65 Books of 2010; 75 Books 2011

I don’t know if I can actually get to 75 books in one year, but I’m thinking it’s possible — I definitely can do 50 again, but I’ve got some longer books on my list than the discworld books were. Below are two lists — a recap of 2010, and a goal list for 2011. Books from 2010 will get a grade: A for OMG READ, B for Pretty Solid, C for readable, D for barely readable, and F for STAY AWAY

65 books of 2010

1. A Religious Orgy in Tennessee – HL Mencken – B
2. The Scopes Monkey Trial Transcript – C
3. The Colour of Magic – Terry Pratchett, read by Nigel Planer – B
4. The Light Fantastic – Terry Pratchett, read by Nigel Planer – B
5. Equal Rites – Terry Pratchett, read by Celia Imrie – A
6. The Porn Trap – Wendy and Larry Maltz – F
7. Mort – Terry Pratchett, read by Nigel Planer – C-
8. Sourcery – Terry Pratchett, read by Nigel Planer – C-
9. Wyrd Sisters – Terry Pratchett, read by Nigel Planer – B+
10. Pyramids – Terry Pratchett, read by Nigel Planer – F
11. Tricks of the Mind – Derren Brown – B+
12. Guards! Guards! – Terry Pratchett, read by Nigel Planer – A
13. Faust Eric – Terry Pratchett, read by Tony Robinson – C-
14. Moving Pictures – Terry Pratchett, read by Nigel Planer – B
15. Reaper Man – Terry Pratchett, read by Nigel Planer – C
16. The Ordinary Princess – M.M. Kaye – B
17. Snow White, Blood Red – Edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling – C+
18. Witches Abroad – Terry Pratchett, read by Nigel Planer – A-
19. Small Gods – Terry Pratchett, read by Nigel Planer – B-
20. Lords and Ladies – Terry Pratchett read by Nigel Planer – A
21. Godless – Dan Barker – A-
22. Men at Arms – Terry Pratchett, read by Nigel Planer – B
23. The Beekeeper’s Apprentice – Laurie R. King – B
24. A Monstrous Regiment of Women – Laurie R. King – B
25. The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ – Philip Pullman – C
26. Soul Music – Terry Pratchett, read by Nigel Planer – C
27. Interesting Times – Terry Pratchett, read by Nigel Planer – C-
28. Maskerade – Terry Pratchett, read by Nigel Planer – B
29. Asimov’s Guide to the Old Testament – Isaac Asimov – B
30. Feet of Clay – Terry Pratchett, read by Nigel Planer – B+
31. Hogfather – Terry Pratchett, read by Nigel Planer – B+
32. Jingo – Terry Pratchett, read by Nigel Planer – C
33. Last Continent – Terry Pratchett, read by Nigel Planer – C-
34. Carpe Jugulum – Terry Pratchett, read by Nigel Planer – B
35. Dealing with Dragons – Patricia C. Wrede – B+
36. Searching for Dragons – Patricia C. Wrede – B
37. To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee – A+
38. The Prop 8 Report – David Fleischer – B+
39. Flim Flam! – James The Amazing Randi – B-
40. The Fifth Elephant – Terry Pratchett, read by Stephen Briggs – B
41. The Atheist’s Introduction to the New Testament – Mike Davis – B+
42. Lyra’s Oxford – Philip Pullman – C-
43. LSAT Logic Games Bible – David Killoran – B
44. The Truth – Terry Pratchett, read by Stephen Briggs – B
45. Thief of Time – Terry Pratchett, read by Stephen Briggs – B
46. Right Ho, Jeeves – P.G. Wodehouse – B-
47. The Last Hero – Terry Pratchett, read by Stephen Briggs – B
48. The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents – Terry Pratchett, read by Stephen Briggs – A+
49. Soccernomics – Simon Kuper and Stefan Syzmanski – A
50. Night Watch – Terry Pratchett, read by Stephen Briggs – A
51. The Wee Free Men – Terry Pratchett, read by Stephen Briggs – A
52. Monstrous Regiment – Terry Pratchett, read by Stephen Briggs – B
53. A Hat Full of Sky – Terry Pratchett, read by Stephen Briggs – B
54. Going Postal – Terry Pratchett, read by Stephen Briggs – A
55. Thud! – Terry Pratchett, read by Stephen Briggs – A
56. Wintersmith – Terry Pratchett, read by Stephen Briggs – B
57. Making Money – Terry Pratchett, read by Stephen Briggs – B
58. Unseen Academicals – Terry Pratchett, read by Stephen Briggs – B
59. Coraline – Neil Gaiman, read by Neil Gaiman – B+
60. Good Omens – Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett, read by Martin Jarvis – A+
61. God is Not Great – Christopher Hitchens, read by Christopher Hitchens – A+
62. QI Second Book of General Ignorance – B
63. Book of General Ignorance – B
64. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks – Rebecca Skloot – A
65. The Nuremberg Trial – John and Ann Tusa – B

