2021 reading list

All the books I read in 2021. More than 80% of the books were consumed in audio format. All the books are listed in the order read. My favorite titles are bolded and there are short reviews/impressions/excerpts under some of the titles. My lists for 2018, 2019, and 2020.

Some stats at the end of the post.

  1. Дневник Лишнего Человека – Иван Тургенев (2nd read)
  2. Constantine the Emperor – David Potter (2nd read)
    This book in the category of biographies that not only cover the subject in detail but can also serve as standalone history of the period. 
  3. The Letters of Pliny the Younger – Pliny the Younger
  4. The Conquest of Happiness – Bertrand Russell
  5. The Consolation of Philosophy – Boethius
  6. The Fall of the Roman Empire – Peter Heather (2nd read)
  7. King John – Marc Morris
  8. The Fall of Rome and the End of Civilization – Bryan Ward-Perkins
    A short takedown of the silly continuist thesis. 
  9. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams (2nd read)
  10. The Annals – Tacitus
  11. Restaurant at the End of the Universe – Douglas Adams (2nd read)
  12. Life, the Universe and Everything – Douglas Adams (2nd read)
  13. I, Claudius – Robert Graves
  14. So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish – Douglas Adams (2nd read)
  15. Mostly Harmless – Douglas Adams (2nd read)
  16. Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency – Douglas Adams (2nd read)
  17. The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul – Douglas Adams (2nd read)
  18. The Demon’s Brood – Desmond Seward
  19. Hannibal – Patrick Hunt
  20. The Ghosts of Cannae – Robert O’Connell (2nd read)
  21. The Razor’s Edge – Somerset Maugham
  22. Claudius the God – Robert Graves
  23. The Jewish War – Flavius Josephus
  24. Cicero – Anthony Everitt
  25. How to Read and Why – Harold Bloom
  26. The Monkey’s Voyage – Alan de Queiroz
  27. Paul – Paula Fredriksen
  28. From Jesus to Christ – Paula Fredriksen
  29. Pompeii – Steven Tuck (course)
  30. Paleofantasy – Marlene Zuk
  31. How to Tame a Fox – Lee Alan Dugatkin
  32. The Story of the Human Body – Daniel Lieberman
  33. The Subjection of Women – John Stuart Mill
  34. The Rational Optimist – Matt Ridley
  35. The Evolution of Everything – Matt Ridley
  36. After Tamerlane – John Darwin
  37. The Great Game – Peter Hopkirk
  38. The Letters of Abelard and Heloise – Pierre Abelard and Heloise d’Argenteuil (William Levitan tr.)
  39. The Thirty Years War – C.V. Wedgwood
  40. How the Irish Saved Civilization – Thomas Cahill
  41. Emperor – Geoffrey Parker
  42. Imprudent King – Geoffrey Parker
  43. The Book of the Courtier – Baldassare Castiglione
  44. A Distant Mirror – Barbara Tuchman
  45. The Scientific Attitude – Lee McIntyre
  46. Fatal Discord – Michael Massing
    Pretty detailed double biography of Luther and Erasmus. 
  47. Heretics and Believers – Peter Marshall
  48. The Mabinogion – Sioned Davies (tr.)
  49. How to Read Literature Like a Professor – Thomas Foster
  50. The Imitation of Christ – Thomas a Kempis, William Benham (tr.)
  51. Empires of the Sea – Roger Crowley
  52. The Magician of Lublin – Isaac Bashevis Singer
  53. Against Empathy – Paul Bloom
  54. Science Fictions – Stuart Ritchie
  55. The Parthenon – Mary Beard
  56. The Colosseum – Keith Hopkins and Mary Beard
  57. The Ancient Roman World – Ronald Mellor, Marni Mcgee
  58. The Table Talk of Martin Luther – Martin Luther, Thomas S. Kempis (ed.), William Hazlitt (tr.)
  59. The Bondage of the Will – Martin Luther
  60. The Praise of Folly – Desiderius Erasmus
  61. Innate – Kevin Mitchell
  62. The Civilization of Renaissance in Italy – Jacob Burckhardt
  63. When Christians Were Jews – Paula Fredriksen
  64. Thomas Cromwell – Diarmaid MacCulloch
  65. Roman Warfare – Adrian Goldsworthy
  66. The Wars of the Roses – Dan Jones
  67. The Landscape of History – John Lewis Gaddis
  68. Free to Learn – Peter Gray
  69. The Road to Serfdom – Friedrich Hayek
  70. God’s Philosophers – James Hannam
  71. The Idea of the Brain – Matthew Cobb
  72. Early Greek Philosophy – John Burnet
