I don’t know if I can actually get to 75 books in one year, but I’m thinking it’s possible — I definitely can do 50 again, but I’ve got some longer books on my list than the discworld books were. Below are two lists — a recap of 2010, and a goal list for 2011. Books from 2010 will get a grade: A for OMG READ, B for Pretty Solid, C for readable, D for barely readable, and F for STAY AWAY
65 books of 2010
1. A Religious Orgy in Tennessee – HL Mencken – B
2. The Scopes Monkey Trial Transcript – C
3. The Colour of Magic – Terry Pratchett, read by Nigel Planer – B
4. The Light Fantastic – Terry Pratchett, read by Nigel Planer – B
5. Equal Rites – Terry Pratchett, read by Celia Imrie – A
6. The Porn Trap – Wendy and Larry Maltz – F
7. Mort – Terry Pratchett, read by Nigel Planer – C-
8. Sourcery – Terry Pratchett, read by Nigel Planer – C-
9. Wyrd Sisters – Terry Pratchett, read by Nigel Planer – B+
10. Pyramids – Terry Pratchett, read by Nigel Planer – F
11. Tricks of the Mind – Derren Brown – B+
12. Guards! Guards! – Terry Pratchett, read by Nigel Planer – A
13. Faust Eric – Terry Pratchett, read by Tony Robinson – C-
14. Moving Pictures – Terry Pratchett, read by Nigel Planer – B
15. Reaper Man – Terry Pratchett, read by Nigel Planer – C
16. The Ordinary Princess – M.M. Kaye – B
17. Snow White, Blood Red – Edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling – C+
18. Witches Abroad – Terry Pratchett, read by Nigel Planer – A-
19. Small Gods – Terry Pratchett, read by Nigel Planer – B-
20. Lords and Ladies – Terry Pratchett read by Nigel Planer – A
21. Godless – Dan Barker – A-
22. Men at Arms – Terry Pratchett, read by Nigel Planer – B
23. The Beekeeper’s Apprentice – Laurie R. King – B
24. A Monstrous Regiment of Women – Laurie R. King – B
25. The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ – Philip Pullman – C
26. Soul Music – Terry Pratchett, read by Nigel Planer – C
27. Interesting Times – Terry Pratchett, read by Nigel Planer – C-
28. Maskerade – Terry Pratchett, read by Nigel Planer – B
29. Asimov’s Guide to the Old Testament – Isaac Asimov – B
30. Feet of Clay – Terry Pratchett, read by Nigel Planer – B+
31. Hogfather – Terry Pratchett, read by Nigel Planer – B+
32. Jingo – Terry Pratchett, read by Nigel Planer – C
33. Last Continent – Terry Pratchett, read by Nigel Planer – C-
34. Carpe Jugulum – Terry Pratchett, read by Nigel Planer – B
35. Dealing with Dragons – Patricia C. Wrede – B+
36. Searching for Dragons – Patricia C. Wrede – B
37. To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee – A+
38. The Prop 8 Report – David Fleischer – B+
39. Flim Flam! – James The Amazing Randi – B-
40. The Fifth Elephant – Terry Pratchett, read by Stephen Briggs – B
41. The Atheist’s Introduction to the New Testament – Mike Davis – B+
42. Lyra’s Oxford – Philip Pullman – C-
43. LSAT Logic Games Bible – David Killoran – B
44. The Truth – Terry Pratchett, read by Stephen Briggs – B
45. Thief of Time – Terry Pratchett, read by Stephen Briggs – B
46. Right Ho, Jeeves – P.G. Wodehouse – B-
47. The Last Hero – Terry Pratchett, read by Stephen Briggs – B
48. The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents – Terry Pratchett, read by Stephen Briggs – A+
