Friday, December 31, 2010

I Did Something This Year!

I made a goal for the 2010 year to read 30 books. This was three times as many as I'd read the year before so I thought it'd be pretty hard to accomplish. I'm happy to report that I didn't read 30 books. I read 45. Yay me!

I kept a running list of all the books I finished and made a note of the ones that were audiobooks. Turns out I finished 23 books just by listening to them during my commutes and road trips. This was a great find for me. Not only was I able to "read" more, but it was a great way to use time that would normally be filled with meaningless chatter. And since I got all the books from the library, it was completely free! The library has a huge selection of audiobooks available and it's so easy to go online, search their collection, and reserve what I want.

I also kept track of books that I started and didn't finish. Most of these books were audiobooks that weren't very well suited to car listening and/or had annoying narrators. I'm always looking for good audiobooks so let me know if you have any favorites!

Another thing I tried to do this year was to broaden my horizons a bit as far as the types of books I read. I typically like non-fiction, usually in the humor realm. This year I managed to read at least one book in each of these genres: biography, autobiography, sci-fi, classic fiction, fantasy, historical fiction, humor, fiction, nature, and science. Pretty good eh?

Ready to see my list? Behold!

My List of Books Read in 2010

1.Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Retin
2. Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe
3. The Sex Lives of Cannibals by J. Maarten Troost
4. Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen by Christopher McDougall
5. Last Words by George Carlin
6. The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein
7. The Help by Kathryn Stockett
8. The Brothers K by David James Duncan*
9. Know Your Cat: Understand How Your Cat Thinks and Behaves by Francesca Riccomini
10. Walking Across Egypt by Clyde Edgerton*
11. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon*
12. A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini*
13. My Life in France by Julia Child
14. My Old Man by Amy Sohn
15. Angela's Ashes: A Memoir by Frank McCourt *
16. Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything by Steven D. Levitt & Stephen J. Dubner*
17.I Thought My Father Was God: And Other True Tales from NPR's National Story Project by Paul Auster*
18. A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers*
19. Born Standing Up: A Comic's Life by Steve Martin*
20. Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer*
21. Anne Frank: Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank*
22. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
23. The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger*
24. Anthem by Ayn Rand
25. The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and Rip Van Winkle by Washington Irving
26.Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal by Christopher Moore*
27. Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
28. Teacher Man by Frank McCourt*
29. Stolen Innocence: My Story of Growing Up in a Polygamous Sect, Becoming a Teenage Bride, and Breaking Free of Warren Jeffs by Elissa Wall and Lisa Pulitzer
30. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
31. The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway
32. Elantris by Brandon Sanderson*
33. Schulz and Peanuts by David Michaelis*
34. Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin by Benjamin Franklin
35. Carrie by Stephen King*
36. Born on a Blue Day: Inside the Extraordinary Mind of an Autistic Savant by Daniel Tammet*
37. The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls
38. A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway*
39. First They Killed My Father: A Daughter of Cambodia Remembers by Loung Ung
40. Islands in the Stream by Ernest Hemingway*
41.A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway*
42. A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier by Ishmael Beah*
43. The Brief History of the Dead by Kevin Brockmeier
44. In Fifty Years We'll All Be Chicks: And Other Complaints from an Angry Middle-Aged White Guy by Adam Carolla
45. Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void by Mary Roach*


Before the Dawn: Recovering the Lost History of Our Ancestors by Nicholas Wade
Assassination Vacation by Sarah Vowell*
The Great Train Robbery by Michael Crichton*
Norweigan Wood by Haruki Murakami*
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley*

The funny thing is, when I started this goal, I made a list of 30 books I wanted to read so I wouldn't ever waste time trying to choose my next book. I actually made it through a lot of the books I wanted to read, but much to my surprise, the more I read, the more books made it onto the list of ones I wanted to read. I find it very frustrating that I can't read as many books as I'd like to. And even if I could read all the time, I'd still have a huge list of books I hadn't read yet. The list just keeps getting bigger and bigger!

So have you read any of these books? What books were your favorites this year? Anything I absolutely need to add to my list?

