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

The Laughter of the Thracian Woman: A Protohistory of Theory (New Directions in German Studies)
Blumenberg, Hans (Author), Hawkins, Spencer (Translator)
(Bloomsbury Academic)


Thought Flights
Musil, Robert (Author), Grill, Genese (Translator), Grill, Genese (Introduction)
(Contra Mundum Press)

The Blizzard: A Novel
Sorokin, Vladimir (Author), Gambrell, Jamey (Translator)
(Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

The Complete Works of Primo Levi
Levi, Primo (Author), Goldstein, Ann (Editor), Morrison, Toni (Introduction)

Horse of a Different Color: Stories
Waldrop, Howard (Author)
(Small Beer Press)

The Librarian
Elizarov, Mikhail (Author), Bromfield, Andrew (Translator)
(Pushkin Press)

A School for Fools (New York Review Books Classics)
Sokolov, Sasha (Author), Boguslawski, Alexander (Translator)
(NYRB Classics)

Our Spoons Came from Woolworths
Comyns, Barbara (Author), Gould, Emily (Introduction)
(NYRB Classics)

Thus Were Their Faces: Selected Stories (NYRB Classics)
Ocampo, Silvina (Author), Balderston, Daniel (Translator), Borges, Jorge Luis (Preface), Oyeyemi, Helen (Introduction)
(NYRB Classics)

A General Theory of Oblivion
Agualusa, Jose Eduardo (Author), Hahn, Daniel (Translator)

The Wake: A Novel
Kingsnorth, Paul (Author)
(Graywolf Press)

Kvachi (Georgian Literature)
Javakhishvili, Mikheil (Author), Javaxiesvili, Mixeil (Author), Rayfield, Professor of Russian and Georgian Donald (Translator)
(Dalkey Archive Press)

Eyes: Novellas and Stories
Gass, William H. (Author)

Book of Numbers: A Novel
Cohen, Joshua (Author)
(Random House)

The Door (NYRB Classics)
Szabo, Magda (Author), Rix, Len (Translator), Smith, Ali (Introduction)
(NYRB Classics)

Callimachus: The Hymns
Stephens, Susan A. (Editor)
(Oxford University Press)

Silvina Ocampo (NYRB Poets)
Ocampo, Silvina (Author), Weiss, Jason (Translator)
(NYRB Poets)

Eileen: A Novel
Moshfegh, Ottessa (Author)
(Penguin Books)

A Brief History of Seven Killings: A Novel
James, Marlon (Author)
(Riverhead Books)

The Tale of Genji
Shikibu, Murasaki (Author), Washburn, Dennis (Translator)
(W. W. Norton & Company)

Macbeth: Third Series (The Arden Shakespeare Third Series)
Shakespeare, William (Author), Clark, Sandra (Editor), Mason, Pamela (Editor)
(The Arden Shakespeare)

Mr. Kafka: And Other Tales from the Time of the Cult
Hrabal, Bohumil (Author), Wilson, Paul (Translator)
(New Directions)

The Little Town Where Time Stood Still (New York Review Books Classics)
Hrabal, Bohumil (Author), Naughton, James (Translator), Cohen, Joshua (Introduction)
(NYRB Classics)

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

Incidents in the Night Book 2
B., David (Author), Evenson, Brian (Translator)
(Uncivilized Books)

Dungeon: Monstres – Vol. 5: My Son the Killer (5)
Sfar, Joann (Author), Trondheim, Lewis (Author), Bézian, Frédéric (Illustrator), Blutch (Illustrator)
(NBM Publishing)

Melody: Story of a Nude Dancer
Rancourt, Sylvie (Author), Dascher, Helge (Translator), Ware, Chris (Introduction)
(Drawn and Quarterly)

The Eternaut
German Oesterheld, Hector (Author), Solano Lopez, Francisco (Artist)
(Fantagraphics Books)

Fatherland: A Family History
Bunjevac, Nina (Author)


World Philology
Pollock, Sheldon (Editor), Elman, Benjamin A. (Editor), Chang, Ku-ming Kevin (Editor)
(Harvard University Press)

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

The Boy Who Could Change the World: The Writings of Aaron Swartz
Swartz, Aaron (Author), Lessig, Lawrence (Introduction)
(The New Press)

Paradoxia Epidemica: The Renaissance Tradition of Paradox (Princeton Legacy Library)
Colie, Rosalie Littell (Author)
(Princeton University Press)

