What I’m Reading/Watching 2017

As of October 2011, I created an index of books I reviewed here. I will continue to list books I am currently reading here, but I will not attempt to write capsule reviews or even to link to them. For that you should check the index of books I reviewed. Movie Reviews will continue to be listed and annotated as before. See also my 2016 Reading/Watching List, my 2014 Reading/Watching List, my 2013 Reading/Watching List, 2012 Reading/Watching List, 2011 Reading/Watching List,  2010 Reading/Watching List, 2009 Reading/Watching List, 2008 Reading/Watching List , 2007 Reading/Watching List my previous Sept 2004 to Oct 2005 reading list or my Nov 2005 to Nov 2006 Reading List , so definitely check that out as well. See also my Best of 2006 for a scoop about favorites. See also Writers who have Changed Me. A few remarks. I’m reading several books at a time, and to be honest, sometimes I don’t read all of them depending on the content or my interest. Usually however, it’s been a matter of attention span and what other projects I’ve been doing. Also, you might want to check my favorite novels, and my Amazon.com wishlist. Also here’s an annotated photo of my bookshelf Also, I haven’t read most of these books, but I’ve been setting up Amazon lists of classic Texas novels (100 novels and counting). You also might enjoy reading my Amazon list of Unforgettable Forgettable Novels. I’ve also started adding my book inventory to librarything.com. At the bottom of this page you will find a list of movies I’ve been watching.


  1. Transit of Venus by Shirley Hazzard
  2. Out of the Old Rock by J. Frank Dobie
  3. Travels of Lao Tsan by Liu T’ieh-yun
  4. Conquerors by Michael Beschloss
  5. Charlotte’s Web by EB White
  6. Saving Capitalism by Robert Reich
  7. Boomtown by Greg Williams
  8. Three Body Problem  by Cixin Liu
  9. Man who Counted by Malba Tahan
  10. A string of books about Texas independence and the Alamo (more on that later).
  11.  Nightmare Years 1930-1940 William Shirer
  12. Pigs is Pigs . Hilarious story by Ellis Parker Butler.
  13. Trip to the West and Texas. Fascinating 1836 travel book about Texas, with  50 page afterward about the Texian revolution.
  14. Mad Professor by Rudy Rucker. Short stories.
  15. Right to Die (At Issue series). I enjoy reading these slim anthology of articles on current events (ostensibly aimed at high school students).
  16. You can Negotiate Anything by Herb Cohen. I love reading these practical out-of-date guides. (Fun to read like Zig Ziglar’s books).
  17. TV (The Book). Two experts pick the greatest American Shows of all time by Alan Sepinwall and Matt Zoller Seitz.
  18. Turn Homeward, Hannalee (1984)  by Patricia Beatty. Kid’s novel  about the Civil War. 
  19. Boys Adrift: Five Factors Driving the Growing Epidemic of Unmotivated Boys and Underachieving Young Men by Leonard Sax.
  20. Inside of a Dog by Alexandra Horowitz. A deep discussion about dog consciousness. Great book!
  21. Solve Your Money Troubles by Robin Leonard, Nolo Press
  22. At Issue Books: Does Outsourcing Harm America? and What is the Impact of Green Practices?
  23. Library at Night by Albert Manguel. A profound and witty book about books. Brilliant.
  24. NYT Essential Library of Opera by Anthony Tommasini.
  25. Who would have thought it? by Maria Amparo Ruiz de Burton
  26. Holes by Louis Sachar
  27. Fun n’ Games by Rice, Ryderberg & Yaconelli
  28. Motivation Breakthrough by Richard Lavoie
  29. NYT Manual of Style and Usage, 5th edition. (I had a coupon)
  30. Who’s Afraid of Opera? by Michael Walsch. A brilliant introduction to the subject written in the 90s.
  31. Night at the Opera: Irreverent Guide to the Plots, Singers, Composers, Recordings by Denis Forman. Longer budget ebook, so far not as good as the Walsch book though. Update: No, I actually prefer this book to Walsch’s book
  32. JS Bach: The Learned Musician (biography). Christoph Wolff
  33. Musicians of Today — Romain Rolland
  34. Weapons of Math Destruction. Cathy O’Neal
  35. Music Theory for Beginners by R. Ryan Endris
  36. Hack Music Theory Part 1 by Roy Harmony and 12 Hacks to Learn Scales and Chords.
  37. Trying Not to Try (again). This is a very important book that merges psychology and Asian philosophy.
  38. Orientation and other stories, Daniel Orozco
  39. Business Statistics (a textbook) by Douglas Dowling
  40. Why we argue  (and how we should) by Scott Aiken and Robert Talisse
  41. North to Yesterday by Robert Flynn (college writing teacher)
  42. Myths of Happiness by Sonja Lyubomirsky
  43. Handbook of Texas Music (2nd Edition)
  44. Happiness, Like Water by Chinelo Okparanta
  45. Orientation by Daniel Orozco
  46. Homesick for another world by Ottessa Moshfegh
  47. Stories Done by Mikal Gilmore. Longer feature pieces on rock music which originally appeared in Rolling Stone magazine.
