I read 39 books this year. Here are my favourite five. Spoilers below obviously.
The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August – Claire North. Novel about a man who is reborn again and again after he dies. With all his memories from the lives he has led. Not reincarnated after he dies, but rather reborn at the same time in the past. Same birthday. Same place. He discovers that he’s not the only person like this. The book covers the first fifteen of his lives and his interactions with others like him and normal humanity. It starts slowly, but picks up and is a great idea and is very well executed. Has good plot twists and turns.
Touch – Claire North. Read this after liking The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August so much. This is just as good or maybe even better. Deals with a similar subject. The essences of certain people are able to transfer between human hosts just by touch. They then take over full control of the human they are inhabiting and use them as vessels for a while. Could be for minutes, or for years. But someone is hunting people with this ability and killing them. A brilliant sci-fi thriller. Claire North is a real talent.
The Silk Roads: A New History of The World – Peter Frankopan. This came up in recommended titles on Audible when I was looking to spend a monthly audiobook credit. It looked interesting so I got it. Really good decision. This is the best history book I’ve ever read. It presents a view of the world beyond the western European centric one I got taught in school. The book is presented as a series of essays based around the Asian and Near East Silk Road trade routes, and covers a time period from antiquity up to the 21st century. I liked the audiobook so much I bought the hardback as well. It is a beautiful book. Everyone should read this. It should be mandatory reading in all school history curricula in the western world.
Station Eleven – Emily St. John Mandel. I can’t remember how I discovered this book. But I’m so glad I did. It is set around the Great Lakes region of a post apocalyptic North America after 99% of humanity has been wiped out by a very fast acting variant of the influenza virus. In a few weeks nearly everyone is dead. It tells the story of a few bands of survivors eking out a living after the collapse of the modern world we all rely on. There are also retrospective storylines based around the life of an author who wrote, and self published, a comic book series called Station Eleven. All the stories about the survivors are in some way intertwined with this comic book, its author or her acquaintances. The writing is sublime. The way the threads all come together at the end is superb. This is a stunning novel. Everyone should read it.
Dreaming in Code: Two Dozen Programmers, Three Years, 4,732 Bugs, and One Quest for Transcendent Software – Scott Rosenberg. A really enjoyable book about the failed development process for the Chandler Personal Information Manager. Probably my favourite book that is about the technology industry. Everyone involved in software and technology should read this book. I especially liked Rosenberg’s Law.