2004 Book Log in Review

20 books. That’s all I read in 2004. It seems light. I feel like I must have missed some. But perhaps I just had a toddler.

  1. The Cartoon History of the Universe Book 1 – Larry Gonick
  2. The Cartoon History of the Universe Book 3 – Larry Gonick
  3. The Mismeasure of Man – Stephen Jay Gould
  4. Business Lessons for Entrepreneurs: 35 Things I learned before the Age of Thirty – Mark D. Csordos
  5. The Fun Of It: Stories from the Talk of the Town – New Yorker – Edited by Lillian Ross
  6. Shadow Puppets – Orson Scott Card
  7. Quicksilver: Volume One of the Baroque Cycle – Neal Stephenson
  8. Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced look at the Right. – Al Franken
  9. How to Buy & Manage Rental Properties – Irene and Mike Milin.
  10. Dress Your Family in Coruroy and Denim – David Sedaris.
  11. The Well of Lost Plots – Jasper Fforde’s
  12. Fluke Or, I Know Why the Winged Whale Sings – Christopher Moore.
  13. The Rattlesnake Master – Beaufort Cranford
  14. Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal – Eric Schlosser.
  15. Running With Scissors: a memoir – Augusten Burroughs
  16. The Richest Man in Babylon – George S. Clason
  17. Monstrous Regiment – Terry Pratchett
  18. The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2002 – Edited by Dave Eggers and Michael Cart.
  19. The Difference Engine: Charles Babbage and the Quest to Build the First Computer – Doron Swade
  20. Full House: The Spread of Excellence from Plato to Darwin – Stephen Jay Gould

Currently on my reading table are:

Value Investing with the Masters – Kirk Kazanjian
The Confusion: Volume Two of the Baroque Cycle – Neal Stephenson
The Know-It-All: One Man’s Humble Quest to Become the Smartest Person in the World – A.J. Jacobs
Made In America: My Story – Sam Walton (with John Huey)

—–Edited to add:
21! I forgot about:

21. Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason – Helen Fielding

Book Log – The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2002

The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2002 Edited by Dave Eggers and Michael Cart.

A fine collection of short fiction and essays, and some combinations.

There’s a piece titled My Fake Job about a guy who just goes into startup company and pretends to work there. It’s funny, but I read in the introduction to the collection that it is partially fictionalized. The piece originally ran in the New Yorker, but once the fictional parts were uncovered, they disowned the article.

Both of the collections (2002 and 2003) have a few Onion articles in them, but I can’t for the life of me figure out why the particular articles in question were chosen. Sure they’re good, but in 2001, they had that prizewinning post-9/11 edition with fantastic pieces in it. Perhaps they’d already gone to print by then. Or perhaps they’re trying to dig up unheralded pieces.

Hard to say. I’m out of the targeted demographic for this series (15-25 years old), but I still like it just as much as the Best American Essays series.

Book Log – Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason

Okay… I’m kind of embarrassed to be listing this one. But…

Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason by Helen Fielding

Okay. So I was in an airport a while back about to board a two hour flight and I had not brought a book. I rushed into one of those kiosky news stands that have about 7 books available. This was the only book that looked palatable, and hey, I liked the movie okay. It was that or some Jackie Collins rubbish.

I read a little bit of it on the flight, then took a nap.

It sat in my Unread Books pile for a long time. A year? Maybe more?

A couple weeks ago, I was looking for something mindless to read. Voila!

It’s a silly little book. The diary format is enjoyable. Every few days I would put it down and say “forget it, why am I bothering to read about this hopeless woman with self-help book addictions?” But I have a compulsion to finish any story I start, no matter how bad. I have very seldom been able to walk out in the middle of a movie or not finish a book without some severe mental reprecussions. One of the few exceptions is The Lord of the Rings, because for some reason, I just don’t care about those fat hobbits and their silly ring. I know I should, to be a geek worth a geek’s salt, but I don’t.

Six or seven months ago, I watched half of School of Rock with Jack Black, and it’s been nagging me ever since. I know it’s a mediocre movie with a predictable ending, but I still need to see it.

Anyway, I finished it. It’s done. If you like reading fairly witty books about pathetically neurotic women, then this is the book for you.

Book Log – The Richest Man in Babylon

The Richest Man in Babylon by George S. Clason

This book is based upon a series of pamphlets originally published in 1926. Each pamphlet was a parable set in ancient Babylonia, and taught a lesson about the way to riches.

It’s a short book, and even so somewhat repetitive, as it was originally separately published essays.

