David Auerbach’s Books of the Year 2015

I was dissatisfied with my 2015 reading. A number of projects and situations contrived to cut down my reading time drastically, and so this list feels even more provisional than most years, a grab-bag of things that stood out for me stood out for me personally rather than a considered ranking. I think in a better world we would all do books of a given year 5 to 10 years down the line, and the resulting lists would be far more well-considered. Maybe 25 or 50 years would be even better.

I was pulled into a number of projects and situations that obliterated both my concentration and reading time, the biggest being my Facilitated Communication investigation, which consumed an entire quarter of the year. That would not have been so bad by itself but a handful of other similar matters made it difficult to do as much comprehensive reading as I would have liked. I’ve resolved to change that this year.

So, wish a bit of disappointment and shame, I am attaching a “Promising Nonfiction” section of books I haven’t yet assessed. These are books that due to their subject matter, pedigree, author, or some other factor struck me as being worth investigating, but which I didn’t have time to do so. Note that it is entirely possible that some of these books are terrible–they just merit a look in my mind. (Example: Cesar Hidalgo’s Why Information Grows would have been on the promising list, but I did get time to take a look at it and it did not fulfill its promise. On the other hand, I am near-certain Noel Malcolm’s latest tome of scholarship is brilliant, but simply didn’t have time to get to a work so far outside outside my current area of focus.) If any readers have opinions on them, please chime in.

Book of the Year


Thought Flights
Robert Musil
Contra Mundum Press

The Blizzard: A Novel
Vladimir Sorokin
Farrar, Straus and Giroux

The Complete Stories
Clarice Lispector
New Directions

Horse of a Different Color Stories
Howard Waldrop
Small Beer Press

The Librarian
Mikhail Elizarov
Pushkin Press

Our Spoons Came from Woolworths
Barbara Comyns
NYRB Classics

A General Theory of Oblivion
Jose Eduardo Agualusa

The Wake: A Novel
Paul Kingsnorth
Graywolf Press

Kvachi (Georgian Literature)
Mikheil Javakhishvili, Mixeil Javaxiesvili
Dalkey Archive Press

Eyes: Novellas and Stories
William H. Gass

Book of Numbers: A Novel
Joshua Cohen
Random House

The Door (NYRB Classics)
Magda Szabo
NYRB Classics

Callimachus: The Hymns

Oxford University Press

Silvina Ocampo (NYRB Poets)
Silvina Ocampo
NYRB Poets

Eileen: A Novel
Ottessa Moshfegh
Penguin Books

A Brief History of Seven Killings: A Novel
Marlon James
Riverhead Books

The Tale of Genji
Shikibu Murasaki
W. W. Norton & Company

Macbeth: Third Series (The Arden Shakespeare Third Series)
William Shakespeare
The Arden Shakespeare

The Poetic Edda: Stories of the Norse Gods and Heroes (Hackett Classics)
Jackson Crawford
Hackett Publishing Company, Inc.

Incidents in the Night Book 2
David B.
Uncivilized Books

Dungeon: Monstres – Vol. 5: My Son the Killer
Joann Sfar, Lewis Trondheim
NBM Publishing

Melody: Story of a Nude Dancer
Sylvie Rancourt
Drawn and Quarterly

The Eternaut
Hector German Oesterheld
Fantagraphics Books

Fatherland: A Family History
Nina Bunjevac


World Philology

Harvard University Press

Chaos Imagined: Literature, Art, Science
Martin Meisel
Columbia University Press

The Pseudo-Platonic Seventh Letter
Myles Burnyeat, Michael Frede
Oxford University Press

The Coming of the Terror in the French Revolution
Timothy Tackett
Belknap Press: An Imprint of Harvard University Press

Physics: a short history from quintessence to quarks
J. L. Heilbron
Oxford University Press

Forgetting: Myths, Perils and Compensations
Douwe Draaisma
Yale University Press

The World the Game Theorists Made
Paul Erickson
University of Chicago Press

Persius: A Study in Food, Philosophy, and the Figural
Shadi Bartsch
University of Chicago Press

European Intellectual History from Rousseau to Nietzsche
Frank M. Turner
Yale University Press

Orientation and Judgment in Hermeneutics
Rudolf A. Makkreel
University of Chicago Press

The Occupiers: The Making of the 99 Percent Movement
Michael A. Gould-Wartofsky
Oxford University Press

Darkness Visible: A Study of Vergil’s “Aeneid”
W. R. Johnson
University of Chicago Press

The Computing Universe: A Journey through a Revolution
Tony Hey, Gyuri Pápay
Cambridge University Press

Greek Models of Mind and Self (Revealing antiquity ; Book 22)
Anthony A. Long
Harvard University Press

Track-Two Diplomacy Toward an Israeli-Palestinian Solution, 1978-2014
Yair Hirschfeld
Woodrow Wilson Center Press / Johns Hopkins University Press

Heart of Darkness: Unraveling the Mysteries of the Invisible Universe (Science Essentials)
Jeremiah P. Ostriker, Simon Mitton
Princeton University Press

Promising Nonfiction

Database of Dreams: The Lost Quest to Catalog Humanity
Rebecca Lemov
Yale University Press

A Sense of Power: The Roots of America’s Global Role
John A. Thompson
Cornell University Press

Realpolitik: A History
John Bew
Oxford University Press

Two Arabs, a Berber, and a Jew: Entangled Lives in Morocco
Lawrence Rosen
University of Chicago Press

Phishing for Phools: The Economics of Manipulation and Deception
George A. Akerlof, Robert J. Shiller
Princeton University Press

A Foot in the River: Why Our Lives Change — and the Limits of Evolution
Felipe Fernandez-Armesto
Oxford University Press

The German War: A Nation Under Arms, 1939-1945
Nicholas Stargardt
Basic Books

The Age of Catastrophe: A History of the West 1914–1945
Heinrich August Winkler
Yale University Press

A Country Called Prison: Mass Incarceration and the Making of a New Nation
Mary D. Looman, John D. Carl
Oxford University Press

The Black Mirror: Looking at Life through Death
Raymond Tallis
Yale University Press

Violence All Around
John Sifton
Harvard University Press

Barbarism and Religion: Volume 6, Barbarism: Triumph in the West
J. G. A. Pocock
Cambridge University Press

KL: A History of the Nazi Concentration Camps
Nikolaus Wachsmann
Farrar, Straus and Giroux

China Under Mao
Andrew G. Walder
Harvard University Press

The Third Reich in History and Memory
Richard J. Evans
Oxford University Press

The Rise and Fall of Neoliberal Capitalism
David M. Kotz
Harvard University Press

Universal Man: The Lives of John Maynard Keynes
Richard Davenport-Hines
Basic Books

The Country of First Boys And Other Essays
Amartya Sen
Oxford University Press

The Book of Yokai: Mysterious Creatures of Japanese Folklore
Michael Dylan Foster
University of California Press

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