Books 2021

You might also be interested in my booklists from from 201420162017,  2018,  2019, and 2020 .

A Savage War of Peace

The Canterbury Tales

Adaptation and Natural Selection



Gallic Wars

A World Out of Time

The Peace War

The Archimedes Codex

Domestication of Plants in the Old World

Andrei Sakharov: memoirs

The Anthropic Cosmological Principle


The Complete Paintings of Durer

Evolutionary Biology of Aging

Evolution and the Theory of Games 

My 60 Memorable Games

The Discovery of the Solomon Islands by Alvaro de Mendaña in 1568

Warlords of Oman

Lord Kalvan of Otherwhen

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37 Responses to Books 2021

  1. Smithie says:

    A few I enjoyed this year:
    -The Brendan Voyage
    -The High Crusade
    – Conjure Wife
    -Full Tilt: Ireland to India with a Bicycle

    • NumberOneCustomer says:

      I read The High Crusade recently. Cute book. And i just grabbed Mote in God’s Eye and am maybe 2/3rds of the way through … I was 100% sure i has read this book as a kid but i don’t remember any of it and am now doubting my memory(ies).

      The most surprisingly great book of the year … Don Quixote. I guess sometimes a classic really is classic.

      I actually burned a book this year. It was a book on Symmetry/Standard Model stuff and it had so many mistakes (indeces/subscripts wrong etc) that i literally set it on fire.

      • hvlee says:

        I don’t remember if it was the Oxford Unabridged or the Webster but the great detective Nero Wolfe fed it to the fire one page at a time when the latest issue called “infer” and “imply” synonyms. I concur.

        • feralplum says:

          Merriam–Webster. It wasn’t just imply/infer and loan/lend. The classic American Dictionary had fallen into the hands of people who cared not for etymology, preferring to use meaning defined by contemporary use. When words have no meaning but current usage, then they have no meaning. Worse, you cannot read or learn from the past. The great structure of civilization is fragmented into separate generations, foreign to each other.

          That’s what caused the alienated intellectuals to establish The American Heritage Dictionary.

        • Eli says:

          How do you find what books to read on any particular year? Do you make up your mind ahead by a few months, or do you spontaneously jump from one to another? Do you read two or more in parallel?

  2. pyrrhus says:

    Desolation Island, by Patrick O’Brien, and Dirt, the Erosion of Civilizations, by David Montgomery..

  3. Ken H says:

    The book Marooned in Realtime is a sort-of sequel to The Peace War and it’s a very good book, better than The Peace War.

  4. meagain says:

    A chess player I see. What’s your ELO?

  5. dearieme says:

    In the last few years I’ve read Anabasis and reread the Gallic Wars: a great pleasure and time well spent.

    We did spend a fair bit of time on The Canterbury Tales at school – in the original of course. Our English teacher said “I can’t forbid your parents to buy you a copy of Coghill”.

    I notice that your link suggests “Reading age: 18 years and up”. We were thirteen or fourteen but then in those days the business of schools was education not indoctrination. Anyway I suspect thirteen year olds are more likely to enjoy the fart and bum jokes.

  6. Gordon William Marsden says:

    The Bell Curve , actual stats. destroys ever woke argument

    • Curle says:

      Except that woke isn’t a factual position with arguments (except as window dressing). It is an moral position with revealed truths, sacraments, alters and sacrifices. It can only be destroyed with an effective countervailing moral claim.

  7. TWS says:

    Is Lord Kalvan a reread?

    • gcochran9 says:

      The list is only moderately made up of books I’ve read recently. I have reread Kalvan several times – but I wish I had H. Beam Piper around to argue about it.

      • TWS says:

        Me too. If I remember correctly he committed suicide because he thought he was failing as a writer and his divorce.

        He’d be a hundred and something now but I enjoy his books more than most recent sci-fi adventure.

        • pyrrhus says:

          Piper also wrote under the alias H.B.Fife, as I recall…

        • engleberg says:

          I’m partway through John F Carr’s life of Piper, so I haven’t got there yet, but I think his agent was keeping checks from him. SF was notorious for that then- Hugo Gernsback, Fred Pohl, the old Ace Books were all bad. So far all I’ve really learned is that Piper referred to his nights chasing tail as ‘beating the bushes’.

        • Stephen St. Onge says:

          From what I’ve read of Piper, he was clinically depressed. It wasn’t anything in the world outside, it was what was going on in his brain.

          • gcochran9 says:

            His agent had died and he wasn’t receiving the checks – he thought he’d become a total failure. That and LBJ had just won, which he found depressing.

            So there was an exterior event. But you could still be right.

      • Oldandtired says:

        You could have asked yourself over for the debate and offered to clean up afterward?

  8. Coagulopath says:

    Many of these can also be read at Project Gutenberg.

  9. Henry Scrope says:

    Kalvan, sold here as ‘Gunpowder God’, is one of my all time favourites, I must have read it a dozen times.

  10. JB says:

    Best line from My 60 Memorable Games (from memory.)

    “Petrosian refuses to let himself be distracted – even by good moves.”

    • pyrrhus says:

      “It is not enough to be a good player..One must also play well.”

    • Coagulopath says:

      My favorite line:

      “I say death to President Bush! I say death to the United States! Fuck the Jews! The Jews are a criminal people. They mutilate their children. They’re murderous, criminal, thieving, lying bastards. They made up the Holocaust. There’s not a word of truth to it… This is a wonderful day. Fuck the United States. Cry, you crybabies! Whine, you bastards! Now, your time is coming.”

      Actually, that’s not from the book, come to think of it.

      Bobby Fischer should have written for the Unz Report. He would have fit right in.

  11. Curle says:

    This from the product description for A Savage War of Peace:

    “Above all, the war was marked by an unholy marriage of revolutionary terror and repressive torture.”

    Because revolutionary terror and repressive torture are typically distinct phenomena?

  12. Jovien says:

    I have read this book on the Algerian war and it is a bad one.
    The one million Algerian muslim deaths is the FLN propaganda figure, which has an extremely loose relation to reality, even if one includes into it a high estimation for the Algerian muslims assassinated by the FLN.

  13. TWS says:

    Did you read ‘Mamlukes’?

    • Smithie says:

      Only one I haven’t read.

      When I was reading the series I assumed it was a trilogy, and felt I had been strung along, with no resolution. Though, I am not sure how I feel about postmortem novels, even if there was more than one author involved.

  14. David Ross says:

    Edward O. Wilson has passed on.
    Carl Zimmer has an obit at NYT. It’s… NYT approved.

  15. Here’s my year end list of books. These are books published in 2021 and concerned in one way or another with the history of the universe, Big Bang to present.

    2021 Books

  16. dearieme says:

    I’m enjoying David Abulafia’s The Boundless Sea which covers the history of trade and exploration everywhere but the Med, which he’s covered in an earlier book.

    Massive book, mind.

  17. Henry Scrope says:

    I thought Hooper’s book was a fascinating read, albeit he didn’t prove his case.

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