Basically, the key lessons can be summed up as presented in the title essay, The Richest Man in Babylon:

Seven Cures for a Lean Purse
1. Start thy purse to fattening. (Put aside no less than 10% of your earnings as yours to keep, and, in theory, never spend.)
2. Control thy expenditures. (Live below your means)
3. Make thy gold multiply. (Invest!)
4. Guard thy treasures from loss. (Don’t make stupid investments! Don’t take on too much risk!)
5. Make of thy dwelling a profitable investment. (Buy your home, don’t rent! And grow vegetables in your yard!)
6. Insure a future income. (Make sure you’ve got money to retire on)
7. Increase thy ability to earn. (learn, grow, be good)

Nothing terribly surprising here, but it was told in an entertaining way. I would classify it as an inspirational book, if you need that extra kick to get your money stuff in order.

I sort of wish I had bought and read this book instead of any of the Rich Dad, Poor Dad series, because although the lessons are basically the same, Robert Kiyosaki is a guy who got rich telling people how to get rich.

Book Log – Running With Scissors

Running With Scissors: a memoir by Augusten Burroughs

Well, that was an odd childhood.

My favorite scene in this book is when teenagers Augusten and his “sister” (it’s complicated) decide the ceiling in the kitchen is too low, so they rip it out. Then they decide it’s too dark, so they cut out a skylight in the roof, and use one of the side house windows to fill it, only it’s 12 inches too short. When the “father” comes into the kitchen in the morning, he steps over the rubble, makes coffee and says, “that’s quite a project you’ve got going.” They hit him up for a couple hundred dollars to finish the project, which they spend on beer. Nice.

I’d heard that this story was disturbing, but I wasn’t particularly disturbed. It was an odd childhood, though.

Book Log – Fast Food Nation

Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal by Eric Schlosser.

Well, if it’s at all possible, I’m never eating at a fast food restaurant again.

But what about Moe’s, Chipotle, and other sort-of fast food restaurants like that? Where do they get their beef and chicken, and how are their workers paid?

Maybe there’s a restaurant rating somewhere on the web.

Book Log – The Rattlesnake Master

The Rattlesnake Master by Beaufort Cranford

When someone with a literary bent says they have a bestest most favorite book ever, I tend to check it out, if it seems compatible with my reading preferences.

In this case, had such a love for the novel above that she struck out and forged a friendship with the author, and even delivered flowers to his mother’s grave. And that is a recommendation one can not easily ignore. (If you click the link above, you will notice there is one review, by the author’s number 1 fan)

I was promised at least seventy-five cents worth of rollick, and it is at least that, most likely very much more. The plot and characters are fun, but the real magic of the book is the language and way the tale is woven. There are tons of little back-story vignettes that are at least as interesting as the story as a whole. I liked this book in much the same way I like P.G. Wodehouse, both use the rhythm of their versions of the English language to comedic effect, though no one would accuse P.G. of being a master of the original plot (I think he only had two, total). I have also said, and will repeat here, that the tome is pretty much ‘s journal in fictional bookform.

It’s a shame this was his only book… thus far.

Also, by Sandra Boynton:
Moo Moo Baa Baa La La La
But Not the Hippopotamus
A to Z
Blue Hat, Green Hat

All are great, but Moo, Hippopotamus and Blue Hat are fantastic. Roan liked the ones that had balloons in them, which was Hippopotamus and OPPOSITES.

I’ll state it officially: Ms. Boynton’s renditions of chickens thoughout her books make me crack. the. heck. up. I can’t explain why, they just do.

Current Reading List
The Confusion
Extraordinary Origins of Everyday Things
Fast Food Nation
Running with Scissors

Book Log – Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim

Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim by David Sedaris.

Awesome. Simply awesome. However, too short. As all of his stuff is. I got this book this morning, and I’m done. hour and a half at the DMV, an hour at lunch, and 15 minutes at the end of the day and poof! no more book to read.

Thank goodness I have The Confusion at home waiting for me which, if it’s anything like the first volume Quicksilver, will take me 3 months to read.

And I forgot, my mom got me The Well of Lost Plots, Jasper Fforde’s latest Thursday Next book. The first two were good mind candy reading. Nothing really brilliant, but an interesting universe where they have time-travel but not Jet airplanes.

Book Log – How to Buy & Manage Rental Properties

How to Buy & Manage Rental Properties by Irene and Mike Milin.

Some good info, but a lot of it is out of date. Written in the 80’s when interest rates were 10-12%, and you could do things like assumable mortgages. And people couldn’t afford to buy houses on their own.

They advocate finding meek tenants who won’t assert their rights. Gives me a bit of the heebie-jeebies.