2008 Book Log in Review

Books read in 2004: 21
Books read in 2005: 28
Books read in 2006: 40
Books read in 2007: 30
Books read in 2008: 41

That’s right, folks. I’m back on track, increasing my read rate by 34%!

I’m not sure what to credit the increase to. Shorter books, a decrease in TV Series DVDs loaned to me, a streak of graphic novels read, longer potty breaks… hard to say.

One thing is for sure, I have achieved my highest books-read to books-bought ratio since I was of an age where my parents bought all my reading material. Seriously, check these stats:

Purchased : 4
Paperbackswap.com : 19
Gifts : 4
Gutenberg.org : 12
Borrowed : 1
Stolen : 1

In the interest of full disclosure, paperbackswap.com costs you about $2.50 per book in shipping charges, so… not entirely free, but still… cheap.

In chronological order, with sources:

1. Coyote Blue by Christopher Moore (paperbackswap.com)
Another enjoyable mind candy book from Christopher Moore.

2. Fragile Things by Neil Gaiman (gift)
A second book of short stories by the renowned author of many renowned books. Not as good as Smoke and Mirrors, the previous collection, but still worth reading. It could be that I received this in fancy hardback, so my expectations were raised unfairly.

3. Psmith in the City by P.G. Wodehouse (gutenberg.org)
Another witty light read from Wodehouse concerning this character that almost certainly inspired Adams’ Dirk Gently.

4. Mike and Psmith by P.G. Wodehouse (gutenberg.org)
See above.

5. Persopolis: The Story of a Childhood by Marjane Satrapi (paperbackswap.com)
Fantastic graphic novel about a woman roughly my age growing up in Iran. I’m told the movie is good, too, though I haven’t gotten around to it yet.

6. The Little Warrior by P.G. Wodehouse (gutenberg.org)
Consistent Wodehouse with a wily female protagonist.

7. Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen (gutenberg.org)
The start of my Jane Austen streak, fueled by free books from gutenberg.org. I do enjoy a good Austen, which is just about any Austen.

8. Persopolis 2: The Story of a Return by Marjane Satrapi (loan from curt_holman)
Curt heeded my lament at waiting for paperbackswap to provide me with the second installment of the wonderful Satrapi graphic novel, and came through in the pinch, even though I said I could only “try to keep it out of crayons reach”. Awesome.

9. Positive Discipline by Jane Nelson (paperbackswap.com)
10. Positive Discipline A-Z by Jane Nelson, Lynn Lott, and H. Stephen Glenn (paperbackswap.com)
Great books on parenting. I liked it so much I bought a copy for my sister-in-law. They’ve helped me be a better parent.

11. Leave It To Psmith by P.G. Wodehouse (stolen from curt_holman)
Curt was foolish enough to just let me keep this book after loaning it to me. By “foolish”, I mean “not given to compulsively re-reading Wodehouse”.

X. Please, Mr. Einstein by Jean-Claude Carriere (gift) – abandoned
Abandoned. I made it halfway through before I gave it up as too annoying. Perhaps it read better in the original French.

12. Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic by Alison Bechdel (paperbackswap.com)
Once you’ve read three graphic novels, you can probably call it a trend. An awesome, though haunting, graphic autobiography of Bechdel’s troubled family.

13. Emma by Jane Austen (gutenberg.org)
One of Austen’s best. After I finished it, we rented both Emma and Clueless and had a marathon.

14. Love Among The Chickens by P.G. Wodehouse (gutenberg.org)
An OK novelette featuring Wodehouse’s Ukridge character. Not my favorite, but still worth reading.

15. Warren Buffett: An Illustrated Biography of the World’s Most Successful Investor by Ayano Morio (bought at the Berkshire Annual Meeting)
A Graphic Novel? About Warren Buffett? Translated from Japanese? C’mon. How could I pass it up? A quicker read than The Making of an American Capitalist, but still hits some of the high points.

16. The Man Upstairs and Other Stories by P.G. Wodehouse (gutenberg.org)
Wodehouse. Wodehouse Wodehouse Wodehouse. In short story form.

17. The Man With Two Left Feet by P.G. Wodehouse (gutenberg.org)
See #15.

18. The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic and Madness at the Fair that Changed America by Erik Larson (paperbackswap.com)
A curt_holman recommendation. Worth the read, but the serial killer storyline that parallels the story of the fair is creepy as all get out.

19. The Cobweb by Stephen Bury (aka Neal Stephenson and J. Frederick George (aka George F. Jewsbury)) (paperbackswap.com)
An OK Neal Stephenson, leagues better than his other collaboration with George F. Jewsbury, Interface. International intrigue in a small town.

