Book Log Review for 2010

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
Books read in 2009: 22
Books read in 2010: 44

So we have a new record here. One might wonder what the secret of my 2010 success is, but there’s no one secret, but several:

1. Pretend a collection of graphic novels = one book.
2. Read a bunch of Young Adult fiction.
3. Read very short books.
4. Convert putting-kids-to-bed time into read-a-book time.

Aside from The Ancestor’s Tale, there are no Big Honkin’ Books here. To own the truth, Ancestor’s rightly belongs in 2008 & 2009 as well, as I did a lot of the reading during those years.

1. Wishful Drinking by Carrie Fisher
Xmas present; An okay adaptation of Carrie Fisher’s one-woman show.

2. How To Survive A Robot Uprising: Tips On Defending Yourself Against The Coming Rebellion by Daniel H. Wilson
Eh. The title is more entertaining that the actual book.

3. The Return of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
4. The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
5. A Study in Scarlet by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
6. The Hound of the Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Sherlock Holmes! He’s a good character.

7. Peter and Max: A Fables Novel by Bill Willingham
Okay. A pretty good story, told passably well.

8. Various Sherlock Holmes stories, by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
9. The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Yay! More Sherlock Holmes!

10. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens)
Shockingly, I never read it. Worth the wait.

11. The Ancestor’s Tale: A Pilgrimage to the Dawn of Evolution by Richard Dawkins
Fascinating, took me a long time to get through it due to Information Density therein, as opposed to being a bad book.

12. El Bulbo Clasemedia por Sebastian Carrillo “Bachan”
The first spanish “book” I’ve read cover to cover and understood. Actually, a graphic novel.

13. The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie: A Flavia de Luce Mystery by Alan Bradley
Okay. Probably won’t pick up the rest of the series.

14. Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer
Okay. A somewhat interesting anti-hero. The author has my eternal disregard because of item #19 below.

The Bartimaeus Trilogy by Jonathon Stroud
15. Book 1 : The Amulet of Samarkand
16. Book 2 : The Golem’s Eye
17. Book 3 : Ptolemy’s Gate
Awesome. Great young adult fantasy novels.

18. One Bloody Thing After Another by Joey Comeau
Okay. Very short, by the writer for a softer world webcomic.

19. And Another Thing… by Eoin Colfer
Horrible. Pathetically bad. An offense to Hitchiker’s Guide readers everywhere.

20. The Lonely Polygamist: A Novel by Brady Udall
Excellent: thoughtful, witty, well-written novel about a modern polygamist.

21. A Fictional History of the United States (with Huge Chunks Missing) by T Cooper and Adam Mansbach
Short story collection, some good, some meh.

22. Making Comics: Storytelling Secrets of Comics, Manga, and Graphic Novels by Scott McCloud
A very fine piece on comics making.

23. Artemis Fowl: The Arctic Incident by Eoin Colfer
24. Artemis Fowl: The Eternity Code by Eoin Colfer
Reluctantly read because of #19. Okay. Not great.

25. 29: A Novel by Adena Halpern
This book is why I hate small airport bookstores and bestseller lists. I’m embarrassed this is on my list.

26. The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, book 1) by Rick Riordan
Fun young adult. Derivative of Harry Potter, but whatchagonnado?

27. You Suck: A Love Story by Christopher Moore
Typical fun Christopher Moore, second vampire novel.

28. The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay: A Novel by Michael Chabon
Extremely rich storytelling, funny, interesting. Made me pick up another by this author.

29. Super Sad True Love Story by Gary Shteyngart
A modern Brave New World; fine summer read.

30. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson (translated by Reg Keeland)
Every once in a while, the bestseller lists get it right. It’s a shame the author passed away, I would have read all 10 books he was planning.

31. Legitimacy by M. H. Van Keuren
I’ve read this, and you haven’t. Nyah nyah. That’s what comes from having friends who are authors.

32. The Girl Who Played with Fire by Stieg Larsson (translated by Reg Keeland)
Ditto #30.

33. The Sea of Monsters: Percy Jackson and the Olympians Book 2 by Rick Riordan
Ditto #26.

34. Slam by Nick Hornby
Love this Young Adult novel by Nick Hornby. Every teenager should read it, as it’s a vivid tale of teen pregnancy from the guy’s point of view.

35. The Titan’s Curse (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Book 3) By Rick Riordan
36. The Battle of the Labyrinth (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Book 4) by Rick Riordan
37. The Last Olympian (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Book 5) by Rick Riordan
Ditto #26.

38. The Mysterious Secret of the Valuable Treasure by Jack Pendarvis
Okay humurous collection of short stories. Not quite David Sedaris, but amusing.

39. The Stonekeeper (Amulet series book 1), The Stonekeeper’s Curse (Amulet series book 2), The Cloud Searchers (Amulet series book 3) by Kazu Kibuishi
Graphic novel for the younger crowd. I like the art and the story.

