Good Books of 2014

Having completed the incomplete list of my recent books, I thought I would take a look at which ones I really liked and, even if I'm not actually writing reviews of them, differentiate between ones I do and don't recommend.

Capital in the Twenty-First Century, by Thomas Piketty

This is probably the best (and certainly the most significant) book I've read in 2014. It's by no means an easy or light read, but it has completely changed the way I look at a great many things in society. Naive as it may seem, I had never really considered the difference between income and wealth (and the tremendous difference in the levels of income and wealth income). Most striking and eye-opening is the fact that the post–World War II period of growth and shrinking inequality is a temporary blip created by the destruction of wealth during the two world wars. It's quite disheartening to consider that the sense of progress and increasing opportunities for social mobility that characterized that period is a transient phenomenon and that we should not be surprised at all to see levels of inequality rising once again.

Fiction List

Here's a collection of fiction audiobooks I've listened to over the past few years. Some have been read as well as listened to. I will at some point try to review them or at least rate them.


  1. A Place of Greater Safety, by Hilary Mantel
  2. A Tale of Two Cities, by Charles Dickens
  3. The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  4. Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley
  5. All Quiet on the Western Front, by Erich Maria Remarque
  6. MASH, by Richard Hooker
  7. The Color Purple, by Alice Walker
  8. The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak
  9. All the King's Men, by Robert Penn Warren
  10. The Signature of All Things, by Elizabeth Gilbert
  11. The Handmaid's Tale, by Margaret Atwood
  12. The Luminaries, by Eleanor Catton
  13. Fight Club, by Chuck Palahniuk
  14. The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini
  15. East of Eden, by John Steinbeck
  16. The Count of Monte Cristo, by Alexandre Dumas
  17. The Awakening, by Kate Chopin
  18. The Three Musketeers, by Alexandre Dumas
  19. The Grapes of Wrath, by John Steinbeck
  20. War and Peace, by Leo Tolstoy
  21. Snow Crash, by Neal Stephenson
  22. Wolf Hall, by Hilary Mantel
  23. Bring up the Bodies, by Hilary Mantel
  24. Why We Broke Up, by Daniel Handler
  25. The Scarlet Letter, by Nathaniel Hawthorne


  1. The Laundry Files, by Charles Stross
    1. The Atrocity Archives
    2. The Jennifer Morgue
    3. The Fuller Memorandum
    4. The Apocalypse Codex
    5. The Rhesus Chart
  2. His Dark Materials, by Philip Pullman
    1. The Golden Compass
    2. The Subtle Knife
    3. The Amber Spyglass
  3. The First Law, by Joe Abercrombie (incl. stand-alone novels)
    1. The Blade Itself
    2. Before They Are Hanged
    3. Last Argument of Kings
    4. Best Served Cold
    5. The Heroes
    6. Red Country
  4. The Gentlemen Bastards, by Scott Lynch
    1. The Lies of Locke Lamora
    2. Red Seas Under Red Skies
    3. The Republic of Thieves
  5. Codex Alera, by Jim Butcher
    1. Furies of Calderon
    2. Academ's Fury
    3. Cursor's Fury
    4. Captain's Fury
    5. Princeps' Fury
    6. First Lord's Fury
  6. The Dresden Files, by Jim Butcher
    1. Storm Front
    2. Fool Moon
    3. Grave Peril
    4. Summer Knight
    5. Death Masks
    6. Blood Rites
    7. Dead Beat
    8. Proven Guilty
    9. White Night
    10. Turn Coat
    11. Small Favor
    12. Changes
      1. Side Jobs (collection of short stories)
    13. Ghost Story
    14. Cold Days
    15. Skin Game

Non–Fiction List

Here are some lists of books I've read (fairly) recently. By "read" I mean that I listened to them as audiobooks. In many cases, I also read a physical (or electronic) copy of the book, but I'm lumping them all together here. I've broken non-fiction into a few (somewhat arbitrary) sub-categories:


