Late last year, I finally started requesting inter-library book loans regularly. As I started reading more (because it was now simple and free), my list actually got longer, so I started writing it down. One unexpected advantage to this is that I can go back and look at the books I’ve enjoyed (or not) over the last year. I’m not an especially prolific reader, but I’ve surprised myself with the amount that I’ve actually had time to get through.
Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides
An epic fictional memoir that brings you through three generations of family conflict. Quite touching and surprisingly entertaining.
The Golden Ratio by Mario Livio
Phi is an interesting subject, but in the end the book was unfocused and a bit weak. I was hoping for something Simon Singh-esque.
Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood (Borrowed from Rosi)
Amazing. Somehow, Margaret Atwood explains absolutely nothing until the very end, and then you realize there wasn't really much to explain. Totally believable.
Adams vs. Jefferson: The Tumultuous Election of 1800 by John E. Ferling (17 Feb 2005 - 10 Apr 2005)
I just couldn't get interested in this one. I had high hopes that it would be enlightening in the shadow of the 2000 and 2004 elections.
Hitchhiker: A Biography of Douglas Adams by M.J. Simpson (10 Apr 2005 - 3 May 2005)
You appreciate the Hitchhiker's Guide books so much more when you learn how close they came to never really being written. A great biography of a hilarious, distractable author.
Small Things Considered: Why There Is No Perfect Design by Henry Petroski (5 May 2005 - 17 June 2005)
I picked this up at the book store and was enthralled. But the chapters somehow were both repetitive and unconnected. I got bored about two-thirds of the way through.
Blink: The Power of Thinking without Thinking by Malcolm Gladwell (19 June 2005 - 23 June 2005)
Short and sweet. A great summer read.
Red Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson (23 June 2005 - 30 June 2005)
A classic that I somehow never got around to reading. Despite the fact that this is a massive novel, I finished it in a week. The jumping point of view was perfectly done, and the plan to settle Mars was very well planned.
Uncle Tungsten by Oliver Sacks (2 July 2005 - 24 July 2005)
Dr. Sacks' book was one-half childhood memoir and one-half the history of chemistry. I don't know which was more interesting.
The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger (24 July 2005 - 28 July 2005)
I can't say much more about this book. One of the best stories I've ever read.
Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner (30 July 2005 - 7 August 2005)
Another good summer read. It's nice to see how much numbers and carefully designed studies can explain. I follow their blog, now, too.
Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card (8 Aug 2005 - 13 Aug 2005)
Waiting for a book to get to my library, I decided to re-read this classic. (See Ender's Shadow, below)
Brief History of Time: From the Big Bang to Black Holes by Stephen Hawking (16 Aug 2005 - 5 Sep 2005)
A great introduction to modern physics and astrophysics theory. In fact, it's written so well that I want to read more Hawking.
Ender's Shadow by Orson Scott Card (9 Sep 2005 - 15 Sep 2005)
Waiting for another book, I decided to re-read the parallel novel to Ender's Game (above). This time, I realized how much is left open at the end, and I was inspired to read the rest of the series (see below).
The Fourth Turning: An American Prophecy by William Strauss and Neil Howe (16 Sep 2005 - 10 Oct 2005)
This book is wholly remarkable. It suggests (and strongly supports) a theory of cyclic American history, and warns of a coming period of "Crisis". But it is so dense with information and concepts that it reminded me too much of college. I'm glad I read what I did, though.
Shadow of the Hegemon by Orson Scott Card (6 Oct 2005 - 10 Oct 2005)
(See Shadow of the Giant, below)
Awakenings by Oliver Sacks (11 Oct 2005 - 31 Oct 2005)
Something made me lose interest by the end of this book: either Dr. Sacks' earlier writing is less engrossing, or the fact that every patient had fairly similar symptoms and reactions to L-DOPA. But he covers a startlingy insidious disease and its ambiguous "cure" in fantastic detail.
Shadow Puppets by Orson Scott Card (24 Oct 2005 - 28 Oct 2005)
(See Shadow of the Giant, below)
Shadow of the Giant by Orson Scott Card (23 Nov 2005 - 27 Nov 2005)
By the time I got to the fourth book in the Bean Series, I was worried. Each book had become a little less strong than the last, and although I was still interested in the story, I was worried it was going to end badly. I was wrong. The finale literally moved me to tears. It was absolutely amazing. Another thing: In the original Ender Series, Card has this habit of introducing a new planet based on a single country (the Portuguese Planet, and later the Chinese Planet). It seemed really silly at the time, but he explains it well here, and is able to show the same deep understanding of different societies in these books without it seeming quite as clumsy. Looking back, this was (by far) the better series.