2012 Book a Week Recap

2013 is here and that means that the book a week challenge is over and complete. 52 books in 52 weeks!

It was tough to do but not nearly as difficult as it sounds. When I read about doing this a year ago, I thought it was crazy. But then I started to think about it more and I realized it’s really not that hard.

Starting off in January, I was doing great. I was actually ahead a couple weeks at one point and I had a good schedule going – I read for a while at night and I read Saturday and Sunday mornings. Then spring came around and all of a sudden it wasn’t dark when I left work and there was so much to do outside that reading really fell to the wayside. Spring is when the first slump occurred. I really struggled through a couple books at this point and had to try to get back on schedule.

Things seemed to level out for a while and the balance was restored but then the baby news came and started to dominate our lives (in a good way). Did you know that babies can keep you from reading? Even when they aren’t there yet!

In the last few months I thought I’d be a few books short but in the end, I got through all 52.

The initial response most people have to hearing about reading a book a week is, “what was your favorite book?” That’s a hard question to answer because there were so many different books that its hard to really compare one book to the another. So instead, lets take a look at some of the books that stood out in my mind. But first, in case you were curious…Of the 52 books I read, 33 were fiction and 19 were non-fiction. The longest book I read was 624 pages and the average book was 283 pages!

Let’s run em down


Robopocalypse was great (and I hear they’re making it into a move!). Think World War Z and replace zombies with robots.

 


The Talented Mr. Ripley was awesome. I was literally sad when the book ended. When was the last time you read a book and said, “wait, there has to be more. I don’t want it to end!” well, there is more. In fact there are a few more books in the series!

 


Speaking of good a series, Jo Nesbo’s Harry Hole series (The Snowman, The Leopard and The Devil’s Star are just three books from the series that I read this past year) is fantastic. It will settle your craving for another Girl With The Dragon Tattoo book. They have the same dark, cold Scandinavian vibe. Also read Headhunters! Same author. Different story line. Great book.

 


Were we talking about book series’? well then, check out the Hap and Leonard books by Joe R. Landsdale. I read the first, Savage Season, and I think it’ll be worth seeing what happens to these two guys (I’d describe the two characters for you, but you would either laugh or never read the books…intrigued?).

 


Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking was so refreshing to read. Finally a pro-introvert book. Just because you’re louder doesn’t mean you’re better….or even right, in fact you’re probably wrong.

 


Astronauts and Heretics is by far the funniest book I read all year. Its a collection of short stories, not all of them are funny…but I literally LOL’d reading a couple of them. ha…lol.

 


Unbroken was the biggest surprise. War hero bio’s typically aren’t my thing, but the story is literally amazing and it was written well enough to keep you turning the pages. If this is your ‘thing” read Lone Survivor It’s another amazing story but it can be a little political at times.

 


The Picture of Dorian Gray was the biggest disappointment (and the cause of my worst reading slump). It’s so dry and dull that I wish I didn’t read it…except that the ending, and I’m talking about the last paragraph was great. Getting there however was not.

 


Speaking of endings, Casino Royale has the best, absolute best ending of a book I can recall. “The bitch is dead”

 


Outliers was good. Purple Cow (and anything by Seth Godin) was good. The Art of Non-Conformity was fun, especially if you like travel. Six Pixels of Separation was probably good when it was originally published but its a little dated now. The Thank You Economy was good and will make you angry the next time a business doesn’t go out of their way for you, like they should! (it did for me )

 


If you like bikes (bicycles that is, and that probably eliminates everyone reading this), try reading the two books I read. Just Ride: A Radically Practical Guide to Riding Your Bike is an inspiration to get out and ride your bike just because its fun. It’s All About the Bike is more for someone with a serious bike addiction (ahem). It has a lot of great history and amazing info on all sorts of bike components.

 


The Day of the Jackal is a classic and should be required reading.

 


Snow Crash is like The Matrix before anyone even knew what The Matrix was. Amazingly ahead of its time and it still holds up today.

 


American Gods was one of the strangest (in a good way) books that I read. It’s like a modern take on Norse Mythology. If I were to read it again, it might make more sense (especially because I read The Children of Odin:The Book of Northern Myths as well) but even not knowing that much about Norse Mythology, it was a good book.

 

So what’s next?

So with the challenge over, what shall I read now? At the moment, I’m reading Seth Godin’s latest book, The Icarus Deception: How High Will You Fly?. I’m also gearing up for The Art of Fielding.

There are a few books I intentionally shied away from this year that I’d like to read, because they are both very large. 1Q84 (over 1100 pages!) and…Moby Dick (I know, I’m rolling my eyes along with you but its over 500 pages) both have been on my list all year.