49. Soccernomics – Simon Kuper and Stefan Syzmanski – A
50. Night Watch – Terry Pratchett, read by Stephen Briggs – A
51. The Wee Free Men – Terry Pratchett, read by Stephen Briggs – A
52. Monstrous Regiment – Terry Pratchett, read by Stephen Briggs – B
53. A Hat Full of Sky – Terry Pratchett, read by Stephen Briggs – B
54. Going Postal – Terry Pratchett, read by Stephen Briggs – A
55. Thud! – Terry Pratchett, read by Stephen Briggs – A
56. Wintersmith – Terry Pratchett, read by Stephen Briggs – B
57. Making Money – Terry Pratchett, read by Stephen Briggs – B
58. Unseen Academicals – Terry Pratchett, read by Stephen Briggs – B
59. Coraline – Neil Gaiman, read by Neil Gaiman – B+
60. Good Omens – Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett, read by Martin Jarvis – A+
61. God is Not Great – Christopher Hitchens, read by Christopher Hitchens – A+
62. QI Second Book of General Ignorance – B
63. Book of General Ignorance – B
64. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks – Rebecca Skloot – A
65. The Nuremberg Trial – John and Ann Tusa – B
16 Nonfiction/49 Fiction
15 As/36 Bs/12 Cs/2Fs
37 Discworld/28 Not Discworld
4 Rereads/61 New
40 Audiobooks/25 Hardcopy
10 Children or YA
75 Books of 2011
1. Mark Twain’s Autobiography Part I
2. Demon Haunted World – Carl Sagan
3. Asimov’s Guide to the New Testament
4. A Festival of Skeletons – RJ Astruc
5. The Importance of Being Earnest – Oscar Wilde
6. Atheists Guide to Christmas
7. I Shall Wear Midnight – Terry Pratchett
8. Gulliver’s Travels – Jonathan Swift
9. Biblical Nonsense – Jason Long
10. Disproving Christianity – David McAfee
11. God Hates You, Hate Him Back – CJ Werleman
12. Hitch 22 – Christopher Hitchens
13. Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell – Clarke
14. Inkheart – Funke (2 sequels)
15. Artemis Fowl – Coifer (5 sequels)
16. Lightning Thief – Riordan (3 sequels)
17. History of Britain – Schama (2 add’l volumes)
18. The Age of American Unreason – Susan Jacoby
19. The Female Brain
20. Evil in Modern Thought – Neiman
21. Law 101
22. Columbine – Dave Cullen
23. A History of England – Wilson
24. Nixonland – Perlstein
25. Tales of the Black Widowers – Asimov
26. The Story of English
27. Creationist’s Trojan Horse – Forrest
28. Good Natured – De Waal
29. The New Atheism – Stenger
30. The Neverending Story – Ende
31. The Brethren – Woodward
32. The Family – Sharlet
33. Innocent Traitor – Weir
34. Lady Elizabeth – Weir
35. The Professor and the Madman – Winchester
36. Let the Right One In – Lindqvist
37. Emerging Epidemics – Drexler
38. Irreligion – Paulos
39. Heartsick – Cain
40. The Stranger Beside Me – Rule
41. Earth – The Daily Show
42. How the Scots Invented the Modern World – Herman
43. Letter to a Christian Nation – Harris
44. The Moor – King (~7 sequels)
45. Book of Three (4 sequels)
Jane Austen Novels
Sherlock Holmes Novels
As the year winds down, I’m posting the last brief reviews of books that I’ve read this year. My initial challenge of 50 books in a year seemed daunting at first (a book a week? Who has time?) yet I somehow did it, and I don’t even feel like I spent that much time reading this year. I think everyone should do the 50 book challenge, because A) why not and B) it doesn’t actually require that much time or effort.
