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.