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: 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: 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.