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.