2019 reading list

Last year I stole the idea of posting my readings from Tanner Greer’s fantastic blog The Scholar’s Stage.  This is basically the list of everything I read/listened in 2019. And they’re roughly listed (from memory) in order I read them. My favorite titles of the year are bolded. And I’ll include short comments to some titles. All the Russian works read in original (Yeah, I’m boasting).

Some book stats bellow. 

  1. Mathematics: A Very Short Introduction by Timothy Gowers
  2. The Portable Atheist by Christopher Hitchens
  3. Hitler’s Willing Executioners by Daniel Goldhagen
  4. The Second World War by Antony Beevor
  5. The Captain’s Daughter by Alexander Pushkin
  6. The Queen of Spades and Other Stories by Alexander Pushkin
  7. A Man for All Seasons by Robert Bolt
  8. Evenings on a Farm Near Dikanka by Nikolai Gogol
  9. Eugene Onegin by Alexander Pushkin
  10. The Life You Can Save by Peter Singer
  11. Induction and Intuition in Scientific Though by Peter Medawar
  12. Advice to a Young Scientist by Peter Medawar
  13. Philosophy of Science: A Very Short Introduction by Samir Okasha
  14. The Stranger by Albert Camus
  15. Notes from Underground by Fyodor Dostoevsky
  16. White Guard by Mikhail Bulgakov
  17. Down and Out in Paris and London by George Orwell
  18. The Most Good You Can Do by Peter Singer
  19. 1984 by George Orwell
  20. Mortal Questions by Thomas Nagel
  21. Wild Life by Robert Trivers
  22. Night by Elie Wiesel
  23. We by Evgeny Zamyatin
  24. Fathers and Sons by Ivan Turgenev
  25. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
  26. What is Chemistry? by Peter Atkins
  27. Stuff Matters by Mark Miodownik
  28. Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
  29. A History of Western Philosophy by Bertrand Russell
  30. D-Day Through German Eyes by Holger Eckhertz
    Series of 5 interviews with the soldiers defending the Normandy beaches on D-Day. Apparently the interviews were conducted by the author’s father. I had a feeling of suspicion while reading this. So I tried to find out about the author. I couldn’t find anything. The book is published electronically and is popular on Amazon and Audible. From a little more sleuthing I found out that the same publisher has several other books on this genre—war memoirs from German soldier’s POV. Similarly there’s no info on the author of these books too. Since these books have a lot of good review on Amazon and Audible, I thought there must be reviews of these books by historians. Nope, none. These are scams
  31. Origin Story by David Christian
  32. Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency by Douglas Adams
  33. Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare
  34. Hitler: 1889-1936 Hubris by Ian Kershaw (vol. 1)
  35. Hitler: 1936-1945 Nemesis by Ian Kershaw (vol. 2)
  36. Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman
  37. The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul by Douglas Adams
  38. The Fall of Berlin 1945 by Antony Beevor
  39. The Myth of Sisyphus by Albert Camus
  40. Freakonomics by Steven Levitt
  41. The Road by Cormac McCarthy
  42. Human Errors by Nathan Lents
  43. Astrophysics for People in a Hurry by Neil deGrasse Tyson
  44. Nazism 1919-1933 by Jeremy Noakes (vol. 1)
  45. Last and First Men by Olaf Stapledon
  46. The Salmon of Doubt by Douglas Adams
  47. 1491 by Charles C. Mann
  48. On Tyranny by Timothy Snyder
  49. Nutshell by Ian McEwan
  50. A Guide to the Good Life by William Irvine
  51. What Evolution Is by Ernst Mayr
  52. Antifragile by Nassim Nicholas Taleb
  53. Brief Candle in the Dark by Richard Dawkins
  54. The Sense of Style by Steven Pinker
  55. The Coming of the Third Reich by Richard J. Evans (vol. 1)
  56. The Third Reich in Power by Richard J. Evans (vol. 2)
  57. The Third Reich at War by Richard J. Evans (vol. 3)
  58. The Double Helix by James Watson
  59. The Trial by Franz Kafka
  60. The Drowned World by J.G. Ballard
  61. The Odessa Tales by Isaac Babel
  62. Berlin Diary by William L. Shirer
  63. A Primate’s Memoir by Robert Sapolsky
  64. Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari
  65. The Ethical Brain by Michael Gazzaniga
  66. The Inimitable Jeeves by P.G. Wodehouse
  67. The Doomsday Machine by Daniel Ellsberg
  68. SPQR by Mary Beard
  69. The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman (vol. 1)
  70. The Subtle Knife by Philip Pullman (vol. 2)
  71. The Amber Spyglass by Philip Pullman (vol. 3)
  72. 80000 Hours by Benjamin Todd
  73. The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs by Steve Brusatte
