writing. If you find him insufferably affected – you’ll hate it. Includes the majority of his most iconic essays eg The Las Vegas Porn Convention, The Maine Lobster Festival and Peta, Robert Federer and Authority and American Usage (AKA his grammar pedantry spray. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  20. “The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine”, Michael Lewis – An account of the causes of the 2008 global financial crisis told through the stories of the investors who saw it coming, and bet against the world financial system. Lewis is a seriously talented communicator and story teller. A cogent and comprehensible explanation of the causes of the GFC with real narrative structure. Really quite impressive when you think about it.   Buy – Borrow – Toss
  21. “Democracy, an American novel”, Henry Adams – An 1870s New York society woman moves to Washington in search of a political education.  The dialogue was amusing at times and some of the political philosophy was interesting and insightful but I found this book to be a bit of a drag to get through. The novelistic form has evolved for the better since this book was first published in 1880. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  22. “In Cold Blood”, Truman Capote – Two drifters murder an upstanding rural American family. The birth of the ‘true crime’ genre. I know the reputation of this book and I don’t necessarily disagree with it, but I wasn’t personally taken by this book. Can’t put my finger on exactly why. Maybe I was just in a funk myself at the time. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  23. “Cultural Amnesia: Necessary Memories from History and the Arts”, Clive James – An extraordinarily wide ranging collection of essays about the figures James considers to be most important to the cultural life of the 20th century. Brilliant, brilliant, brilliant writing. Fascinating, meaty subject matter engaged by a luminescent intellect. At times, reading this felt overpoweringly rich; like eating pigs trotters stuffed with sweetbreads and truffles. I had to give my mind breaks from this book with less enriching fare in order to get through it all. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  24. “Maus: A Survivor’s Tale. I. My Father Bleeds History. & II. And Here My Troubles Began”, Art Spiegelman – A cartoonist tells the story of his parent’s experiences in the holocaust and his own experiences in drawing out the tale. You probably know this book’s shtick: the Nazis are drawn as cats, the Jews as mice and a complex and intense multi-generational family story is told in a way that is accessible to all readers. This book isn’t just excellent in it’s genre, it’s excellent for any genre. It deserves to be more widely read. There are a number of books that I’ve bought with the conscious intention of having them sitting invitingly on bookshelves for my children to sneak away to read for themselves. I really hope they grab Maus one day. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  25. “Persepolis”, Marjane Satrapi – An Iranian woman tells the story of her childhood in revolutionary Iran and her return to the country as a young woman. Maus put me onto a bit of a graphic novel bender. I was excited to explore a new genre that I’d barely touched before. Persepolis was a bit of a let-down in this context. It’s not bad, but Maus meant my expectations were set too high for me to really love this book.  Buy – Borrow – Toss
  26. “Logicomix: An Epic Search for Truth”, Apostolos Doxiadis, Christos H. Papadimitriou, Alecos Papadatos and Annie Di Donna – A graphic novel about Bertrand Russell’s ambition to ‘prove’ the logical foundations of mathematics. I’ve long loved Bertrand Russell’s pop-philosophy and essays, but I’ve never found a way into his own philosophy. It’s really mind bending stuff. How can you ‘prove’ that 1 +1 = 2 from first principles? Russell never worked it out, but this cartoon makes it reasonably straightforward to understand the questions he was posing.  Buy – Borrow – Toss
  27. The Walking Dead: 1 – 85”, Robert Kirkman, Charlie Adlard, Cliff Rathburn and Tony Moore –  (Graphic Novel), The Zombie apocalypse in cartoon form. Harmless fun if you like that sort of thing. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  28. #“Anthills of the Savannah”, Chinua Achebe – An allegory of post-colonial politics in a fictional African nation told through the relationship between three childhood friends, a soldier, a journalist and a public servant. One of Achebe’s more underrated books. Lyrically written and very insightful on the nature of power, jealousy, hatred and repression.Buy – Borrow – Toss