I also really like Jo Nesbo. There are a few books of his I haven’t read yet, so I’ll more than likely finish the series. Aside from dark crime fiction, he also happens to write childrens stories of all things and being as though my wife is currently with child, why not read Doctor Proctor’s Fart Powder!?

Other than that, I want to finish all of the James Bond books by Ian Fleming (three down so far) and the rest of the books in the Talented Mr. Ripley series.

If you’re interested, I keep an updated list of what I want to read on Amazon. You can check it out here. I also keep track of the books I’m currently reading and have completed on Goodreads.com. Click here to check out my profile.  And lastly, you can stay up to date with my digital bookshelf here.

October Recap | A Book a Week in 2012

Casino Royale
SkyFall just came out and I’ve never read a James Bond novel. How has that happened? Let us rectify that situation and start from the beginning.

Casino Royale is a good book. It is also a good movie and better yet, its a great adaptation of the book. It follows the book very closely, but they also added in quite a bit of ‘new’ content but it was done with good taste. To be fair, the book is short and what they did add in fits well. So why then, haven’t the other Bond films done the same with their adaptations…or have they? to be continued!?

btw, this book may have the absolute best ending of any book I’ve read in recent memory. When you read the last line, in context, (literally the last sentence of the book) you can hear the trumpets blaring the theme song right as bond finishes. Perfect.

 

Seeing Gray in a World of Black and White
Adam Hamilton is the pastor of the church I attend. He’s a great speaker and attending church often times is like attending a lecture in college rather than ‘being preached to’. I thought the premise of this book was interesting and one that I tend to agree with (the world is not just black and white, there is a lot of gray area in everything we do)

I enjoyed it. If you’re into this sort of thing, check it out.

 

 

Double Dead: Bad Blood
Halloween came and went. I wanted to read something to get into the Halloween spirit. So why not read about a Vampire trapped in the Zombie apocolypse?

This is the follow up to Double Dead, which is where we first find our anti-hero waking up to find out that during his sleep the world has been taken over by zombies (which he can’t feed on).  Bad Blood is a bit shorter and not quite as fun as the first story.  If it sounds like a fun read, try the Double Dead.  It is a good book.  This one however was a bit of  let down.

 

 

Live and Let Die
I loved reading Casino Royale and I’m now motivated to read all of Flemming’s Bond novels. Live and Let Die was another good story with a more down-to-earth Bond leading the way.

One thing I keep wishing for is that someone would ‘reboot’ the Bond film franchise. Casino Royale (the movie) did a great job, but what I want is a a true adapatation of the Bond novels. I want a 40’s, 50’s and 60’s Bond. Keep the period true to the books, keep the clothes, locations and everything else true to Flemming’s vision. THAT would be cool!

 

 

Drive
Here is another movie that I enjoyed that was based on a book. Reading the book after watching the movie is sometimes a little dull, other times the book is sooo much better than the movie and you can’t believe that they butchered the story like that! Every once in awhile though, like when reading Drive, you actually appreciate what they did in the movie. The book was good, and there are definitely aspects of the book that I think should have been done differently in the movie, but there are a lot of things that just worked in the movie.

Drive was one of my favorite movies when it came out but I can’t say the same about the book. It was good but for me, the movie stands up a little stronger than the book.

The Joy’s and Disappointments of Doggy Day Care

We walked in the door, Eddie was thrilled. We told him at home that he was going to Dog Pawz. In the car, the excitement level was in the red…’Hell yes, we’re going to Dog Pawz today!’

He knew where he was going.

Eddie was sniffing everything, jumping up to look over the counter to see if he recognized any of the people working today. No one was behind the counter but there were so many smells and sounds that it didn’t really matter.

“And who is this guy?”
“This is Eddie”
“And whats the last name?”

That’s odd, they’ve never asked for a last name before.

“uhh, Starkweather”
“Ohh, did you make a reservation?”

Why the hell would I make a reservation, you guys have told me in the past, I didn’t need a reservation for day care.

“uhh, no”
“We’re actually full. Today we are only accepting reservations”
“What?!”

Confusion.
Rage.
Disappointment.

We had to leave. He is still so excited, still sniffing everything in sight, whining with excitement…’this is the best place ever, thanks for bringing me today dad!’ is all I could hear coming from him. And then we walked out the door, back to the car.

More Confusion, this time from Eddie.

Normally, an open car door is an invitation for fun. This time he didn’t budge, he just looked up at me not quite understanding why we’re outside while all the fun in right in through that door a few feet away. We were just in there. What is happening?

“Come on Ed, jump up”
“Eddie, come on”

The excitement was gone.

As I drove the half hour back home, all I could think about was how disappointing this must be for Ed. Think of it like asking you’re child if they want to go get an ice cream cone.

