Book Log 2019: The Year 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
Books read in 2009: 22
Books read in 2010: 44
Books read in 2011: 28
Books read in 2012: 31
Books read in 2013: 8
Books read in 2014: 13
Books read in 2015: 18
Books read in 2016: 52
Books read in 2017: ~24
Books read in 2018: ~28
Books read in 2019: ~24

Last year was my 15th year of logging books. Should have commemorated that, I guess. Perhaps a small party? No speeches. No long ones, anyway. Perhaps just a few words about the importance of reading. I mean, I guess I think it’s important. But I’ve also read (ha!) that learning to read causes you to repurpose the part of your brain that recognizes faces. And quite honestly, I could use some better facial recognition skills. It gets embarrassing.

It’s obvious I’m not tracking my reading like I used to. You can tell by the little approximation squiggles before the numbers above. It is because in 2016 I attempted the 52 books in 52 weeks challenge, and I just got burned out for three years?? Possible. That was a hell of a marathon, reading-wise.

I only have one non-digital book on the lineup this year. That is probably because I used my Amazon account to figure out what I read. If I bought something at my favorite bookstore, Little Shop of Stories, and read it– it’s lost to history.

A lotta series books this year. It’s just… easier. Finished one book? Well, here’s another just like it. Rinse, repeat. They weren’t great series, just fine.

Really, nothing on this list blew me away. Fall, or Dodge in Hell was probably my favorite, but I’m a Stephenson-o-phile, and I felt like this book redeemed the previous book with the same characters, REAMDE. Not that the stories had anything to do with each other, beyond using the same characters. Sortof. Anyway, I liked it.

I’m reading a couple of great book now, here in 2020. So the future’s so bright, I gotta wear shades. Especially because of the harsh glare of my phone screen.

1. Down and Out in The Magic Kingdom by Cory Doctorow [borrowed]
I’d never read a Cory Doctorow, so I need to see what all the jokes in XKCD were about.

2. Out of Spite, Out of Mind (Magic 2.0 Book 5) by Scott Meyer [Kindle, $4.99]
I like his universe he’s created, but I would really like him to get around to digging deeper into the obvious mysteries. I’m not sure he wants to.

3. The Weight of Ink by Rachel Kadish [Kindle, $10.99]
Good stuff with interplay between the past and the present. Not my usual, but nice.

4. Replay by Ken Grimwood [Amazon, $13.95]
Recommended by my boss, this is the first of two “people who live their lives over and over again” books I read this year. Both great, with very different takes on the same premise.

5. The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Claire North [Kindle, $9.99]
The second of the “people who live their lives over and over again” books of 2019. This was my favorite of the two, probably because it was written recently and the other is like 30 years old.

6. Math with Bad Drawings: Illuminating the Ideas that Shape our Reality by Ben Orlin [Kindle, $14.99] – unfinished?
Interesting, but perhaps shouldn’t have been an e-reader. May need to try to finish it in paper form.

7. Annabel Scheme by Robin Sloan [Kindle, $2.99]
I don’t remember this onen at all. I know Robin Sloan wrote a couple other entertaining books, one about sourdough.

8. The Quantum Magician (The Quantum Evolution Book 1) by Derek Kunsken [Kindle, $1.99]
Odd little sci-fi novel with some interesting world building.

9. Sapiens, A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari [Kindle, $14.99] – unfinished
Fascinating, except I stopped reading it. A friend also stopped reading it at the same point, and it was because the author made a weak argument about something, and I sort of lost faith. My friend had the same reaction. But I’ll eventually get back to it.

10. David Mogo Godhunter, by Suyi Davies Okungbowa [Kindle, $5.99]
Okay. A little claustrophic. I just don’t know Africa very well, and it was hard to get a feel for where I was. And a lot of mysticism, so the I couldn’t assess the stakes, couldn’t understand the dangers our hero was facing.

11. Fall, or Dodge in Hell: A Novel, by Neal Stephenson [Kindle, $16.99]
My fav of the year.

12. Beneath the Sugar Sky [Wayward Children Book 3] by Seanan McGuire [Kindle, $2.99]
Meh. Magical orphans from other universes.

13. Atmosphaera Incognita by Neal Stephenson [Kindle, $2.99]
Fine little short story by the master.

The Murderbot Diaries, by Martha Wells

    14.All Systems Red [Kindle, $3.99]
    15. Artificial Condition [Kindle, $2.99]
    16. Rogue Protocol [Kindle, $9.99]
    17. Exit Strategy [Kindle, $9.99]

This series was entertaining mind candy.

Books of Raksura series by Martha Wells

    18. The Cloud Roads, Book 1 [Kindle, $9.26]
    19. The Serpent Sea, Book 2 [Kindle, $10.49]
    20. The Siren Depths, Book 3 [Kindle, $9.99]
    21. Stories of the Raksura: The Falling World & The Tale of Indigo and Cloud [Kindle, $9.99]
    22.Edge of Worlds, Book 4[Kindle, $10.49]
    23. The Harbors of the Sun, Book 5 [Kindle, $3.79]

I kept reading this series of half-lizard-people long after I should have stopped, probably. They are fine, and there’s some good worldbuilding. But a couple was probably enough.

24. This is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar, Max Gladstone [Kindle, $7.99]
Can’t decide if I liked this one. A sort of epistolary novel, told half in letter form, about two opposing agents in a far flung future time war, each trying to shape the past to bring about their future. The style was a bit too poetical for my taste, but I liked the concept enough to stick with it.

Book Log 2017: Year 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
Books read in 2009: 22
Books read in 2010: 44
Books read in 2011: 28
Books read in 2012: 31
Books read in 2013: 8
Books read in 2014: 13
Books read in 2015: 18
Books read in 2016: 52
Books read in 2017: ~24

I’m writing this summary a year after the fact, as my logging fell apart in April 2017. There’s probably some missed books, but that’s on me.

24. The Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O.: A Novel by Neal Stephenson, Nicole Galland
A solid time travel romp. Can’t go wrong with Neal Stephenson; worst case you get a pretty good novel.

23. Artemis: A Novel by Andy Weir
Not as great as The Martian, but a darn fine novel worth reading.

22. The Sherlockian by Graham Moore
Mmm… okay book about fictionalized unsolved Sherlock mysteries.

21. The Last Days of Night: A Novel by Graham Moore
Tesla, Westinghouse, Edison in a fictionalized account. Pretty good.

20. Lockwood & Co. Book Five: The Empty Grave by Jonathan Stroud
19. Lockwood & Co. Book Four: The Creeping Shadow by Jonathan Stroud
So sad to see this YA series end. I’m hoping my kids dive into this one, but no takers yet.