  29.  “Dancing in the Glory of Monsters: The Collapse of the Congo and the Great War of Africa”, Jason Stearns – A history of the Congo Wars; a twenty year conflict that involved a dozen countries and cost six million lives that most people have never heard about. Virtuoso journalism to tackle a conflict this complex and little known in the west and make it digestible to the average reader. Even better, Stearns doesn’t over-reach. His only conclusion is that there are no simple solutions to stabilising this region.  Buy – Borrow – Toss
  30. “Revolutionary Road”, Richard Yates – A story of suburban ennui in 1950s America. I know a lot of people loved this book, but I was a bit underwhelmed. I guess I’m just unsympathetic to people complaining about the stultification of middle class life. Honestly, there are more important things to be angst ridden about. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  31. “The Jungle Book”, Rudyard Kipling – A collection of short stories of life in Raj era India told through the eyes of animals and children. Reading Kipling, it’s easy to see how the English both achieved and destroyed so much around the world. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  32.  #“Recollections of a Bleeding Heart 10th Anniversary Edition”, Don Watson – A personal history of life inside the PMO during the Keating Prime Ministership. Elegiac. Naïve. Inspirational. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  33. “Psmith Journalist”, P.G.Wodehouse – Psmith moves to the United States and takes up journalism. I’ve largely forgotten this already. It’s Wodehouse, It’s Psmith. For better and for worse. What more do you need to know. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  34. Fifty Orwell Essays”, George Orwell – A collection of Orwell’s best non-fiction. From Colonial Burma to Revolutionary Spain, from the coal mines of Northern England to the literary circles of London, Orwell’s searing insight cuts to the nub of the great political and moral questions of the 20th Century. The best 99c you’ll ever spend on Amazon. You could teach an ethics course from this collection. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  35.  “Cannery Row”, John Steinbeck – A novella about the inhabitants of the small Californian coastal community of Monterey. Brilliant. Every time I finish a Steinbeck I feel invigorated and enriched. A New Year Resolution to properly work through his catalogue. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  36.  “Columbine”, Dave Cullen – A detailed examination of the events leading up to and following the Columbine school massacre informed by the diaries and videos of the killers and thousands of interviews with members of the community. A great piece of journalism. A necessary one too to debunking the many myths that were perpetuated by the media in the aftermath of the shooting. Fascinating. I was surprised to learn that the shooting had nothing to do with bullying or teen alienation, or even for that matter shooting (it was really a failed bombing inspired by Timothy McVeigh).  Buy – Borrow – Toss
  37.  “A Visit From The Goon Squad”, Jennifer Egan – The stories of a loosely linked set of characters in and around the music business interacting across time. I found the meta-debate around this book difficult to overcome. Jennifer Egan keeps getting thrown up as an example of a major female US literary fiction writer that doesn’t get the same credit as the Franzens’, Eugenidies’, Dellilo’s etc because US literature is a boys club. AVFTGS is cited as a book that doesn’t get the critical acclaim it deserves because female writers are overlooked (which is weird given all the prizes it won!). So I can’t help but compare the book to those guys – and I honestly don’t think it’s anywhere near being in their league. Maybe I am an unconscious misogynist, but I think Franzen’s work is significantly better than hers. My overall feeling is that it’s not substantial enough to be enduring. I can’t imagine as many people reading this book in ten years as are currently reading The Corrections for example.  The thing that worries me the most about the book in retrospect is how little of it I can actually remember just a few months on. I think by jumping between characters and time so frequently, she sacrificed the ability to focus on the substance to a greater extent. I thought most of the characters were only really sketched out rather than really developed in detail. Maybe that was the intention, but at the end of the book I found myself wishing that it was a whole book about Sasha, or maybe only three characters (maybe the guy in the last chapter and Benny as well?). But as it was I found it too fleeting. I don’t know. My feelings on this book are unstable, but I was ultimately unsatisfied. I did love the chapter written in powerpoint though.  Buy – Borrow – Toss
