Charlie Harvey

2012 Reading Highlights

It is traditional — and who am I to dispute traditions? — to publish navel-gazing lists and yearly "roundups" at or about New Year. So, I have had a self-indulgent look back at 2012 through the lens of the books that I read and articles that I wrote this year.

Gimme some stats

It is imperative that our retrospective be prefaced by some stats. No matter how mind-numbingly dull those stats are to all but their compiler. So. I reviewed a total of 40 books on this site in 2012 reading. Which means that I read on average 3â…“ books a month — just under a book a week. I have no real way to track other stuff that I read, but I regularly read 2600 magazine, Wired and of course New Internationalist magazine. Occasionally I dip in to Private Eye, New Scientist, the FT and Grauniad. Online, I tend to blog-hop a lot but regular ports of call include Slashdot, PerlMonks and, increasingly this year, Hacker News.

I looked at my monthly reading habits. As you can see in the infographic, I was doing the most reading in February (or at least I finished the most books then). September and October were quiet reading months although I know that this was mainly due to working on Real World Haskell and some maths books which I have yet to review.

Favourite reads


The winner in the tech category is "Learn you a Haskell for Great Good", which I read back in March 2012. Aside from the hilarious title, it was a well written introduction to all aspects of Haskell. I would actually recommend reading Real World Haskell or Hutton’s Programming Haskell as an Haskell tutorial, but I’ve not logged them as read this year, so they don’t count. An honourable mention in this category goes to Sadie Plant’s Zeroes and Ones for its incredible fusion of Deleuzean political analysis, feminist historical biography and late nineties techno-utopianism.


I found fiction the hardest to judge, but in the end had to make Charlie Stross’s The Apocalypse Codex the winner for pure, exhuberant fun. By turns disturbingly grotesque and laugh-out-loud funny, it kept me totally gripped and giggling insanely.


This was a tricky category too, but I opted for Nathan Jun’s Anarchism and Political Modernity in the end. Jun makes the case that anarchist thought prefigures many of the concerns of the poststructuralist thinkers and that a Saul Newman like attempt to fuse "classical" anarchism and post-(whatever)-ism is unnecessary and gives no more depth or power than simply returning to the source might.


It had to be Barbera Ehrenreich’s masterful deconstruction of the positive thinking industry, Smile or Die. In my writeup I said "Ehrenreich investigates the history of the phenomenon and the Stalinist way in which we are expected to police our negative feelings at every opportunity".

And how about writing?

Well, that was it for reading. How about stuff I wrote? Articles that I wrote have been included in New Internationalist and in the FLOSS UK newsletter (pdf) as well as various cross blogging sites. Visits to this site have increased a reasonable amount in the last year — monthly uniques this time (December) last year were 1242, whereas at the time of writing they stand at 3158 with a day in hand. I had a huge traffic spike in February when Ben Goldacre tweeted my Daily Mail generator as you can see in the traffic graph. monthly unique visitors 2011 to 2012

The top ten most popular stories on the site in 2012 (by pageviews) were as follows:

  1. Daily Mail Story Generator
  2. Tool: Twitter RSS Feed Getter
  3. Tip: Latest Chromium Browser on Debian Squeeze
  4. Having SOAP::Lite or LWP::UserAgent skip SSL certificate verification
  5. Ettercap remote_browser Plugin Fun
  6. Review - Westons Scrumpy Cloudy Cider
  7. HOWTO: Kazam ScreenCast Software on Dual Screen Debian Squeeze
  8. Typing the λ (lambda) character with the compose key on Xorg
  9. Debian Tip: Get Adobe Air working on 64-bit Squeeze
  10. Review - Old Rosie Cider

And here is a visualization of the most popular pages on in 2012 by number of unique visits. Happy New Year!


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