Stats:
16 Nonfiction/49 Fiction
15 As/36 Bs/12 Cs/2Fs
37 Discworld/28 Not Discworld
4 Rereads/61 New
40 Audiobooks/25 Hardcopy
10 Children or YA

75 Books of 2011
1. Mark Twain’s Autobiography Part I
2. Demon Haunted World – Carl Sagan
3. Asimov’s Guide to the New Testament
4. A Festival of Skeletons – RJ Astruc
5. The Importance of Being Earnest – Oscar Wilde
6. Atheists Guide to Christmas
7. I Shall Wear Midnight – Terry Pratchett
8. Gulliver’s Travels – Jonathan Swift
9. Biblical Nonsense – Jason Long
10. Disproving Christianity – David McAfee
11. God Hates You, Hate Him Back – CJ Werleman
12. Hitch 22 – Christopher Hitchens
13. Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell – Clarke
14. Inkheart – Funke (2 sequels)
15. Artemis Fowl – Coifer (5 sequels)
16. Lightning Thief – Riordan (3 sequels)
17. History of Britain – Schama (2 add’l volumes)
18. The Age of American Unreason – Susan Jacoby
19. The Female Brain
20. Evil in Modern Thought – Neiman
21. Law 101
22. Columbine – Dave Cullen
23. A History of England – Wilson
24. Nixonland – Perlstein
25. Tales of the Black Widowers – Asimov
26. The Story of English
27. Creationist’s Trojan Horse – Forrest
28. Good Natured – De Waal
29. The New Atheism – Stenger
30. The Neverending Story – Ende
31. The Brethren – Woodward
32. The Family – Sharlet
33. Innocent Traitor – Weir
34. Lady Elizabeth – Weir
35. The Professor and the Madman – Winchester
36. Let the Right One In – Lindqvist
37. Emerging Epidemics – Drexler
38. Irreligion – Paulos
39. Heartsick – Cain
40. The Stranger Beside Me – Rule
41. Earth – The Daily Show
42. How the Scots Invented the Modern World – Herman
43. Letter to a Christian Nation – Harris
44. The Moor – King (~7 sequels)
45. Book of Three (4 sequels)
Jane Austen Novels
Sherlock Holmes Novels

50 Book Challenge: 60-65

Week 52

As the year winds down, I’m posting the last brief reviews of books that I’ve read this year.  My initial challenge of 50 books in a year seemed daunting at first (a book a week?  Who has time?) yet I somehow did it, and I don’t even feel like I spent that much time reading this year.  I think everyone should do the 50 book challenge, because A) why not and B) it doesn’t actually require that much time or effort.

61. God is Not Great – Christopher Hitchens, read by Christopher Hitchens

I love this book.  Once I hit 60 and knew I’d probably get to 65 for the year, I decided that I could just go ahead and do some guilty pleasure re-reads if I wanted to.  I admit I simply love to listen to Christopher Hitchens speak, and I would probably listen to him read a cookbook, so long as he was allowed to make snarky remarks, but this book is truly remarkable if for no other reason than it offers opinions on things that are much different than what you hear from day to day.  Mother Teresa and Gandhi are sold, compellingly, as villains, as is all religion, including Eastern Religion.  There’s also an interesting chapter on why religions don’t like pigs and another on whether religion is child abuse.