18. Gnatz By M.H. Van Keuren
Another well-written near-future sci-fi novel. Disney-esque kid stars, nano-drone robots, drugs of forgetting… lots of cool elements to the tale, and engaging throughout.

17. The Inquisitor’s Tale: Or, The Three Magical Children and Their Holy Dog by Adam Gidwitz and Hatem Aly
Read to Scout. Well written fantastical adventure story set in the time of King Louis of France.

16. Saga by Brian K. Vaughan
15. Y: The Last Man by Brian K. Vaughan
Two great graphic novel series. Y: The Last Man is complete, but I eagerly await the next edition of Saga.

14. Run Program by Scott Meyer
Meh. Not my favorite Scott Meyer, but even a minor work is worth a read from this author.

13. The Scrum Field Guide by Mitch Lacey
12. Scrum: a Breathtakingly Brief and Agile Introduction by Chris Sims, Hillary Louise Johnson [Kindle]
11. The Scrum Master Training Manual: A Guide to the Professional Scrum Master (PSM) Exam by Nader K. Rad, Frank Turley [Kindle]
10. Scrum: The Art of Doing Twice the Work in Half the Time by Jeff Sutherland, JJ Sutherland [Kindle]
All of these for work… interesting methodology, though. I look forward to trying it out.

9. A Conspiracy of Paper: A Novel by David Liss
Enjoyable historical fiction.

8. Lexicon by Max Barry
My wife scoffed at the premise when I described it, which only goes to show Max Barry is a better writer than I. Worth the read.

7. Mr. Burns, a Post-Electric Play
My wife saw the play and loved it… some gets lost in the reading rather than the viewing, but I see the bones of a very entertaining piece.

6. Hidden Figures Young Readers Edition by Margot Lee Shetterly
An excellent story that probably most folks have seen in movie form by now. I mistakenly got the Young Readers Edition, possibly the regular version would have been even better?

5. The Three Body Problem by Cixin Liu and translated by Ken Liu
A rich novel chock full to the brim of ideas and good characters.

4. Fuzzy Mud by Louis Sachar
3. Holes by Louis Sachar
Read these with my daughter; Louis Sachar does not disappoint with well crafted stories that work for kids and adults alike.

2. The Supremes’ Greatest Hits by Michael G. Trachtman
Very readable summary of the most important cases by the Supreme Court. Highly recommended.

1. A More Perfect Constitution by Larry J. Sabato
I don’t know if we’ll ever have the political climate to allow for a third constitutional convention, but this book is thick with interesting ideas for updating

Book Log 2016

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
Books read in 2011: 28
Books read in 2012: 31
Books read in 2013: 8
Books read in 2014: 13
Books read in 2015: 18
Books read in 2016: 52!

Did you catch that? BOOM! 52 books in 52 weeks! Achievement UNLOCKED.

A year ago, Diane, the owner of Little Shop of Stories in Decatur (the best little bookstore in the world), threw out on her email list, or blog, that she was going to attempt to read 52 books in a year, and invited folks to join her. As the purveyor of mostly children’s books, she had a formula to translate picture book counts and the like into “adult” books, but I didn’t have need of that. My kids are well beyond the picture book stage.

Last year, when I stated I was going to attempt this, I put the blame for my diminishing reading frequency on technology. Reddit, Facebook, etc. were all bringing me down. But in truth, I couldn’t have racked up the pages without it. I got a new Samsung Galaxy J7 with a large screen, which allowed me to make progress whenever I had a few spare moments, no matter where I was– in line, in the lab waiting for a computer to boot, waiting to pick up a kid from an activity, etc. Carrying a paper book around to capture every one of those free moments simply isn’t practical. Even my slim, beautiful Kindle Paperwhite was sometimes not at my beck and call.

But I still love reading the paper books the best. I did a lot of traveling this year for work, and you don’t have to wait until the plane has reached 30,000 feet before you can power on your paper book. They never lose their charge, either.

On the downside, I have to acknowledge that our house is reaching Maximum Book Capacity. We have a Little Free Libary out front of our house, but, and here is the dark side of LFLs, they serve more as a book source than a book sink. True, we send some of our tomes out to find new homes, but I think even more come into our house. Largely, there are books in there that just sit and sit, and no one wants them, so I occasionally have to clean them out. It dawns on me that, unless folks are truly selfless, they’re not putting their A-list books in there. These are the ones they can’t resell, or don’t cherish enough to keep on their shelves. Still, a gem floats through every now and again.

So, here we are. I don’t feel like I was slogging through the year. The only stress point was maybe I took a less-mindless path at times than I might otherwise… I may have felt like vegging in front of a rerun, but I gave myself a nudge towards a good book. The key is finding the good ones.

Speaking of which, the list. As it happens, I thought I had read 53 books, but I’m glad I snuck in that “extra” one, because after going through the list, I discovered I had skipped a #13. I don’t know if it was a book log I wrote and accidentally deleted, or what. But it looks like I only did 52. Ah, well.

Some financial data: $549 total spent on books this year (for me anyway). $187 on ebooks from Amazon, and $253 spent at Amazon overall. $235 spent at Little Shop of Stories.

1. The Magicians by Lev Grossman [Paperback, Little Shop of Stories, $11]
Sort of a very dark Harry Potter-goes-to-college with a bit of Chronicles of Narnia mixed in. I thought the recent television adaptation was well done.

2. The Monster on the Hill by Rob Harrell [Paperback, Little Shop of Stories, $13]
Short graphic novel I stole from my kids’ Christmas stash.

3. Princeless: Save Yourself by Jeremy Whitley & M. Goodwin
Princeless: Get Over Yourself by Jeremy Whitley & Emily Martin
Princeless: The Pirate Princess by Whitley, Higgins & Brandt
[Paperback, Amazon, $33 total]
Three short graphic novels I stole from my daughter. Good stuff.

4. A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms by George R.R. Martin [Kindle, Amazon, $15]
Enjoyable diversion while we wait for the next novel in the Songs of Fire and Ice series.

5. Colors Insulting to Nature by Cintra Wilson [Kindle, Amazon, $14]
Recommended by my son’s third grade teacher. Tales of disfunctional youth and parenting. Good read.

6. Bum Rap by Paul Levine [Kindle, Amazon (free)]
Terrible novel that showed up on my Kindle for free.

7. You’re Never Weird on the Internet (Almost): A Memoir by Felicia Day [Kindle, Amazon, $12]
Love me some Felicia Day.

8. Lafayette in the Somewhat United States by Sarah Vowell [Kindle, Amazon, $12]
Sarah Vowell is a goddess of making history interesting.

