50 Book Challenge: 21-25

21. Godless – Dan Barker
I thought his personal journey from being an Evangelical preacher to being an atheist was really interesting and compelling, but the second half of the book focused on arguments for why he was atheist that were very familiar to me. I think this would be a great book to give to someone who was interested and knew nothing about atheism, particularly because Barker is very sensitive to the Christian mindset.

22. Men at Arms – Terry Pratchett, read by Nigel Planer
I like the Guards a fair amount, so I enjoyed this story. Not as much as the witch stories, but I love Carrot and Vimes and the Patrician, and they all featured pretty heavily. I was less interested in the parts that were about the impact of a gun on the society. I also love Detritus the Troll. And how British people say Troll.

23. The Beekeeper’s Apprentice – Laurie R. King
I had listened the BBC Radio adaptation of this and was really interested in reading the whole book. It’s about a girl who becomes Sherlock Holmes apprentice, but it’s a fairly adult sort of story. I’ve only ever read one or two of the Holmes tales, so I don’t know how faithful it is, but I enjoyed it enough to finish in a night and start the next one the next day.

24. A Monstrous Regiment of Women – Laurie R. King
I think the first one is a little more compelling than this tale was, but then I’m not really interested in Christian Feminist movements and find them weird. The developing relationship between Russell and Holmes was handled very deftly and quite enjoyable.

25. The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ – Philip Pullman
This book was a very quick read and I can’t say I honestly recommend it. Maybe it’d be more interesting to people who aren’t familiar with any biblical scholarship. The premise being that Jesus and Christ were twins, Jesus being the radical and Christ being the realist. It’s no Dark Materials.

It’s week 22, so I’m ahead of the game. So maybe I’ll actually finish the Asimov book. Or I’ll do what I did yesterday, and buy another 12 books because now I’m interested in Sherlock Holmes…

Oh, and also halfway there.

50 Book Challenge: 16-20

16. The Ordinary Princess – M.M. Kaye

This is a children’s book and a great deal shorter than most of the other books on my reading list.  I say it makes up for those Asimov books which are long and dry.  Of course, I haven’t finished those yet.  This is sort of similar to Ella Enchanted.  It’s about the youngest princess in the family and her fairy godmother grants her the gift of being ordinary, and so she’s not as pretty, or blond, or dainty as the other princesses and she runs away and has adventures and falls in love with an ordinary king.  Love it :)

17. Snow White, Blood Red – Edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling

This is a collection of stories that are re-tellings of fairy tales, but fairly adult.  I read them originally when I was pretty young, 14ish, and it was the first thing I read that was at all naughty and grown-up.  There is a retelling of Rapunzel in here that had morphed and grown into something totally different in my mind, it was interesting to go back and read it over a decade later.  My mind version is better, by the way.

18. Witches Abroad – Terry Pratchett, read by Nigel Planer

One of my favorites, I love the witches.  This is a send up of all fairy tales sort of mashed into one, plus some voodoo and New Orleans style magic.  A very fun <del>read</del> <i>listen</i>.

19. Small Gods – Terry Pratchett, read by Nigel Planer

This one was OK.  I found myself having to make a very concerted effort to pay attention.  It’s not that I didn’t like the ideas, and parts of it were quite good.  This is set many, many years before the main events of the discworld series, and in that sense it was interesting.  But it’s basically a buddy movie of a guy and his pet God.

20. Lords and Ladies – Terry Pratchett read by Nigel Planer

Back to the witches yay!  This may be my favorite book so far.  The story is more fully realized and well-plotted than the others.  The characters are just as well done as before, but the story is strictly fantasy, there’s no technological invention driving it.  It’s spoofs Midsummer Night’s Dream a bit, and it’s basically a reflection on youth, age, and lives not lived.  But… it’s Terry Pratchett, which is to say it’s done so with a lot of jokes, and people who can’t be having with that sort of nonsense.

OK, so this is now caught up to where I am.  It’s week 21, and I am currently reading books 21, 22 and 23, so I’m in a good place.  Since there are 52 weeks in a year, there’s basically 2 weeks of buffer built in, and I’d like to get to the place where I’m 2 weeks ahead anyway, because it’s going to take me a long time to get through both those Asimov books.  They’re not just long, they’re dry!

50 Book Challenge: 11-15

Build a man a fire, and he’ll be warm for a day. Set a man on fire, and he’ll be warm for the rest of his life. — Terry Pratchett

11. Tricks of the Mind – Derren Brown

Amazing book.  Derren Brown, and you really should look into him if you’re unfamiliar, is sort of the British version of Penn & Teller.  I say sort of because his tricks are less illusions and more mentalist, but he is super skeptical and very honest about the fact that it’s all tricks.  He’s also the best cold reader I’ve ever seen.  And I hate that stuff when it’s played for serious, but he plays it as memory tricks and intuitivity and he’s kind of a dick.