Religion comes from the period of human prehistory where nobody — not even the mighty Democritus who concluded that all matter was made from atoms — had the smallest idea of what was going on. It comes from the bawling and fearful infancy of our species, and is a babyish attempt to meet our inescapable demand for knowledge. Today the least educated of my children knows much more about the natural order than any of the founders of religion.

62. QI Second Book of General Ignorance

I started with the second book because it was more recent (logic!) and I did enjoy it.  QI, for those not in the know, is a British Trivia show (Quite Interesting) where comics answer tricky trivia questions and are awarded points for being interesting and lose points for being obvious and wrong.  It’s awesome. The book repeats the show a bit, but it was interesting.

63. Book of General Ignorance

I liked the second book more.

64. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks – Rebecca Skloot

This is an amazing book.  You need to read it.  It’s about a poor black woman in the 50s who died of cervical cancer, but whose cancer cells were the first immortal human cells and have been used in millions of experiments since then and contributed to almost all human biological knowledge discovered since they were cultured.  But no one asked her for permission to take the cells, and no one told her or her family that they were being used.  Here’s an excerpt.

65. The Nuremberg Trial – John and Ann Tusa

I didn’t know anything about the Nuremberg Trials, really, just that they existed.  This was a really human and fascinating account of the first trial.  It was a slow read, but it was a lot like reading a courtroom drama, especially because the Nazis were portrayed as three dimensional.  If you like courtroom stories, this is a good, if disturbing, one.

50 Book Challenge: 56-60

Week 45

56. Wintersmith – Terry Pratchett, read by Stephen Briggs

This is a Tiffany Aching book. I didn’t care for this one as much as the previous Tiffany books, but I still really enjoyed it. I think the problem with the Tiffany series is that none of the Big Bads have been as compelling as the original big bad, though she’s gotten more compelling. It’s sort of like Buffy in that way. In fact, I think the Tiffany Aching series would make for good TV.

57. Making Money – Terry Pratchett, read by Stephen Briggs

This is a Moist Von Lipwig book and I really do love Moist, so I enjoyed it. I think the first one was a little better, because there was a lot more conflict inherent in Moist vs. the Patrician. I think this one sort of fell apart towards the end, but it was still very enjoyable.

58. Unseen Academicals – Terry Pratchett, read by Stephen Briggs

This is the last of the Pratchett Discworld audiobooks that I have available to me. There is, I think, one more Discworld book that I don’t have on audiobook, that is the next in the Tiffany Aching series. This one was fun and funny and it was nice to go back to the university, which I think hadn’t been the focus for a long while. I don’t think the wizards can really hold up a whole book, and I think Pratchett agrees with me because he focused just as much on a B plot about 4 young people who were all sort of outsiders. It was quite good. I think he’s gotten much better with plotting over the years — his characters have always been spot on, his humor is brilliant, and his writing style catchy and fun, but plot he can be a bit off on.

59. Coraline – Neil Gaiman, read by Neil Gaiman

I haven’t seen the movie yet. I was surprised by this book, it was somehow lighter than I thought it would be. Neil Gaiman’s books are often quite heavy on lore and complicated worlds, but this was very much a book for children with no need, I guess, for the explanations that often come with parallel universes. I didn’t honestly like this nearly as much as The Graveyard Book. I think it’s definitely suited to younger children, though.

60. Good Omens – Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett, read by Martin Jarvis

I now own three copies of this book, the hardcover, the paperback, and the audiobook. I have owned two earlier copies of the book which disappeared into the ether when I loaned it out. And I always loan it out knowing it may never return. It’s like the Gideons, I kind of want people to keep passing it on because it’s such an awesome book. It was interesting listening to this after having listened to so many (37) of Terry Pratchett’s other books this year, as well as having read almost all of Neil Gaiman over the years. This book seems to have been entirely written by Terry Pratchett, and entirely plotted by Neil Gaiman. I say this based on the number of times the word “conspiratorially” is used. I have a bad habit of overusing this word so every time I hear it, it grates a little bit, and Sir Pratchett loves it. I wonder if I picked it up from reading this book. Point being, this is one of my favorite books of all time and it was pretty good on audiobook.

