JoeK: Books Worth Reading

If you ask me what I've been up to, there's a good chance I'll answer with the book I'm currently reading. A few years ago I resolved to start keeping a list of the books I read. I have continued to add books in the order in which I complete them.

  1. Shakespeare, William. Twelfth Night.
  2. Felleisen, Matthias, Daniel P. Friedman. A Little Java, A Few Patterns.
  3. Leithauser, Brad. Hence.
  4. Leithauser, Brad. The Friends of Freeland.
  5. Heaney, Seamus, Trans. Beowulf.
  6. McManus, Patrick F. Never Cry "Arp!" and Other Great Adventures.
  7. Leithauser, Brad. Penchants & Places: Essays and Criticism.
  8. Van Ghent, Dorothy. Keats: The Myth of the Hero.
  9. Paulos, John Allen. Innumeracy: Mathematical Illiteracy and Its Consequences.
  10. Levi, Peter. Eden Remembered: The Public and Private Life of John Milton.
  11. Martin, Albro. Railroads Triumphant: The Growth, Rejection and Rebirth of a Vital American Force.
  12. Gunderson, Gerald. The Wealth Creators: An Entrepreneurial History of the United States.
  13. Middlekauff, Robert. The Glorious Cause: The American Revolution 1763 - 1789.
  14. Jourdain, Robert. Music, The Brain, and Ecstasy: How Music Captures our Imagination.
  15. Paulos, John Allen. A Mathematician Reads the Newspaper.
  16. Gould, Stephen Jay. Time's Arrow Time's Cycle: Myth and Metaphor in the Discovery of Geological Time.
  17. McPhee, John. Annals of the Former World.
  18. Parker, Ronald B. Inscrutable Earth: Explorations into the Science of Earth.
  19. Winchester, Simon. The Map That Changed the World: William Smith and the Birth of Modern Geology.
  20. Kline, Morris. Mathematics and the Search for Knowledge.
  21. Holldobler, Bert and Edward O. Wilson. Journey to the Ants: A Story of Scientific Exploration.
  22. Bellamy, David. Bellamy's New World: A Botanical History of America.
  23. Steele, Timothy. All the Fun's in How You Say a Thing: An Explanation of Meter and Versification.
  24. Dennett, Daniel C. Darwin's Dangerous Idea: Evolution and the Meanings of Life.
  25. Asimov, Isaac. The Foundation Trilogy: Three Classics of Science Fiction.
  26. Heinlein, Robert A. The Moon is a Harsh Mistress.
  27. Dillard, Annie. An American Childhood.
  28. Oram, Andy, Editor. Peer-to-Peer: Harnessing the Benefits of a Disruptive Technology.
  29. Dreiser, Theodore. The Financier.
  30. Cook, Eleanor. Poetry, Word-Play, and Word-War in Wallace Stevens.
  31. Leithauser, Brad. Darlington's Fall: A Novel in Verse.
  32. Lessig, Lawrence. Code and Other Laws of Cyberspace.
  33. Garfield, Simon. Mauve: How One Man Invented a Color that Changed the World.
  34. Grant, Michael. The Rise of the Greeks.
  35. DeMarco, Tom and Timothy Lister. Peopleware: Productive Projects and Teams.
  36. Klein, Maury. Union Pacific.
  37. Paulos, John Allen. Once Upon a Number.
  38. Fatsis, Stefan. Word Freak.
  39. Grant, Michael. History of Rome.
  40. Thoreau, Henry David. Walden.
  41. Pearl, Matthew. The Dante Club.
  42. Du Sautoy, Marcus. The Music of the Primes: Searching to Solve the Greatest Mystery in Mathematics.
  43. Frank, Anne. Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl.
  44. Berlinski, David. A Tour of the Calculus.
  45. Ball, Philip. Life's Matrix: A Biography of Water.
  46. Lockridge, Ross F. The Story of Indiana.
  47. Cayton, Andrew R. L. Frontier Indiana.
  48. Dreiser, Theodore. A Hoosier Holiday.
  49. Brown, Dan. The Da Vinci Code.
  50. Rolt, L.T.C. The Railway Revolution: George and Robert Stephenson.
  51. Sacks, Oliver. Oaxaca Journal.
  52. Jones, W. T. The Classical Mind: A History of Western Philosophy.
  53. Homer. (Robert Fitzgerald, Trans.) The Iliad.
  54. Schlessinger, Laura. The Proper Care & Feeding of Husbands.
  55. Beston, Henry. The Outermost House: a Year of Life on the Great Beach of Cape Cod.
  56. Fadiman, Anne. Ex Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader.
  57. Steele, Timothy. The Color Wheel.
  58. Weber, Steven. The Success of Open Source.
  59. Darwin, Charles. On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection.
  60. Hirshson, Stanley P. Grenville M. Dodge: Soldier, Politician, Railroad Pioneer.
  61. Dante. Vita Nuova.
  62. Friedman, Daniel P. and Matthias Felleisen. The Little Schemer.
  63. Krutulis, Jon. Secular Faith.
  64. Dennett, Daniel C. Freedom Evolves.
  65. Enzensberger, Hans Magnus. The Number Devil: A Mathematical Adventure.
  66. Postrel, Virginia. The Future and Its Enemies: The Growing Conflict Over Creativity, Enterprise, and Progress.
  67. Whittle, Tyler. The Plant Hunters: Tales of the Botanist-Explorers Who Enriched Our Gardens.
  68. Stover, John F. History of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad.
