Goodreads goal for 2014: 100 books
I nailed the goal on November 17th and ended up with a total of 113 on the 31st.
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. Here’s my first three month summary of the 23 books I read, my second quarter list numbering 31books, and my summer reading list (32 books). Below I list 27 more for the last three months of the year.
For the fourth quarter:
- 18 nonfiction
- 9 fiction … 2:1…atypical for a final quarter
- I’ve rated 6 more as five-star (you-really-should-read-this) on Goodreads.
- I gave 0 books a one-star rating (not-only-no-but-really-no)…again with the generosity; at least two were close.
- As before, 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.
October – 9
- Tweeting Da Vinci by Ann C. Pizzorusso
- Jules Verne: An Exploratory Biography by Herbert R. Lottman
- The 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene
- Turning Adversity Into Opportunity by James M. Kouzes & Barry Z. Posner
- The Annotated and Illustrated Double Helix by James D. Watson
- ***** When You Were a Tadpole and I Was a Fish and Other Speculations About This and That by Martin Gardner
I got Tweeting Da Vinci for free through a Goodreads giveaway. It had nothing to do with tweeting and only a part was devoted to Da Vinci…Pizzorusso is a geologist and that was the bulk of the book – the geology of Italy. Lottman’s bio of Verne was easy and exhaustive, but plodding.
Greene’s Laws was pretty bad…”a bunch of unsourced anecdotes draped in the author’s interpretations of applicability”. Don’t bother. And don’t bother with Adversity either. I’m not impressed by Kouzes and Posner, and this book, while actually better than anything else I’ve read by them, didn’t help…it took me more than a week to read the 57 pages of dull.
I don’t know how Watson’s Double Helix made New Scientist’s 25 books that changed the world. Hardly inspirational, though it is surprisingly simple. Gardner’s Tadpole would have probably gotten a four-star rating from me except that he made “me think past the reading.”
- The Argonaut Affair by Simon Hawke
- Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
- ***** Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes
Hawke’s Argonaut was entertaining. Never having read the original Jason, nor ever planning to, this was interesting enough. Flynn’s Girl, however, was quite awful. I forced myself to ignore the “annoying style, the unlikeable characters, the transparent plot, and just kept reading.” It was not very clever, more of a really bad made-for-television script and deserved one-star, but I was kind.
I never read Algernon when young, and was absolutely delighted when I read it in parallel with my sons (was their book club assignment). Masterful, and a rare five-star fiction!
November – 10
- Mathematical Magic Show by Martin Gardner
- Food: A Love Story by Jim Gaffigan
- So, Anyway… by John Cleese
- Buddhist Boot Camp by Timber Hawkeye
- Waking Up: A Guide to Spirituality Without Religion by Sam Harris
- Makers: The New Industrial Revolution by Chris Anderson
- ***** The Copernicus Complex: Our Cosmic Significance in a Universe of Planets and Probabilities by Caleb Scharf
- ***** You Can’t Make This Up: Miracles, Memories, and the Perfect Marriage of Sports and Television by Al Michaels, L. Jon Wertheim
I read Gardner’s Magic Show on the plane to California. Wonderful plane read.
I saw Gaffigan on some show and he was hilarious, He’s funny in print, too, but the food bit got very tedious. Cleese, on the other hand, wrote a very enjoyable memoir. Especially as I read it in his voice in my head.
What kind of name is “Timber Hawkeye”? No matter…he writes a very bad book full of pith like “The past will let go of you if you let go of the past.” That alone deserved one-star except the books and the reviews on Goodreads and Amazon made me laugh, so I was kind. And Sam Harris really disappointed me with Waking Up. Mumbo jumbo nonsense on meditation.
Fortunately, Anderson’s Makers renewed my lost “faith” (sorry…Harris’ book…) in non-fiction. And then Scharf came along and helped. Another one I bumped up from four stars because it was so engaging. And Al Michaels’ memoir was great – his chapter on the 1980 Winter Olympics and the US win over the USSR pros alone would have gotten five stars.
I carried around three worn paperbacks of Lewis’s Space Trilogy for 40 years and was never able to get into them. I lost the books in a fire, but tried Silent Planet one more time. I decided that I probably don’t have 40 more years to force myself to read the sequel.
Time Roads was recommended somewhere. Mistake – “very little time plot lines, and quite a bit of obfuscatory meandering.” Yep, I said “obfuscatory”.
December – 8
- Silent Spring by Rachel Carson
- The God Problem: How a Godless Cosmos Creates by Howard Bloom
- ***** Surf: 100 Greatest Waves by Casey Koteen
- Ignorance: How It Drives Science by Stuart Firestein
Carson’s Spring is on the New Scientist list and I gave it to my son to read, so I moved up my timetable to read it myself. Astounding amount of information and it gets five stars for the content, the writing, and the impact.
Bloom’s Problem is expansive, comprehensive and a tad repetitious, but recommended even though I don’t think he actually answered the question.
I got Surf from my sons for Christmas, which was a surprise, but the real surprise was the quality of the copy descriptions to go with the beautiful photography. And I can’t remember where I came across Ignorance, but it was far too long (for a short book).
- The Dracula Caper by Simon Hawke
- ***** A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
- Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
- The Riddle-Master of Hed by Patricia A. McKillip
I took a long break between fictions and Hawke’s Timewars #8, Dracula is probably the weakest in the series, so not as welcome a return to fiction as is my normal concentration this time of year.
Dickens gets five stars because it inspired so many adaptations (I watched 15 versions this year) and it’s actually pretty well written.
Station Eleven was on several lists of best fiction of 2014. It wasn’t. Not very creative and quite uneven.
I owned Riddle-Master and it’s two sequels from when I was a teen, losing them in the fire. I decided I wanted to re-read them because I remembered I liked them, and that they were a fresh departure from Tolkien (not that I needed a departure.)
So, that’s it for the year…summary to follow later in January.