50 Book Challenge: 51-55

Working in an office, doing paperwork, so lots of time to listen to audiobooks. I dunno what I’m going to listen to when I’m done with Terry Pratchett. (It’s week 41)

51. The Wee Free Men – Terry Pratchett, read by Stephen Briggs
This is the first of the Tiffany Aching books, which are theoretically young adult books, but are really great reads no matter how old you are. They are related to the witches but about the 9 year old Tiffany Aching, who is good at making cheese. I quite like these. Also, they have the Nac Mac Feegles who are just awesome… their swords glow blue in the presence of lawyers.

52. Monstrous Regiment – Terry Pratchett, read by Stephen Briggs
This is a stand alone book that reminds me a lot of Equal Rites, in terms of the them. Basically it’s a group of women fighters and they’re all pretending to be men because they want to fight for their own reasons. I enjoyed it, though it was more serious than a lot of the books.

53. A Hat Full of Sky – Terry Pratchett, read by Stephen Briggs
This is the second Tiffany Aching book. I didn’t like it as much as the first one. The plot was just less interesting. But it was still a great book.

54. Going Postal – Terry Pratchett, read by Stephen Briggs
I started reading this series because someone I know posts a lot of drawings and thoughts about this book. I felt like I couldn’t just read it without knowing the Discworld first, so I got through 33 books so I could get to this one. It was worth it, great book.

55. Thud! – Terry Pratchett, read by Stephen Briggs
I must say that Terry Pratchett does seem to be getting better with age, his books are just cleverly plotted and funny and fun and great. This one was fantastic.

50 Book Challenge: 46 – 50

It’s all over!  50 books in 39 weeks.  What’ll I do now?

46. Right Ho, Jeeves – P.G. Wodehouse

In the last year or so, I watched all of Jeeves and Wooster, starring the delightful Fry and Laurie.  It should be noted that I am in love with both Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie, and therefore also in love with P.G. Wodehouse.  Wodehouse is also one of Christopher Hitchens’ favorites, so there’s that connection as well.  I did really enjoy the book, though I must say that I’m not sure I enjoyed it more than watching Jeeves and Wooster.  I think it does the show great credit that there was nothing jarring at all about reading the books, I felt like I’d already done so.

47. The Last Hero – Terry Pratchett, read by Stephen Briggs

This was a pretty funny story about a bunch of old heroes trying to bring about the end of the world by “returning fire to the gods” in the form of a giant bomb.  It also had Rincewind, Leonard of Quirm, the librarian and the patrician trying to stop them.  It was a solid adventure story.

48. The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents – Terry Pratchett, read by Stephen Briggs

This is hands down the best book of the Discworld series.  It’s stand alone and I highly recommend it to anyone who has any interest in Terry Pratchett, fairy tales, young adult fiction, or hilariousness.  It’s like a cross between the pied piper, the rats of NIMH and Terry Pratchett’s general awesomeness.  This may be my favorite book I’ve read all year.

49. Soccernomics – Simon Kuper and Stefan Syzmanski

This book is exactly what you think it is, basically a statistical approach to soccer analyzing what makes a good soccer team, not from the perspective of who is a good player, but what elements it takes for a country to field a good national team.  It’s really interesting if you’re nerdy and like soccer, since it’s soccer with a lot of numbers.  I enjoyed it.

50. Night Watch – Terry Pratchett, read by Stephen Briggs

I actually stopped listening to the audiobook and read the last third of this book because I wanted to get through it faster.  This is a sort of alternate dimension, going into the past story, but I quite liked it because it offered some background on all of the older characters.  In particular, it was nice to see the Patrician as a student.  I love the patrician.  If you like the other books about the watch, then you’ll probably like this one, I did.

