The 100 books challenge: full reading list

December 3, 2017 · 6 minute read

In 2017, I set a goal of reading 100 books. I made up the reading list as I went along, using friends, the internet, and random trips through Goodwill as inspiration. Here is the full list. Links go to Amazon. Books that I especially recommend have a star (★) by the title.

By the Numbers

Total Books Read: 101

Categories: 25

Fiction/Nonfiction: 3170

The 100

US History (Military)

★ Command and Control: Nuclear Weapons, the Damascus Accident, and the Illusion of Safety by Eric Schlosser

★ Legacy of Ashes: The History of the CIA by Tim Weiner

Goodbye, Darkness: A Memoir of the Pacific War by William Manchester

The Marble Man: Robert E. Lee and His Image in American Society by Thomas Lawrence Connolly

Dispatches by Michael Herr

US History (General)

★ The Bully Pulpit: Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and the Golden Age of Journalism by Doris Kearns Goodwin

Miracle at Philadelphia: The Story of the Constitutional Convention May-September 1787 by Catherine Drinker Bowen

My Thoughts Be Bloody: The Bitter Rivalry Between Edwin and John Wilkes Booth by Nora Titone


★ The Death and Life of Great American Cities by Jane Jacobs

★ Nine Parts of Desire: The Hidden World of Islamic Women by Geraldine Brooks

Debt: the First 5,000 Years by David Graeber

Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the Great American City by Matthew Desmond

World History

From The Land of Silent People by Robert St. John

★ Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil by Hannah Arendt

The Plantagenets: The Warrior Kings and Queens Who Made England by Dan Jones

The Wars of the Roses: The Fall of the Plantagenets and the Rise of the Tudors by Dan Jones

The Somme: The Darkest Hour on the Western Front by Peter Hart

Time: Its Origin, Its Enigma, Its History by Alexander Waugh

Contemporary Novels

★ The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

Underworld by Don Delillo

Life of Pi by Yann Martel

The Tragedy of Arthur by Arthur Phillips

The Circle by Dave Eggers


★ A Stranger at Green Knowe by L. M. Boston

A Room Made of Windows by Eleanor Cameron

The Dragon in the Ghetto Caper by E. L. Konigsburg

And Both Were Young by Madeleine L’Engle

A City For Lincoln by John R. Tunis


Friday Night Lights by H. G. Bissinger

Eight Men Out by Eliot Asinof

Dock Ellis in the Country of Baseball by Donald Hall with Dock Ellis

Classic Novels

(Star recommendations don’t seem right in this category - every one of these books is great)

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

Catch-22 by Joseph Heller

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

It Can’t Happen Here by Sinclair Lewis

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde


★ Washington: A Life by Ron Chernow

★ Churchill by Paul Johnson

Ty Cobb: A Terrible Beauty by Charles Leerhsen

Madame Curie: A Biography by Eve Curie (translated by Vincent Sheean)


Scrum: The Art of Doing Twice the Work in Half the Time by Jeff and JJ Sutherland

Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap…and Others Don’t by Jim Collins

The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine by Michael Lewis

Computer Science and Technology

★ Godel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid by Douglas Hofstadter

★ The Design of Everyday Things by Don Norman

Artificial Intelligence: A Modern Approach by Stuart J. Russell and Peter Norvig

Computer Security: Principles and Practice by William Stallings and Lawrie Brown

Site Reliability Engineering: How Google Runs Production Systems ed. by Betsy Beyer, Chris Jones, Jennifer Petoff, and Niall Richard Murphy

Personal Development

Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World by Cal Newport

The Slight Edge: Turning Simple Disciplines into Massive Success and Happiness by Jeff Olson

How To Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie


★ Knowing God by J. I. Packer

Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God by Francis Chan

Praying With Paul: A Call to Spiritual Reformation by D. A. Carson

Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus: A Devout Muslim Encounters Christianity by Nabeel Qureshi

Science Fiction

The Three-Body Problem by Cixin Liu

Modern Classic Short Novels of Science Fiction ed. by Gardner Dozois


★ The Once and Future King by T. H White

Land Under England by Joseph O’Neill

Out of the Silent Planet by C. S. Lewis

Perelandra by C. S. Lewis

That Hideous Strength by C. S. Lewis

Mystery and Suspense (Novels)

★ The Spy Who Came In from the Cold by John le Carré

The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco

The Body in the Library by Agatha Christie

Mystery and Suspense (Short Story Collections)

Alfred Hitchcock Presents: Stories That Scared Even Me ed. by Robert Arthur

Thriller 2: Stories You Just Can’t Put Down ed. by Clive Cussler

Grave Predictions: Tales of Mankind’s Post-Apocalyptic, Dystopian and Disastrous Destiny ed. by Drew Ford

English and Writing

The Mother Tongue: English and How It Got That Way by Bill Bryson

 Word by Word: The Secret Life of Dictionaries by Kory Stamper

The Elements of Story: Field Notes on Nonfiction Writing by Francis Flaherty

The Pun Also Rises: How the Humble Pun Revolutionized Language, Changed History, and Made Wordplay More Than Some Antics by John Pollack


Idylls of the King by Alfred, Lord Tennyson

The Waste Land and Other Poems by T. S. Eliot

The Private Dining Room by Ogden Nash

Mountain Interval by Robert Frost


 Silent Spring by Rachel Carson

A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail by Bill Bryson


★ A Secular Age by Charles Taylor

The Essays or Counsels, Civil and Moral, of Francis Ld. Verulam, Viscount St. Albans by Francis Bacon

The Art of War by Sun Tzu

Psychology/Cognitive Science

★ Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman

The Stuff of Thought: Language as a Window into Human Nature by Steven Pinker

Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain by Oliver Sacks

Human-Computer Interaction: An Empirical Research Perspective by I. Scott MacKenzie


How I Became a Famous Novelist by Steve Hely

The Short Reign of Pippin IV: A Fabrication by John Steinbeck

archy and mehitabel by Don Marquis


★ Horse of a Different Color by Ralph Moody

The Summer of the Great-Grandmother by Madeleine L’Engle

Kinfolks: Falling off the Family Tree - The Search For My Melungeon Ancestors by Lisa Alther

Out of Africa by Izak Dinesen (Karen Blixen)

Bossypants by Tina Fey

Wait Til Next Year: A Memoir by Doris Kearns Goodwin

Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and a Culture in Crisis by J.D. Vance

General Science

★ Chaos: Making a New Science by James Gleick

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot


In addition to the 101 books listed above, I started, but chose not to finish, three other books:

Let Us Now Praise Famous Men by James Agee and Walker Evans

Orange Is The New Black: My Year in a Women’s Prison by Piper Kerman

Life With Father by Clarence Day



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