The year in books: a reader’s perspective

When taking notes out of this year’s calendar to put them into next year’s calendar, I got to thinking about the books I read this year. I list them in my pocket calendar when I finish them, as a reminder to me.

There weren’t that many this year… until I took into account the many books I edited, proofread, and otherwise read in my publishing career (for many of those, see the lists at But reading a book for work isn’t really the same as the books I chose to read in my copious (ha!) free tie. So what else did I read this year?

Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen by Lois McMaster Bujold – the latest installment in the Vorkosigan saga. It didn’t thrill me as much as the previous volumes, but I still enjoyed it.

The Essential Lenny Bruce edited by John Cohen – a paperback collection of his routines and acts; as much as I knew his name, I don’t think I’d ever actually heard/read his work before.

Write It When I’m Gone by Thomas M. DeFrank – a series of interviews the author did with Gerald Ford after he’d retired from the Presidency. Some interesting stuff.

Arkwright by Allen Steele – science fiction. A very good science fiction novel. Made me feel nostalgia for a time I never knew, and people I only knew much later in their lives. But it also made me feel both sad and hopeful for our distant future. Highly recommended.

Upstairs at the White House by J.B. West – former Chief Usher of the White House writes about his interactions with the First Ladies and Presidential families he served, from the Roosevelts to the Nixons.

Updraft by Fran Wilde – science fiction. Lovely imagery.

Altered States of the Union edited by Glenn Hauman – alternate history anthology. My story is the first in the book, but the others are worth reading, too.

The Accidental Superpower by Peter Zeihan – Fascinating look at how the countries of the world came to be, from a geographer’s point of view, which lead (in his thesis) inevitably to the rise of the United States. He then considers the near future of the world, basing a lot of the change to come on the eventual decrepitude and death of the Bretton Woods agreement. Fascinating theorizing for the political scientist and the science fiction writer in me. Highly recommended.

Through Five Administrations by Col. William H. Crook – he was one of Abraham Lincoln’s body guards, and wound up working in the White House for fifty years. These are his reminiscences of his interactions with the Presidents and their families through the Chester Arthur administration. Similar concept to Upstairs at the White House (see above). After reading it, I decided it needed a new edition, and published it under the Gray Rabbit Publications imprint.

General Ike: A Personal Reminiscence by John S.D. Eisenhower – President Eisenhower’s son tells stories of how Ike became the person he was, through his relations with several generals and heads of state before and during World War II.

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