  74. Nudge by Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein
  75. The New Geography of Jobs by Enrico Moretti
  76. Factfulness by Hans Rosling
  77. Algorithms to Live By by Brian Christian and Tom Griffiths
  78. The Storm Before the Storm by Mike Duncan
  79. The Fall of Carthage by Adrian Goldsworthy
  80. The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett
  81. Success and Luck by Robert H. Frank
  82. Genome by Matt Ridley
  83. The Disappearing Spoon by Sam Kean
  84. The Poverty of Historicism by Karl Popper
  85. The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat and Other Clinical Tales by Oliver Sacks
  86. Salafi-Jihadism by Shiraz Maher
  87. Leningrad by Anna Reid
  88. Primates and Philosophers by Frans de Waal
  89. The Design of Everyday Things by Don Norman
  90. Alan Turing by Andrew Hodges
  91. The Blind Watchmaker by Richard Dawkins
  92. The Cooperative Gene by Mark Ridley
  93. The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro
  94. How Jesus Became God by Bart Ehrman
  95. A Portrait of the Artists as a Young Man by James Joyce
  96. Intuition Pumps and Other Tools for Thinking by Daniel Dennett
  97. Human Evolution: A Very Short Introduction by Bernard Wood
  98. The Evolution of God by Robert Wright
  99. Nonzero by Robert Wright
  100. The End by Ian Kershaw
  101. William Blake: Collected Poems by William Blake and W.B. Yeats (ed.)
  102. Atheism: A Very Short Introduction by Julian Baggini
  103. Neanderthal Man by Svante Paabo
  104. Bloodlands by Timothy Snyder
  105. The World as I See It by Albert Einstein
  106. The Meaning of Human Existence by Edward O. Wilson
  107. To Explain the World by Steven Weinberg
  108. Liquid Rules by Mark Miodownik
  109. Fooled by Randomness by Nassim Nicholas Taleb
  110. Peter, Paul, and Mary Magdalene by Bart Ehrman
  111. A History of Warfare by John Keegan
  112. The Unreal and the Real by Ursula K. Le Guin
  113. Doctor Zhivago by Boris Pasternak
  114. The History of the Bible by Bart Ehrman (The Great Courses)
  115. After the New Testament by Bart Ehrman (The Great Courses)
  116. The Next Pandemic by Ali Khan
  117. The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
  118. The Red Queen by Matt Ridley
  119. The Intellectuals and the Masses by John Carey
  120. The Lost Gospel of Judas Iscariot by Bart Ehrman
  121. Sketches from a Hunter’s Album by Ivan Turgenev
  122. The Historical Jesus by Bart Ehrman (The Great Courses)
  123. First Love and Other Stories by Ivan Turgenev
  124. When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi
  125. Home of the Gentry by Ivan Turgenev
  126. The Last Wish by Andrzej Sapkowski
  127. Sword of Destiny by Andrzej Sapkowski
  128. Blood of Elves by Andrzej Sapkowski
  129. The Time of Contempt by Andrzej Sapkowski
  130. Baptism of Fire by Andrzej Sapkowski
  131. The Tower of the Swallow by Andrzej Sapkowski
  132. Lady of the Lake Andrej Sapkowksi
  133. Poems in Prose by Ivan Turgenev
  134. Did Darwin Get It Right? by John Maynard Smith
  135. Stubborn Attachments by Tyler Cowen
  136. Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World by Jack Weatherford
  137. The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire by Edward Gibbon
  138. The Language of the Gene by Steve Jones
  139. Cuckoo by Nicholas Davies
  140. Areopagitica by John Milton
  141. War as I Knew It by George S. Patton
  142. Hannibal by Patrick Hunt
  143. The Dark Ages by Charles Oman
  144. Being Human by Robert Sapolsky (The Great Courses)
  145. The Souls of Black Folk by W.E.B. Du Bois
  146. The Anglo-Saxon World by Michael Drout
  147. Rabid by Bill Wasik and Monica Murphy
  148. In the Shadow of the Sword by Tom Holland
  149. Brain Droppings by George Carlin
  150. The Early Middle Ages by Philip Daileader (The Great Courses)
  151. The High Middle Ages by Philip Daileader (The Great Courses)
  152. The Late Middle Ages by Philip Daileader (The Great Courses)
  153. The Medieval World: Kingdoms, Empires, and War by Thomas F. Madden
  154. The Medieval World: Society, Economy, and Culture by Thomas F. Madden
  155. Beowulf (Seamus Heaney tr.)
  156. The Age of the Vikings by Anders Winroth
  157. A Little History of the World by Ernst Gombrisch
  158. The Norsemen by Michael Drout
  159. New Testament History and Literature by Dale Martin (Course)
  160. How the Crusades Changed History by Philip Daileader (The Great Courses)
  161. The Rise of Rome by Gregory Aldrete (The Great Courses)
  162. The Roman Empire by Gregory Aldrete (The Great Courses)
  163. From Jesus to Constantinople by Bart Ehrman (The Great Courses)