50 Book Challenge: 41-45

5 Books left!

It is the end of week 37, and I have just finished book 45.  I feel like I should continue reviewing books I finish after the fifty, keep counting to see how many I finish, because 50 is now basically inevitable.  Maybe my challenge for next year will be to try to finish more than this year, rather than 50.

41. The Atheist’s Introduction to the New Testament – Mike Davis

Asimov’s New Testament book sits heavily on my shelf, waiting impatiently for me to rally the nerve to throw myself into reading it.  I find the Old Testament a lot more interesting than the New Testament, mostly because it’s way more mythological and hardcore, and it’s more a history of an entire people than just like this one guy.

As a kid, I always thought Jesus was both kinda creepy and really boring — like Ned Flanders.  There was just something about the image of this weird hippie guy with long hair always hanging out with kids and lambs that I found unsettling in a “don’t get in the van” sort of way.  And the New Testament, when I read it, never made that feeling go away.  So I’m just sort of predisposed not to be terribly interested in the NT, but I feel like I should be, since I dislike Christianity so much.  It just gives me the heebie jeebies.

All of this being my way of saying that I read this because it was way shorter than Asimov’s book and I hoped it would make me more interested.  It did and it didn’t.  I find the story of how the NT came to be (eg Bart Ehrman’s work) a lot more interesting than anything in the NT, and this book certainly feeds into some of that.  It’s a very very interesting read, and I’d obviously recommend it to any curious believer.  I think this book is a slightly easier read that Bart Ehrman, but not nearly as exhaustively well-informed.

42. Lyra’s Oxford – Philip Pullman

This was a short book that was not nearly as good as the books it is a sequel to, His Dark Materials.  Basically, it was just way too short and tacked on, very little there.

43. LSAT Logic Games Bible – David Killoran

I really like logic and logic games so I did actually enjoy reading this book and solving the problems in it.  But I’m a huge nerd, so I’m not sure that you should just accept that.  Unless you’re taking the LSAT, obviously, in which case you should like this too.

44. The Truth – Terry Pratchett, read by Stephen Briggs

Not to be confused with The Truth (with Jokes) by Al Franken, of course.  I enjoyed this book, it’s basically about the invention of/introduction of newspapers to Ankh Morpork, but it was hardly anything to write home about.  A solid B.  It’s basically a stand alone novel, with only bit parts for characters in the city that have featured in other Discworld novels.  I didn’t particularly care for any of the main characters, which sort of made the whole thing less interesting.

45. Thief of Time – Terry Pratchett, read by Stephen Briggs

I enjoyed this quite a bit.  It has one of my favorite Discworld characters, Susan, and touches on some of the same apocalyptic themes as Good Omens.  I think this will end up being one of my favorites, one that I may try to read some time again in the future.  It involved chocolate saving the day by blowing people up because it was so delicious.

Even with nougat you can have a perfect moment.

Extra: I tried to read Freethinkers by Susan Jacoby and I got about 200 pages into it before being too bored to continue.  When faced with the dilemma of finishing it before I had to return it to the library or not… I chose not.  My intense disinterest in the history of America after 1865 probably didn’t help.

50 Book Challenge: 36-40

Welcome to Week 34, I’m through 40 books, so doing well.  Just 10 left to meet my goal.

36. Searching for Dragons – Patricia C. Wrede

This is the second novel in the Enchanted Forest Chronicles, and I enjoyed it quite a bit.  I find it interesting that the books are all written from a different character’s perspective.  It’s a neat trick, and I think it works particularly well for the children’s literature genre.  You get to see the characters you love, but since you already know how they think, you get to spend time in other people’s head as they go along.  Anyway, I highly recommend these books if you like children’s lit at all.

