Sunday, December 24, 2017

My Favorite Books of 2017

It's time for the post that no one asked for but gets anyway - the list of books I enjoyed the most from all my reading during 2017.

Mark Rothko: From the Inside Out

Christopher Rothko's book about his father, Mark Rothko: From the Inside Out, is neither a biography nor an art book. Instead, it's a series of insightful essays on various aspects of his father's work from someone with an up-close vantage point combined with perhaps the person most familiar with the artist's entire body of work. It may be my favorite book about Rothko and that includes Rothko's own The Artist's Reality.

Here's a sneak peek at the book from Yale Art Books.


Watching The Shining in the theater ended, for a couple of decades at least, my interaction with Stephen King. I am definitely not a fan of the horror genre. However, my interest in JFK's assassination (see here) was enough for me to give King's 11/22/63 a try. If you had a time machine, would you go back and prevent JFK's assassination? So you've got sci-fi and historical fiction. But you know what? This novel is a great love story. The fact that a lot of it is set in the DFW area doesn't hurt.

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The Berlin Project

Gregory Benford's The Berlin Project was one of the few books I took the time to write about immediately after reading which you should infer is a measure of how much I enjoyed it. Combining alternate history and nuclear weapons, The Berlin Project supposes the U.S. had an atomic bomb in 1944 instead of 1945 and asks how that might've changed the fate of WWII. That plot is compelling enough on its surface, but Benford draws from actually family insider experiences during the war to craft something enjoyable and realistic.

Here's the publisher's web page for the book.

The Challenger Launch Decision

Lest you think I found no favorites among non-fiction titles, Dianne Vaughn's The Challenger Launch Decision introduced me to the term "normalization of deviance" in its thoroughly engaging look into the organizational psychology of NASA and its contractors that led to the Challenger disaster.

Honorable Mentions

Complexity: The Emerging Science on the Edge of Order and Chaos by M. Mitchell Waldrop

Smart Marketing for Engineers by Rebecca Geier

Get a Grip by Geno Wickman

If you're curious, here's my full 2017 reading list.

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