2011’s reading in review

personal, reading

I’ve read a lot of books this year, thanks in part to the joy of tracking things through GoodReads (see my profile on GoodReads). For some reason, keeping track of what I’ve read and want to read in the future has spurred my reading on in ways I didn’t expect.

Here’s the list of what I read in 2011:


In the Company of Soldiers: A Chronicle of Combat in Iraq, by Rick Atkinson

The Long Gray Line: The American Journey of West Point’s Class of 1966, by Rick Atkinson

Rick Atkinson may be my favorite writer covering military issues – he brings a fantastic balance of experience and objectivity. I’m greatly anticipating the third in his “Liberation Trilogy” about the Allied forces in Europe during World War II.

The New Cool, by Neal Bascomb

A great story about a high school FIRST robotics team. Inspiring.

Battle of Wits: The Complete Story of Codebreaking in World War II, by Stephen Budiansky 

Triumph and Tragedy, by Winston S. Churchill

Finally finished the last of Churchill’s World War II memoirs. It was a long slog, but worth it.

Soul Mining, by Daniel Lanois

A beautiful, impressionist look at the work of my favorite music producer.

Boomerang: Travels in the New Third World, by Michael Lewis

The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine, by Michael Lewis

The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game, by Michael Lewis

I got slightly obsessed with Michael Lewis’s writing this year; he has the rare talent of taking things I would never be interested in (the financial meltdown, valuations of football players by position, etc) and making them incredibly intriguing.

Incredible Victory: The Battle of Midway, by Walter Lord

American Caesar: Douglas MacArthur 1880-1964, William Raymond Manchester

Manchester is a fantastic biographer whose work I first read when I tackled his biography of Winston Churchill. This is another excellent piece.

Roosevelt’s Secret War: FDR and World War II Espionage, Joseph E. Persico

Not recommended; this is a strange and scattered accounting of the USA’s World War II espionage and codebreaking. Battle of Wit, by Stephen Budiansky, is much better.

Sea of Thunder: Four Commanders and the Last Great Naval Campaign 1941-1945, by Evan Thomas

Spare Parts: From Campus to Combat: A Marine Reservist’s Journey from Campus to Combat in 38 Days, by Buzz Williams


Billy Boyle: A World War II Mystery (Billy Boyle World War II, #1), by James R. Benn

Pacific Glory: A Novel, by P.T. Deutermann

Enigma, by Robert Harris

Los Alamos, by Joseph Kanon

Lots of WWII-era fiction here; “Pacific Glory” may have been the best among them, but none are really essential. This was basically light summer reading.

To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee

I finally read this after years of gentle (and not-so-gentle) suggestion by my lovely wife, and I regret not having read it sooner. A masterpiece.

Reamde, by Neal Stephenson

The Diamond Age: Or, a Young Lady’s Illustrated Primer, by Neal Stephenson

Cryptonomicon, by Neal Stephenson

Stephenson’s new work, “Reamde”, spurred me on to re-reading “Cryptonomicon” for the fourth or fifth time. “Crytonomicon” is still my absolute favorite of his books, but “Readme” was entertaining; it’s more a thriller (think Bourne Identity) than a piece of historical or science fiction.

The Caine Mutiny, by Herman Wouk