  1. The Plantagenets: The Warrior Kings and Queens Who Made England, by Dan Jones
  2. The Wars of the Roses: The Fall of the Plantagenets and the Rise of the Tudors, by Dan Jones
  3. The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, by William L. Shirer
  4. The Men Who Lost America: British Leadership, the American Revolution and the Fate of the Empire, by Andrew Jackson O'Shaughnessy
  5. The Thirty Years War, by C. V. Wedgwood
  6. Brothers, Rivals, Victors: Eisenhower, Patton, Bradley, and the Partnership That Drove the Allied Conquest in Europe, by Jonathan W. Jordan
  7. Great Catherine: The Life of Catherine the Great, Empress of Russia, by Carolly Erickson
  8. The Way of the Knife: The CIA, a Secret Army, and a War at the Ends of the Earth, by Mark Mazzetti
  9. The Poison King: The Life and Legend of Mithradates, Rome’s Deadliest Enemy, by Adrienne Mayor
  10. Lawrence in Arabia: War, Deceit, Imperial Folly, and the Making of the Modern Middle East, by Scott Anderson
  11. Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan, and bin Laden, from the Soviet Invasion to September 10, 2001, by Steve Coll
  12. The Great Siege, by Ernle Bradford
  13. Destiny Disrupted: A History of the World through Islamic Eyes, by Tamim Ansary
  14. Augustus: The Life of Rome's First Emperor, by Anthony Everitt
  15. Iron Curtain: The Crushing of Eastern Europe, 1944-1956, by Anne Applebaum
  16. All the Shah's Men: An American Coup and the Roots of Middle East Terror, by Stephen Kinzer
  17. John Adams, by David McCullough
  18. Winter King: The Dawn of Tudor England, by Thomas Penn
  19. Carthage Must Be Destroyed: The Rise and Fall of an Ancient Civilization, by Richard Miles
  20. Rubicon: The Triumph and Tragedy of the Roman Republic, by Tom Holland
  21. The Centennial History of the Civil War, by Bruce Catton
    1. The Coming Fury
    2. Terrible Swift Sword
    3. Never Call Retreat
  22. The Proud Tower: A Portrait of the World Before the War, 1890-1914, by Barbara W. Tuchman
  23. The Guns of August, by Barbara W. Tuchman
  24. Bloodlands: Europe between Hitler and Stalin, by Timothy Snyder

Society, Politics, Law, Science

  1. The Great Dissent: How Oliver Wendell Holmes Changed His Mind and Changed the History of Free Speech in America, by Thomas Healy
  2. The Clockwork Universe: Isaac Newton, The Royal Society, and the Birth of the Modern World, by Edward Dolnick
  3. The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, by Michelle Alexander
  4. Capital in the Twenty-First Century, by Thomas Piketty
  5. Excellent Sheep, by William Deresiewicz
  6. College (Un)Bound: The Future of Higher Education and What It Means for Students, by Jeffrey J. Selingo
  7. Civilization: The West and the Rest, by Niall Ferguson
  8. Game Change: Obama and the Clintons, McCain and Palin, and the Race of a Lifetime, by John Heilemann and Mark Halperin
  9. The Smartest Kids in the World, by Amanda Ripley
  10. Boomerang, by Michael Lewis
  11. The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine, by Michael Lewis
  12. We Are Anonymous: Inside the Hacker World of LulzSec, Anonymous, and the Global Cyber Insurgency, by Parmy Olson

Memoirs, etc.

  1. Slow Getting Up, by Nate Jackson
  2. Proof, by Adam Rogers
  3. Them: Adventures with Extremists, by Jon Ronson
  4. Lost at Sea: The Jon Ronson Mysteries, by Jon Ronson
  5. The Psychopath Test, by Jon Ronson
  6. Walden and On the Duty of Civil Disobedience, by Henry David Thoreau
  7. Steve Jobs, by Walter Isaacson
  8. Dreams from My Father, by Barack Obama