Goodreads goal for 2014:
100 books (again). So far, I’m ahead of the pace with 54.
Recap: The way I’ve been recounting my book readings the past couple of years means overly long posts (100+ books with comments?). For 2014, I’ve decided to break up the year into quarters. My first three month summary of the 23 books I read tallied 23 books. Below I list 31 more.
A few more of the books I read these three months were quite long – what’s up with that? Wallace’s Infinite Jest, Wolfram’s A New Kind of Science might pad the pages read stats, but the ROI was dismal.
For the second quarter:
- 22 nonfiction
- 9 fiction – fewer of these are attracting me…curious trend
- I’ve rated 4 as five-star (you-really-should-read-this) on Goodreads – and one was fiction!
- I gave 1 book a one-star rating (not-only-no-but-really-no)…the first of the year.
- I’ve linked all of my Goodreads reviews (even if only one line) to each title in case anyone is interested in what I thought beyond the commentary below. The review page links back to the Goodreads main page for the book.
April – 11
- When Computers Were Human by David Alan Grier
- ***** Hiding in the Mirror: The Mysterious Allure of Extra Dimensions, from Plato to String Theory and Beyond by Lawrence M. Krauss
- My Lucky Life in and Out of Show Business by Dick Van Dyke
- New Mathematical Diversions by Martin Gardner
- The Borderlands of Science: Where Sense Meets Nonsense by Michael Shermer
- The Unexpected Hanging and Other Mathematical Diversions by Martin Gardner
- ***** Idea Man by Paul Allen
- The Science of Mind by Ernest Holmes
Grier’s Computers is a look at pre-electronic computing…that is, humans. Fascinating history. Krauss’s Dimensions was awesome, and even boggled my mind at a few points. Not for the faint hearted.
I called Dick Van Dyke’s autobio “Candid, funny, light, nimble, personal.” A nice read. Paul Allen’s autobio is enlightening, particularly for one so integral to Microsoft, yet still in the shadow of Gates.
I read a couple more of Gardner’s Mathematical Games collections. Working through all of them, hopefully through the course of the year.
Shermer’s Borderlands was uneven, tedious, and disappointing – especially as I really like Shermer’s other work. Holmes’s Mind was worse, but I refrained from giving it a one-star rating. Mysticism of the mind…not science.
Fiction (3 ):
- Sanctuary in the Sky by John Brunner
- Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
- The Atlantic Abomination by John Brunner
Brunner’s Sanctuary was a pretty good read, but Abomination was not. Brunner pumped out pulp and good stuff (I caught a list of “under-rated” science fiction authors, so sought him out.)
Vonnegut it still weird. And so it goes.
MAY – 7
Nonfiction (4 ):
- The Chemistry of Beer by Roger Barth
- F.U.B.A.R.: America’s Right-Wing Nightmare by Sam Seder & Stephen Sherrill
- ***** How Jesus Became God: The Exaltation of a Jewish Preacher from Galilee by Bart D. Ehrman
- The Hidden Brain: How Our Unconscious Minds Elect Presidents, Control Markets, Wage Wars, and Save Our Lives by Shankar Vedantam
I read Barth’s Beer to learn something. I learned it was a chemistry text with a beer wrapping. Seder & Sherrill’s F.U.B.A.R. is dated (published when the W was prez), and conditions are even worse than when it was written, but it is snarky and spot on.
Ehrman’s Jesus is a real academic and historical religious analysis treat. Now, the people who should read it won’t, but maybe somebody stumbling across it here will. Vedantam’s Hidden Brain is a bit weak and relies a lot on anecdotes, but there are good basics there.
Fiction (3 ):
- Whipping Star by Frank Herbert
- Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace
- The Osiris Ritual by George Mann
I read Whipping Star a long time ago. As an adult, I am even more amazed at Herbert’s mind (at least until he lost it with )God Emperor of Dune.
Wallace’s Jest deserved that one-star, but I threw him a bone. It was an awful (awfully friggin’ huge) book and I think my second star was for my own lengthy review.
I returned to the literary world of steampunk with George Mann’s Osiris Ritual and was glad I did. I like his stories.
June – 13
- Impatient Optimist: Bill Gates in His Own Words
by Lisa Rogak
- The Road Ahead by Bill Gates
- The Future: Six Drivers of Global Change by Al Gore
- * A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose by Eckhart Tolle
- Reason, The Only Oracle of Man Or a Compendius System of Natural Religion by Ethan Allen
- Just a Geek: Unflinchingly honest tales of the search for life, love, and fulfillment beyond the Starship Enterprise by Wil Wheaton
- The Happiest Days of Our Lives by Wil Wheaton
- BIM for Building Owners and Developers: Making a Business Case for Using BIM on Projects by K. Pramod Reddy
- Decoding Reality: The Universe as Quantum Information by Vlatko Vedral
- A New Kind of Science by Stephen Wolfram
Rogak collected a bunch of Gates’s quote in Impatient. It led me to finally pick up Road Ahead, which was a pretty good read. Gore’s Future packed a lot in. Worth at least one more read if I get re-incarnated.
I awarded Tolle my first one-star of the year. I wrote a lengthy review, but noted it could have been reduced to a single-word assessment: blather. Allen’s Reason was flawed, if well written.
Wil Wheaton is quite funny, and human…who’d a thunk it? Recommended.
I picked up Reddy’s BIM primer to learn more about it for work. Definitely going to look into this technology.
The last two were disappointing. Vedral’s Decoding meant well, but had too many flaws. Wolfram’s New Science seemed an Infinite Jest of cellular automata patterns. Wolfram does have an ego. Just ask him.
- The Immorality Engine (Newbury and Hobbes #3) by George Mann
- ***** The Martian by Andy Weir
- Mortal Engines (The Hungry City Chronicles #1) by Philip Reeve
More Mann, but less impressed with the third outing in the series. Far more impressed with Weir’s Martian – got my first 5-star for fiction in a long time. Normally would have been a four, but it was that engaging.
Reeve’s Mortal Engines was another good steampunk book. Not sure if I’ll read the rest in the series, but it didn’t turn me away.