December Book Reviews: A Long Way Gone, The Brief History of the Dead, In Fifty Years We'll All Be Chicks, and Packing for Mars

My Rating System: *OK, **Good, ***Great

A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier
by Ishmael Beah
Rating: ***

A Long Way Gone is a book about a boy living in Sierra Leone, who ends up being forced into becoming a soldier after the RUF invasion.

I listened to this book on CD which was read by the author. I'm not even sure what to say about this book. I don't know how a person could endure all the things these people go through. First, you're living happily with your family, then you're running for your lives, then you're forced to become one of these evil people, and finally you're subjected to rehab in order to become a regular part of society again? Beah's experiences made me sick to my stomach and brought me to tears on several occasions. It is so scary to me that people can become such monsters. That there are people out there that really delight in making their fellow human beings miserable. In making them suffer. What a cruel tragedy.

Despite all the horrible things Beah did as a soldier, I am amazed at what he's done to turn his life around. What a great example and source of hope to those who came from similar circumstances. If all you've ever heard about the genocide and turmoil going on in these countries was from the t.v., I suggest you read this book. It's a huge eye opener.

by Kevin Brockmeier
Rating: **

This book was a suggested read from my good buddy, Paul. I mentioned that I'd never read a sci-fi book before and he suggested this one. It looked very intriguing so I gave it a shot.

The Brief History of the Dead is a book about a woman who goes on a research trip to Antarctica for the Coca-Cola company, during which time a pandemic hits Earth. It follows her trip in conjunction with another world where all people go when they die. It is a world very similar to Earth and the dead people stay there until no one is left on Earth that remembers them.

I thought this was a very interesting concept for a book and it was able to keep my attention. The story flip-flopped between the Antarctica trip and the dead-people world and slowly unfolded details that evenly brought both stories together, without making the plot too confusing. Usually when I think of sci-fi my mind fills with images of space aliens or dinosaur invasions. This book was a pleasant surprise and gave me a different view of what is included in the sci-fi genre.

by Adam Carolla
Rating: **+

In case you're unaware, Seth is totally gay for Adam Carolla. You could say he's his man-crush. Seth listens to Carolla's podcast every day and I'm constantly hearing what Adam thinks about this or that or Adam said so and so. I think it's kind of cute. So of course when Seth heard this book was coming out, he PRE-ORDERED it. Now Seth reads a lot, but I've never seen him pre-order anything.

Of course Seth read this as soon as he got it. I'd hear him chuckling almost non-stop while he read. So, because Adam Carolla is Seth's man-crush, and because the cover of the book was so awesome, and because of all the laughter I heard while Seth read, I too read this book.

The book is basically a compilation of Adam's views on everything. And I mean everything. Have you ever wondered if he had a stance on toasters or wallet colors? Well he does! Quite frankly I was in awe at all of his seemingly very passionate opinions on all these things. He even has an opinion on how to press the buttons on my microwave so's I don't waste precious time.

This book was a very enjoyable, entertaining read. I too laughed at Adam's many hilarious one-liners. And I'll never get sick of looking at that cover. As a caution, he swears a lot. He gets pretty controversial and doesn't care if he's politically correct. I thought this was funny. You may not. Read at your own risk!

by Mary Roach
Rating: ***

I wasn't sure exactly what this book was about when I picked up the audiobook from the library, but I'd read "Stiff" by Mary Roach and really enjoyed it, so I thought this one had good potential. As usual, I was right!

Packing for Mars is mainly about the NASA space program and all the different things they do to train astronauts and the tests they do in preparation for space missions. Now, that may not sound all that exciting, especially if you're not really into space stuff (like me), but this book was surprisingly really interesting. There are so many things they have to test that you'd never even think about.

This book spans everything from testing g-forces, space potties, and food development. Roach has a great talent for delivering technical and scientific information in an understandable yet, entertaining way without patronizing her readers. As much as I liked "Stiff" (her book about human cadaver uses & history), I liked this one even more. In fact I'm listening to it right now for a second time because Seth wanted to listen to it to. I finally understand what gravity is, how satellites stay in orbit, and how involved space travel really is. This was one of the few audiobooks I've listened to that I was sad when it ended.

If you've ever wanted to learn more about the space program or if you don't, read this book.  One of my top picks from this year.