  164. 1066 by Jennifer Paxton (The Great Courses)
  165. The Rise of Rome by Anthony Everitt
  166. Icons of the Iron Age by Susan Johnston
  167. Celts and Germans by Timothy Shutts
  168. Letters to a Young Contrarian by Christopher Hitchens
  169. The Last Kingdom by Bernard Cornwell
  170. The Pale Horseman by Bernard Cornwell
  171. And Yet by Christopher Hitchens
  172. The Infidel and the Professor by Dennis Rasmussen
  173. Fear and Trembling by Soren Kierkegaard
  174. Arguably by Christopher Hitchens
  175. Augustus by Adrian Goldsworthy
  176. Augustus by Anthony Everitt
  177. The History of Christianity in the Reformation Era by Brad Gregory
  178. Third Thoughts by Steven Weinberg
  179. Science in the Soul by Richard Dawkins
  180. Two Cheers for Anarchism by James S. Scott
  181. Such, Such Were the Joys and Other Essays by George Orwell
  182. Jesus Before the Gospels by Bart D. Ehrman
  183. The Reformation by Diarmaid MacCulloch
  184. Foundation by Peter Ackroyd
  185. Classics: A Very Short Introduction by Mary Beard
  186. The Roman Empire: A Very Short Introduction by Christopher Kelly
  187. Marx: A Very Short Introduction by Peter Singer
  188. Masterpieces of Medieval Literature by Timothy Shutt
  189. Political Philosophy: A very Short Introduction by David Miller
  190. Anarchism: A Very Short Introduction by Colin Ward
  191. From Jesus to Christianity by Thomas Madden
  192. Ethics: A Very Short Introduction by Simon Blackburn
  193. Myth: A Very Short Introduction by Robert Segal
  194. Heaven or Heresy by Thomas Madden
    Madden makes the silly statement that the tradition of ‘separation of church and state’ was started by Constantine. He makes this blanket statement so in the rest of the course he can blame everything on the state part of the equation. You can’t simply divide church and state in the middle ages, because Churchmen were one of the biggest feudal lords and owned a lot of land—they *were* the state. And almost all actual statesmen themselves were very religious, in some cases outdoing the priests in their piety.When talking about torture by inquisition, he literally claims that ‘torture worked for getting the truth’. How does he know this, is beyond me. He tries to blame the ‘state’ for all the executions because it was the ‘state’ that actually carried out the killing. But why the state killed those people? Isn’t that because inquisition condemned them first? It’s like saying that courts are not part of the justice system and putting all responsibilities on jails!
  195. The Age of Henry VIII by Dale Hoak (The Great Courses)
  196. The Crisis of Islam by Bernard Lewis
  197. The Story of Medieval England from King Arthur to the Tudor Conquest by Jennifer Paxton (The Great Courses)
  198. The Poetic Edda (Jackson Crawford tr.)
  199. The Great Heresies by Hilaire Belloc
    What is a heresy? Belloc defines it as ‘the dislocation of some complete and self-supporting scheme by the introduction of a novel denial of some essential part therein.’ The five heresies chosen and treated by Belloc are Arianism, Islam (Belloc sees Islam as modified Christianity), Albigensianism, Protestantism (Reformation) and the last one is unnamed but vaguely defined as modern secularism, science, capitalism (all of which he considers offshoots of The Reformation) which he abhors. He believes that heresy by definition is simplification and rationalization of the orthodoxy and leads to degeneration. He puts this like a physical law. He uses the word rationalism as derogatory.
    From this follows that all creeds/heresies lead to degeneracy and hence are bad. The problem is that he views Catholicism as the original Christian creed or orthodoxy. This is factually wrong. Disproven by Bible itself. There wasn’t such thing as Catholic orthodoxy at the beginning. There were many interpretations of scriptures and one of these won on political/sociological/demographic grounds and got recognized as orthodoxy.
    Another problem is that he views Catholic Christianity as the true and original creed, and all derivations and deviations from it are ‘simplification and rationalization’ that lead to degenerate creeds. But then you could turn the tables around and say that Christianity is itself ”simplification and rationalization’ of Judaism, so is as a degenerate a religion as any heresy.
  200. The New Testament: A Very Short Introduction by Timothy Luke Johnson
  201. The Ancient Near East: A Very Short Introduction by Amanda Podany
  202. Open Borders by Bryan Caplan and Zach Weinersmith
  203. Revelations by Elaine Pagels
  204. Pnin by Vladimir Nabokov