  38. “The Spy Who Came in From The Cold”, John LeCarre – Cross, double cross or triple cross? A cold war spy thriller of the first order. Not just a pot boiler either, but a literary work of real substance. Explores an interesting thread about the means and ends of politics and international relations and the consequences for individuals. When I was a teenager I loved Tom Clancy books, I wish I’d found LeCarre earlier instead.  Buy – Borrow – Toss
  39. “Hiroshima”, John Hersey – The seminal account of the nuclear attack on Hiroshima, told through the experiences of half a dozen survivors. Originally commissioned by the New Yorker and published shortly after the bombing, it’s brilliantly written with a tone pitched perfectly for the subject matter. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  40. “Power Without Glory”, Frank Hardy – Roman à clef of the life of the corrupt Labor power broker, John Wren. Surprisingly good. Genuinely readable, even if it flagged a bit at the end. Insights into the nature of power and its exercise abound. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  41.  “300”, Frank Miller and Lynn Varley – Graphic novel portrayal of the battle of Thermopylae. After reading The Watchmen, V for Vendetta and 300, it’s pretty clear to me that there’s a crypto-fascist aspect to his world view. It’s a bit creepy.  Buy – Borrow – Toss
  42.  “Marvels”, Kurt Busiek and Alex Ross – A graphic novel linking the stories of Marvel’s main superheros and filling new comers in on the universe. Supposedly one of the best of the superhero genre, but failed in a narrative sense for mine. Without emotional valence. One for the true fans only. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  43.  “The Defender”, Jordan Conn – The story of 7’7’ Sudanese basketball oddity Manute Bol. No, he didn’t really kill a lion. Yes, he lived a bizarre, comical and tragic life regardless. A very interesting read. Incidentally, I really love the Kindle Single format (cheap, easily consumable in short bites), but I can’t seem to find much of interest in the Kindle store. I think they need to find a better way of helping people find content. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  44.  “The Great Stagnation: How America Ate All The Low-Hanging Fruit of Modern History, Got Sick, and Will (Eventually) Feel Better”, Tyler Cowen – Academic economist and Internet polymath Tyler Cowen posits a theory for the stagnation of economic growth in the United States. No more free land to be productively utilised and under-educated people to have their human capital enriched means that the US (and the west more broadly) needs to work harder at the things that drive growth (science, R&D etc). Buy – Borrow – Toss
  45.  “The Unfinished Revolution: How New Labour Changed British Politics Forever”, Philip Gould – A key Labour strategist from 1987-2010 writes about the modernisation of the UK Labour party and the six UK election campaigns that he advised on. Along with “It’s not what you say, it’s what people hear” by Frank Luntz, this is the book that I would most recommend for anyone interested in a practical handbook on political campaigning. Gould gets the big picture of campaign strategy, but also sets out in detail how to go about operationalising strategy during an election. First class. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  46.  “Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea”, Barbara Demick – A US journalist pieces together the details of ordinary life in one city in North Korea through the stories of a exiles living in South Korea. If you have even the slightest curiosity about North Korea (particularly in light of the death of Kim Il Jung, you ought to grab this book. It’s fascinating and insightful. Close to the best book I read this year. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  47.  “Disgrace”, JM Coetzee – A South African Professors’ liaison with a student leads him to flee Cape Town in disgrace to live with his daughter in rural South Africa. A well told reflection on masculinity, fatherhood, power, repression, hatred and suffering.  Buy – Borrow – Toss
