I only read 60 books in 2014, compared with 95 in 2013 and, apparently, 166 in 2012. My favourites, in alphabetical order were:
Broken Summers / Henry Rollins I’m not a fan of Rollins’ music, so I’m not sure why I picked this up. I love the energy of his prose though, and it leaves me feeling inspired.
Explore Everything by Bradley Garrett While this is a fairly self-aggrandizing account of urban exploration, it’s absolutely fascinating and contains some amazing photos. The achievements of Garrett and his colleagues would sound preposterous were it not for the images.
Fluent in 3 months by Benny Lewis The men who taught me languages at school were vile and trash; and, despite doing well in exams, I’ve always thought that I could never speak foreign languages. This book suggests learning techniques and encourages the reader to quickly learn useful useful words and phrases. Since reading it, my confidence about trying to learn Hindi has increased significantly.
Jacques Derrida by Benoit Peeters Derrida worked hard to hide many of the details of his life so I wasn’t sure whether to read this biography or not. It turned out to be interesting, with the details of Derrida’s terminal illness being incredibly sad. “Always prefer life and never stop affirming survival.”
Layla by Nina de la Mer Layla is a second-person point-of-view novel about a lap-dancer trying to get enough money together so that she can go back to her young son. It’s a desperate, enthralling novel, currently 99p on Amazon.
Power Trip by Damian McBride I’m not sure how reliable the accounts of events in this book are, and McBride’s alcohol intake is terrifying. But this is a compelling account of the Brown government and has made me reconsider my opinion of it. It also includes some scurrilous stories. The sort of political book that I love.
Swenglish / Louise Halvarddson Discussed here.
Tales of the San Francisco Cacophony Society An amazing coffee table book on the exploits and adventures of the Cacophony Society. I first encountered the Cacophony Society via Chuck Palahniuk’s writing. Their legacy includes SantaCon and Burning Man, but some of their less well-known events are equally interesting. I occasionally find myself thinking I should say ‘Fuck it’ and use this book as a template.
U2 at the end of the world by Bill Flanagan I find Bono as loathsome as any other decent person does, but Zooropa-era U2 fascinate me. One of the biggest bands in the world, experimenting with their music and ripping off Jenny Holzer. A 500 page book on their early-nineties tours should not have been so fascinating.
Working effectively with Legacy code by Michael Feathers This book is very different to the others! Very few people talk about the realities of software development, which is dealing with other people’s code and making quick fixes. Feathers’ book lays out techniques for changing legacy code and has proved invaluable over the last year.If you want to follow what I'm up to, sign up to my mailing list