Books of 2022

This is a ranked list of the books I finished reading in 2022.

1. Compass, Mathias Énard
2. On the Road, Jack Kerouac
3. The Seagull, Anton Chekhov
4. The Philosophy of Modern Song, Bob Dylan
5. A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens
6. Death on the Nile, Agatha Christie
7. Norwood, Charles Portis
8. A Hero Born (Condor Heroes #1), Louis Cha
9. A Bond Undone (Condor Heroes #2), Louis Cha
10. These Fists Break Bricks, Grady Hendrix & Chris Poggiali
11. The Flintstones: Deluxe Edition, Mark Russell & Steve Pugh
12. Murder in Mesopotamia, Agatha Christie
13. Memento Mori, Muriel Spark
14. The Essence of Entertainment: Cinema City’s Glory Days, HKFA
15. Cards on the Table, Agatha Christie
16. A Different Brilliance, The D & B Story, HKFA
17. Bruce, Peter Carlin Ames
18. Masters of Atlantis, Charles Portis
19.. The Good Asian Vol 1, Pornsak Pichetshote
20. Bruce Springsteen: The Stories Behind the Songs, Brian Hiatt
21. Ask for the Moon, Meredith Lewis
22. Poirot Loses a Client, Agatha Christie
23. Red Carpet, Erich Schwartzel

These are my favorites of the books I spent significant time reading in 2022 but did not (yet) finish:

1. The Annotated Arabian Nights, trans. Yasmine Seale
2. The Pickwick Papers, Charles Dickens
3. The Silmarillion, JRR Tolkien
4. The Arabian Nights: A Companion, Robert Irwin
5. Hawaii (first two sections only), James Michener
6. Typee, Herman Melville
7. Killing Floor, Lee Child
8. The King James Bible
9. The Method, Isaac Butler
10. The Dawn of Everything, David Wengrow and David Graeber
11. Always in the Dark: A Study of Hong Kong Gangster Films, HK Film Archive
12. Dictionary of the Khazars, Milorad Pavić
13. Bullshit Jobs, David Graeber
14. The World of Jia Zhang-ke, Jean-Michel Frodon
15. God Only Knows: The Story of Brian Wilson, the Beach Boys, and the California Myth, David Leaf

Books of 2021

This is a ranked list of the books I finished reading in 2021:

1. Moby-Dick, Herman Melville
2. Housekeeping, Marilynne Robinson
3. Slaughterhouse-Five, Kurt Vonnegut
4. Wuthering Heights, Emily Brontë
5. Hard Times, Charles Dickens
6. As You Like It, William Shakespeare
7. Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Unknown
8. The Big Sleep, Raymond Chandler
9. The Old Weird America, Greil Marcus
10. Hawkeye, Matt Fraction
11. The Dragon Waiting, John M. Ford
12. Nature, Ralph Waldo Emerson
13. The Martian Chronicles, Ray Bradbury
14. All of the Marvels, Douglas Wolk
15. Shakey, Jimmy McDonough
16. Watching the River Flow, Paul Williams
17. Performing Artist 1960-1973, 1974-1986, & 1986-1990 & Beyond, Paul Williams
18. Crabgrass Frontier, Kenneth T. Jackson
19. The ABC Murders, Agatha Christie
20. A Hundred Years of Japanese Film, Donald Richie
21. Alright Alright Alright, Melissa Maerz
22. When We Were Good, Robert Cantwell
23. Bob Dylan, Greil Marcus
24. Sketches by Boz, Charles Dickens
25. Neil Young: Love to Burn, Paul Williams
26. Hellboy Vol. 1, Mike Mignola
27. True Believer, Abraham Riesman
28. Revolution in the Air & Still on the Road, Clinton Heylin
29. One More Night, Andrew Muir
30. The Time Machine Did It, John Swartzwelder

And here are the books I’m still working on, in order of how long I’ve been reading them:

  1. Against the Day, Thomas Pynchon
  2. The Fourth World Omnibus, Jack Kirby
  3. The Path to Power, Robert Caro
  4. City of Quartz, Mike Davis
  5. Emerson: The Mind on Fire, Robert D. Richardson
  6. The History of Jazz, Ted Gioia
  7. Don Quixote, Cervantes
  8. American Renaissance, FO Matthiessen
  9. The Ramayana: A New Retelling, Linda Egenes & Kumuda Reddy
  10. James Joyce, Richard Ellman
  11. Before the Storm, Rick Perlstein
  12. Debt: the First 5000 Years, David Graeber
  13. Crisis on Infinite Earths (plus Crossovers), Marv Wolfman, etc
  14. Bach: The Learned Musician, Christoph Wolff
  15. The Story of the Stone (Dream of the Red Chamber), Cao Xueqin
  16. Dickens, Peter Ackroyd
  17. The Pickwick Papers, Charles Dickens
  18. Chaucer: A European Life, Marion Turner
  19. The Canterbury Tales (Riverside), Geoffrey Chaucer
  20. The Coming of Conan the Cimmerian, Robert E. Howard
  21. The Dawn of Everything, David Graeber & David Wengrow
  22. The Annotated Arabian Nights, trans. Yasmine Seale
  23. The Arabian Nights: A Companion, Robert Irwin
  24. Revolution in the Head, Ian MacDonald
  25. Player Piano, Kurt Vonnegut
  26. Norwood, Charles Portis

Books of 2019

Here is a ranked list of the books which I finished reading in 2019:

1. The Power Broker, Robert Caro
2. An Elemental Thing, Eliot Weinberger
3. My Year of Rest and Relaxation, Otessa Moshfegh
4. Lust, Caution, Eileen Chang
5. Red Mars, Kim Stanley Robinson
6. Dubliners, James Joyce
7. Nineteen Ways of Looking at Wang Wei, Eliot Weinberger
8. Saga of the Swamp Thing, Book Two, Alan Moore
9. Murder on the Orient Express, Agatha Christie
10. We Have Always Lived in the Castle, Shirley Jackson
11. The Far Side of the World, Patrick O’Brian
12. Pieces of the Frame, John McPhee
13. Murder at the Vicarage, Agatha Christie
14. Marvels, Kurt Busiek
15. Karmic Traces, Eliot Weinberger
16. The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, Muriel Spark
17. A Field Guide to Getting Lost, Rebecca Solnit
18. Astro City, Vol 1, Kurt Busiek
19. Tender Buttons, Gertrude Stein
20. Peril at End House, Agatha Christie
21. Trick Mirror, Jia Tolentino
22. The Abundance, Annie Dillard
23. Twilight of the Gods, Stephen Hyden
24. The Dark Knight Returns, Frank Miller
25. Oranges & Peanuts for Sale, Eliot Weinberger
26. Fables Vol 1, Bill Willingham
27. Marvel Comics: The Untold Story, Sean Howe
28. Dreyer’s English, Benjamin Dreyer
29. Understanding Comics, Scott McCloud
30. A World to Win: the Life and Work of Karl Marx, Sven-Eric Liedman
31. The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Alan Moore
32. How to Do Nothing, Jenny Odell
33. Treason’s Harbour, Patrick O’Brian
34. Our Magnificent Bastard Tongue, John McWhorter
35. Saga of the Swamp Thing, Book One, Alan Moore
36. Your Favorite Band is Killing Me, Stephen Hyden
37. The Ionian Mission, Patrick O’Brian
38. Dreaming the Beatles, Rob Sheffield
39. Working, Robert Caro
40. The Revolution was Televised, Alan Sepinwall
41. Fables, Vol 2, Bill Willingham
42. A Billion Voices, David Moser
43. The Reverse of the Medal, Patrick O’Brian
44. Lord Edgware Dies, Agatha Christie
45. Turn Around Bright Eyes, Rob Sheffield
46. The Letter of Marque, Patrick O’Brian
47. Reinventing Comics, Scott McCloud
48. Murder at Hazelmoor, Agatha Christie
49. Mystery of the Blue Train, Agatha Christie
50. The View from the Cheap Seats, Neil Gaiman
51. The Mother Tongue, Bill Bryson
52. Poirot Investigates, Agatha Christie
53. The Wicked + The Divine: Year One, Kieron Gillen
54. Why Didn’t They Ask Evans?, Agatha Christie
55. The Seven Dials Mystery, Agatha Christie