  48.  “Reluctant Fundamentalist”, Mohsin Hamid – Overachieving Pakistani working in the finance sector in New York has his relationship with the United States turned upside down by the September 11 attacks. I’m not sure that I fully bought the format of this book (it is told in form of a discussion between the protagonist and an unidentified American in a Pakistani city), but I did like the multiple layers of allegory that Hamid played with in this book. Layers upon layers of meaning everywhere you look. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  49.  “The Light on the Hill: the Australian Labor Party, 1891-1991”, Ross McMullin – The authoritative history of the ALP commissioned for the Party’s 100th anniversary. A long, but rollicking account of the drama filled history of the Australian Labor Party. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  50.  “Goodbye Jerusalem: Night Thoughts of a Labor Outsider”, Bob Ellis – Ellis recounts the lead up to the 1998 Federal Election and his surreal independent candidacy in Bronwyn Bishop’s electorate when she was spruiked as a future Liberal leader. Yes, I know he’s an arsehole with some really unpleasant views, but so was Hemmingway etc etc. Fact is, the guy can write and his melancholy but earnest tone is ideally suited to discussions of the Labor party. My copy is pre-defamation pulping J  Buy– Borrow – Toss
  51.  “Farewell Babylon: Further Journeys in Time and Politics”, Bob Ellis – The same gimmick as Goodbye Jerusalem, but for the 2001 election campaign. Like most sequels, not quite as good despite arguably better material. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  52. The Naked and the Dead”, Norman Mailer – A company of US soldiers is assigned to a mission on a Pacific Island in World War 2. Over long and overblown in parts, but somehow compelling despite it. I can see why it was a literary sensation when it was published. Holds up well today, 50 years after it was first published.  Buy – Borrow – Toss
  53.  “The Hunger Games Trilogy”, Susanne Collins – Teen girl forced to fight for survival against other teens on a reality tv show in a fantasy dystopia. I can see why it’s become such a big seller. Entertaining, but ultimately insubstantial. A significant drop off in quality in the second and third books. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  54.  “Learning to be a Minister: Heroic Expectations, Practical Realities”, Anne Tiernan and Patrick Weller – An academic account of the experience of being a Minister in the incoming Rudd Government informed by anonymous interviews with ministers, staffers and public servants. I picked this up at the Parliament House book store on a business trip when I had run out of reading material. An interesting flashback to what it was like in the early months of the Rudd Government. Fun to play “Guess Who” with the blind quotes. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  55. Barefoot Gen (Barefoot Gen)”, Nakazawa Keiji –  A manga cartoonist who was a ten year old boy in Hiroshima when the atomic bomb hit tells the story of the lead up to and the aftermath of the bombing. I found this book via a recommendation from Maus’ Art Spiegelman. It’s excellent, though not in Maus’ league. Barefoot Gen is more directly aimed at children and has a more explicit didactic purpose. Which means you get a lot of the more extreme manga conventions (over the top fights, children biting off people’s fingers etc) and expository detours explaining events (using Gen’s anti-war father and Kamikaze volunteer brother as foils). Which is fine and important, but just pitched at a different level to Maus. (Graphic Novel) Buy – Borrow – Toss
  56. #“The Trial of Henry Kissinger”, Christopher Hitchens – Hitchens reviews the evidence for the trial of Henry Kissinger for crimes against humanity in Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Bangladesh, Argentina etc, etc. This really is a shocking read. I’m not adverse to real politik in service of a greater cause, but Hitchens makes a pretty compelling case that Kissinger knowingly and repeatedly commissioned horrific crimes solely to advance his personal power within the US establishment. This was a quickie Hitchens’ read prompted by his sad early death. I read this book some time ago and remembered it as an archetype takedown. It held up on re-reading – authoritative, brutal and erudite. I’m really going to have to get around to reading Hitch 22 next year. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  57. “A Single Man”, Christopher Isherwood – A closeted gay man in 1950s America loses his partner in a car crash. Achingly sad and closely observed. Very effectively conveys the smothering nature of grief. I read it to be much more pessimistic than the recent movie adaptation, but a good friend with a better perspective on the issues came to the opposite conclusion so I may be wrong. Buy  – Borrow – Toss

