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Books Read 2009

Every year I look forward to Greet Machine‘s annual reading list. Last winter I started using Goodreads, and now I can share my book list with you!

Into the Wild - Jon Krakauer

This is my first Krakauer book, and now every one of his books are on my list. Engaging true story of a character I want to love and hate all at once. And Krakauer’s story within the story is amazing as well.

Last Chance To See - Douglas Adams

Great book. Douglas Adams brings his interesting and humorous style to nonfiction in a story about several endangered species. The book was written in the late 80‘s and it’s very interesting to follow up with the animals he visited back then. Seems the BBC agrees as they released a follow up show on the very same subject!

The Language of God - Francis S. Collins

An interesting discussion of theology and science, from the perspective of the head of the Human Genome project. He has a few holes in his logic, but he also takes down a lot of simplistic Biblical views and I appreciate that.

As They See ‘Em - Bruce Weber

A look into the world of professional umpiring. It took about 100 pages to get interesting. But the final 200+ pages were a pretty good read.

The Truth About Celia - Kevin Brockmeier

I picked the worst time to read this book, a book that I had no idea what the content was. I was departing to NYC for a business trip, leaving my two daughters and wife, reading a book about a seven-year-old disappearing form her yard without a trace. Joy! My only exposure to Brockmeier was a single, magical short story, and this novel has a definite short story vibe. At least two of the chapters are basically short stories within the book, and the rest of the chapters are fairly self-contained. In any case, a lot of it was quite well done, though I didn’t read it as deliberately as I would a short story. So I’m sure I missed a lot of beauty in the details

Smoke and Mirrors - Neil Gaiman

Gaiman short stories. Everyone loves Gaiman, right? It’s impossible to beat “Murder Mysteries” unless you’re a story named “Snow Glass Apples.” I love that story.

The Hot Kid - Elmore Leonard

Elmore Leonard is always pretty good. This book was excellent, but it ended rather abruptly. I really was taken in by the story along the way, though.

Angels & Demons - Dan Brown

I apologize if it offends you that Dan Brown books entertain me. My wife and I listen to them as audio books on long drives back to our homeland. I enjoyed this much more than The Da Vinci Code. I don’t sit and think about it afterward, I just let it draw me in during the reading.

Brain Rules - John Medina

I was a little disappointed in this book. I think the hype machine surrounding the book outpaced it. In some ways, I would just as soon stuck with what I learned from the hype machine (interviews, web site, blog posts, etc) rather than bothering with the book. Most of the content had already been presented. You’d think the depth of the book would counter this, but it didn’t so much for me. I realize all the studies in the book were published, peer reviewed, and recreated. But the manner in which they were presented was fairly flippant, “one study one time maybe proved such and such might be true.” So even if it isn’t the case, the writing gave the appearance that some of the theories weren’t yet deeply defended. Still, a worthwhile read if you’ve never heard of the book or been impacted by the hype machine.

The Four Agreements - Miguel Ruiz

So this is really a hippy spiritual book. It’s OK. It’s 136 pages, and should really be more like 60-70 if it was written better. To be honest, the inside flap is just about sufficient as it expresses in a short paragraph each of the common sense agreements presented in the book.

Penny Dreadful - Will Christopher Baer

This is a hard one to rate. Baer’s writing is so descriptive, sometimes alarmingly so. When he describes a look, smell, taste, etc, it’s real. But it took me 1/2 the book to start really following it and the “underworld” he created never really drew me in.

The Cuban Prospect - Brian Shawver

I like to read a baseball book every spring, and this one had sat on my shelf for several years, unread. It’s a lot more novel than baseball book. It’s a good novel, and reads really quickly. But I also think it’s a read-once affair. Nothing wrong with that!

Deception Point - Dan Brown

Less entertaining than the Robert Langdon books, but a decent enough time-passer on a long drive.

Big Book of Baseball Legends - Rob Neyer

You know, I have to say this book was fairly boring. And I’m a Neyer guy who loves baseball. But 300 pages of debunking intricacies of baseball stories, most of which are more than 60 years old? Kinda of tiresome.