9. The Magician King by Lev Grossman [Paperback, Little Shop of Stories, $10]
Second in the Magicians series.

10. The Magician’s Land By Lev Grossman [Paperback, Little Shop of Stories, $10]
Third in the Magician’s series.

11. The Authorities by Scott Meyer [Amazon, Kindle, $4]
Story of a rag-tag group of specialists cops assembled by a rich guy, I think? Scott Meyer writes some good novels, this was okay… had the feeling of being a series. Reminded me of the Phule’s series by Robert Aspirin.

12. The Master of Formalities by Scott Meyer [Amazon, Kindle, $5]
Very enjoyable humor sci-fi novel, though less sci-fi and more space government etiquette.


14. Fall of the Core: Netcast Zero by Ryk Brown [Amazon, Kindle, $1]
Not particularly memorable sci-fi series about computer viruses and real viruses.

15. Hell’s Super (Circles in Hell Book 1) by Mark Cain [Amazon, Kindle, $3]
Mediocre self-published novel. Meh.

16. Undermajordomo Minor by Patrick DeWitt [Little Shop of Stories, Hardcover, $20]
Enjoyable story of a boy going to work as an undermajordomo in a declining castle.

17. Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel [Kindle, Amazon, $11.99]
Probably my favorite novel of the year. I don’t usually like post-apocalyptic novels, but this one hooked me in early and didn’t let go.

18. Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell [Amazon, Kindle, $11.99]
Not sure how to categorize this, but I enjoyed the fugue-like storytelling gimmick, and the individual stories that composed it.

19. The Extraordinary Journey of the Fakir Who Got Trapped In An IKEA Wardrobe by Romain Puertolas [Paperback, Little Shop of Stories, $17]
Silly, short novel, I think translated from French, maybe? The title sort of sums it up nicely.

20. The Monopolists: Obsession, Fury, and the Scandal Behind the World’s Favorite Board Game by Mary Pilon [Little Shop of Stories, $17.00]
Fascinating history of the game Monopoly.

21. What If? Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions by Randall Monroe [Hardcover, Amazon, $15]
Randall Monroe is a god amongst men.

22. Bleak House by Charles Dickens [Kindle, Amazon, Free]
Not his best. Bit of a 1,000 page trudge. Would get interesting just long enough to keep me from giving up.

23. The Dagger in the Desk: Bonus: Ghost Guide & Preview of The Hollow Boy (Lockwood & Co.) by Jonathan Stroud [Amazon, Kindle, Free]
Love this Young Adult series. Can’t get any of the young adults in my house to try it though.

24. A House for Mr. Biswas: A Novel (Vintage International) by V.S. Naipaul [Amazon, Kindle, $11.99]
Interesting tale of an India I knew nothing about.

25. The Serpent of Venice: A Novel by Christopher Moore [Amazon, Kindle, $1.99]
Christopher Moore writes fun novels. Lots of Shakespeare references in this one.

26. The Coffee Trader: A Novel by David Liss [Amazon, Kindle, $11.99]
Also a favorite novel telling a tale during the early days of the original stock trading floors.

27. The Disaster Artist: My Life Inside The Room, the Greatest Bad Movie Ever Made by Greg Sestero, Tom Bissell [Amazon, Kindle, $11.99]
I loved this book. I haven’t seen the movie it is about, but I’m looking forward to it, no matter how bad it is.

28. Lockwood & Co. Book Three The Hollow Boy by Stroud, Jonathan [Amazon, paperback, $11.68]
As I said, the Lockwood series is great YA.

29. Altered Carbon (Takeshi Kovacs Novels) by Morgan, Richard K. [Amazon, paperback, $11.76]
Hyper-violent sci-fi mystery, with interesting premise.

30. Broken Angels (Takeshi Kovacs Novels) by Richard K. Morgan [Little Shop of Stories, Paperback, $13]
Book 2 of above.

31. The Girl in the Spider’s Web: A Lisbeth Salander novel, continuing Stieg Larsson’s Millennium Series Paperback – by David Lagercrantz (Author) [Little Shop of Stories, paperback, $12]
This author did a pretty good job of picking up after Stieg Larsson’s untimely death.

32. The Time Traveler’s Almanac by Ann VanderMeer, Jeff VanderMeer [Amazon, Kindle, $12.99]
Fantastic collection of short stories about time travel. A perfect collection.

33. The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros [Little Shop of Stories, $11.00]
One of the books assigned to my son by his eigth grade teacher. Enjoyable!

34. Mary Poppins by P.L. Travers [In library]
Read to my daughter. Mary Poppins is kind of a jerk.

35. The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate [Little Shop of Stories, $8]
Read to my daughter… bit of a tear jerker, but a good story.

36. The Cartoon Introduction to Economics, Volume One: Microeconomics by Grady Klein & Yoram Bauman, Ph.D. [Powell’s Books, $8.95]
Well done. Sometimes dry subjects are best presented in comic form.

37. Headlong by Michael Frayn (loaner from Curt)
Took me a long time to read this one all the way through, but if you’re in to art history, this is a good read. I am not, but still a good read.

38. The Member of the Wedding by Carson McCullers [Little Shop of Stories, $7.56/Kindle $6.51]
Another of my son’s assigned readings. I really liked this coming of age novel, and my son and I had some good conversations about it.

39. The Girl in the Well is Me by Karen Rivers [Scholastic, $7]
My daughter’s book. Surprisingly good novel of a girl stuck in a well. Funny, but poignant.

40. Skellig by David Almond (Amazon, $6.29)
Another of my son’s school assignments. Okay, not completely crazy about it. An angel of sorts is found in a garage.

41. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Parts One and Two by J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany, and Jack Thorne [Little Shop, $18]
Loved this. Harry Potter and Time Travel, two of my favorite things.

42. Flim-Flam! Psychics, ESP, Unicorns, and Other Delusions by James Randi and Isaac Asimov [Amazon, Kindle, $7]
Somewhat outdated now (I don’t remember many of these cons that were run back in the 60s and 70s), but flim-flam is always with us.

43. The Last Kingdom (Saxon Tales Book 1) by Bernard Cornwell [Amazon, Kindle, $6,99]
44. The Pale Horseman (Saxon Tales Book 2) by Bernard Cornwell (Amazon, Kindle, $9.99)
45. Lords of the North (Saxon Tales Book 3) by Bernard Cornwell (Amazon, Kindle, $10.99)
Like Game of Thrones, but stories of the real, bloody history of Olde England.