  73. A Vindication of the Rights of Woman – Mary Wollstoncraft
  74. The Scout Mindset – Julia Galef
  75. Vindolanda – Adrian Goldsworthy (Vindolanda #1) (2nd read)
  76. The Encircling Sea – Adrian Goldsworthy (Vindolanda #2) (2nd read)
  77. Brigantia – Adrian Goldsworthy (Vindolanda #3) (2nd read)
  78. Babylon – Paul Kriwaczek
  79. The Last Kingdom – Bernard Cornwell (The Last Kingdom/Saxon Stories #1) (2nd read)
  80. The Pale Horseman – Bernard Cornwell (The Last Kingdom/Saxon Stories #2) (2nd read)
  81. Lords of the North – Bernard Cornwell (The Last Kingdom/Saxon Stories #3) (2nd read)
  82. Sword Song – Bernard Cornwell (The Last Kingdom/Saxon Stories #4) (2nd read)
  83. The Burning Land – Bernard Cornwell (The Last Kingdom/Saxon Stories #5) (2nd read)
  84. Death of Kings – Bernard Cornwell (The Last Kingdom/Saxon Stories #6) (2nd read)
  85. The Pagan Lord – Bernard Cornwell (The Last Kingdom/Saxon Stories #7) (2nd read)
  86. The Empty Throne – Bernard Cornwell (The Last Kingdom/Saxon Stories #8) (2nd read)
  87. Warriors of the Storm – Bernard Cornwell (The Last Kingdom/Saxon Stories #9) (2nd read)
  88. The Flame Bearer – Bernard Cornwell (The Last Kingdom/Saxon Stories #10) (2nd read)
  89. War of the Wolf – Bernard Cornwell (The Last Kingdom/Saxon Stories #11) (2nd read)
  90. Sword of Kings – Bernard Cornwell (The Last Kingdom/Saxon Stories #12) (2nd read)
  91. War Lord – Bernard Cornwell (The Last Kingdom/Saxon Stories #13) (2nd read)
  92. The Scythians – Barry Cunliffe
  93. The Rise of Athens – Anthony Everitt
  94. Thebes – Paul Cartledge
  95. Hellenica – Xenophon
  96. A World Lit Only by Fire – William Manchester
  97. How to Write a Thesis – Umberto Eco
  98. The Ancient Celts – Barry Cunliffe
  99. The Travels of Marco Polo – Marco Polo
  100. The Birth of Classical Europe – Simon Price, Peter Thonemann
  101. The Inheritance of Rome – Chris Wickham
  102. The Face of Battle – John Keegan
  103. The Field of Blood – Nicholas Morton
  104. Matilda – Catherine Hanley
  105. Augustine – Robin Lane Fox
  106. The Great Siege – Ernle Bradford
  107. The Fort – Adrian Goldsworthy (Vindolanda #4)
  108. The Anglo-Saxons – Marc Morris
  109. The Grand Strategy of the Classical Sparta – Paul A. Rahe
  110. Genghis Khan – Frank McLynn
  111. The Roman Way – Edith Hamilton
  112. The Power of Myth – Joseph Campbell and Bill Moyers
  113. Discourses and Selected Writings – Epictetus (Thomas W. Higginson tr.)
  114. The World Before Us – Tom Higham
  115. Letters from a Stoic – Seneca (Robin Campbell tr.)
  116. The Winter King – Thomas Penn
  117. Classical Mythology: A Very Short Introduction – Helen Morales
  118. Written in Stone – Christopher Stevens
  119. Ancient Warfare: A Very Short Introduction – Harry Sidebottom (2nd read)
  120. The Enemy at the Gate – Andrew Wheatcroft
  121. Experiencing Medieval Europe – Kenneth Bartlett (course)
  122. The Tragedy of Empire – Michael Kulikowski
  123. The Apocryphal Gospels: A Very Short Introduction – Paul Foster
  124. Rebellion – Peter Ackroyd
  125. The Pilgrim’s Progress – John Bunyan
  126. In Defense of History – Richard J. Evans
  127. Augustine: A Very Short Introduction – Henry Chadwick
  128. A Needle in the Right Hand of God – R. Howard Bloch
  129. Paul: A Very Short Introduction – E.P. Sanders
    Decent introduction to Paul. Would recommend it along with Bart Ehrman’s Peter, Paul and Mary Magdalene. One thing sorely missing from Sanders’ book is that he doesn’t talk about the sources (that’s Pauline epistles). It’s very crucial that the readers know about which letters of Paul are judged to be his and which are considered forgeries, so we can actually sort out what Paul himself believed and not take forgers’ ideas for Paul’s. Sanders almost exclusively cites from authentic letters (I didn’t check every citation, but don’t remember him citing anything from forged letters—Ephesians, Colossians, 2 Thessalonians, 1 and 2 Timothy, and Titus), but it would be nice if he explicitly talked about the sources and why they are problematic or not.