The Pseudo-Platonic Seventh Letter
Burnyeat, Myles (Author), Frede, Michael (Author), Scott, Dominic (Editor)
(Oxford University Press)

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

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

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

Massacre: The Life and Death of the Paris Commune
Merriman, John (Author)
(Basic Books)

Pax Technica: How the Internet of Things May Set Us Free or Lock Us Up
Howard, Philip N. (Author)
(Yale University Press)

The World the Game Theorists Made
Erickson, Paul (Author)
(University of Chicago Press)

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

European Intellectual History from Rousseau to Nietzsche
Turner, Frank M. (Author), Lofthouse, Richard A. (Editor)
(Yale University Press)

Orientation and Judgment in Hermeneutics
Makkreel, Rudolf A. (Author)
(University of Chicago Press)

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

Sometimes an Art: Nine Essays on History
Bailyn, Bernard (Author)

Darkness Visible: A Study of Vergil's "Aeneid"
Johnson, W. R. (Author)
(University of Chicago Press)

The Computing Universe (A Journey through a Revolution)
Hey, Tony (Author)
(Cambridge University Press)

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

The Age of the Crisis of Man: Thought and Fiction in America, 1933–1973
Greif, Mark (Author)
(Princeton University Press)

The Cybernetics Moment (New Studies in American Intellectual and Cultural History)
Kline, Ronald R. (Author)
(Johns Hopkins University Press)

Heart of Darkness: Unraveling the Mysteries of the Invisible Universe (Science Essentials, 18)
Ostriker, Jeremiah P. (Author), Mitton, Simon (Author)
(Princeton University Press)

Anti-Education: On the Future of Our Educational Institutions (New York Review Books Classics)
Nietzsche, Friedrich (Author), Reitter, Paul (Editor), Reitter, Paul (Editor), Searls, Damion (Translator), Wellmon, Chad (Introduction)
(NYRB Classics)

Promising Nonfiction

The Scholar Denied: W. E. B. Du Bois and the Birth of Modern Sociology
Morris, Aldon (Author)
(University of California Press)

Database of Dreams: The Lost Quest to Catalog Humanity
Lemov, Rebecca (Author)
(Yale University Press)

A Sense of Power: The Roots of America's Global Role
Thompson, John A. (Author)
(Cornell University Press)

Between Debt and the Devil: Money, Credit, and Fixing Global Finance
Turner, Adair (Author)
(Princeton University Press)

Realpolitik: A History
Bew, John (Author)
(Oxford University Press)

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

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

Shadows of Revolution: Reflections on France, Past and Present
Bell, David A. (Author)
(Oxford University Press)

Blood Oil: Tyrants, Violence, and the Rules that Run the World
Wenar, Leif (Author)
(Oxford University Press)

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

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

The Age of Catastrophe: A History of the West 1914–1945: A History of the West 1914–1945
Winkler, Heinrich August (Author), Spencer, Stewart (Translator)
(Yale University Press)

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

The Black Mirror: Looking at Life through Death
Tallis, Raymond (Author)
(Yale University Press)

Violence All Around
Sifton, John (Author)
(Harvard University Press)

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

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

Making and Unmaking Nations: War, Leadership, and Genocide in Modern Africa
Straus, Scott (Author)
(Cornell University Press)

China Under Mao: A Revolution Derailed
Walder, Andrew G. (Author)
(Harvard University Press)

The Third Reich in History and Memory
Evans, Richard J. (Author)
(Oxford University Press)

The Art of Peacemaking: Political Essays by István Bibó: Political Essays by István Bibó (World Thought in Translation)
Bibó, István (Author), Dénes, Iván Zoltán (Editor), Michnik, Adam (Foreword), Pásztor, Péter (Translator), Marczyk, Agnieszka (Translator)
(Yale University Press)

State Power in Ancient China and Rome (Oxford Studies in Early Empires)
Scheidel, Walter (Editor)
(Oxford University Press)

The Rise and Fall of Neoliberal Capitalism
Kotz, David M. (Author)
(Harvard University Press)

Universal Man: The Lives of John Maynard Keynes
Davenport-Hines, Richard (Author)
(Basic Books)

The Country of First Boys And Other Essays
Sen, Amartya (Author)
(Oxford University Press)

The Shape of Thought: How Mental Adaptations Evolve (Evolution and Cognition)
Barrett, H. Clark (Author)
(Oxford University Press)

The Book of Yokai: Mysterious Creatures of Japanese Folklore
Foster, Michael Dylan (Author), Kijin, Shinonome (Illustrator)
(University of California Press)