20. What Are The Odds? Chance in Everyday Life by Mike Orkin (gift)
My friend Josh gave me an extra copy of this he had, after recommending it during an online discussion on evolution. A bit simplistic, but overall a good read and basic statistics refresher. Out of print now.

21. The Stupidest Angel by Christopher Moore (paperbackswap.com)
Good brain candy, a mash-up of characters from his other books, and also Zombies.

22. Avoiding Prison and Other Noble Vacation Goals: Adventures in Love and Danger by Wendy Dale (paperbackswap.com)
An entertaining first book of a adventurous young woman, autobiographical, though she discloses in the introduction that she has edited her life to make it somewhat more entertaining/readable.

23. The Subtle Knife by Philip Pullman (purchased)
24. The Amber Spyglass by Philip Pullman (purchased)
The second and third installments to the Golden Compass trilogy. I actually enjoyed these better than the first novel, though they’re all entertaining fantasy and admirable in their world building.

25. Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen (gutenberg.org)
Austen. Austen Austen Austen.

26. Citizen Vince by Jess Walter (paperbackswap.com)
Nick Hornby recommended. Not earth shattering, but a good read about a noble criminal in the witness protection program. I plan to get his other Hornby-recommended book.

27. Mansfield Park by Jane Austen (gutenberg.org)
See #24 and others.

28. Persuasion by Jane Austen (gutenberg.org)
Okay, we get it, you read a lot of Austen. When do I get my honorary uterus?

29. The Best American Comics 2007 edited by Chris Ware, series edited by Anne Elizabeth Moore (paperbackswap.com)
The best? Really? Okay. It was fine, but due to my Graphic Novel rampage this year, I’d read the best of the compilation already. Still, you can’t judge a Best American series by one year.

30. Lady Susan by Jane Austen (gutenberg.org and paperbackswap.com)
I actually have something to say about this one… This was a very early Austen work and I really liked the letter format, though I have read that Austen gave it up as childish.

31. A Long Way Down by Nick Hornby (paperbackswap.com)
I put off this one because I found it hard to believe that even Hornby could pull off a good book about four people who want to commit suicide. He did okay, considering the flawed premise.

32. Electricity: A Novel by Victoria Clendinning (gift) (paperbackswap.com)
I was fooled into thinking this a historical fiction with some romance, whereas it turned out to be a romance with some historical fiction. Not terrible, but without the entertaining writing of… you guessed it… Austen. I stopped and started it several times, and only really came back to it because it was a small, portable paperback.

33. The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins (paperbackswap.com)
Oh, Richard Dawkins. Such an angry, angry atheist. Still and all, some very strong arguments are made here regarding the culture wars, as well as some not-so-strong ones. Worth reading by anyone, though may be a bit too off-putting to get through for a believer.

34. Misquoting Jesus: The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why by Bart D. Ehrman (paperbackswap.com)
A less angry atheist gives a good introduction to textual criticism.

35. Bone (complete series) by Jeff Smith (purchased)
An extremely thick graphic novel that Rocketboy and I read together over the course of months. Also based on a recommendation by curt_holman. Awesome. RocketBoy now has Bone as an imaginary friend.

36. Anathem by Neal Stephenson (purchased)
A much-though-warily anticipated new Neal Stephenson novel. One of my few purchases, especially in hardback. I actually pre-ordered it from Amazon, if you can imagine. Not quite as good as Cryptonomicon, but still a remarkable bit of world-building in its own right.

37. Trouble on Triton by Samuel R. Delany (paperbackswap.com)
A supposed classic of science fiction that was probably radical when it was written decades ago. Eh.

38. The Code Book by Simon Singh (paperbackswap.com)
Excellent history of codemaking and codebreaking, including some fascinating discussion of decoding ancient writings. Nice non-fiction companion for Stephenson’s Cryptonomicon.

39. A Short History of Myth by Karen Armstrong (paperbackswap.com)
A little too-high level of the history of myth, and a little too flowery. But otherwise fine, and very short.

40. Gods of Riverworld by Philip Jose Farmer (paperbackswap.com)
Conclusion to the Riverworld series, about when everyone who ever lived on Earth is resurrected on a mysterious planet entirely composed of a super long, winding river. A great concept that sort of peters out.

41. The Theory of Everything by Stephen W. Hawking (gift)
Good a book as any to end the year on. Wraps it all up nicely. Though, honestly, I was only vaguely following him towards the end.