2010

  1. The Metamorphosis”, Franz KafkaBuy – Borrow – Toss
  2. The SantaLand Diaries”, David Sedaris. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  3. The Call Of Cthulhu”, H. P. Lovecraft. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  4. Poems”, Wilfred Owen. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  5. “Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them”, Al Franken. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  6. Rumpole of The Bailey”, John Mortimer. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  7. A Short History of Nearly Everything”, Bill Bryson. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  8. “Atlas Shrugged”, Ayn Rand. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  9. “Beggars in Spain”, Nancy Kress. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  10. “A Modest Proposal”, Jonathan Swift. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  11. “The Book of Basketball: The NBA According to The Sports Guy”, Bill Simmons. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  12. “Ernest Hemingway on Writing”, Larry W. Phillips. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  13. “The Great Gatsby”, F Scott Fitzgerald. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  14. “Children of the Bush”, Henry Lawson. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  15. “I Have No Mouth & I Must Scream”, Harlan Ellison. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  16. “Breakfast At Tiffany’s”, Truman Capote. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  17. “Lolita”, Vladimir Nabokov. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  18. “A Clockwork Orange”, Anthony Burgess. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  19. “Lord of the Flies”, William Golding. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  20. “Brave New World”, Aldous Huxley. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  21. “The Unbearable Lightness of Being”, Milan Kundera. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  22. “Franny and Zooey”, J. D. Salinger. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  23. “Do androids dream of elektric sheep”, Philip K Dick. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  24. “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas”, Hunter S. Thompson. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  25. “Slaughterhouse-Five”, Kurt Vonnegut. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  26. “1984”, George Orwell. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  27. “The Man Who Loved China”, Simon Winchester. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  28. “China: Its History and Culture”, Morton, W. Scott. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  29. “On Writing”, Stephen King. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  30. “The Firm”, John Grisham. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  31. “2001: A Space Odessey”, Arthur C Clarke. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  32. “Crash”, J.G. Ballard. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  33. “Foundation”, Isaac Asimov. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  34. “On The Beach”, Nevil Shute. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  35. “The Princess Bride”, William Goldman. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  36. “Fahrenheit 451”, Ray Bradbury. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  37. “D-Day”, Antony Beevor. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  38. “Contact”, Carl Sagan. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  39. “All You Zombies”, Robert Heinlein. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  40. “The Thin Man”, Dashiell Hammett. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  41. #“Rum Punch”, Elmore Leonard. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  42. “Neuromancer”, William Gibson. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  43. “freeculture”, Laurence Lessig. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  44. “CODE”, Laurence Lessig. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  45. “Eichmann in Jerusalem”, Hannah Arendt. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  46. “Piracy: The Intellectual Property Wars from Gutenberg to Gates”, Adrian Johns. Buy  Borrow – Toss
  47. “Mr Midshipman Hornblower”, C.S. Forester. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  48. “Lieutenant Hornblower”, C.S. Forester. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  49. “A Ship of the Line”, C.S. Forester. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  50. “Super Sad True Love Story: A Novel”, Gary Shteyngart. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  51. “Frankenstein”, Mary Shelley. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  52. “The Music Instinct : How Music Works and Why We Can’t Do Without It”, Philip Ball. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  53. “Goldfinger”, Ian Fleming. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  54. “Octopussy”, Ian Fleming. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  55. #“Snow Falling on Cedars”, David Guterson. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  56. “The Cathedral and the Bazaar”, Eric Raymond. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  57. “The Hound of the Baskervilles”, Arthur Conan Doyle. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  58. “The Old Man and the Sea”, Ernest Hemingway. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  59. “The Importance of Being Earnest”, Oscar Wilde. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  60. “The Picture of Dorian Gray”, Oscar Wilde. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  61. “Casino Royale”, Ian Fleming. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  62. “Tender is the Night”, F Scott Fitzgerald. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  63. “The God Delusion”, Richard Dawkins. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  64. “The Maltese Falcon”, Dashiell Hammett. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  65. “The Big Sleep”, Raymond Chandler. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  66. “All the King’s Men”, Robert Penn Warren. Buy – Borrow – Toss

2009

  1. “Kitchen Confidential”, Anthony Bourdain. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  2. “Flowers for Algernon”, Daniel Keyes. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  3. “Band of Brothers”, Stephen Ambrose. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  4. “Catch-22”, Joseph Heller. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  5. “Of Mice and Men”, John Steinbeck. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  6. “Unpolished Gem”, Alice Pung. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  7. “The Boat”, Nam Le. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  8. “Everything is Illuminated”, Jonathan Safran Foer. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  9. “Wolf at the Door”, Augusten Burroughs. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  10. “The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao”, Junot Diaz. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  11. “The Call of the Cthulhu”, H.P. Lovecraft. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  12. “On the Wealth of Nations”, P.J. O’Rourke. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  13. “The American Presidency”, Robert Dallek. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  14. “After Dark”, Haruki Murakami. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  15. “Nocturnes: Five Stories of Music and Nightfall”, Kazuo Ishiguro. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  16. “The White Tiger”, Aravind Adiga. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  17. “The Road to Surfdom”, FA Hayek. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  18. “The First Salute: A View of the American Revolution”, Barbara Tuchman. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  19. “House of Cards”, Michael Dobbs. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  20. “Eucalyptus”, Murray Bail. Buy – Borrow – Toss