37. To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee

People are very surprised that I never have read this book and never had to in school.  Considering I grew up in the south, this is doubly surprising.  I moved around a fair amount and I think it was just assigned for one grade in one school district and another in a different one, and so I missed it by switching districts.  In any event, I watched the movie this past year at some point and I really enjoyed it, and I’d listened to some NPR stories about its fiftieth anniversary, so I bought it and read it in a night.  Fantastic book, and it made me all the more impressed with the movie.  I am not generally a fan of Southern Gothic literature, I find it oppressive and kinda icky (I know, technical term) because it’s generally so depressing and twisted.  It usually makes me want to take a scalding shower and spend the rest of my life in a heavily air-conditioned, sterilized and dehumidified bubble.  But I really liked To Kill a Mockingbird, it strangely reminded me of some of the good things about the South, not the least of which is that there are many more Atticuses now than there were then.

38. The Prop 8 Report – David Fleischer

Wow, 500 pages of analysis of the Prop 8 campaigns.  It was a lot to read, and I’m sort of including the Prop 8 decision in this too, since I did read that as well.  Basically, the lesson I got from this is that we really need to get the word out that gay marriage helps children.  The Prop 8 Proponents put out the whole “the children are gonna be destroyed” message and that alone basically lost gays the right to marry.  So, how do we educate people that gay marriage helps children?  I dunno, but it’s really important that we do so.  The fact is that there are children being raised by same sex couples and that those children would benefit from their parents being able to marry.  So, we should encourage a real discussion about children, because the facts are on our side.  And we should stop being surprised that the Anita Bryant tactic of 30 years ago still works.

39. Flim Flam! – James The Amazing Randi

I actually didn’t enjoy this book as much as I thought I would.  I love Randi, he’s a great speaker and an all around cool guy, so I thought I’d enjoy the book.  But I just didn’t find it all that interesting.  The book basically debunks a bunch of different woo things like ESP and UFOs and the Bermuda Triangle — you know, National Enquirer stuff.  And, I guess there’s a place for that and all, but I find the whole thing rather tedious.  To me this is like debunking Cinderella or Superman, I guess there are people out there who believe it, but I tend to think they’re people who just need a fairy tale of some kind in their life.  Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s really retarded (it’s satire!) for people to believe a lot of that stuff, but so long as they aren’t hurting anyone, I don’t really care.  Like, homeopathy, that’s something to rail against.  The Bermuda Triangle?  I just can’t be bothered.  Maybe this is why I identify more as an atheist than a skeptic.

40. The Fifth Elephant – Terry Pratchett, read by Stephen Briggs

Stephen Briggs has a much different reading style than Nigel Planer, and I admit I like Planer better.  Mostly because I don’t like the voices Briggs uses for the watch in this book.  He’s not bad, not at all, I’m probably just used to Planer.  I think all the rest are read by Briggs so I suppose I should get used to him.  OK, that aside, I did quite enjoy this book.  It’s about Vimes, who I like, and it has vampires fighting werewolves.  It was strangely not as funny or tongue-in-cheek as most of the Discworld books, it felt like an almost straight detective adventure novel.  The plot may be the best constructed of his books so far, though plot has never been the main reason I read his books.

50 Books: A List

So, the reason I started this 50 books thing was because I had so many unread books that I had obtained in one way or another that I really wanted to read and that I hadn’t made time for.  There were, as of January, probably 80 unread books in my house.  Due to me being insane, there are now over that, though they’re not all on my reading list.  It only has 78 unfinished and unread books (I was guesstimating 55 earlier…), not including stuff I have and have no intention of reading or I’ve forgotten to include.

What follows is a list of everything I’ve read in 2010, what I’m currently at least halfway through or have from the library, and what is on my list for the future.  Any thoughts, like if you think a book is awesome or you want to hear my opinion on it so I should read it, are welcome.  Mostly, I just made a list and don’t want it to go to waste just sitting in my Google Tasks.