And these are the books I am currently in the middle of reading, ranked by how long I’ve been reading them:

1.  Middlemarch, George Eliot
2. Against the Day, Thomas Pynchon
3. Fourth World Omnibus, Jack Kirby
4. Coming into the Country, John McPhee
5. The Path to Power, Robert Caro
6. A Distant Mirror, Barbara Tuchman
7. Ducks, Newburyport, Lucy Ellman
8. My Life in Middlemarch, Rebecca Mead
9. Heir to the Empire, Timothy Zahn

Books of 2018

Here is a ranked list of the books which I finished reading in 2018:

  1. Loitering with Intent, Muriel Spark
  2. Master and Commander, Patrick O’Brien
  3. Moons of Jupiter, Alice Munro
  4. The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, Agatha Christie
  5. Outside Stories, Eliot Weinberger
  6. Preludes & Nocturnes (Sandman #1), Neil Gaiman
  7. Works on Paper, Eliot Weinberger
  8. Post Captain, Patrick O’Brien
  9. Empires of the Word, Nicholas Oster
  10. At the Existentialist Café, Sarah Bakewell
  11. HMS Surprise, Patrick O’Brien
  12. For Whom the Bell Tolls, Ernest hemingway
  13. Capitalist Realism, Mark Fisher
  14. Fixed Ideas, Joan Didion
  15. The Man in the Brown Suit, Agatha Christie
  16. Fables, Vol. 1, Bill Willingham
  17. The Mauritius Command, Patrick O’Brien
  18. The Reactionary Mind, Corey Robin
  19. Batman: The Killing Joke, Alan Moore
  20. Desolation Island, Patrick O’Brien
  21. The Mysterious Affair at Styles, Agatha Christie
  22. The Surgeon’s Mate, Patrick O’Brien
  23. The Chapo Guide to Revolution
  24. The Doll’s House (Sandman #2), Neil Gaiman
  25. The Fortune of War, Patrick O’Brien
  26. The Art of Smart Football, Chris Brown
  27. The Essential Smart Football, Chris Brown
  28. Big Game, Mark Leibovich
  29. The Secret of Chimneys, Agatha Christie
  30. The Murder on the Links, Agatha Christie
  31. The Secret Adversary, Agatha Christie
  32. It Crawled from the South, Marcus Gray
  33. The Big Four, Agatha Christie
  34. Fire and Fury, Michael Wolff

Currently reading, ranked in order of how close I am to finishing:

  1. The Ionian Mission, Patrick O’Brien
  2. The Power Broker, Robert Moses
  3. Middlemarch, George Eliot
  4. A World to Win: The Life and Work of Karl Marx, Sven-Eric Liedman
  5. Against the Day, Thomas Pynchon
  6. The Fourth World Omnibus, Jack Kirby

Books of 2017

Here is a ranked list of the books which I finished reading in 2017:

  1. An Elemental Thing – Eliot Weinberger
  2. Love in a Fallen City – Eileen Chang
  3. True Grit – Charles Portis
  4. South and West – Joan Didion
  5. Nineteen Ways of Looking at Wang Wei – Eliot Weinberger
  6. Welcome to the Monkey House – Kurt Vonnegut
  7. The Left Hand of Darkness – Ursula K. Le Guin
  8. Invisible Cities – Italo Calvino
  9. The Selected Poems of T’ao Chien
  10. The Conquest of America – Tzvetan Todorov
  11. The Death and Life of Great American Cities – Jane Jacobs
  12. The Ghosts of Birds – Eliot Weinberger
  13. October – China Miéville
  14. Grand Hotel Abyss – Stuart Jeffries
  15. Draft No. 4 – John McPhee
  16. SPQR: A History of Ancient Rome – Mary Beard
  17. The Writing Life – Annie Dillard
  18. The Cultural Revolution: A People’s History – Frank Dikötter
  19. Poems – Wang Wei
  20. The Earth is Weeping – Peter Cozzens
  21. The First Salute – Barbara Tuchman
  22. Against Everything – Mark Greif
  23. Once Upon a Time in China – Jeff Yang
  24. Autobiography of Red – Anne Carson
  25. A Memoir – Chang Cheh
  26. Wong Kar-wai – Peter Brunette
  27. The Last of the Mohicans – James Fenimore Cooper