2008

  1. “Magical Thinking”, Augusten Burroughs. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  2. “The Watchmen”, Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  3. “Maximum City: Bombay Lost and Found”, Suketu Mehta. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  4. “Lush Life”, Richard Price. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  5. “McMafia”, Misha Glenny. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  6. “Lincoln”, Gore Vidal. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  7. “The Dice Man”, Luke Rhinehart (George Cockcroft). Buy – Borrow – Toss
  8. “I Love Dollars”, Zhu Wen. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  9. “The Year of Living Dangerously”, Christopher Koch. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  10. “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil”, John Berendt. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  11. “The Corrections”, Jonathan Franzen. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  12. “The Theory of Clouds”, Stephane Audeguy. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  13. “The Polysyllabic Spree”, Nick Hornby. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  14. “We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed with Our Families”, Philip Gourevitch. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  15. “The Sun Also Rises”, Ernest Hemingway. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  16. “The Reasons I Won’t Be Coming”, Elliot Perlman. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  17. “Henry and June”, Anais Nin. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  18. “What Does China Think”, Mark Leonard. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  19. “The Know It All; One Man’s Humble Quest to Become the Smartest Man in the World”, AJ Jacobs. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  20. “Discover Your Inner Economist: Use Incentives to Fall in Love, Survive Your Next Meeting, and Motivate Your Dentist”, Tyler Cowen. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  21. “A Thousand Years of Good Prayers”, Yiyun Li. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  22. “The Slap”, Christos Tsiolkas. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  23. “The True History of the Kelly Gang”, Peter Carey. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  24. “Close Range: Brokeback Mountain and Other Stories”, Annie Proulx. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  25. “The Wisdom of Crowds”, James Surowiecki. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  26. “The Tiger That Isn’t”, Michael Blastland and Andrew Dillnot. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  27. “Discover Your Inner Economist”, Tyler Cowen. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  28. “Naked Conversations”, Robert Scoble and Shel Israel. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  29. “Wikinomics”, Don Tapscott, Anthony D. Williams. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  30. “Here Comes Everybody”, Clay Shirky. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  31. “The Cluetrain Manifesto: The End of Business as Usual”, Rick Levine, Christopher Locke, Doc Searls, David Weinberger. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  32. “The Secret Power of Beauty”, John Armstrong. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  33. “The Culture Club”, Craig Schuftan. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  34. “The Political Brain”, Drew Westin. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  35. “The Audacity of Hope”, Barack Obama. Buy – Borrow – Toss

2007

  1. “The Fall of Yugoslavia”, Misha Glenny. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  2. “Confessions of a Mask”, Yukio Mishima. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  3. “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised: Democracy, The Internet and the Overthrow of Everything”, Joe Trippi. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  4. “The Surgeon of Crowthorne: A Tale of Murder, Madness and the Love of Words”, Simon Winchester. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  5. “The End of the Affair”, Graham Greene. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  6. “The Undercover Economist”, Tim Harford. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  7. “Love is a Mix Tape”, Rod Sheffield. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  8. “The Guns of August 1914”, Barbara Tuchman. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  9. “The Crazed”, Ha Jin. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  10. “Emergency Sex (And Other Desperate Measures)”, Kenneth Cain, Heidi Postlewait and Andrew Thomson. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  11. “The Girl Who Played Go”, Shan Sa. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  12. “The Black Swan, The Impact of the Highly Improbable”, Nassim Nicholas Taleb. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  13. “Dry”, Augusten Burroughs. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  14. “Running with Scissors”, Augusten Burroughs. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  15. “The World is Flat”, Thomas Friedman. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  16. “The Pianist”, Wladyslaw Szpilman. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  17. “Shark’s Fin and Sichuan Pepper: A Sweet-Sour Memoir of Eating in China”, Fuchsia Dunlop. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  18. “One day in the life of Ivan Denisovich”, Alexander Solzhenitzyn. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  19. “Charlie Wilson’s War”, George Crile. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  20. “Lost in The Crowd: A Cultural Revolution Memoir”, Yang Jiang. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  21. “Joh Speak”, Alan Price, Elizabeth Hancock and Erik Scholz. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  22. “Microtrends: The Small Forces Behind Tomorrow’s Big Changes”, Mark Penn. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  23. “The Blair Years”, Alastair Campbell. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  24. “What the Chinese Don’t Eat”, XinRan. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  25. “Digging to America”, Anne Tyler. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  26. “Super Crunchers: How Anything Can Be Predicted”, Ian Ayres. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  27. “Scoop”, Evelyn Waugh. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  28.  “The Long Tail”, Chris Anderson. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  29. “The Da Vinci Code”, Dan O’Brien. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  30. “The Remains of the Day”, Kazuo Ishiguro. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  31. “Watching the English”, Kate Fox. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  32. “Power Without Responsibility”, James Curran and Jean Seaton. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  33. “Better: A Surgeon’s Notes on Performance”, Atul Gawande. Buy – Borrow – Toss

