Saturday, January 01, 2011

Media of 2010 - Books

Wow, almost a full year since I last blogged here. And to think I posted something almost daily before. Anyway - lets get right to it:


Makers - by Cory Doctorow - ★★★ - It's odd, but I just had a really difficult time getting into this book. I'm a fan of Cory's. I REALLY enjoyed his last book called "Little Brother". I also liked (though it was a struggle at times) his book previous to that called "Someone comes to town, Someone leaves town". The subject matter of "Makers" was right up my alley too... I'm a big fan of Make magazine, and I've dabbled in the "maker culture", of which I know a lot about the subjects in the book (eg: 3d printers that can be set up in a person's living room). But I felt like the story was just a bit too forced. Like he created an outline first of a few key technologies, and then tried to cram a story in-between. I did finish the book, so that explains the 3 ★'s, as any book that can hold my attention that long means something. I just wish I liked it better.

1/24/10 - Altar of Eden - by James Rollins - ★★★★ - Another Rollins book that I enjoyed. While this one took a slightly different turn than his previous books, I still enjoyed the storyline. A few 'hollywood' moments and odd coincidences, but this is the type of book that were it a movie, it would be an action adventure movie where coincidences are often overlooked. As always, I appreciate Rollins' blend of science into his stories.

3/15/10 - Three Cups of Tea - by Greg Mortenson - ★★★★ - this was a difficult book for me to rate, but I chose to go with 4★'s. It is/was an amazing story about Greg's life and the events and things he's accomplished in his life (and those around him). While I appreciate the well told story, and applaud his efforts of building schools in and around Pakistan, I struggled with the book. I was so glad to have finally been done it. It took me a very long time to plow my way through it. I suspect, the main reason is because of all the tons of names involved and places involved and that there were many foreign language names/places/descriptions. I'm glad I did make the extra effort, and finished the book, it was a struggle for me. That said, though, I would highly recommend this book. It is inspiring how one man can make a difference in the world to bring about good.

3/23/10 - Shutter Island - by Dennis Lehane - ★★★ - Perhaps I should not rate this book... the reason being I only read about 70% of it - But - I did see the movie so I know how it ends :) The main reason I decided to try and give the book a shot was because I enjoyed the movie. I enjoyed it because of the story. I also had a couple questions regarding the characters that I thought that if I took my time with the book, those questions would be answered. Sadly - not so much. I even went back and re-read some pages, but I still didn't get it. Finally, I decided to just stop, and move onto a book that I enjoyed more. And what surprised me, was how much the movie stayed true to the book. There were lines of dialogue that were word for word, and I could hear Dicaprio saying it in his Boston Accent. But when I couldn't get my answers, I just decided to move on. So take my rating for the book for what it's worth.

4/18/10 - The Pawn (The Patrick Bowers Files, Book 1) - by Steven James. - ★★★★ -
This was a free book I picked up on Amazon for the Kindle. (It's not longer free at this moment -sorry).
I enjoyed it. It was a fast read and moved along nicely, like an an action movie. Some interesting plot stories going on as well. I'm not ready to go out and purchase the next book in the series, but perhaps I will come back to the series in the future.

7/10 - The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood - by Howard Pyle - ★★★★★ - (I've since learned that Mr. Howard Pyle is perhaps more well known for being a talented illustrator/artist). I really enjoyed this book, much to my surprise. It was a "freebie" on my Amazon Kindle, and having seen the movie just a week or two before getting this book, I was curious to find out more about this character called Robin Hood. Semi-spoiler alert>>> the book and the movie are NOTHING alike! The book was enjoyable and I liked the somewhat simple stories. It was like reading an "action movie" at times. Now... one thing to mention... at the beginning, I almost gave up on this book. I learned that it contained a lot of "old English" like "thee, thou, mayest, pray they, marry, etc..." - but it was mostly just the dialogue between the characters. I was able to get used to it, and then was able to enjoy it. All in all, a fun book, that takes just a little bit of work to get through.

7/24/10 - The Psychology of Dreams and On the Significance of Number-Dreams - by Carl Jung - ★ - I won't sugar coat this... it was a horrible book, and Carl Jung is probably a quack in my opinion. Ok, to be fair... I've never read anything else by him (though I plan to try once more), so maybe it's unfair to form such an opinion of this man from one small reading. While the first part of the book, had a few interesting points, it was not enough for me to 'enjoy' the read. (also it was written like a college paper, and almost had a lawyer-ish sounding to it). The second part of the book, regarding numbers in dreams, simply stretched all credibility for me. He twisted numbers, and math around into complete hogwash, in order to try and make a connection between points of significance. It reminded me a lot of "numerology". I don't doubt that mr. Jung has insights on dreams (he says he studied between 1500 and 2000 a year!), but I think he might be grasping at straws just a bit much for my liking.

11/25/10 - The Catcher in the Rye - J.D. Salinger - ★★★★ - I wasn't sure what to expect with this book… Of course I've heard this book mentioned a lot, but I can't say that I've ever heard what the story was about. So, I was curious why this book is a "classic". Oh, the other obvious thing… I had heard this book was banned (specifically where it was banned from, I'm not sure.) I went to purchase this book, but was shocked at the price. I ended up borrowing it from a friend. It started off not so good. I felt like I was just reading a college kid's modern-day blog. But I stuck with it, and today upon finishing it, I'm glad I did. I'm still not sure why this book is a "classic", but after all was said and done, I enjoyed the story. Well, "Enjoy" may not be the right word… I found the story interesting, and a bit depressing. I can understand why it was banned, but under today's moral ethics, it was fairly tame.

12/25/10 - Draculas - ★★★ - I learned about this book because it was a sort of experiment in ebooks. It was a collaboration between 4 authors, and posted directly to amazon by the authors. The coast was (I think) around 3-4 dollars, with most of that going directly to the authors and a lesser percentage to I liked the whole idea of the project and the price was right. And… it was right around Halloween and i was looking for a nice scary book. I just finished it last night, and while I do have some complaints, overall I was entertained. Especially when you factor in the price. Now here's my biggest complaint… The title was very misleading… the authors took great liberty as to what makes a creature a vampire. If you ask me, this should have simply been a zombie book, but I suspect they called them "draculas" as a marketing decision since vampire movies are popular now. A simple point that I was able to overlook, but for any vampire purest, this will be an important point. The book was rather gory and detailed in it's gore descriptions. Not for the faint at heart. It reminded me a bit like a B-movie. As I said, just don't expect a lot from this book, and if you view it through the lens of a B-horror movie, you should also be entertained.

total = 9

(I know... not all that impressive of a number for the year. In my defense, I spent quite a bit of time this year searching for a good book to read. I even tried to re-read one of my favorites from 15+ years ago (The Illuminatus Trilogy) - but even that book, I had a hard time getting back into it. And... This year I also attempted to learn a new software program, so many a night I spent reading the manuals.)

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