    Sanders provoked some thoughts about how to treat history of people and ideas from the past:

    There’s a tendency among some historians (and people in general) to synthesize the thoughts/opinions/views of an ancient person from surviving materials.

    A lot of times these people collate arguments from multiple sources, that span an authors lifetime, into a single argument and pretend that this frankenstein of an idea existed, or even more absurd, that the ancient author had this comprehensive worldview throughout their life without change. Or if they find a person contradicting their previous views, they try to harmonize and accommodate those views.

    When treating past people’s ideas we should always follow these rules and make them explicit:

    – Each document should stand for itself. Don’t try to build a worldview from multiple documents that the author himself was unaware of. Here the sequence/chronology of the sources is of high importance to trace the evolution of ideas or changes in them. Worldviews are not static.

    – Contradictions in the author’s ideas doesn’t mean that there must be an overall philosophy that should accommodate them (or that the author had this overall philosophy). Maybe the author totally rejected their previous ideas during their lifetime, or improved them, or maybe they’re just contradictions because the author never actually explicitly tried to reconcile their different ideas. There are no philosophies without contradictions. After all we are fallible.
  130. Social and Cultural Anthropology: A Very Short Introductions – John Monaghan and Peter Just
  131. The Dream of Enlightenment – Anthony Gottlieb
  132. The Red Prince – Helen Carr
  133. Wolf Hall – Hilary Mantel
  134. Revolution – Peter Ackroyd
  135. On Grand Strategy – John Lewis Gaddis
  136. The History of Astronomy: A Very Short Introduction – Michael Hoskin
  137. Ancestors – Alice Roberts
  138. The History of the Franks – Gregory of Tours
  139. In Search of a Kingdom – Laurence Bergreen
  140. God’s Jury – Cullen Murphy
  141. The Richest Man Who Ever Lived – Greg Steinmetz
  142. Galileo’s Middle Finger – Alice Dreger
  143. Who We Are and How We Got Here – David Reich
  144. The Cheese and the Worms – Carlo Ginzburg
  145. The Bible: A Very Short Introduction – John Riches
  146. The Waning of the Middle Ages – Johan Huizinga
  147. The Astonishing Hypothesis – Francis Crick
  148. The Canterbury Tales –  Geoffrey Chaucer
  149. Memoirs of My Life – Edward Gibbon
  150. Third Thoughts – Steven Weinberg (2nd read)
  151. Chaucer’s People – Liza Picard
  152. Sexual Selection: A Very Short Introduction – Marlene Zuk
  153. Biological Anthropology – Barbara King (course)
  154. The Ancient City – Numa Denis Fustel de Coulanges (Willard Small tr.)
  155. The Black Cloud – Fred Hoyle
  156. Guns, Germs, and Steel – Jared Diamond
  157. The New World – Winston Churchill (A History of the English-Speaking Peoples vol. 2)
  158. Roman Architecture – Diana Kleiner (course YOC)
  159. Conquerors – Roger Crowley
  160. Orthodox Christianity: A Very Short Introduction – Edward Siecienski
  161. A Short History of Humanity – Johannes Krause
  162. Over the Edge of the World – Laurence Bergreen
  163. Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism – Max Weber (Talcott Parsons tr.)
  164. Conquest of the Americas – Marshall C. Eakin (course)
  165. Capitalism and Freedom – Milton Friedman
  166. The Return of Martin Guerre – Natalie Zemon Davis
  167. Early Modern England – Keith Wrightson (course YOC)
  168. Marco Polo – Laurence Bergreen
  169. On the Ends of Good and Evil – Cicero (H. Harris Rackham tr.)
  170. The Borgias – G.J. Meyer
  171. The Renaissance: A Very Short Introduction – Jerry Brotton
  172. Inventing the Middle Ages – Norman F. Cantor
  173. Never Greater Slaughter – Michael Livingston
  174. Journeys of the Great Explorers – Glyndwr Williams
  175. The Age of Revolution – Winston Churchill (A History of the English-Speaking Peoples vol. 3)
  176. The Courage to Be Disliked – Ichiro Kishimi and Fumitake Koga
  177. The Beginner’s Guide to Stoicism – Matthew Van Natta
  178. Sicily – John Julius Norwich
  179. Mythology – Edith Hamilton
  180. Europe in the High Middle Ages – William Chester Jordan
  181. The Time Traveler’s Guide to Medieval England – Ian Mortimer
  182. How Innovation Works – Matt Ridley
  183. Omnipotent Government – Ludwig von Mises