  48. Birds of a Lesser Paradise by Megan Mayhew Bergman
  49. Symphony for the city of the dead by MT Anderson
  50. Living Speech: resisting the empire of force
  51. Seven Brief Lessons on Physics. Carlo Rovelli. A delicious read. (Update, it’s just an excerpt from the longer  “Reality is not what it seems”)
  52. Mathematics for the Nonmathematician by Morris Kline
  53. World According to Coleen by Grissom
  54. Borges and Mathematics by Guillermo Martinez
  55. Learn Better by Ulrich Boser
  56. Expanding the American Mind: Books and the Popularization of Knowledge by Beth Luey
  57. Pleasures of Metamorphosis by Lucy Fraser
  58. Anatomy of a Song by Marc Myers
  59. Made to Stick, by Chip Heath. Definitely the most useful  nonfiction book of the year! It’s about how to optimize your business messaging.
  60.  This Explains Everything. Edited by John Brockman. Anthology of Edge answers to the question “What is your favorite deep, elegant or beautiful explanation?”
  61. A Billion wicked thoughts by Ogi Ogas. Semi-interesting social science book about evolutionary biology and modern sex habits, using data from search engines, etc.  Not bad, but it’s like the “Malcolm Gladwell” for sex. Interesting summaries of well-known research.
  62. What Color is my Parachute by Richard Bolles (2017 edition). Bolles died very recently, so I suspect he had help on the latest edition. I love this book, and the first 3 or so chapters try to update the core concepts to  contemporary times.  (These first 3 chapters are brilliant!) Although the career satisfaction parts are interesting and important, I feel that this book misses out in the key problems facing the unemployed today: responding to market signals, updating skills and evaluating the viability and value add for certain jobs.
  63. We’ll Be Here For the Rest of Our Lives: A Swingin’ Show-biz Saga by Paul Schaffer (ghostwritten).
  64. What they don’t teach you at Harvard Business School by Mark McCormack.
  65. Deep Work by Cal Newport.
  66. So good they can’t ignore you by Cal Newport.
  67. Big Short by Michael Lewis.
  68. Contemp American Literature 1945-1972 by Ihab Hassan
  69. What they Don’t Teach you at Harvard Business School by Mark McCormack
  70. A Schoolboy’s Diary and Other Stories by Robert Walser
  71. O Henry Prize Stories 2016 ed by Laura Furman
  72. Numsense: Data Science for the layman by Annalyn Ng and Kenneth Soo
  73. Reality is not what it seems by Carlo Rovelli
  74.  Inevitable by Kevin Kelley.
  75. Seeing what others don’t by Gary Klein
  76. Shahnameh (Persian 10th century classic).
  77. Laptev Virus  By Christy Esmahan
  78. Kill Anything that Movies by Nick Turse. History of Vietnam war focused on civilian deaths.
  79. Daily Rituals: How Artists work by Mason Curry
  80. Inner Game of Music by Barry Green
  81. Onset, Reset, Mindset by E.L. Russell
  82. 33 Revolutions per Minute: History of Protest Songs  by Dorian Lynskey
  83. That’s all right, mama by Gerald Duff
  84. Outsiders by SE Hinton
  85. Stories of Arthur Clarke
  86. Algorithms to Live by, Brian Christian
  87. Forever War by Joe Haldeman
  88. Secondhand time by Svetlana Alexievich
  89. Crack in Creation by Jennifer Doudna
  90. Samuel Johnson is Indignant by Lydia Davis.
  91. To Selena with Love by Chris Perez
  92.  Superintelligence: paths, dangers, strategies by Nick Bostrom
  93. Genetic engineering by Noel Hosseini
  94. Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
  95. Various music criticism books by Ted Goia
  96. Never Split the Difference by Chris Voss
  97.  Surely you’re joking, Mr. Feynman! Richard Feynman
  98. Red Parts by Maggie Nelson
  99. Demon-haunted World by Carl Sagan
  100. Bohemians by Ben Tarnoff
  101. Book of Strange New Things by Michel Faber


  1. 9/11.  by Naudet Brothers (3rd time)
  2. Car 54, where are you? both seasons
  3. Eye in the Sky
  4. Great Course Lecture series. (my crack cocaine!)
  5. People vs. OJ Simpson (TV series)
  6. Select Star Trek Voyager episodes
  7. Bloodline TV series (seems formulaic?)
  8. Travellers, an excellent time travel series.
  9. Reel Injun
  10. Queen Victoria (PBS TV series). Quite great.
  11. Babe (watched again)
  12. Bob Newhart Show (4 seasons worth– absolutely great!)
  13. Elizabeth (film starring Cate Blanchett). Focused on the brutality a little too much — I don’t feel I get a really well-rounded  portrayal of the queen, but the early years were probably like this.