Book Stats

# of books read: 204
# of pages read: 63,758

  • average book length: 312 (though this is affected by the inclusion of courses which have 0 page count)
  • 10 out 204 books by female authors (that’s a really big disparity) 

2 thoughts on “2019 reading list

  1. That is an impressive list. I can’t imagine reading 204 books at an average length of 312 pages. I envy your discipline to set such an accomplishment. What did you think of Bart Ehrman’s book “How Jesus Became God.” I noticed you bolded that as one of your favorites. Look forward to your feedback. Take care.


    1. I think the book puts forward a convincing (for me) thesis. That early Christians had an exaltationist or adoptionist view of Christ which means they thought he got adopted by God or elevated to divine realm. Early Christians believed that Jesus got exalted at crucifixion. Later they pushed the date back to Jesus’ baptism, then to his birth. By pushing back the exaltation view of Christ, the thesis got reversed. John’s gospel has an incarnation view of Jesus. Incarnation means that Jesus was divine from beginning and had all godly features. He came to earth in human form and got crucified. This is an evolutionary christology. The book is really interesting irrespective of whether you buy Ehrman’s thesis or not. He writes very clearly. I’d highly recommend his Great Courses Lectures ‘The New Testament’ too. You can get the audio version for cheap through Audible. It’s the best intro (and analysis) course into the New Testament.

      I know that Ehrman has a lot of critics because he’s more or less famous, at least in his area of study. But you don’t have to take people’s words for it. Religious scholarship is not quantum mechanics. They use some basic logical tricks to analyse the texts. You don’t even have to learn other languages (Greek, etc.), there are pretty good modern translations of the Bible with notes and explanations. After reading Ehrman’s book and listening to his New Testament course you can get New Revised Standard Version of the Bible and read it for yourself. It’s the best and most accurate translation with explanations and notes. You can also look up some references and explanations in The New Oxford Annotated Bible. All you need to do is to read these carefully for yourself. You don’t have to read through them at one time. In case of the Gospels you can read them linearly/chronologically and then read them side by side. Read the same story in each of the Gospels and compare them and see how and why they differ for yourself. Good luck.

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s