  184. Bosworth 1485 – Michael Jones
  185. City of Fortune – Roger Crowley
  186. In the Wake of the Plague – Norman Cantor
  187. Life in a Medieval City – Joseph Gies and Frances Gies
  188. World Without End – Hugh Thomas
  189. God’s Shadow – Alan Mikhail
  190. The Borgias and Their Enemies – Christopher Hibbert
  191. The Secret History of the Mongol Queens – Jack Weatherford
  192. The Great Warming – Brian Fagan
  193. The Faithful Executioner – Joel F. Harrington
  194. Treasure Island – Robert Louis Stevenson
  195. The Invisible Gorilla – Christopher Chabris and Daniel Simons
  196. Clausewitz: A Very Short Introduction – Michael Eliot Howard
  197. Monasticism: A Very Short Introduction – Stephen Davis
  198. The Invaders – Pat Shipman
  199. The History of Medicine: A Very Short Introduction – William Bynum
  200. The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order – Samuel Huntington
  201. Genghis Khan and the Quest for God – Jack Weatherford
  202. The Anatomy of the State – Murray Rothbard
  203. The Bronze Lie – Myke Cole
  204. The Winter King – Bernard Cornwell (The Warlord Chronicle #1)
  205. Survival of the Friendliest – Brian Hare and Vanessa Woods
  206. The Sacred Band – James Romm
  207. Enemy of God – Bernard Cornwell (The Warlord Chronicle #2)
  208. The Map That Changed the World – Simon Winchester
  209. A Story of Us – Lesley Newson and Peter Richerson
  210. Your Inner Fish – Neil Shubin
  211. 1491 – Charles C. Mann (2nd read)
  212. The History of the Vikings – Christopher R. Fee
  213. The Travels of Reverend Olafur Egilsson – Olafur Egilsson (trs./eds. Karl Smari Hreinsson and Adam Nichols)
  214. Medieval Bodies – Jack Hartnell
  215. Exercised – Daniel Lieberman
  216. Range – David Epstein
  217. Nature Via Nature – Matt Ridley
  218. A Hangman’s Diary – Franz Schmidt (ed. Albrecht Keller, trs. Calvert and Gruner)
  219. The Hedgehog and the Fox – Isaiah Berlin
  220. The Origins of Virtue – Matt Ridley
  221. The Horse, the Wheel, and Language – David Anthony
    The detail and scope of this book puts all other historians and history books to shame. Stop dumbing down ffs!
  222. Evolution (Oxford Readers) – Mark Ridley (ed.)
  223. A Historian Goes to the Movies – Gregory Aldrete (course)
  224. The Sultan and the Queen – Jerry Brotton
  225. Excalibur – Bernard Cornwell (The Warlord Chronicle #3)
  226. The Reluctant Mr. Darwin – David Quammen
  227. Some Assembly Required – Neil Shubin
  228. The Great Mortality – John Kelly
  229. Ancestral Journeys – Jean Manco
  230. The Secret of Our Success – Joseph Henrich
  231. A Companion to Contemporary Political Philosophy – Robert E. Goodin and Philip Pettit (eds.)
  232. Caesar’s Legion – Stephen Dando-Collins
  233. Voyage of the Beagle – Charles Darwin
  234. Rome is Burning – Anthony Barrett
  235. Castles – Marc Morris
  236. The Blood Meridian – Cormac McCarthy
  237. Antiquity – Norman Cantor
  238. World War Z – Max Brooks
  239. The Denial of Death – Ernest Becker
  240. Ubik – Philip K. Dick
  241. Tree Story – Valerie Trouet
  242. The Wind in the Willow – Kenneth Grahame
  243. The Blank Slate – Steven Pinker
  244. Reformations – Carlos M.N. Eire
  245. Around the World in Eighty Days – Jules Verne
  246. Life in a Medieval Village – Frances Gies and Joseph Gies
  247. The Jugurthine War and the Cataline Conspiracy – Sallust (tr. Alfred W. Pollard)
  248. How We Think – John Dewey
  249. Christendom Destroyed – Mark Greengrass
  250. Understanding Greek and Roman Technology – Stephen Ressler (course)
  251. The Pursuit of Glory – Timothy Blanning
  252. The Greek World – Robert Garland (course)
  253. Iron Kingdom – Christopher Clark
  254. Vanished Kingdoms – Norman Davies
  255. The Cathedral – William R. Cook (course)
  256. Philosophy of Biology – Alex Rosenberg and Robert Arp (eds.)
  257. Francis I – Leonie Frieda
  258. The Complete Essays of Michel de Montaigne – Michel de Montaigne (tr. Donald M. Frame)
  259. The History of the Byzantine Empire – Charles W.C. Oman
  260. The Formation of a Persecuting – R.I. Moore
  261. The Classical World – Robin Lane Fox

    # of books read: 261
    # of pages read: 88,305

    • average book length: 338p (though this is affected by the inclusion of courses which have 0 page count)
    • 31 out 261 books are by female authors

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