Monday, January 12, 2009

Books Read in 2009

I've decided to keep track of the books I read this year. I wonder how many I'll read?

Eldest
Christopher Paolini
668 pages
Finished January 11, 2009

It took me a while to get into the book, but the last few chapters make up for the lengthy lead up to the final battle. The book is the second in the Inheritance Cycle, the three four part series about the tale of Eragon Shadeslayer. I don't want to give up too much of the story because the best parts come as surprises. Although he had only a small part in the first book, my favorite character in Eldest was Eragon's cousin, Roran. Talk about character development. The transformation he goes through makes for a great read. Speaking of which, Eragon's transformation is so totally lame. They stole his transformation in this book and applied it to his dragon, Saphira, in the movie about the first book. Alright, now I'm getting off track.

This is my first book report in about 22 years. Hopefully they'll get better as the year progresses.

Brisingr
Christopher Paolini
748 pages
Finished January 23, 2009

Brisingr is the third book of the Inheritance Cycle, the four part series about the tale of Eragon Shadeslayer. This was my favorite of the three books. Maybe there really is more drama and action or maybe because it just takes a while to figure out the world of Alagaesia (Paolini's version of Middle Earth).

I really enjoyed the character development of Roran in the second book and likewise in the third book. That is until it just got ridiculous. Roran is the only main character without any special abilities. He can't use magic, and he doesn't have the strengh of a dwarf or an elf. So naturally Paolini goes off the deep end and turns him into Chuck Norris, killing 200 men in one battle, wrestling and besting an urgal (Paolini's version of orks), and willingly accepting 50 lashes for not following orders, but ultimately saving the lives of all his men. Whatever. It was just a little too much to take. I hope he tones it down in the fourth book.

Next
Michael Crichton
495 pages
Finished January 27, 2009

I read most of Michael Crichton's books in high school and I hate to speak ill of the deceased, but this was not my favorite one. The last few chapters pull all the characters together and tie up the plot in a fun, interesting way, but the 450 pages leading up to the climax are at times confusing and almost always a little too unbelievable.

The world of Next is a world gone mad on gene therapy. The book may have intended to serve as a warning, but the inclusion of a manpanzee and talking parrots and orangutans were simply ridiculous. I realize that most of Crichton's writings are science fiction, but I was somehow able to believe in the worlds of Jurassic Park, Sphere, and the Andromeda Strain.

Next was just too much. I recommend skipping it. Don't read State of Fear, either. That one was even worse.

Freakonomics
Steven D. Levitt & Stephen J. Dubner
284 pages
Finished February 1, 2009

So the take home message for me in this book was that people respond to incentives and that you shouldn't trust convention wisdom. As for the rest of the book, big fucking deal. A fun read, but won't change your life.

Plan of Attack
Bob Woodward
443 pages
Finished February 4, 2009

Reading this book with Bush no longer in office only makes it slightly easier to take. Half the people in his administration should be thrown in jail for treason for leading us into the war in Iraq. The other half should...well, something really horrible should happen to them. Over and over again Woodward points out that they knew the evidence for going to war was flimsy and the only thing that could be relied on was the Bush Administration's eagerness to go to war with Iraq. A damning book. One of the most infuriating reads I've had in a long time.

Don't Think of an Elephant
George Lakoff
119 pages
Finished February 26, 2009

I read this book right after the 2004 election. I consider it mandatory reading for anyone interested in doing any type of political work, even environmental advocacy.

Dreams from My Father
Barack Obama
442 pages
Finished March 16, 2009

This is the second time I read this book. I enjoyed it even more knowing that he is our President now. I really relate to him in this book and see a lot of parallels between my life and his: living in two worlds, an absent father, going to school on scholarship, and of course, grassroots community organizing.

It is a great read and although he claims in the foreward that he wouldn't write the same book now, it gives insight into how the guy with the codes for the nukes thinks.

Little Green Men

This is a fun little read about a TV talk show personality who gets abducted by aliens. Or does he? The main character has to be based on Bill O'Reilly. Funny stuff. A little out there, but a fun read for a day at the beach or on a plane.

Angels and Demons

Everyone knows this one. I wanted to read it before I saw the movie.

The DiVinci Code

After I read Angels and Demons, I read this again.

Nobodies

John Bowe's book about modern slavery, 1/3 of which takes place on Saipan. The book dedicates a full page to Cinta and several other Saipan characters appear. John Bowe is the same writer who wrote about Saipan in Playboy.

The Prince

Good to reread every year or so to remind myself how to be a Machiavellian asshole.

Holes

I saw the movie years ago and I remember Kevin reading this book. As fun a read as any Harry Potter book.

Debt of Honor

Tom Clancy's book about the Japanese invasion of Saipan. Also includes aspects similar to 9/11 and the recent crash of the stock market. Is Jack Ryan really Barack Obama?

Dave Barry's Only Travel Guide You'll Ever Need
Dave Barry

This was lying on the table in the galley during my trip to the Northern Islands. I loved reading Dave Barry's newspaper columns when I was in high school, so I picked it up.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Harrows
JK Rowling

My third time reading the final installment of the Harry Potter series.

Outliers
Malcolm Gladwell

A book about success. You've got to be lucky and work really hard. It also helps to come from the right background.

Dune
Frank Herbert

One of my biology final exams had a question about the classification of the giant worms from Dune. 12 years later and I finally read it.

Lost Symbol
Dan Brown

When I saw the movie National Treasure starring Nicolas Cage I thought, "what a rip off of DaVinci Code!" When I got about half way through Lost Symbol I thought, "what a rip off of National Treasure!" I guess imitation really is the highest form of flattery.

1 comment:

The Saipan Blogger said...

I got lazy updating this. This is about 75% of the books I read in 2009.