Yesterday, I placed an order for some books on Amazon. I have been doing this every December for about 10 years now. I build up a list as the year progresses and then buy the books at once. This year, while I was building the list, I made notes on why I selected each book. The list and notes are reproduced here:
1. The Power of One - Bryce Courtenay: I read this book as a teenager in secondary school. It made a powerful impression on me. I hope reading it now will not be disappointing. I just finished The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. I first read it more than 25 years ago. When I read it then, I enjoyed it. Now, it was just meh.
2. How to Get Rich - Felix Dennis: this is from a Twitter thread. The person who wrote the thread said the author is someone who actually got rich, so the advice in it is credible. Also, the book is supposedly not politically correct.
3. Innovation in Real Places - Dan Breznitz: another choice based on a Twitter thread which discusses how to get good jobs for everyone and not just for people from elite universities. The thread also talked about how elite universities are not important for innovation. The thread mentioned that UK universities, despite scoring high in academic rankings are not innovative.
4. A Fire Upon the Deep & A Deepness in the Sky - Vernor Vinge: I read reviews of both books here on E2. I decided to buy them even though quite a few books I have bought upon recommendations from this site have been rather disappointing. The 2 worst were Last and First Men by Olaf Stapledon and The King of Elfland's Daughter by Lord Dunsany. Another reason for buying them is that reading up on the author, I see he is highly regarded.
5. Doomsday Book & To Say Nothing of the Dog - Connie Willis: same as above, I read reviews here. And one of the reviews said the books "will make you cry". Only once has a book ever made me cry. The book was Star by Danielle Steele. I was 13 or 14 then.
6. Bring Back Our Girls: The Untold Story of the Global Search for Nigeria's Missing Schoolgirls - Joe Parkinson & Drew Henshaw: in 2014, a terrorist group in Nigeria abducted over 200 girls from a secondary school. #Bringbackourgirls was the tag for the international outcry that followed the incident. I am buying this book because our local authors and journalists do not have engaging writing styles. Also, we have an inferiority complex that is displayed when government officials refuse to give local journalists information but happily give it to white people. So it is possible this book will have information that is new to me.
7. Piranesi - Susanna Clark: I read her first book Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell based off a recommendation from here. I really enjoyed it and so I am buying this one.
8. Sandworm - Andy Greenberg: I read an article in Wired Magazine about the hacking of the US electricity grid in 2007. The article mentioned this book. I really enjoyed the article, so I decided to buy the book.
9. The Secret World of Weather: How to Read Signs in Every Cloud, Breeze, Hill, Street, Plant, Animal, and Dewdrop (Natural Navigation) - Tristan Gooley: I cannot remember how I discovered this guy, but I began following him on Twitter. His timeline and blog are delightful.
10. Dream of the Red Chamber, Hawked/Minford Edition - Cao Xueqin: there are certain books that I think I ought to read so I can claim to be cultured. This is one of them. I did some research and the excerpt I read from this edition seemed to be in a style I'd like.
11. Romance of the Three Kingdoms - Luo Guanzhong: as above.
12. All Men are Brothers - Pearl S. Buck: one of the best books I've read is The Good Earth. So, while researching Outlaws of the Marsh for the same reason as the preceding 2 entries, I decided to buy Ms. Buck's own translation because I loved how she wrote The Good Earth.
The 3 books above are a good reason for getting an e reader. I could have gotten them for free.
13. Debt, The First 5000 Years - David Graeber: I have been reading about the nature of money for about 10 years. This guy has a contrarian view about the origins of money.
14. Thebes, the Forgotten City of Ancient Greece - Paul Cartledge: Amazon recommended it to me and I was flattered enough to buy it because it felt like a recognition of my erudition.
15. Empire of the Black Sea - Duanne Roller: as above.
16. When the Whites Went - Robert Bateman: there is a Quora group called "It's ok to be white". The group talks about how white culture is under attack which is unfair because the modern world is a white creation. One of the posts on the group says South Africa has become shit because the white people are no longer in charge and that is what would probably happen to the rest of the world if the current trends of emasculating white men continues. The post mentioned this book.
17. Good Omens - Neil Gaiman & Terry Pratchett: I have only ever read one book by Mr. Gaiman and probably none by Mr. Pratchett. One of the most painful things in the world is that there is so much great stuff out there and even if one is aware of it, one can only consume a fraction of it. I am buying this book because these 2 guys are highly spoken of and this collaboration is supposed to be really good.
18. The Upright Revolution - Ngugi Wa Thiong'o: I read an article that said this is the most translated African work. I have read one of his books and I really enjoyed it. I also know that he has stopped writing in English because it is the language of the colonialists. It is rather ironic then, that the oppression in his country led him to flee to the US, the country that inherited the world built by the colonialists. Another reason for buying it is that the most translated Nigerian work - Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart is a fantastic read. I am hoping this one will be too.
19. The Dictionary of the Khazars - Milorad Pavic: the most translated Serbian work. I cannot remember why I chose it.
20. The Story of Ain't - David Skinner: I once read a piece here about someone's favorite dictionary. I was impressed that someone could have a favorite dictionary. I read a review of this book and remembered that w/u, thus the decision to buy it.
21. Traveling While Black - Nanjala Nyabola: black people experience much discrimination when we travel. This happens even within Africa. We are denied visas despite meeting absurd and insulting visa requirements, looked upon with contempt and generally treated worse than other people. This book documents travel experiences of black Africans from different countries.
22. Earthly Powers: The Clash of Religion and Politics in Europe, from the French Revolution to the Great War - Michael Burleigh: I watched a series on Youtube about the wars of religion in Europe because I am keenly aware that other than English history, I really don't know much about other parts of the world. This book was recommended by the creator of the series. Also, I read a Wikipedia article about the War of the League of Cambrai. I thought it was fascinating. I hope this book will fill some of that gap.
23. The First Law Trilogy - Joe Abercrombie - this is a recommendation from here. I was looking for books like this and it was recommended.
24. Little, Big - John Crawley: recommended by the same site as the previous entry. The article listed great works of fantasy and this was the only one I had not read, nor heard of that I liked.
25. His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman: I watched the series last year and I liked it. I had also watched a movie based on one of the books many years ago, I liked it too.
26. Naija Marxisms - Adam Mayer: I am a member of a literary group. Someone posted excerpts of this book, which is about the influence of Marxism on Nigerian intellectuals.
There is one book on the list that I decided not to buy. The book is title "Formation: The Making of Nigeria from Jihad to Amalgamation". It is by a pair of Nigerians about our country's history. I chose not to buy it because I don't think I would learn anything new from it. Also, I am sure the writing style would be off putting. Finally, I think the authors would be biased against people like me, I did not want to buy it and discover I was correct. I also wanted to buy "Composite Warfare: The Conduct of Ground Operations in Africa" by Eeben Barlow simply because of who he is. Unfortunately, the book was not available. I have added it to next year's list, which I began building immediately I placed this order.