46. Approval Junkie: Adventures in Caring Too Much by Faith Salie [Hardback, Little Shop of Stories, $27]
Funny and poignant read.

47. The Upright Citizens Brigade Comedy Improvisation Manual by Matt Besser, Ian Roberts, & Matt Walsh [Drama Bookstore, New York City, $25]
Wish I’d read this back when I was doing improv. Some great concepts in here.

48. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling (re-read)
Better the second time.

49. A Sneaky Little Snoop Like Me by Anna Mildred Dunkle Meadows, Edited by Ryan J. Lucas
Fascinating to me… my grandmother’s stories of growing up in the 1910/20s in West Virginia.

50. Sword Song: The Battle for London (Saxon Tales Book 4) by Bernard Cornwell [Amazon, Kindle, $11]
The series continued. There are 10 of these, but I don’t know how much farther I’ll go.

51. The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo by Amy Schumer [Little Shop of Stories, $28]
Love Amy Schumer. I laughed, and then got terrified for my daughter. At times, Ms. Schumer gets serious.

52. Myth by Roan Lucas [$0.00, written in Word]
My new favorite author.

53. To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee [Had in our library]
Always a classic. Read it to my daughter.

Book Log 2015

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
Books read in 2011: 28
Books read in 2012: 31
Books read in 2013: 8
Books read in 2014: 13
Books read in 2015: 12 (18 with re-reads)

Diane, the owner of Little Shop of Stories in Decatur, GA, is putting out a 52 book challenge for 2016.  I’m tempted to try it, even if I have no hope of succeeding.  Somewhere along the line, my habits changed and I’m just not the reader I once was, and I’m pretty sure I know why.

We got iPads, and smartphones, and it’s so easy to browse Reddit for an hour or binge-watch a series on Netflix in those moments of “spare” time.   It’s less mental effort, but, possibly as a result, it’s also less satisfying.  I just finished The Magiciansand I got more out of it than a marathon of Friends.  Which is actually saying a lot, because on a recent second viewing, I appreciate the comedic talents of David Schwimmer more than I did originally.

At any rate, I’m going to sign up for the challenge.  This is going to be a busy year, and I’ve never read that many books.  I also don’t like to view reading as a task to be accomplished.  But when 2016 comes to a close, I’m hoping I’ll have spent more time with a book and less with an iPad.  I might upgrade my Kindle, though.

I should note, so as not to get too down on my reading habits, that I do read out loud for 30-45 minutes every night.  My kids and I have worked our way through His Dark Materials and most of the Harry Potter series this year.  For me, re-reads, but maybe I can tack them onto the bottom of the list below.

Before diving into the list, I should mention the books I didn’t read.  Some were good, but I just haven’t gotten through them yet.  Sitting on the shelf, their siren song failed to drown out the appeal of re-watching an episode of New Girl.  The Year of Living Biblically by A.J. Jacobs is entertaining and thoughtful, and I really enjoy it once I’ve settled down on the couch with it.

The Physics of Superheroes by James Kakalios is fascinating but at times really annoying.  Not through the fault of the author, who clearly states the purpose of the book, It’s just that I wanted the book to dive into the errors in physics, or justify the errors in some way.  Kakalios does it some, but his objective is to illustrate the principles of physics through comics, not nitpick the accuracy.  Fair enough, but why doesn’t the Flash leave footprints in concrete when he runs?

A friend loaned me Headlong by Michael Frayn.  It’s well written, but there is a host of art history that is noise to me.  As my friend put it, Headlong is to art critique what Cryptonomicon is to computers, and I lack the background to really, really get Headlong.  The story is good, though, and I’m hanging on by my fingernails, so eventually I’ll knock this one out.

I’ve spent some quality time with Roberts Rules of Order this year, and then the Abridged Roberts Rules of Order, but there is no amount of abridgment that’s going to get me through a complete reading.

1. One More Thing: Stories and Other Stories by B.J. Novack
Like binge reading McSweeney’s Internet Tendency.

2. One Day by David Nicholls
Enjoyable story of a lifelong relationship.

3. Flora & Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures By Kate DiCamillo
Read to my daughter Scout. A great story of a super squirrel.

4. Spell or High Water (Magic 2.0) by Scott Meyer
5. An Unwelcome Quest (Magic 2.0) by Scott Meyer
Fun continuations of his magic-from-technology series.

6. Funny Girl: A Novel by Nick Hornby
A good, though not great, Nick Hornby novel.

7. Teleport This (Small Universe Book 1) by Christopher M. Daniels
8. Soul to Soul (Small Universe Book 2) by Christopher M. Daniels
Meh. Amateur science fiction. They were cheap and available on the Kindle.

9. Mogworld by Yahtzee Croshaw
A surprisingly good sort-of-fantasy novel. Funny!

10. The Martian by Andy Weir
One of the greatest books ever, and a great movie adaptation as well.

11. SEVENEVES by Neil Stephenson
A sprawling far-reaching disaster/science fiction novel about the moon breaking apart. Loved it.

12. Think Like a Freak: The Authors of Freakonomics Offer to Retrain Your Brain by Steven D. Levitt & Stephen J. Dubner
Enjoyable, thought-provoking book about different ways to look at problems.

Re-reads with the kids:

His Dark Materials Omnibus by Philip Pullman
13. The Golden Compass
14. The Subtle Knife
15. The Amber Spyglass

16. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J.K. Rowling
17. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling
18. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling


Book Log Review – 2013

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
Books read in 2011: 28
Books read in 2012: 31
Books read in 2013: 8

Eight. 8. A paltry ocho books.

And I didn’t even log 6 of those in a timely manner.

Perhaps it’s out of embarrassment at the poor showing, quantity-wise, of literature consumed this year.  Was it the new job?  Financial turbulence?  What on earth was wrong with me this year?

Am I becoming a… a non-reader?

Maybe it was poor choices.  My bookshelf has 8 or 9 books that I acquired and then just went… bleh.

Money Ball?  What on earth besides the $3 price tag at the Decatur Book Festival led me to think I would want to read about baseball?  Even the statistics of baseball?

World War Z?  I never had an interest in zombies.  To make matters worse, I actually bought this book when it first came out, when I was in an airport.  I read a few chapters, wasn’t impressed, and then lost it before I got home.  For some reason, I impulse bought it again this year at a Barnes and Noble only because I had lost it, not because I actually wanted to read it.  And so it sits, on the Not Read Yet shelf, waiting for the “zombie mood” to strike.

Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls, by David Sedaris?  This one is almost read.  I’ve read everything David Sedaris has written, and most of it multiple times.  But, for some reason, I can’t get into this one.  Am I burned out on Sedaris?  I never thought I’d see the day.

But, stepping back, the best we can do is pull up our socks, look ourselves squarely in the mirror and say, “2014.  That’s going to be the good one.”

On the positive front, most of what I did read, I enjoyed very much.  Looking at it objectively, there is a lot that is, shall we say, below my reading level.  But I am not ashamed.  I am not afraid to say I am entertained by the simpler things in life. Much.

The first couple I posted about individually, the rest I’ll note my comments here, in the yearly round up…

1. Wintersmith (Discworld), by Terry Pratchett

A fine Discworld/Tiffany Aching novel.  I haven’t been able to drum up interest in these with the kids.  Not sure why.

2. The Beggar King: A Hangman’s Daughter Tale by Oliver Potzsch

This may be the book that put me off my game.  I borrowed it from the Amazon Lending Library, and for some reason read it all the way through.  I can’t fathom why now.  Maybe it was all I had handy?  Maybe I was drunk?  There’s no telling.

But it is telling that this is the last book that I wrote an individual post about.  After that, I just … stopped.  Which is a shame, because the rest of the stuff I dove into was pretty good.

3. The Complete Wizard of Oz Collection (With Active Table of Contents), by Baum, L. Frank (purchased March 16, 2013 – Kindle)

I won’t claim to have read all of these. But I knocked out quite a few.  They are interesting in the fact that you get sucked in, but when the story ends, I kind of go… what was the point of all that?  What just happened?  And why?

There is also a lot of time and detail spent describing the process and decoration of celebrating random things in Oz.  Every story ended with a celebration, and the preparations for the celebration and everyone congratulating themselves for pages and pages.

But I am not the target market, so I shall give them a pass.

4. Dodger by Pratchett, Terry (purchased June 9, 2013 – Kindle)

This is a nice little imagined story of a “real” Artful Dodger, who inspires Charles Dickens to write the well-known character.  Like everything Pratchett writes, it’s a delightful and engaging story that doesn’t tax the brain overmuch.  A nice departure from his Discworld books.

5. The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents (Discworld) by Pratchett, Terry (purchased July 14, 2013 – Kindle)

I enjoyed this young adult Discworld saga about some Rats of Nimh style rats and a likewise-enhanced cat.  Also, a dumb kid who isn’t necessarily so dumb.

I tried to read it aloud to my two young adults, but they sort of lost interest. I don’t think it works very well as a read-aloud book, but it’s as witty as any of the other Discworld stories.

6. Off to Be the Wizard by Meyer, Scott (purchased August 16, 2013 – Kindle)

This one is what I’ll call my surprise hit of 2013… I’ll admit I bought it sort-of out of sympathy/support for the author of one of the Webcomics I follow (Basic Instructions). It’s a funny webcomic, but I didn’t really expect that he could necessarily make the leap to full blown novel.

But, man, was I wrong. I won’t give much away when I say in the first chapter, an amateur hacker discovers a file on the website of a major corporation that has information about him. If he changes some of the information, the changes translate to real life. A simple, amusing premise, that is then well-executed into a fun and rollicking story. I would love to actually see another in a series.

Worth your time, I say.

7. What I’d Say to the Martians: And Other Veiled Threats by Handey, Jack (purchased September 24, 2013 – Kindle)

I did not know Jack Handey of Saturday Night Live was a real person. Turns out he is, and he writes really funny essay/stories. Check it out.

8. The True Meaning of Smekday by Rex, Adam – In process (library book)

This was a nice end of the year discovery.  It’s a book for the younger set, ideally in the 7-13 age group, I think, but I really enjoyed it.  It’s well written, funny, and has a strong 11 year old female protagonist.

The kids and I read a bit each night for weeks, and we all enjoyed it quite a bit.

The premise is that our narrator/heroine Gratuity (or Tip to her friends) is writing an essay on The True Meaning of Smekday.  Smekday is what they renamed Christmas after the alien invasion of the Boov.  And so it goes from there.

This book was hard to find.  It was never in stock in any brick-and-mortar store I went into, and I couldn’t even special order it at my favorite brick-and-mortar, Little Shop of Stories.  In the end, I got it from the library.  After the kids and I read it, we immediately ordered it from Amazon as a Smekday present for my son’s friend, who will surely appreciate it.

It was originally recommended by one of my Facebook acquaintances, and I can’t thank him enough.  In fact, I need to thank him *at all*.

If you have a kid in that age range, or know one that you like a lot, especially a girl but not excluding boys, find a way to get a copy of this book in their hands.

We’re in the middle of reading the Adam Rex “Cold Cereal” trilogy, which is just as brilliant and well written.

Book Log Review – 2012

Huh.  I never did a 2012 roundup.  What’s WRONG with me?

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
Books read in 2011: 28
Books read in 2012: 31

1. Installing Linux on a Dead Badger by Lucy A. Snyder

2. The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby by Charles Dickens

3. The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest by Stieg Larsson

4. Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (and other concerns) by Mindy Kaling

5. The Old Curiosity Shop by Charles Dickens

6. A Hat Full of Sky: A Tiffany Aching Adventure by Terry Pratchett

7. Snuff by Terry Pratchett

8. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

9. Catching Fire (The Second Book of the Hunger Games Trilogy) by Suzanne Collins

10. Mockingjay (The Final Book of the Hunger Games Trilogy) by Suzanne Collins

11. Restaurant Success by the Numbers: A Money-Guy’s Guide to Opening the Next Hot Spot by Roger Fields

12. A Game of Thrones: A Song of Ice and Fire: Book One by R.R. Martin

13. God, No! by Pen Jillette

14. Rhubarb by M.H. Van Keuren

15. You Are Not So Smart by David McRaney

16. Mercury Falls by Robert Kroese

17. Mercury Swings by Robert Kroese

18. Mercury Rises by Robert Kroese

19. A Clash of Kings: A Song of Ice and Fire: Book Two by George R.R. Martin

20. A Storm of Swords: A Song of Ice and Fire: Book Three by George R.R. Martin

21. A Feast for Crows: A Song of Ice and Fire: Book Four by George R.R. Martin

22. A Dance with Dragons (A Song of Ice and Fire, Book 5) by George R.R. Martin

23. Molly Fyde and the Parsona Rescue (The Bern Saga Book 1) by Hugh C. Howey

24. Some Remarks: Essays and Other Writing by Neal Stephenson

25. Sick Puppy by Carl Hiassen

26. Anne of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomery

27(x). The Force is Middlling in this One (and Other Ruminations from the Outskirts of the Empire) by Robert A. Kroese – ABANDONED

27. Forbidden Gospels and Epistles by Archbishop Wake

28. I Shall Wear Midnight by Terry Pratchett

29. Unseen Academicals by Terry Pratchett

30. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

31. Casino Royale by Ian Fleming



2011 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
Books read in 2009: 22
Books read in 2010: 44
Books read in 2011: 28

As humans, we are pattern-seeking animals.  And one can’t help but notice that my reading tapers off in the odd-numbered years.  Why is that?  Some sort of biorhythm thing?