I’m starting a new thing as well this year. For awhile I’ve been writing down lines from movies in the Notes app on my phone. Sometimes they end up in reviews, or as standalone letterboxd blurbs, and sometimes they don’t. I’m going to keep one for every year, and publish it at the end, without context. Here is this year’s, which began only in June.

A cat is never on the side of power.

15 years later, some wolves still survive.

Oh Doris, you think everything is treason.

Let’s keep praying

Stop being negative. It’s all in your head. Think of something more cheerful. Can’t you be normal?

Folks like us don’t have a clue.

Don’t go to weird places.
What’s that supposed to mean?

You need tissues for your issues.

Killing Japanese takes energy. Have some congee.

All you people are good for is poetry and stealing.

See you after the victory.

Things in this world can’t stand scrutiny.

Isn’t working to survive a drag?

Nothing is fun. You just work and die. That’s your life.

       Aphrodisiac flour made from the tears of a hundred year old pig forced into heat.

Film pickled in sea snake soup.

If a grinning toothless goat is what you want, you can find one anywhere.

White-brow monk is a turtle son of a bitch.

Nice guys, but . . . poorer.

One of the main things we began to discover was that our theoretical calculations did not have a strong correlation with reality.


Awful disappointing weather today.

If I was bored I’d go out and buy something, like cheese, or quails’ eggs.

No Christine, that’s a frog. Bears wear hats.

The idlers want to shudder at the thought of dangerous work.

Parasites are another excuse

This was a Dracula indeed

Find the true meaning of Christmas! Money! Money! Money!

It’s the spirit of the actors that counts. The interest they have in their director.

As last by as the sun and the earth exist, we can always survive.
You are amazing.
We all are.

There are gatherings and separations in life. Don’t feel sad for temporary partings, because the final victory is coming.

And here are the photos of text I took throughout the year.

Books of 2016

2016 was the first time since I started writing about movies on the internet that I averaged less than one film watched per day, with somewhere around 320 movies seen over the course of the year. Some of that is schedule-related: my kids are at such an age that watching a single movie in one sitting is difficult, let alone the two or three per day I could squeeze in when they were less ambulatory. But some of that is also a shifting of priorities: I read (and finished) more books this year than I had in all my five plus years of parenthood put together. And since this is the end of the year, and since I love to make lists, here is a ranked list of all the books I read (and finished) in 2016:


1. Where I Was From – Joan Didion

2. Slouching Towards Bethlehem – Joan Didion

3. A Death in the Family – James Agee

4. Mrs. Dalloway – Virginia Woolf


5. Annals of the Former World – John McPhee

6. The Fire Next Time – James Baldwin

7. The Proud Tower – Barbara Tuchman

8. Harmonium – Wallace Stevens

9. Heart of Darkness – Joseph Conrad

10. Lyrical Ballads – William Wordsworth & Samuel Taylor Coleridge

11. The White Album – Joan Didion

12. White Teeth – Zadie Smith


13. The Souls of Black Folk – WEB DuBois

14. Eminent Victorians – Lytton Strachey

15. A Collection of Essays – George Orwell

16. Meditations in an Emergency – Frank O’Hara


17. Lady Susan – Jane Austen

18. Salvador – Joan Didion

19. Justine – Lawrence Durrell

20. Violet Energy Ingots – Hoa Nguyen

21. Kora in Hell : Improvisations – William Carlos Williams

22. 1177 BC: The Year Civilization Collapsed – Eric Cline

23. Love & Friendship – Whit Stillman

24. The Silk Roads – Peter Frankopan


25. A Galaxy Not So Far Away – Glenn Kenny, et al