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Tuesday, January 02, 2018

Books Read in 2018

Over the years, with varying success, I've listed the books I've read on the pages of this blog (2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2014).  Each year my list is far from complete.  I'd forget to add books, or lose interest in updating my list.  Here's my running list from 2018: 

1984
by George Orwell
Throughout 2017 liberals made comparisons between this book and Trump's America.  It's been a few years since I've read this one, so I ordered it on Amazon, let it sit on my shelf for 10 months, and then finally picked it up on New Year's Eve.  Nothing I write will add value to what others have already written about this book. 

A Sea in Flames: The Deepwater Horizon Oil Blowout
by Carl Safina
Carl Safina is my favorite environmental writer of this generation, and probably the best environmental communicator alive today.  I've read most of his books, and this one has a major change in tone.  He is angry!  Safina details life in the Gulf of Mexico in the five to six months after the Deepwater Horizon oil blowout and it's devastating.  In the current political climate it's easy to forget that we weren't always enamored with President Obama during his tenure.  Five months of frustration climaxes in a two hour meeting in a Washignton, D.C. cafe with Jane Lubchenco and Thad Allen to explain themselves, and the conversation is fascinating.  In the end, Safina hints that fishing in the Gulf of Mexico is much more damaging than the worst oil blowout in the history of the world.  He explicitly says that climate change is worse.  With recent news that Secretary Zinke plans to open U.S. waters to even more offshore drilling, I thought this would be a timely read.  Oh, and I actually met Carl in a Washington, D.C. cafe a few years ago.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
by J.K. Rowling
This is the third time I've read the last book in the greatest series of books of all time.  I think?  I was living in Saipan when this one came out and if I remember correctly I read the entire book in a day without taking a break.  I picked it up again because Edz started watching all the movies, which are streaming on HBO this month.  The third book is still my favorite.  Fourth and this one are tied for second.  Then probably the first one.  I bought that book on a whim in 2000 and read the whole thing on a flight between Houston and Honolulu.  Half Blood Prince squeaks by Order of the Phoenix just because of the firestorm spell.  And then Chamber of Secrets, which I still loved.

Micronesian Blues
by Bryan Vila and Cynthia Morris
Bryan Vila is a cop who is hired in the waiting days of the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands to raise the human capacity of various police forces in Micronesia.  This is his story.  And it's kind of lame.  Every middle aged male expat living marooned from Key west to Kwajalien has a similar collection of stories that they share over drinks at the various watering holes dotted across the islands.  There's no character development, no real introspection, no learning from his experiences, just a self-declared alpha male going from adventure to adventure solving problems the islanders presumably couldn't fix themselves.  Thanks for the help.

Destiny and Power: The American Odyssey of George Herbert Walker Bush
by John Meacham
In the fifth grade I earned detention for drawing a band-aid and mustache on a poster of the 41st president of the United States.  Liberals such as myself thought George H.W. Bush was the worst president ever, until the next Republican president, whom we thought was worse, followed by the next Republican president, whom we all agree is even worse.  See a pattern there?  Like many of my fellow Americans, I now look back fondly on the Bush 41 years.  His watch saw the end of the Soviet Union, the crumbling of the Berlin Wall, and the liberation of Kuwait.  But everything on the domestic front was a total disaster.  This read was a bit of a slog, but a few spoilers: the Bushes have thought Bill Clinton was a creep since the beginning; liberals are only now starting to notice.  They never liked Hillary, and still don't, I suppose.  The other thing that blew my mind was the notion that everything before the age of 50 is prologue.  Diego Benavente told me that once, but it was in a very different context.

Ready Player One
by Ernest Cline
Reading this one again in time for release of the movie in March.  I love this book!

Catcher in the Rye
by J.D. Salinger
I think I stole this copy off of my brother's shelf during one of my visits home.  I've read this a few times when I was younger and I had the distinct memory that I really liked it.    I picked it up and thought it would be a quick read and oh my god is this book annoying.  Not a fan of the endless rambles.

Your Robot Dog Will Die
by Arin Greenwood
When your friend writes a book, you read the book.  So this is a book about animal cruelty.  But it's also a book about religion.  And the environment plays a big role -- both climate change and biodiversity -- which is rare.  There's also some genetic engineering ethics.  And it's told as a coming of age story.  Oh, and there is also a love triangle.  And like all young adult novels millennials have grown up reading (Harry Potter, Hunger Games, etc), the kids save the day and the adults are worthless.  But at its core its a cute book with a couple of plot twists about a kid who loves animals.

The Desert Warrior
by M.B. Dallocchio
Fellow Irish-Chamorro American Michelle Dallocchio's memoir about her service in the Iraq War and her experiences transitioning back into civilian life.  This is not your typical war memoir.

Playing Through the Whistle: Steel, Football, and an American Town
by S.L. Price
The hypothesis of this book is that the values gained from making steel and then economic decline result in good football players.

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