My best guess is that this was the year of Clearing Off The To Be Read Shelf in my bedroom.  I told myself I wasn’t going to get any new books until I thinned the herd there a bit. I did a scorched-earth read it or toss it review of the shelf, and those that made the reading cut are below. We’ll not speak of the ones that are now in the Never Going To Read Box now.

I also tried to read some books on raising unique kids, but, forgive me… they’re just about impossible to get through, and thus aren’t listed below.

In any event, with new, shiny Kindle in hand, things are looking good for 2012.

1. Tom Stoppard Plays: 5 by Tom Stoppard
Stoppard is awesome, but the true magic of this collection is Hapgood, one of my top 5 favorite plays. And one that never gets produced. At least, not here in Atlanta.

2. Juliet, Naked by Nick Hornby
Actually, a young adult novel, and an awesome one at that. A really truthful vision into the life of a teenage boy who gets a girl pregnant. Stacey read it, and was somewhat traumatized by what goes inside a teenage boy’s brain, and has looked nervously at our son ever since.

3. Time Traveler: A Scientist’s Personal Mission to Make Time Travel a Reality by Dr. Ronald L. Mallett with Bruce Henderson
I’ll save you the trouble and go ahead and tell you that he hasn’t invented time travel yet.

4. The Known World by Edward P. Jones
This one had lingered on the To Be Read Shelf, as I never seem to be in the frame of mind to dive into a book about slavery. But, it’s an extremely well-written fiction about slavery, so I’m glad I pushed myself into taking it on.

5. Un Lun Dun by China Mieville
I totally borrowed this eccentric, fantastical tale of an alternate London from Curt Holman’s daughter, and then read it myself and selfishly never shared it with the intended recipient, my son. I feel some guilt about that. But let that not tarnish your view of the book, which should be very favorable. You should buy it “for your kid” (wink wink).

6. The Complete Peanuts 1957-1958 by Charles M. Schultz
I have a more detailed apology on my blog, but I owe a large mea culpa to Charles Schultz for not appreciating that the man was a visionary genius in comics. This tome convinced me of that, as I saw in black and white the bedrock that Calvin and Hobbes built its magic on.

7. Human Anatomy Made Amazingly Easy by Christopher Hart
8. Expressive Anatomy for Comics and Narrative: Principles and Practices from the Legendary Cartoonist (Will Eisner Instructional Books) by Will Eisner
I don’t ordinarily count drawing books as being “Read”, since I usually just skim them for the good bits. But I unexpectedly read both of these cover to cover, so it seemed appropriate. I enjoyed both quite a bit.

9. Letters from the Age of Reason by Nora Hague
This was on Stacey’s To Be Read shelf… I don’t know if she ever read it, but it was enormously thick and had a striking cover, so I read it. Another book about slavery! Tricked by the size and glossy cover I was! But, still, a pretty good read.

10. Songbook by Nick Hornby
Reading this caught me up on the Hornby oeuvre, except for Fever Pitch, which I tried to read, but just… couldn’t. I just don’t, and can’t, care about football (editor’s note: this originally said “cricket”, which goes to show how far I’d pushed this book out of my mind, that I couldn’t properly remember what sport he was writing about). I’m not a music aficionado either, but this book was good nonetheless– a collection of essays that have jumping off points in particular songs.

11. Tom Stoppard: Plays 4 by Tom Stoppard
Some more fine Stoppard plays.

12. The Russian Debutante’s Handbook by Gary Shteyngart
If you like reading about hapless, awkward, Jewish men in extraordinary situations, Shteyngart is your man. He’s a skilled author, and even if you’re not interested in hapless, awkward, Jewish men, you’d probably still like his stuff.

13. Fifty Dangerous Things (you should let your children do) by Gever Tulley with Julie Spiegler
We’re going to do these things. We still haven’t had the opportunity to do #2 (play in a hailstorm).

14. Beginning Linux Programming, 4th Edition by Neil Matthew and Richard Stones
A darn good overview. One of the few books on programming I’ve been able to tolerate reading cover to cover.

15. Drawing Dynamic Comics by Andy Smith
I seemed to have read a lot of books this year cover-to-cover that I have not historically been able to. What’s that about? Another very fine book on drawing.

16. Why Things Break: Understanding the World by the Way It Comes Apart by Mark Eberhart
I had no idea that the science of fracture had undergone such huge strides in the last 30 years. Fascinating what we know now about the Titanic, the space shuttle, etc.

17. Quicksilver: Book 1 of the Baroque Cycle by Neal Stephenson
Re-read, in preparation for the coming of the new Stephenson. Still one of my top five favorite books.

18. The Tragedy of Arthur by Arthur Phillips
One of those self-referential, postmodern, faux autobiographies you hear about so much with the kids these days. It’s about a purportedly found lost play of Shakespeare (printed in the back of the book) about King Arthur. Get it? The play’s about King Arthur, and the author’s name is Arthur, and the main character is the author, Arthur? And it’s called the Tragedy of Arthur? Can I say Arthur again without it being too much?

19. The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Volume 1: Pox Party by M.T. Anderson
M.T. Anderson writes great, silly, intermediate reader books (Pals in Peril series). This is darker, altogether more serious. And, again, about slavery. 2011: The year I read about fictional slavery.

20. The Confusion: Book 2 of the Baroque Cycle by Neal Stephenson
Re-read, to kill time waiting for the new Stephenson.

21. Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne
Free, from An fun little book. I thought there was a hot air balloon involved in this story, but there wasn’t.

22. REAMDE by Neal Stephenson
Ah, the new Neal Stephenson. A very good novel, but not a very good Stephenson novel.

23. Middlesex by Jeffrey Euginides
A truly excellent book that languished far too long on my To Be Read Shelf. Strong, engrossing writing about three generations of a family.

24. The Miracle Life of Edgar Mint by Brady Udall
Udall wrote The Lonely Polygamist, one of the best books I read in 2010. This was on a par with that, about a boy who’s head was run over by a mail truck, and his eventful life that followed.