Finished

  1. To Kill a Mockingbird
  2. Searching for Dragons (library)
  3. Dealing with Dragons (library)
  4. 23. Carpe Jugulum
  5. 22. Last Continent
  6. 21. Jingo
  7. 20. Hogfather
  8. 19. Feet of Clay
  9. Asimov’s Guide to Old Testament
  10. 18. Maskerade
  11. 17. Interesting Times
  12. 16. Soul Music
  13. The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ
  14. A Monstrous Regiment of Women (Mary Russell 2)
  15. The Beekeeper’s Apprentice (Mary Russell 1)
  16. 15. Men at Arms
  17. Godless
  18. 14. Lords and Ladies
  19. 13. Small Gods
  20. 12. Witches Abroad
  21. Snow White, Blood Red
  22. Ordinary Princess
  23. 11. Reaper Man
  24. 10. Moving Pictures
  25. 9. Eric
  26. 8. Guards Guards
  27. Tricks of the Mind
  28. 7. Pyramids
  29. 6. Wyrd Sisters
  30. 5. Sourcery
  31. 4. Mort
  32. The Porn Trap
  33. 3. Equal Rites
  34. 2. Light Fantastic
  35. 1. Colour of Magic
  36. Scopes Transcript
  37. Religious Orgy Tennessee

Currently Reading

  1. The Female Brain
  2. Freethinkers (library)
  3. Lyra’s Oxford (library)
  4. Spindle’s End (library)
  5. Demon Haunted World
  6. Flim-Flam!
  7. 24. The Fifth Elephant

To Read

  1. the thousand autumns of jacob de zoet (don’t own)
  2. A Study in Scarlet (started)
  3. Law 101 (started)
  4. Stranger Beside Me (started)
  5. 25. The Truth
  6. 26. Thief of Time
  7. 27. The Last Hero
  8. 28. Amazing Maurice
  9. 29. Night Watch
  10. 30. Wee Free Men
  11. 31. Monstrous Regiment
  12. 32. A Hat Full of Sky
  13. 33. Going Postal
  14. 34. Thud
  15. 35. Wintersmith
  16. 36. Making Money
  17. The Brethren
  18. Incest
  19. Let the Right One In
  20. My Life in France
  21. Heartsick
  22. The Informant
  23. The Lady Elizabeth
  24. The God Virus
  25. The Professor and the Madman
  26. The Age of American Unreason
  27. The Family
  28. Innocent Traitor
  29. One L
  30. The Politician
  31. Julia Child
  32. Eragon
  33. Reading the OED
  34. Virgin Suicides
  35. Prozac Nation
  36. Irreligion
  37. Coraline
  38. His Dark Materials Reread (3 books)
  39. Nixonland
  40. Asimov’s Guide to the New Testament
  41. The Mind of the Market
  42. Emerging Epidemics
  43. The New Atheism
  44. Good Natured
  45. Evil in Modern Thought
  46. Creationism’s Trojan Horse
  47. Hitch 22
  48. Additional Sherlock Holmes (8)
  49. Works of Jane Austen (6)
  50. Additional Mary Russell (8, only own 2)

If I somehow got through 58 this year (21 more over the next 20 weeks, which is below my average which predicts 62 total) and do the same next year, without adding any additional books to the list (unlikely as I’m already remembering things I haven’t added and know several coming out that I will have to add), I will have just gotten through all of it.

All of this makes my “50 book challenge” feel kind of pathetic, like so what if I’ve accomplished it, I’m approaching an obviously Sisyphean task.  The books are judging me, I can tell.  It will never be enough for you people!

50 Book Challenge: 31-35

It is week 30!

31. Hogfather – Terry Pratchett, read by Nigel Planer

I saw the BBC version of Hogfather and I loved it and it’s a large part of the reason I decided to actually read (listen to) the Discworld series.  I love Susan, she’s an excellent character.  Half Mary Poppins, half Death.  I loved this book.

32. Jingo – Terry Pratchett, read by Nigel Planer

In general, I like the books about the watch, but this one really didn’t do it for me.  The book is basically satirizing war and nationalism and that sort of behavior, but I just didn’t find it that compelling for whatever reason.

33. Last Continent – Terry Pratchett, read by Nigel Planer

This book is about a continent that is not Australia.  I didn’t much care for this one either.  It’s a Rincewind book.  The best part was the drag queens.