61. God is Not Great – Christopher Hitchens, read by Christopher Hitchens
I love this book. Once I hit 60 and knew I’d probably get to 65 for the year, I decided that I could just go ahead and do some guilty pleasure re-reads if I wanted to. I admit I simply love to listen to Christopher Hitchens speak, and I would probably listen to him read a cookbook, so long as he was allowed to make snarky remarks, but this book is truly remarkable if for no other reason than it offers opinions on things that are much different than what you hear from day to day. Mother Teresa and Gandhi are sold, compellingly, as villains, as is all religion, including Eastern Religion. There’s also an interesting chapter on why religions don’t like pigs and another on whether religion is child abuse.
Religion comes from the period of human prehistory where nobody — not even the mighty Democritus who concluded that all matter was made from atoms — had the smallest idea of what was going on. It comes from the bawling and fearful infancy of our species, and is a babyish attempt to meet our inescapable demand for knowledge. Today the least educated of my children knows much more about the natural order than any of the founders of religion.
62. QI Second Book of General Ignorance
I started with the second book because it was more recent (logic!) and I did enjoy it. QI, for those not in the know, is a British Trivia show (Quite Interesting) where comics answer tricky trivia questions and are awarded points for being interesting and lose points for being obvious and wrong. It’s awesome. The book repeats the show a bit, but it was interesting.
63. Book of General Ignorance
I liked the second book more.
64. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks – Rebecca Skloot
This is an amazing book. You need to read it. It’s about a poor black woman in the 50s who died of cervical cancer, but whose cancer cells were the first immortal human cells and have been used in millions of experiments since then and contributed to almost all human biological knowledge discovered since they were cultured. But no one asked her for permission to take the cells, and no one told her or her family that they were being used. Here’s an excerpt.
65. The Nuremberg Trial – John and Ann Tusa
I didn’t know anything about the Nuremberg Trials, really, just that they existed. This was a really human and fascinating account of the first trial. It was a slow read, but it was a lot like reading a courtroom drama, especially because the Nazis were portrayed as three dimensional. If you like courtroom stories, this is a good, if disturbing, one.
56. Wintersmith – Terry Pratchett, read by Stephen Briggs
This is a Tiffany Aching book. I didn’t care for this one as much as the previous Tiffany books, but I still really enjoyed it. I think the problem with the Tiffany series is that none of the Big Bads have been as compelling as the original big bad, though she’s gotten more compelling. It’s sort of like Buffy in that way. In fact, I think the Tiffany Aching series would make for good TV.
57. Making Money – Terry Pratchett, read by Stephen Briggs
This is a Moist Von Lipwig book and I really do love Moist, so I enjoyed it. I think the first one was a little better, because there was a lot more conflict inherent in Moist vs. the Patrician. I think this one sort of fell apart towards the end, but it was still very enjoyable.
58. Unseen Academicals – Terry Pratchett, read by Stephen Briggs
This is the last of the Pratchett Discworld audiobooks that I have available to me. There is, I think, one more Discworld book that I don’t have on audiobook, that is the next in the Tiffany Aching series. This one was fun and funny and it was nice to go back to the university, which I think hadn’t been the focus for a long while. I don’t think the wizards can really hold up a whole book, and I think Pratchett agrees with me because he focused just as much on a B plot about 4 young people who were all sort of outsiders. It was quite good. I think he’s gotten much better with plotting over the years — his characters have always been spot on, his humor is brilliant, and his writing style catchy and fun, but plot he can be a bit off on.
59. Coraline – Neil Gaiman, read by Neil Gaiman
I haven’t seen the movie yet. I was surprised by this book, it was somehow lighter than I thought it would be. Neil Gaiman’s books are often quite heavy on lore and complicated worlds, but this was very much a book for children with no need, I guess, for the explanations that often come with parallel universes. I didn’t honestly like this nearly as much as The Graveyard Book. I think it’s definitely suited to younger children, though.
