What I Read Last Year
As 2017 ended, I enjoyed seeing a few people put out lists of what they read over the year. See here and here for some examples. There’s something interesting and weirdly personal about seeing what other people are reading.
At the same time, I realized that, despite reading a decent amount, I’ve never catalogued my reading or looked back over a year at what I actually read. So, without further ado, and probably more for me than anyone else, see below for a list of what I read.
- I didn’t read a single novel. That seems bad. I usually read at least 1 or 2. Will try and change that in 2018.
- I pick up a lot of old books in various places that I find interesting as primary documents of their time. The best example last year was an 1898 guidebook the US that I love.
- I read a lot about transportation and cities, but (I think) I keep a pretty loose definition of what that means. Loose enough that, for me, that topic area includes everything from books about lighthouses to books about Hong Kong, because they both, on some level, relate to ways we get around (by boat) and how that impacts cities, particularly those based around major ports (like Hong Kong).
The List (arranged, loosely, by topic area)
Books about California (where I moved at the end of 2016)
The Mountains of California by John Muir
Gold Rush Port: The Maritime Archaeology of San Francisco’s Waterfront
Imperial San Francisco
San Francisco : A Pageant (1939) – both this and book below were picked up in used bookstores at random. Both paint a nostalgic, romantic picture of pre-tech San Francisco.
San Francisco : City on Golden Hills (1967)
Books about shipping, boats, and harbors.
Brilliant Beacons: A History of the American Lighthouse
The Great Port – Great Jan Morris tour of the Port of New York. First published 1957.
Hong Kong – pre-1997-handover description of the great city, also by Jan Morris
Bottom of the Harbor – Great New Yorker pieces from ~50s on New York Harbor
The Ocean Railway – great (long) read on early ocean steam navigation.
Bobs’ Folly: Livingston, Fulton, and the Steamboat
The Hudson: A History
Books About Ground Transportation
Road Transport Before the Railways: Russell’s London Flying Waggons – amazingly detailed description of road travel by wagon in early 19th century England.
The Old Pike: An Illustrated Narrative of the National Road
The Horse in the City: Living Machines in the Nineteenth Century
American Railroads: Decline and Renaissance in the Twentieth Century – great read on the transformation of American railroads
Books About Cities
Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City
The Color of Law: The Forgotten History of How the Government Segregated America
How Buildings Learn: What Happens After They’re Built
Vital Little Plans: The Short Works of Jane Jacobs – which I wrote about here.
Amsterdam: A History of the World’s Most Liberal City
Greater than Ever : New York’s Big Comeback
With a Closed Fist: Growing up in Canada’s Toughest Neighborhood – interesting read about the Pointe, a unique neighborhood in Montreal where my dad lived (and I spent a lot of time in) when I was growing up.
Books about US History
Beadeker’s United States (1898) – amazing little primary document on turn of the century America. You can see the full thing, for free, here.
Reconstruction: America’s Unfinished Revolution, 1863-1877 An incredibly depressing book, but vital to understanding American history. Should be much more widely read.
The Fire Next Time Inspired by seeing James Baldwin in I am Not Your Negro.
Books About Writing
The Sense of Style – The first book on writing I’ve ever really enjoyed.
Books About Personal Finance
Your Money or Your Life – The book that inspired the new wave of financial independence bloggers