34. Carpe Jugulum – Terry Pratchett, read by Nigel Planer

Yay!  A witches book.  This one had vampires and was pretty fun to read in light of all the modernization of vampires lately.  Because these are old world vampires in the old world trying to evolve beyond being subject to people’s superstitions.  I also really like all the witches.

35. Dealing with Dragons – Patricia C. Wrede

This is a re-read, haven’t read this book in ages, but I loved this series as a younger person.  I can’t recommend them strongly enough.  I imagine the rest of the books will appear throughout the year, if I can find them at the library.  I like what she does with the series, each of the four books has a different main character, but they interact closely with the characters you already know and love.  Third Person Limited FTW!

50 Book Challenge: 26-30

It is the fate of all banisters worth sliding down that there is something nasty waiting at the far end. — Terry Pratchett

We are coming to the end of Week 24/52 and I’ve read 30/50. I suspect it will be even slower from now on, I may start posting individually when I finish books so I don’t forget.

26. Soul Music – Terry Pratchett, read by Nigel Planer
I wanted to like this book more than I actually did. I quite like the main character, Susan the granddaughter of Death, who eventually becomes a sort of badass Mary Poppins. I liked her character, but the rest of the book was just sort of OK. I’ve found I don’t actually like the Death centered books that much. Anyway, I saw the Hogfather BBC movie and I really enjoyed Susan et al there, so I’m looking forward to getting to it.

27. Interesting Times – Terry Pratchett, read by Nigel Planer
The return of Rincewind, haven’t heard from him in a while. I didn’t much care for this book, it wasn’t terrible or anything, it just wasn’t terribly compelling.

28. Maskerade – Terry Pratchett, read by Nigel Planer
I think how much you like this book is dependent on your relationship with the Phantom of the Opera, which is to say if you are both familiar and mildly contemptuous of it, while retaining a special place in your heart for it, then you’ll very much enjoy this book. I think this is a book you could very easily read independently of the series without losing anything.  Have some quotes that will explain this to you.

After you’d known Christine for any length of time, you found yourself fighting a desire to look into her ear to see if you could spot daylight coming the other way.

“Well, basically there are two sorts of opera.  There’s your heavy opera, where basically people sing foreign and it goes like “Oh oh oh, I am dyin’, oh, I am dyin’, oh, oh, oh, that’s what I’m doin’”, and there’s your light opera, where they sing in foreign and it basically goes “Beer! Beer! Beer! Beer! I like to drink lots of beer!”, although sometimes they drink champagne instead. That’s basically all of opera, reely.”

29. Asimov’s Guide to the Old Testament – Isaac Asimov
Oh my God I finally finished this. It took ages. It’s nearly 700 pages of historical analysis of the Old Testament. It’s very well written, it’s just that some parts of the Old Testament (aka the early bits) are way more interesting than the other parts (the prophets). I really enjoyed what I learned, but after I got through the fun stories it was a bit more difficult. Still, I enjoyed reading the explanations of all the prophecies and how they were related to the history of the local civilizations.

Since there are some stories attached, I’ve now got a decent timeline in my head of Syria, Assyria, Babylonia, Persia, and anything else ending with ia that I’m forgetting. I guess I’m one of them atheists that likes to be able to know holy texts better’n the religious and since I live where the Judeo-Christians dominate, the Bible is what I like to be able to tear apart.

Also, as a complete political junkie, understanding the very earthly political motivations driving a lot of what is said in the book is very enlightening. I recommend this for anyone looking to be literate in the historical study of the Bible, but who doesn’t like boring people. Because, even when the material is dry, Asimov has an enthusiasm and sense of humor that makes it readable. And, at 700 pages, it really is exhaustive. Plus, lots of maps.

30. Feet of Clay – Terry Pratchett, read by Nigel Planer
I know this list is mostly Terry Pratchett, but the Asimov book took me some weeks and I wouldn’t allow myself any other readable books til I got through it. This is the best one of the bunch, I think. I really really like the guards stories, and if you’re into Dirty Harry, crime solving, hijinks, or really like Severus Snape, I would recommend the guard books in the Discworld series.