60. Good Omens – Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett, read by Martin Jarvis
I now own three copies of this book, the hardcover, the paperback, and the audiobook. I have owned two earlier copies of the book which disappeared into the ether when I loaned it out. And I always loan it out knowing it may never return. It’s like the Gideons, I kind of want people to keep passing it on because it’s such an awesome book. It was interesting listening to this after having listened to so many (37) of Terry Pratchett’s other books this year, as well as having read almost all of Neil Gaiman over the years. This book seems to have been entirely written by Terry Pratchett, and entirely plotted by Neil Gaiman. I say this based on the number of times the word “conspiratorially” is used. I have a bad habit of overusing this word so every time I hear it, it grates a little bit, and Sir Pratchett loves it. I wonder if I picked it up from reading this book. Point being, this is one of my favorite books of all time and it was pretty good on audiobook.
It’s all over! 50 books in 39 weeks. What’ll I do now?
46. Right Ho, Jeeves – P.G. Wodehouse
In the last year or so, I watched all of Jeeves and Wooster, starring the delightful Fry and Laurie. It should be noted that I am in love with both Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie, and therefore also in love with P.G. Wodehouse. Wodehouse is also one of Christopher Hitchens’ favorites, so there’s that connection as well. I did really enjoy the book, though I must say that I’m not sure I enjoyed it more than watching Jeeves and Wooster. I think it does the show great credit that there was nothing jarring at all about reading the books, I felt like I’d already done so.
47. The Last Hero – Terry Pratchett, read by Stephen Briggs
This was a pretty funny story about a bunch of old heroes trying to bring about the end of the world by “returning fire to the gods” in the form of a giant bomb. It also had Rincewind, Leonard of Quirm, the librarian and the patrician trying to stop them. It was a solid adventure story.
48. The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents – Terry Pratchett, read by Stephen Briggs
This is hands down the best book of the Discworld series. It’s stand alone and I highly recommend it to anyone who has any interest in Terry Pratchett, fairy tales, young adult fiction, or hilariousness. It’s like a cross between the pied piper, the rats of NIMH and Terry Pratchett’s general awesomeness. This may be my favorite book I’ve read all year.
49. Soccernomics – Simon Kuper and Stefan Syzmanski
This book is exactly what you think it is, basically a statistical approach to soccer analyzing what makes a good soccer team, not from the perspective of who is a good player, but what elements it takes for a country to field a good national team. It’s really interesting if you’re nerdy and like soccer, since it’s soccer with a lot of numbers. I enjoyed it.
50. Night Watch – Terry Pratchett, read by Stephen Briggs
I actually stopped listening to the audiobook and read the last third of this book because I wanted to get through it faster. This is a sort of alternate dimension, going into the past story, but I quite liked it because it offered some background on all of the older characters. In particular, it was nice to see the Patrician as a student. I love the patrician. If you like the other books about the watch, then you’ll probably like this one, I did.
5 Books left!
It is the end of week 37, and I have just finished book 45. I feel like I should continue reviewing books I finish after the fifty, keep counting to see how many I finish, because 50 is now basically inevitable. Maybe my challenge for next year will be to try to finish more than this year, rather than 50.
41. The Atheist’s Introduction to the New Testament – Mike Davis
Asimov’s New Testament book sits heavily on my shelf, waiting impatiently for me to rally the nerve to throw myself into reading it. I find the Old Testament a lot more interesting than the New Testament, mostly because it’s way more mythological and hardcore, and it’s more a history of an entire people than just like this one guy.
As a kid, I always thought Jesus was both kinda creepy and really boring — like Ned Flanders. There was just something about the image of this weird hippie guy with long hair always hanging out with kids and lambs that I found unsettling in a “don’t get in the van” sort of way. And the New Testament, when I read it, never made that feeling go away. So I’m just sort of predisposed not to be terribly interested in the NT, but I feel like I should be, since I dislike Christianity so much. It just gives me the heebie jeebies.
All of this being my way of saying that I read this because it was way shorter than Asimov’s book and I hoped it would make me more interested. It did and it didn’t. I find the story of how the NT came to be (eg Bart Ehrman’s work) a lot more interesting than anything in the NT, and this book certainly feeds into some of that. It’s a very very interesting read, and I’d obviously recommend it to any curious believer. I think this book is a slightly easier read that Bart Ehrman, but not nearly as exhaustively well-informed.