25. Speaking with the Angel by Nick Hornby and others
A very enjoyable collection of short stories by many authors, all to benefit folks with autism.

26. Absurdistan by Gary Shteyngart
If you like reading about hapless, awkward, Jewish men, but really prefer that they are also enormously fat, this is the book for you. It takes real writing talent to make me interested in such a protagonist, and Shteyngart does it pretty well.

27. Eragon by Christopher Paolini
Overcome with booklust while buying a pile for my son at the Scholastic book fair, I cast about for something for myself, and landed on this. Pretty good fantasy fare.

28. The Wee Free Men by Terry Pratchett (a Discworld novel)
A young reader novel set in Discworld, which aren’t that terribly different than Pratchett’s regular novels.

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.

2009 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
Books read in 2009: 22

That can’t be right… can it? That’s back to 2004 levels, when I had a needy one year old around the house. 2009 is a year where the kids would entertain themselves, and I could even sit on the couch and read while they were awake.

What happened this year? I think I’m going to blame it on the Spanish classes. I’ve been taking them for just over a year, and my lunch hours are pretty much dedicated to either taking the classes, or doing homework for them. There’s a lot of reading that I’ve done that doesn’t show up on this list because I haven’t finished. I’m almost through reading a Spanish translation of the Ghost World graphic novel (the slang makes it especially hard to translate), and there are three plays and a book of short stories that I’m working my way through.

In truth, I could also add most of The Magic Tree House books 1 through 36 to this list. But I’m not going to, out of pride.

At any rate, here’s the list…

1. The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Vol. 1 by Alan Moore & Kevin O’Neill
2. The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Vol. 2 by Alan Moore & Kevin O’Neill
Graphic novels of an extensively researched imagined universe where the fictional characters of the Victorian era of our universe are real, e.g. Dr. Jekyl, The Invisible Man, Alice In Wonderland. Great graphic novels.

3. David Copperfield by Charles Dickens
Fantastic novel. I’m sad it took me this long to read it, but I was turned off by Great Expectations in high school.

4. Cringe edited by Sarah Brown
The Cringe Festival is like a poetry reading, except instead of poetry, you read excerpts of your teenage or younger diary, and cringe at who you used to be in front of other people. This book is a compilation of the most cringe-worthy stuff of past readings. Entertaining.

5. The Best American Essays 2005 edited by Susan Orlean.
As usual, a hit and miss collection of essays. I like essays, but not all essays. There were some good ones, usually from comedic type folks like Jonathan Franzen or David Sedaris.

6. How Mumbo-Jumbo Conquered the World by Francis Wheen
An okay overview of some modern Popular Delusions. I enjoyed the much older 1841 work Extraordinary Popular Delusions as less stream of consciousness, and more scholarly. This has a bit more partisan than I’m comfortable with.

7. The Magicians and Mrs. Quent by Galen Beckett (pseudonym of Mark Anthony)
If Pride and Prejudice and Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell had a baby, it might be this book. But people would cluck their tongues and say “The talent gene skipped this generation.”

8. Sloppy Firsts by Megan McCafferty
I had no business reading this, as its target audience is probably teenage girls. Or New Jerseyians. Anyway, not me.

9. Winter’s Tale by Mark Helprin
Several people I know have gushed about this book, citing it as a book they re-read annually. It’s a well-written fantasy/alternate history novel that I was glad I read (some of the sections are outstanding), but probably won’t re-read at any point soon.

10. Things My Girlfriend And I Have Argued About by Mil Millington
A novel based on a website that probably should have stayed a website, not unlike The Flying Spaghetti Monster book.

11. Special Topics in Calamity Physics by Marisha Pessl
This is the third book about teenage angst I read this year (see #4 and #8), but it is a very good one. Relentlessly annotated with real and made-up references (by relentlessly, I mean every 2-3 sentences have a footnote), it is a very richly detailed story that turns from run-of-the-mill outcast story to something darker.

12. Middlemarch: A Study of Provincial Life by George Eliot (Mary Anne Evans/Marian Evans)
Recommended by Nick Hornby, sort of, this is my first George Eliot novel, and it wasn’t my last, as this list will attest. Very witty, and well written.

13. Silas Marner by George Eliot
A short, simple work, but well-wrtten and enjoyable. Middlemarch was upper classes, Marner is lower.

14. Shakespeare Wrote for Money by Nick Hornby
Do you like reading books? Have you read Nick Hornby’s books compiling his articles about reading books? If you answered No to either of those questions, you are dead to me. Resurrect yourself and get one of these from If you answered Yes to both questions, aren’t these books awesome? I thought so. I mean, the man got me reading George Eliot and Charles Dickens for goodness sakes.

15. Adam Bede by George Eliot
Another well-written tale of the lower classes and the upper classes in contrast. The plot is not the point, the way it is told is.

16. Arkansas by John Brandon
A first novel, published by McSweeney’s. I’m not ordinarily a fan of back country drug dealer stories, but I enjoyed this one. A portion of this novel was in the second person, and I thought it worked well.

17. Ten Cent Plague: The Great Comic-Book Scare and How It Changed America by David Hadju
A very interesting tale of government and community attempts to censor an art form. It’s a good thing this doesn’t happen any more.

18. The Zero by Jess Walter
A really interesting story told through the eyes of a 9/11 worker who experiences long periods of blackouts. We only catches glimpses of his life, but know as much as he does about what he’s doing. Darkly comic in much the same way that Memento is.

19. Daniel Deronda by George Eliot
So, this is more or less Adam Bede. The two of them are like Some Kind of Wonderful and Pretty in Pink. Only no gender switching, and the hero always ends up with Mary Stuart Masterson.

20. The Fortunes and Misfortunes of the Famous Moll Flanders, Etc. Who Was Born In Newgate, and During a Life of Continu’d Variety For Threescore Years, Besides Her Childhood, Was Twelve Year a Whore, Five Times a Wife [Whereof Once To Her Own Brother], Twelve Year a Thief, Eight Year a Transported Felon In Virginia, At Last Grew Rich, Liv’d Honest, and Died a Penitent. Written from her own Memorandums. by Daniel Defoe
I love super-long titles for books. I liked this book, but it has a feel of a Bunch Of Stuff That Happened instead of a story.

21. The Life and Adventures of Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe
The story is intriguing (though, again, a Bunch of Stuff That Happened), even if the protagonist is flawed by modern measures.

22. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
My first Holmes read since The Hound of the Baskervilles in school. I didn’t like Hound (at least at the time), but I enjoyed these short stories. I’m also seeing reflections of Holmes in many modern characters I’ve loved.

2007 Book Log In Review

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

So we see the exponential trend has been broken. I would like to blame the introduction of a new mancub into the household this past year, but more likely the culprit is the introduction of our portable DVD player and the kindly loan of the complete Buffy and Angel series by terracinque, to say nothing of Doctor Who Season 1 via Netflix. So, my lunch hours have slowly been absorbed with mindless television viewing.

In actuality, there were a few more short Wodehouse novels in there, but my reader software on my Palm crashed (Plucker), losing the novels, and I forgot which ones I had read. Which is too bad, because I used the bookmark, note-taking feature on some of them to make notes for my log. Alas.

While I don’t take pride in putting notches in my nightstand and tallying up the books I read as if collecting Frequent Reader Points to exchange for cheap knick-knacks from the AmEx catalog, what I do take pride in this year is how little I spent on books, thanks to, Project Gutenberg, and the kindness of friends. 12
Purchased: 7
Borrowed: 4 3
Gifts: 2
Free with Palm Z22: 2

So, if the average price of a book is $10, and each book from actually costs ~$2 (because you have to send someone a book in order to get one), then I saved roughly $206.

The list:

1. Jennifer Government by Max Barry
(purchased) Mildly amusing pseudo-orwellian satire.

2. The Book That Changed My Life: 71 Remarkable Writers Celebrate the Books That Matter Most to Them Edited by Roxanne J. Coady & Joy Johannessen
(gift from steakums) Enjoyable short essays on favorite books by People of Note.

3. Smoke and Mirrors: Short Fictions and Illusions by Neil Gaiman
(free with Palm Z22) Often amusing and very enjoyable collection of short stories. Some very funny short-short stories about vampires in particular.

4. Superheroes Edited by John Varley and Ricia Mainhardt
( Alternative superhero short stories. Eh.

5. The Duke and I by Julia Quinn
(free with Palm Z22) It came free with the Palm Z22, and that’s about the best I can say about it.

6. All the Myriad Ways by Larry Niven
( Some cool essays on science fictiony topics. Of special note is Man of Steel, Woman of Kleenex, about Superman’s sex life (or lack thereof).

7. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
( Read because I enjoyed Jasper Fforde’s Thursday Next series and wanted to know more about the source material. I enjoyed this quite a bit, but then I like Jane Austen as well.

8. Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity by David Allen
(purchased) Loved this book on getting organized. I’m still using this system 8 months later with success.

9. Shameless Exploitation in Pursuit of the Common Good: The Madcap Business Adventure by the Truly Oddest Couple by Paul Newman and A.E. Hotchner
( Interesting account of the rise of Newman’s Own. Very folksy. I don’t know how true it all is, but a good read regardless.

10. The Best American NonRequired Reading 2004 Edited by Dave Eggers
( Awesome mishmash collection of short stories and essays. Aimed at the 15-25 year old, but… well, I enjoy this series an awful lot.

11. Hello Out There by Jack McDevitt
(borrowed from boss) Enjoyable first sci-fi novels by the author, both regarding first contact with aliens.

12. The Best American Science Writing 2001 Edited by Timothy Ferris
( Very interesting essays on testosterone and the invention of The Pill, amongst others.

13. The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2006 Edited by Dave Eggers
( The best of the series thus far.

14. A Dirty Job by Christopher Moore
( Enjoyable mind candy about an anthropomorphic Death.

15.’s What Will Happen In Harry Potter 7? by Ben Schoen, Emerson Spartz, Andy Gordon, Gretchen Stull & Jamie Lawrence
(borrowed from friend) Almost none of this turned out to be true, but some interesting guesses nonetheless.

16. Finding Serenity: Anti-heroes, Lost Shepherds, and Space Hookers in Joss Whedon’s Firefly Edited by Jane Espenson
(borrowed from brother) Eh. I should never read fan stuff. It’s just not me.

17. The Best American Essays 1996
( Eh. None of these essays stood out as spectacular.

18. Noisy Outlaws, Unfriendly Blobs, and Some Other Things That Aren’t as Scary, Maybe, Depending on How You feel About Lost Lands, Stray Cellphones, Creatures from the Sky, Parents Who Disappear in Peru, a Man Named Lars Farf, and One Other Story We Couldn’t Quite Finish, So Maybe You Could Help Us Out. Stories by Nick Hornby, Neil Gaiman, Jon Scieszka, Jonathan Safran Foer, and more.
(purchased) Awesome collection of “children’s stories”. Now sitting on my son’s shelf, waiting for him to grow into it.

19. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling
(purchased) Awesome, except for the last chapter.

20. The Education of Gregory McDonald – Writings about America 1966-1973 by Gregory McDonald
( Nonfiction from the author of Fletch. Weird… so-so.

21. Housekeeping Vs. The Dirt by Nick Hornby
(purchased) Awesome. I love, love, love Hornby’s columns about reading.

22. The Adrian Mole Diaries by Sue Townsend
( Actually ordered this by accident, but still very enjoyable, well-written read. I suspect it’s a young adult’s book, though.

23. The Dark Design by Philip Jose Farmer (third book in the Riverworld Series)
( Book 3 in the Riverworld series. Probably could have done without book 3 and 4, and skipped to book 5.

24. The Diary of a Nobody by George Grossmith and illustrated by Weedon Grossmith
( Amusing 100 year old English novel. You can see points where it influenced or is referenced by modern authors.

25. Comedy By The Numbers: The 169 Secrets of Humor and Popularity by Prof. Eric Hoffman & Dr. Gary Rudoren
(purchased) Bleh.

26. First Among Sequels by Jasper Fforde
(loaned from a friend) Funny self-referencial continuation of the Thursday Next series.

27. The Golden Compass (or Northern Lights) By Philip Pullman
(purchased) Wanted to read this before the movie came out. Great novel, but I heard the movie sucked, so I passed on the film.

28. The Magic Labyrinth, book 4 of the Riverworld Series, by Philip Jose Farmer
( I was actually confused when I made my book log entry… I thought this was the 5th novel and I was done with the series. But it turns out Gods of Riverworld awaits me. I thought it ended a little abruptly…

29. Psmith, Journalist by P.G. Wodehouse
( Funny! One of the many Wodehouse novels I’ve read from gutenberg this year, but the only one I documented. Psmith is an engaging and silly character.

30. Flynn’s World by Gregory McDonald
(gift) bleh. A disappointing continuation of the Flynn series, which I actually preferred over the Fletch series.