“Really!?!”
“Yea, come on let’s go it’ll be fun”
“Yeaaaaaa! Thanks Dad, your the best!”

“What are you going to get?”
“I don’t know, I’m so excited I can’t decide…maybe chocolate, no cookies and cream, ooohhh ooohhh, chocolate and peanut butter!”
“Can I get toppings too?
“Of course, you can get anything you’d like. You’ve earned it”
“Oh boy oh boy oh boy!”

“Ok, pick out what you want”
“I want that one!”
“Good choice, that looks delicious”

“Can we get one of those and some extra sprinkles, thanks”

The store owner scoops out two huge scoops of ice cream and drowns them in sprinkles. Then right as your kids eyes are about to bug out of his head and steam is literally pouring from his ears…

“Psyche. Get back in the car squirt, that back yard isn’t going to cut itself you know.”

That’s pretty much how I felt. Thanks to Dog Pawz for not making me make a reservation every time I want to bring my first born in for doggy day care, EXCEPT for that one day when I really did want to bring him in and all of a sudden its reservation only…thanks, that was great.

September Recap | Book A Week In 2012


The Race Against The Machines

This is a look at technology and how it is shaping our future in regards to the future employ-ability of people. Machines are taking over more and more jobs and more and more jobs are requiring technical knowledge or experience. This book takes a look at what’s been going on and what we should expect.

I thought the interview with the authors on NPR was interesting but I can’t say that I was blown away by their book. It’s a quick and fairly interesting read but nothing too shocking.

NPR Interview

 


61 Hours

This is another Jack Reacher novel. This time we find Reacher hitchhiking across South Dakota in the middle of winter. The bus he’s traveling on breaks down on the highway and he is thrown into the middle of the conflict between a small town police force and an international drug ring.

This story is fine but while reading it and every so often while reading other Reacher books, (and I always seem to keep reading them) I start thinking to myself, “it can’t be THAT simple and obvious. There HAS to be something else.”

Nope. It’s usually just that simple. You can see the ending from a long long way away.

 


The Talented Mr. Ripley

Awesome book. This was recommended to me by the Kansas City public library’s Facebook page ‘Reading Refresh’ program. Every week they let you submit a book you really liked and they’ll give you a suggestion of something similar that you might like.

I really enjoyed A Very Private Gentleman and based on that, they told me to read The Talented Mr. Ripley. They were right!

They both have a slow, methodical plot and a romantic/nostalgic view of Europe that makes you really REALLY want to go there and see what they are talking about. Combined with a dangerous plot (a gun maker and a sociopath respectively) it makes for a very fun read.

The Talented Mr. Ripley was written back in 1955 and was turned into a movie in 1999 with Matt Damon, Gwyneth Paltrow and Jude Law. I remember not liking the movie but I think if I were to re-watch it today, I may appreciate it more. Either way, the book is great and I highly recommend it.

(Patricia Highsmith also wrote several follow up novels about Tom Ripley. I’m looking forward to them as well)

 


The Jungle

This is a fun series, it’s kinda like what might happen if Indiana Jones had James Bond esque style and money backing his adventures…and if he had a group of mercenaries as colleagues.

This story in particular follows the crew of a super high tech ship of ex-military guns for hire, on their mission to rescue a boy from a terrorist group in the middle east. The almost botched mission leads the group to a new job hunting through ancient ruins and invading a high tech computer center. It’s a wide range but the author pulls it off well. This is the second book from this series that I’ve read and it’s worth it.

One of the books in a different series, but the same author was the inspiration for the movie Sahara (starring the acting genius that is Matthew McConaughey)

Advertising With A Purpose

This advertising has a purpose and its more than just getting kids (and their parents) to buy some shiny new clothes or a bike. It’s inspiring kids to do something, to push themselves to be better. The Nike ad below is great because the kid isn’t wearing Nike’s latest shoes or even a Nike t-shirt. It’s a pair of old gym shorts and an old shirt and that works.

In the same way that Nike makes their product and their vision applicable to “Everyone”, the Specialized commercial brings the vision of the Tour to your street. You don’t have to be a competitive rider to ride their bikes, you don’t have to be riding in the Alps either, you just have to want to ride. The bike they show in their commercial is a pretty simple model and just like Nike, they don’t feature a fancy, top-of-the-line bike. The kid is on a dirt road out in the country with no-one around and he’s doing it because its fun…which is what sports are supposed to be anyway right?

When did sports stop being fun?

Nike and Specialized are in the business of selling an idea and selling a dream, they are not in the business of selling shoes and bikes (at least not when it comes to their advertising). Shoes and bikes just happen to be what help you achieve your dream (that’s why you buy Nike over Adidas and Specialized over Trek). Even if you’re not that chubby kid, you have probably felt like him at one time or another. It relates to everyone. Awesome job.