2006

  1. “An Artist of the Floating World”, Kazuo Ishiguro. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  2. “Words that Work: It’s not what you say, It’s what people hear”, Frank Luntz. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  3. “Make Gentle The Life of This World: The Vision of Robert F. Kennedy”, Maxwell Taylor Kennedy. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  4. “Gone With the Wind”, Margaret Mitchell. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  5. “Politics: Observations and Arguments, 1966-2004″, Hendrick Hertzberg. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  6. “Waiting”, Ha Jin. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  7. “The Bridegroom”, Ha Jin. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  8. “A Pale View of Hills”, Kazuo Ishiguro. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  9. “When We Were Orphans”, Kazuo Ishiguro. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  10. “Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman”, Harkui Murakami. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  11. “The Catcher in the Rye”, J.D. Salinger. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  12. “The Beach”, Alex Garland. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  13. “31 Songs”, Nick Hornby. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  14. “Freakonomics”, Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  15. “Weasel Words”, Don Watson. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  16. “An Honourable Profession: A Tribute to Robert F Kennedy”, Pierre Salinger. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  17. “Make Gentle the Life of this World: The Vision of Robert F Kennedy”, Robert F. Kennedy, Maxwell Taylor Kennedy. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  18. “The Tipping Point”, Malcolm Gladwell. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  19. “Scission”, Tim Winton. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  20. “Minimum of Two”, Tim Winton. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  21. “The Turning”, Tim Winton. Buy – Borrow – Toss

2005

  1. “Never Let Me Go”, Kazuo Ishiguro. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  2. “Johnno”, David Malouf. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  3. “The Great World”, David Malouf. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  4. “Loaded”, Christos Tsiolkas. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  5. “Stumbling on Happiness”, Daniel Gilbert. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  6. “Cat’s Cradle”, Kurt Vonnegut. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  7. “The English Patient”, Michael Ondaatje. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  8. “Snow Falling on Cedars”, David Guterson. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  9. “The Conditions of Love: The Philosophy of Intimacy”, John Armstrong
  10. “On Love”, Alain de Botton. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  11. “The Consolations of Philosophy”, Alain de Botton. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  12. “The Art of Travel”, Alain de Botton. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  13. “Fromelles”, Patrick Lindsay. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  14. “A Short History of the 20th Century”, Geoffrey Blainey. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  15. “Working for Rupert”, Hugh Lunn. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  16. “The Elephant Vanishes”, Haruki Murakami. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  17. The Kite Runner”, Khaled Hosseini. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  18. “Night Train”, Martin Amis. Buy – Borrow – Toss

2004

  1. “Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail ’72”, Hunter S Thompson. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  2. “The Sailor Who Fell from Grace With The Sea”, Yukio Mishima. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  3. “Heart of Darkness”, Joseph Conrad. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  4. “Last Exit to Brooklyn”, Hubert Selby Jnr. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  5. “The Grapes of Wrath”, John Steinbeck. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  6. “Death Sentence”, Don Watson. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  7. “The Quiet American”, Grahame Greene. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  8. “The Virgin Suicides” Jeffery Eugenides. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  9. “Crimes Against Humanity”, Geoffrey Robertson. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  10. “Out of Sight”, Elmore Leonard. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  11. “Rum Punch”, Elmore Leonard. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  12. “The 25th Hour”, David Benioff. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  13. “Keating: The Inside Story”, John Edwards. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  14. “The Commanding Heights”, Daniel Yergin and Joseph Stanislaw. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  15. “Primary Colours”, Joe Klein. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  16. “The Running Mate”, Joe Klein. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  17. “The Natural”, Joe Klein. Buy – Borrow – Toss