40. Bartimaeus: The Ring of Solomon by Jonathan Stroud
Best of the Bartimaeus books. Strong female main character.

41. The Yiddish Policemen’s Union by Michael Chabon
Fascinating alternate history of an Israel in Alaska.

42. 200 More Neo-Futurist Plays: From Too Much Light Makes The Baby Go Blind (30 Plays in 60 Minutes) by the Neo-Futurists
Saw the Neo-Futurists in Chicago, bought the book. They’re funny.

43. Newton and the Counterfeiter: The Unknown Detective Career of the World’s Greatest Scientist by Thomas Levenson
Enjoyable telling of Newton’s time as master of the mint.

44. Scott Pilgrim: Books 1-6 by Bryan Lee O’Malley
I didn’t write a book log on these, but I loved them. Different enough from the movie to be worth reading.

Book Log – Newton and the Counterfeiter

Newton and the Counterfeiter: The Unknown Detective Career of the World’s Greatest Scientist by Thomas Levenson

curt_holman loaned me this; He thought I might be interested since it deals with the era that formed some of the setting for my favorite Neal Stephenson series.

And he was right.

It’s nice to have some non-fictional background info to flesh out Stephenson’s book. Though, on it’s own, the “battle” between Newton and one particular counterfeiter is a fairly thin story.

What story there is is well told, with details of where the information comes from. There’s a pretty good description of the history of money at the time, which I find interesting for some reason I can’t fathom.

I think there’s a play in the history of money and economies. I might be the only one who enjoys it, though. Me and Neal Stephenson. Perhaps we’ll go out for a soda afterwards.

Book Log – The Yiddish Policemen’s Union

The Yiddish Policemen’s Union by Michael Chabon

The first tip that this was an alternate history fiction was my knowledge of Northern Exposure. I was pretty sure, based on the TV Show, that there was no Jewish territory in Alaska. Because Joel Fleischman would have mentioned it.

I’m pretty embarrassed that that is what tipped me off, but I’m often gullible because I assume there’s a lot of stuff I just don’t know about.

The second tip was when they offhandedly mentioned dropping an atomic bomb on Berlin.

Michael Chabon is a great storyteller. This is ostensibly a mystery novel, but the best mystery novels are those where you don’t care about the mystery, you just enjoy the ride. This is one of those books.

If he ever dove into a topic that lights my fires like cryptography or science or money, Chabon would rank up there with Neal Stephenson.

But hard-boiled Jewish detectives in a mythical Jewish state in Alaska is pretty okay, too.

Book Log – Bartimaeus: The Ring of Solomon

Bartimaeus: The Ring of Solomon by Jonathan Stroud

I bought this for the Chicago trip we took before Thanksgiving. It’s a prequel of sorts to the Bartimaeus trilogy, taking place during the time of Solomon. Bartimaeus, for the uninitiated, is a sarcastic mid-level djinn, summoned to Earth from the Other Place by magicians.

Like the trilogy, it’s a great read. Even better than the trilogy, I would say, because there’s a lot more Bartimaeus in it, and that character is fun to read.

The other main character is a worthy foil for Bartimaeus, a bad-ass female assassin type with just enough magician training to keep B in check.

Book Log – The Mysterious Secret of the Valuable Treasure

The Mysterious Secret of the Valuable Treasure by Jack Pendarvis

Jack Pendarvis is a contributor to McSweeney’s, so I can only assume that’s how he ended up on my Amazon Wishlist.

This is a short story collection, and it’s okay.

It didn’t grab me and make me want to spread the news of a fabulous book, but it was amusing. It’s mostly short stories from the point of view of various dysfunctional narrators. He reminds me a bit of David Sedaris, though the largest piece in the book is reminiscent of John Kennedy O’Toole’s Confedaracy of Dunces, without being quite as good as either.

Book Log – The Last Olympian

The Last Olympian (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Book 5) by Rick Riordan

This is the last of this “Percy Jackson and the Olympians” series, though the same characters can be found in his new series, “The Heroes of Olympus”.

This is a fine bunch of books, neatly weaving the mythology into modern day. My only complaint is that they felt like books that were written to be made into movies, like treatments rather than novels.

I was wondering why I didn’t feel the same attachment to Camp Half-Blood as to, say, pick a random example, Hogwart’s, and I guess because not much really happens at the Camp. There’s some off-stage training and a chariot race or two, but other than that, the stories take place in the big, wide world, which is fine.

I’ll place these on my kids’ shelf, and wait for them to grow into them.

Book Log – Slam

Slam by Nick Hornby

This is Hornby’s first Young Adult novel, and it’s good. It tackles teenage pregnancy, and there’s some honest truths there but it doesn’t come across as an after-school special.

This is the story of a young skater (not skateboarder, that’s not what the cool kids call it) who knocks up a girl. The story is funny, and realistic, and it’s full of the stuff you’d want your teenager to know about having a kid.

Or an adult having a kid. Either one.