What’s the best book you’ve read this year?

I think I’ve got three –

First, in the non-fiction category, is Where Good Ideas Come From: The Seven Patterns of Innovation by Steven Johnson. There are two MASSIVE things about this book. The first is its title, obviously. The second, is the way that the author draws out just so many different examples of how innovation works that makes you completely reassess how you can mesh ideas together.

This book has inspired me.

It’s true. I think I’ve manged to blog about this book on four separate occasions this year (this makes five) as it has consistently made me think about not only how I collect and consume information (from new and myriad sources) but also the way in which I look at the world around me; ‘how does this work, why is that that way, what’s this actually for?’ – without doubt, the biggest brain-stretcher of the year for me.

Eg: this, on serendipity, kick-started my brain into all sorts of directions


Creative? Want to know how the brain connects data to innovate? What about how your very surroundings can define how you do (or do not) think about ideas? Get this book.

Next, in the fiction category, is Gateway by Frederik Pohl.


First, a bit of background: I’ve been working my way through the SF Masterworks collection now for several years and, if you’re a fan of sci-fi (and actually, even if you’re not) I can’t recommend diving into this set enough. Every book is amazing. From Philip K. Dick through to H.G.Wells, there are so many award-winning classics for you to get your teeth into, you could honestly pick any one of them at random* and have a fantastic book in your hands. So yeah, you should do that.

Recently I picked up a couple more when I was visiting my favourite bookshop and, as I’ve just mentioned, I tend to pick ones that I know I haven’t read before (my original idea to read them all in numerical order was silly really) and this time around Gateway jumped out at me.  It is brilliant. Read it.

Finally, in the newcomer category, is The Girl Who Would be King, by Kelly Thompson.

Screen shot 2012-12-16 at 13.56.36

I honestly can’t remember how I came by Kelly Thompson originally. Actually no, wait. That’s a lie. I’m fairly certain I found my way to her blog after following a few comic book Tumblrs back to their original source(s) and finding her quite brilliant ‘drunk cover solicits in three sentences or less‘ series of comic book cover reviews.

She gets drunk, and then reviews comic book covers in three sentences (or less). I know, right?. It sounds so simple, but it’s oh so hilarious – and equally bang on the money.

That aside, Miss Thompson is also a budding comicbook writer and her most recent effort, which first started out as a screenplay, actually ended up being a book. A proper one. Without any pictures or anything. Not only that, but when it was finished, Thompson managed to get it funded through Kickstarter too!

Oh and hey, guess what, the book turned out to be effing amazing.

If you’re a comic book fan – and even if you’re not – go and get this book. It’s less than £2 on Kindle right now (!!) and it’s just great.

In fact, I’m going to use a word to describe that I haven’t used before, ready? TGWWBK is, to my mind, the most Tarantinoesque book I’ve ever read. And I don’t mean Taratinoesque in the traditional sense, I mean that it – its characters, the world they live in – occupies a world so close to the one we live in that you wonder why all works of fiction aren’t written in such a way. It makes pop-culture references, it knows how cool it is; it makes jokes, it thinks of stupid things when it shouldn’t be – it’s just so real in that you can imagine these characters doing these things and making these silly remarks about themselves just like normal people do. That’s not exactly the most highbrow of reviews, I know. But you can see the point I’m making, right?

I digress. I’m waffling even.

There we have it.

Three amazing book recommendations, for you, for less than £15. Amazing.

I ask you again:

What’s the best book you’ve read this year?



*but if you were to pick any one of them first, pick The Forever War by Joe Haldeman. I read it many years ago and it stays with you. So powerful. So so powerful.

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Author: James Whatley

Chief Strategy Officer in adland. I got ❤️ for writing, gaming, and figuring stuff out. I'm @whatleydude pretty much everywhere that matters. Nice to meet you x

7 thoughts on “What’s the best book you’ve read this year?”

  1. Rivers of London. Kinda hard to explain but its a sort of fantasy, humorous police caper set in London, with amazing insights into the geography and history the city. Its one of those you just have to try to understand!

  2. Nice list. I am adding these to book club recommendations. Mine this year in the fiction category was Red Shirts by John Scalzi. Non-fic would be Beautiful Security by various.

  3. Hey – Great list! I am in the process of going through the SF Masterworks as well! and it all started from the Gateway! I loved the Gateway… the next one I got was “The Demolished Man” – definitely worth the read. Whereas the best book I read this year, hands down the Commonwealth Saga by Peter.F.Hamilton (2 Books – Pandora Star and Judas Unchained )

    I was an avid SF reader when younger and had kinda lost touch with it (Arthur C Clarke – Rama series was amazing) until I read Peter.F.Hamilton above and since then have read all his book!! Definitely check out Pandora Star!!!

    James Reply:

    Hey Arun, thanks!

    Glad you approve of Gateway. I’ve already nailed The Demolished Man (I thought it was awesome, also). I’ll keep an eye out for The Commonwealth Saga, cheers.

    Rama… Hmm.. I think I’ve read that.. will have to dig about! 🙂

  4. Pingback: » 2012 Wrap Up!

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