2003

  1. “Recollections of a Bleeding Heart”, Don Watson. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  2. “Spring Snow”, Yukio Mishima. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  3. “Things Fall Apart”, Chinua Achebe. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  4. “Norwegian Wood”, Haruki Murakami. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  5. “Shut Up and Listen and You Might Learn Something”, Edna Carew and Patrick Cook. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  6. “To Kill a Mockingbird”, Harper Lee. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  7. “Love in the Time of Cholera”, Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  8. “Vernon God Little”, DBC Pierre. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  9. “How to be a Meglomaniac”, Mungo MacCallum. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  10. “A Short History of the World”, Geoffrey Blainey. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  11. “The Kennedy Men”, Laurence Leamer. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  12. “All Too Human”, George Stephanopoulos. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  13. “Hell Has Harbour Views”, Richard Beasley. Buy – Borrow – Toss

2002

  1. “Less Than Zero”, Bret Easton Ellis. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  2. “Fatherland”, Robert Harris. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  3. “Enigma”, Robert Harris. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  4. “Archangel”, Robert Harris. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  5. “The Rules of Attraction”, Bret Easton Ellis. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  6. “Trainspotting”, Irvine Welsh. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  7. “Whatever It Takes”, Graham Richardson. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  8. “The Hawke Memoirs”, Bob Hawke. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  9. “Joh”, Hugh Lunn. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  10. “Life with Gough”, Barry Cohen. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  11. “Goss: A Political Biography”, Jamie Walker. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  12. “Engagement: Australia Faces the Asia-Pacific”, Paul Keating. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  13. “A People’s History of the United States”, Howard Zinn. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  14. “Behind the Banana Curtain”, Hugh Lunn. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  15. “Robert Kennedy and his Times”, Arthur Schlesinger Jnr. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  16. “Robert F Kennedy: His Life”, Evan Thomas. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  17. “Executive Orders”, Tom Clancy. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  18. “Rainbow Six”, Tom Clancy. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  19. “The Bear and the Dragon”, Tom Clancy. Buy – Borrow – Toss

2001

  1. “Bachelor Kisses”, Nick Earls
  2. “Zig Zag St”, Nick Earls
  3. “Headgames”, Nick Earls
  4. “Perfect Skin”, Nick Earls
  5. “World of Chickens”, Nick Earls
  6. “High Fidelity”, Nick Hornby
  7. “Fever Pitch”, Nick Hornby
  8. “First Among Equals”, Jeffrey Archer. Buy – Borrow – Toss
  9.  “Foundation”, Isaac Asimov
  10. “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”
  11. “The Justice Game”, Geoffrey Robertson
  12. “He Died with a Felafel in his Hand”, John Birmingham
  13. “Exodus”, Leon Uris
  14. “Topaz”, Leon Uris
  15. “Trinity”, Leon Uris
  16. “Mila 18”, Leon Uris
  17. “The Haj”, Leon Uris
  18. “The Sum of All Fears”, Tom Clancy
  19. “The Hunt for Red October”, Tom Clancy
  20. “The Cardinal of the Kremlin”, Tom Clancy
  21. “Clear and Present Danger”, Tom Clancy

Note: I’ve only kept a contemporaneous reading diary since 2010 – there’s a bit of bookshelf driven guess work reconstructing the earlier years….

 

2 Comments

  • Pingback: Annual Reading Diary 2013()

  • Jane Gleeson-White

    Came to this blog after listening to your brilliant speech on gay marriage this week. THANK YOU! Inspiration from Canberra is so rare. Loving your book blog and your ‘buy, borrow, toss’ ratings. If you still haven’t got to Patrick White, my way in to his work was ‘The Twyborn Affair’. Fantastic novel.