Franklin Hu

2016 in Review

Well it’s that time of year again. I didn’t follow through well with writing (or really with most of my goals) in 2016, but here’s the run down!


I made a conscious choice this year to read books by women, people of color, authors translated from a foreign language to English. With last year’s reading, I was dissatisfied with the homogeneity of what I read last year (one book by a person of color, and 5/21 by women), and wanted to broaden some of my perspectives. I restructured the Trello board I use to keep track of the books I want to read by putting non-fiction books with white male authors into a separate list, which made it somewhat easier to peruse what was left 1.

Overall, I was far more successful in reading a more diverse set of fiction than non-fiction, but am happy with how it turned out.


The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage, Sydney Padua

This is hands down the most delightful book I read this year, and I can’t recommend it enough. If you like whimsy, computers, or gratuitous footnotes, this one’s for you.

Americanah & Half of a Yellow Sun, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Adichie has a way of capturing moments and the unspoken that I find powerful and resonant. These books are vastly different in their subjects, and I’d recommend reading Half of a Yellow Sun before Americanah if you’re planning on reading both.

Lilith’s Brood (Xenogenesis, #1-3), Octavia Butler

@kiranb and @shu recommended this series to me, and it was a refreshing change from the tired science fiction tropes that books seem to regurgitate. The series is an extended discussion of consent in the interactions between humans and alien species, and has a cast with a variety of ethnic and cultural backgrounds.

Lumberjanes, Vol 1-4, Noelle Stevenson

Similar to Lovelace and Babbage, this is an awesome, positive, action-packed graphic novel series about a group of friends at summer camp going on adventures, solving puzzles, and kicking some dino butt.

China and the West: Hope and Fear in the Age of Asia, Fokke Obbema

I found this recommendation from an episode of Sinica last year, and finally got around to reading it. The book is Euro-centric (unsurprising given Obbema is a Dutch journalist), which I found enlightening since most of the media attention I follow is framed by Americans. Given the current political… machinations, the author’s observations of EU and China relations seem particularly prescient.

Liking it so far but really struggling to pronounce the author's Dutch name...

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Everything Else


  • Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen
  • The Mussel Feast, Birgit Vanderbeke
  • The Picture of Dorian Gray, Oscar Wilde
  • Satantango, László Krasznahorkai
  • The Vegetarian, Han Kang
  • Candide, Voltaire
  • The Brief Wonderous Life of Oscar Wao, Junot Díaz
  • Gilead, Marilynne Robinson
  • The Three Body Problem, Liu Cixin
  • Nonnonba, Shigeru Mizuki
  • Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, Jonathan Safran Foer


  • Debt: The First 5000 Years, David Graeber
  • Agatha: The Real Life of Agatha Christie, Anne Martinetti
  • Red Rosa: A Graphic Biography of Rosa Luxemburg, Kate Evans
  • A Moveable Feast, Ernest Hemingway
  • The Design of Everyday Things, Donald Norman
  • The Art of Influence: Asian propaganda, Mary Ginsberg
  • The Arab of the Future: A Childhood in the Middle East, 1978-1984: A Graphic Memoir, Riad Sattouf
  • I Contain Multitudes, Ed Yong
  • Something Incredibly Wonderful Happens: Frank Oppenheimer and the world he made up, K.C. Cole
  • Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World, Jack Weatherford


I went to 6 new countries this year!

Paris, France

Budapest, Hungary

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Vienna, Austria

Bratislava, Slovakia

The Netherlands

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I’m changing up the way I approach goals in 2017, and am not quite ready to share, but hopefully will soon!

  1. I’m sure there’s a smarter way to do this, and am happy to hear about it!