  69. Hoffman, Paul. The Man Who Loved Only Numbers: The Story of Paul Erdos and the Search for Mathematical Truth.
  70. Radice, Betty (Trans.). The Letters of Abelard and Heloise.
  71. Bowman, Heath. Hoosier.
  72. Fatout, Paul. Indiana Canals.
  73. Smith, Bruce D. The Emergence of Agriculture.
  74. Cutler, Alan. The Seashell on the Mountaintop: A Story of Science, Sainthood, and the Humble Genius Who Discovered a New History of Earth.
  75. Sperry, Stuart M. Keats the Poet.
  76. Dybvig, R Kent. The Scheme Programming Language.
  77. Stover, John F. American Railroads.
  78. Thomas, Dave and David Heinemeier Hansson. Agile Web Development with Rails.
  79. Steinbeck, John. Of Mice and Men.
  80. Turner, Frederick. The New World: an Epic Poem.
  81. Ekeland, Ivar. Mathematics and the Unexpected.
  82. Turnbull, Herbert Westren. The Great Mathematicians.
  83. Brown, John K. The Baldwin Locomotive Works, 1831-1915.
  84. Rand, Ayn. Anthem.
  85. Ingraham, Ruth Ann. Swimming with Frogs: Life in the Brown County Hills.
  86. Orr, John W. Set Up Running: The Life of a Pennsylvania Railroad Engineman 1904-1949.
  87. Morran, Robbin C. A Natural History of Ferns.
  88. Pinsky, Robert. The Sounds of Poetry: A Brief Guide.
  89. Fitzgerald, F. Scott. The Great Gatsby.
  90. Hemingway, Ernest. A Farewell to Arms.
  91. Martin, Albro. James J. Hill & the Opening of the Northwest.
  92. Dilts, James D. The Great Road: The Building of the Baltimore & Ohio, the Nation's First Railroad, 1828-1853.
  93. Cather, Willa. O Pioneers!
  94. Harris, Sam. Letter to a Christian Nation.
  95. Christensen, Clayton M. The Innovator's Dilemma.
  96. Beckworth, Harry. Selling the Invisible: A Field Guide to Modern Marketing.
  97. Rand, Ayn. The Art of Fiction: a Guide for Writers.
  98. Delany, Samuel R. Babel-17.
  99. Hay, Jerry M. Beyond the Bridges: Rediscovering America's Waterways.
  100. Wright, George T. Shakespeare's Metrical Art.
  101. Pratchett, Terry. The Color of Magic.
  102. Stewart, Ian. Letters to a Young Mathematician.
  103. Rand, Ayn. The Romantic Manifesto.
  104. Ambrose, Stephen, E. Nothing Like It in the World: The Men Who Built the Transcontinental Railroad 1863 - 1869.
  105. Hugo, Victor. The Toilers of the Sea.
  106. Steele, Timothy. Toward the Winter Solstice: New Poems.
  107. Silvertown, Jonathan. Demons in Eden: The Paradox of Plant Diversity.
  108. Kermode, Frank. Wallace Stevens.
  109. Leithauser, Brad. Curves and Angles: Poems.
  110. Schmidt, Michael. The First Poets: Lives of the Ancient Greek Poets.
  111. Kurmaskie, Joe. Metal Cowboy: Tales from the Road Less Pedaled.
  112. Brooks, Frederick P. The Mythical Man-Month: Essays on Software Engineering.
  113. Paulos, John Allen. Irreligion: A Mathematician Explains Why the Arguments for God Just Don't Add Up.
  114. Kahney, Leander. Inside Steve's Brain.
  115. Harford, Tim. The Logic of Life: The Rational Economics of an Irrational World.
  116. DeMarco, Tom and Timothy Lister. Waltzing with Bears: Managing Risk on Software Projects.
  117. Nichols, Fay Folsom. The Kankakee: Chronicle of an Indiana River and Its Fabled Marshes.
  118. Price, David A. The Pixar Touch: The Making of a Company.
  119. Simons, Richard S. The Rivers of Indiana.
  120. Freese, Barbara. Coal: A Human History.
  121. Plumly, Stanley. Posthumous Keats: A Personal Biography.
  122. Jones, Darryl and James Alexander Thom. The Spirit of the Place: Indiana Hill Country.
  123. Parsons, John. A Tour Through Indiana in 1840: The Diary of John Parsons of Petersburg, Virginia.
  124. Johnston, Bill. The Emporer's New Clothes: An [Un]popular Account of the Origins of Christianity.

The only requirement for being included in the list is that I've finished reading the entire book. The only exceptions to the only rule are plays and book-length poems, which I treat as separate books, even if they are part of a larger collection.

I find that some books (including many technical books) start off wonderfully, but then collapse for the last third or fourth and are either too disappointing to finish or are just weak enough to lose out to the more enticing beginning of another book. Also, I'm only really interested in reading parts of some books. None of these make the list.

I read many technical books and books of poetry in smaller chunks so that the book is never really "finished." These are also excluded from my list. This, of course, excludes a substantial amount of reading material, and has the effect of seriously biasing the list against these subjects.

If I reread an entire book for a second or third time, I still add it to the list.

In summary, the one thing you can say about each book on the list is that, for some reason, I thought it worthwhile to read all of it.

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