12. Guards! Guards! – Terry Pratchett, read by Nigel Planer

I really liked this one, I think if you were just starting the series this would be one you could start with.  It stands alone quite well.  It delves into a lot of characters that I quite love the Librarian, who is an ape, Vimes, who is Dirty Harry basically, Sybil Ramkin, who is one of those crazy, not terribly attractive, flawed and delightful women characters, and the Patrician, who is evil in an efficient and good sort of way.  The Patrician was originally intended to be played by Alan Rickman, in Mr. Pratchett’s mind, but was ultimately played by Jeremy Irons.  We find that this suits our Gruber sensibilities.

13. Faust Eric – Terry Pratchett, read by Tony Robinson

Didn’t really care for this one.

14. Moving Pictures – Terry Pratchett, read by Nigel Planer

This is a really good one if you’re into movies.  A lot of what the Discworld books do is introduce modern technology into a magical world, and that technology is based on magical innovation rather than technical innovation.  In this one, someone discovers how to magically record moving images, and the rise of Hollywood happens in a few weeks, culminating in the epic film about the civil war “Blown Away”.  I enjoy all the references to things that are familiar with slightly bizarre names.  Banged Grains instead of Popcorn, Clicks instead of Flicks.  Also stand alone, if you’re a movie person looking to get into the Discworld series, start here.

15. Reaper Man – Terry Pratchett, read by Nigel Planer

Not my favorite.  I like Death a lot, but there was something less than compelling about his story.

50 Book Challenge: 6-10

6. The Porn Trap – Wendy and Larry Maltz

I’ve got an interest in mental health, and this book is about something I knew very little about, porn addictions.  Having read the book I’m pretty sure “porn addiction” is code for anti-social and in need of some good therapy that has nothing to do with access to porn.  I dunno, I don’t buy that having access to porn is a problem.  And the book implies that masturbation is unhealthy, especially if you have a partner, which I really don’t believe.

7. Mort – Terry Pratchett, read by Nigel Planer

This one was OK, but not my favorite.

8. Sourcery – Terry Pratchett, read by Nigel Planer

Same.

9. Wyrd Sisters – Terry Pratchett, read by Nigel Planer

Much better than the first time I tried to read it.  I love the witches.  Magrat, Nanny Ogg and Granny Weatherwax are three wonderfully realized women.  Terry Pratchett has a real genius with making three dimensional female characters.

10. Pyramids – Terry Pratchett, read by Nigel Planer

Hated this one so much I stopped listening to them for several weeks.

50 Book Challenge: 1 – 5

Maybe you’re familiar with this one?  You basically challenge yourself to read 50 books in one calendar year.  I’ve decided to retroactively take on this challenge for 2010 because I’m fairly close to where you need to be in the year in terms of books read.

I have finished 18 books (it’s week 20 of the year) and gotten at least halfway through 4 more, and started 2 more than that.  So, if I finished all of that in the next 2 weeks (possible) I’d be at 24 and ahead of the game!  Plus, it means I get to keep lists, which I like to do.  And I’ve got an absurd number of books waiting to be read (Over 50).

If I got through all the Terry Pratchett audiobooks, which I started in February and have gotten through 12, I’d be at 36 for the year.  Frustrating that I have so many books on my hand and not the time to read them!  I think I’ll do updates with every five books and a brief review or thoughts, approximately in order of when I finished them.

1. A Religious Orgy in Tennessee – H.L. Mencken

I ordered this while following the Prop 8 trial because, basically, no one is a snarky about fundamentalists as H.L. Mencken and the parallels between Prop 8 and teaching creationism in school seemed obvious to me.  It was both uplifting and wholly depressing.  H.L. Mencken reads to me a lot like Hunter S. Thompson.

2. The Scopes Monkey Trial Transcript

PDF is not the best delivery mechanism for a book when you don’t have an e-reader.  I mean, I’m not sure if it’s the best if you do have an e-reader, but I’m guessing it’s better.  Anyway, I was heavy into transcripts because I was reading the daily transcripts of Prop 8.

3. The Colour of Magic – Terry Pratchett, read by Nigel Planer

Long ago I was given Wyrd Sisters from this series by my friend Nicol.  I couldn’t get through it for any number of reasons (cramped typeface, world I was unfamiliar with).  After I saw a couple of the BBC adaptations of Terry Pratchett stories and therefore had a Rincewind in my head that was solid, I decided to listen to the audiobooks, especially since Good Omens is a fantastic book.  Colour of Magic was great.

4. The Light Fantastic – Terry Pratchett, read by Nigel Planer

Second in the Discworld series, direct sequel to the previous one.  Good as well.

5. Equal Rites – Terry Pratchett, read by Celia Imrie

Third in the Discworld series and by far my favorite of them all.  This introduces Granny Weatherwax, who is my favorite Pratchett character, followed closely by Death.  Pratchett’s greatest skill as a writer, in my opinion, is that none of his characters are particularly attractive and they all have terrible flaws, but you like them and they never get over their flaws.  People don’t become pretty, or overcome their inherent selfishness or cowardice, they’re just regular people.