  14. Arrival. Sci fi film starring Amy Adams. I wanted badly to like this; but it abounded in cliches, and its touchy feelyness depends on some time travel/timelessness trope which seemed too magical. Also, the military stuff seemed too stereotypical. I would have preferred a more realistic, pedestrian approach even if it wasn’t as visual a spectacle.
  15. Deadwood TV Series.
  16. Crazy Ex-girlfriend
  17. Moonlighting
  18. Moonlight.
  19. Madam Secretary — mediocre political dramedy. Nice plots, but overall a dud. Update: awful!
  20. The Jerk (again)
  21. John Mulaney comedy concerts
  22. Grinder, sitcom.
  23. Merli, dramedy from Spain about an eccentric high school philosophy teacher who is a substitute teacher at his son’s school.
  24. Makkhi. Bollywood comedy about a lovestruck man who is reincarnated as a housefly
  25. Train to Busan
  26. How To Listen To And Understand Great Music. by Robert Greenberg
  27. Til the Devil Knows You’re Gone. High calibre acting, somewhat interesting, but the ridiculous situation (as fascinating as it is to ponder) doesn’t really arrive at any profound insights.
  28. The Wrestler
  29. All American Girl. Horrible Neil Simon movie.
  30. Absentia (horror film, already mentioned?)
  31. Idea of a Lake, dir Milagros Mumenthaler. Great understated arthouse drama with lots of unconventional narrative techniques.
  32. Master of None (2nd Season)
  33. Marriage of Figaro (DVD)
  34. Get Down, retro 70s series.
  35. Chewing Gum
  36. Verdi’s Falstaff DVD
  37. Ave, 2011 Bulgarian drama film directed by Konstantin Bojanov Bulgarian teenagers hitchhiking to get to a funeral. God, this tragi-comedy was an absolute masterpiece!
  38. Landscape in the Mist
  39. Masters of Sex (only 1 season). Predictable but a little self-righteous. These glitzy sexy cable shows are all alike!
  40. Trap by Srdan Golubovic (Serbian). Moral dilemma for a Raskelnikov-like  character. I think it went too far at parts, but it felt very genuine too
  41.  Big Short, 2nd watching.
  42. Puccini, Turandot
  43. ‘Allo, ‘Allo, British TV series
  44. Monteverdi, Orfeo
  45. The Prestige
  46. Best Offer
  47. The Crown TV series
  48. Eugene Onegin, opera. Outstanding performance of an outstanding opera.
  49. Frances Ha. Extraordinary film about growing young and carefree in New York City. I loved how the typical plots didn’t really matter here. I compare to “Strangers in Paradise” in the use of jumpcuts and puzzling scenes. But this is a really upbeat movie!
  50. Master of Sex TV series, Season 1
  51. Love Me or Leave Me, film starring Doris Day. Surprisingly well-done.
  52. Hester Street. Overrated.
  53.  The Grinder (2nd time)
  54. Two Days One Night, directed  Jean-Pierre Dardenne
  55. Star Trek Deep Space Nine…. Really profound and Shakespearian show.
  56. Catch Me if You Can. Spielberg. Forgettable comedy with occasional surreal moments.
  57. Otello Verdi opera, NY Opera, Zepherelli
  58. The Assets — ABC miniseries about the CIA analysts who figured out Aldrich Ames had been revealing the identities of defectors. Great acting and scripts.
  59. Big Short
  60. Wonder Woman
  61. Good Place (Season 1). Fun silly philosophical comedy about the afterlife. Probably great for 1 season at least.
  62. Vietnam War Ken Burns documentary series.
  63. Schitt’s  Creek, offbeat one camera TV series cowritten and acted by a father-son team.
  64. Black Mirror, San Junipero episode Season 3.
  65. Nightcrawler. Didn’t finish.
  66. Fargo TV series. Great ensemble and locales, but essentially it was just a gore-fest.
  67. Chadi Jawani Budhe Nu. hilarious 70s bawdy film about a lecherous father and his families’ attempt to bring him back to the righteous path.
  68. Founder, thoughtful biopic about Ray Croc who “founded MacDonalds.”
  69. Travelers Season 2 Netflix. Unfortunately, a lot worse than Season 1.
  70. Pulp Fiction, 2nd Time
  71. Charlie Wilson’s War
  72. Hidden Figures. Awful.
  73. Globe Trekker, various travel
  74. Crown, Season 2. Mediocre.
  75. Get Out! Mediocre horror; to cleanse the pallet, I rewatched “It Follows” on Netflix.
  76. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing. (at theater). Mediocre Southern small town grotesquery. Tries to be Flannery O’Connor, but the level of violence and savagery is just ridiculous.