42. Lyra’s Oxford – Philip Pullman
This was a short book that was not nearly as good as the books it is a sequel to, His Dark Materials. Basically, it was just way too short and tacked on, very little there.
43. LSAT Logic Games Bible – David Killoran
I really like logic and logic games so I did actually enjoy reading this book and solving the problems in it. But I’m a huge nerd, so I’m not sure that you should just accept that. Unless you’re taking the LSAT, obviously, in which case you should like this too.
44. The Truth – Terry Pratchett, read by Stephen Briggs
Not to be confused with The Truth (with Jokes) by Al Franken, of course. I enjoyed this book, it’s basically about the invention of/introduction of newspapers to Ankh Morpork, but it was hardly anything to write home about. A solid B. It’s basically a stand alone novel, with only bit parts for characters in the city that have featured in other Discworld novels. I didn’t particularly care for any of the main characters, which sort of made the whole thing less interesting.
45. Thief of Time – Terry Pratchett, read by Stephen Briggs
I enjoyed this quite a bit. It has one of my favorite Discworld characters, Susan, and touches on some of the same apocalyptic themes as Good Omens. I think this will end up being one of my favorites, one that I may try to read some time again in the future. It involved chocolate saving the day by blowing people up because it was so delicious.
Even with nougat you can have a perfect moment.
Extra: I tried to read Freethinkers by Susan Jacoby and I got about 200 pages into it before being too bored to continue. When faced with the dilemma of finishing it before I had to return it to the library or not… I chose not. My intense disinterest in the history of America after 1865 probably didn’t help.
Welcome to Week 34, I’m through 40 books, so doing well. Just 10 left to meet my goal.
36. Searching for Dragons – Patricia C. Wrede
This is the second novel in the Enchanted Forest Chronicles, and I enjoyed it quite a bit. I find it interesting that the books are all written from a different character’s perspective. It’s a neat trick, and I think it works particularly well for the children’s literature genre. You get to see the characters you love, but since you already know how they think, you get to spend time in other people’s head as they go along. Anyway, I highly recommend these books if you like children’s lit at all.
37. To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee
People are very surprised that I never have read this book and never had to in school. Considering I grew up in the south, this is doubly surprising. I moved around a fair amount and I think it was just assigned for one grade in one school district and another in a different one, and so I missed it by switching districts. In any event, I watched the movie this past year at some point and I really enjoyed it, and I’d listened to some NPR stories about its fiftieth anniversary, so I bought it and read it in a night. Fantastic book, and it made me all the more impressed with the movie. I am not generally a fan of Southern Gothic literature, I find it oppressive and kinda icky (I know, technical term) because it’s generally so depressing and twisted. It usually makes me want to take a scalding shower and spend the rest of my life in a heavily air-conditioned, sterilized and dehumidified bubble. But I really liked To Kill a Mockingbird, it strangely reminded me of some of the good things about the South, not the least of which is that there are many more Atticuses now than there were then.
38. The Prop 8 Report – David Fleischer
Wow, 500 pages of analysis of the Prop 8 campaigns. It was a lot to read, and I’m sort of including the Prop 8 decision in this too, since I did read that as well. Basically, the lesson I got from this is that we really need to get the word out that gay marriage helps children. The Prop 8 Proponents put out the whole “the children are gonna be destroyed” message and that alone basically lost gays the right to marry. So, how do we educate people that gay marriage helps children? I dunno, but it’s really important that we do so. The fact is that there are children being raised by same sex couples and that those children would benefit from their parents being able to marry. So, we should encourage a real discussion about children, because the facts are on our side. And we should stop being surprised that the Anita Bryant tactic of 30 years ago still works.
39. Flim Flam! – James The Amazing Randi
I actually didn’t enjoy this book as much as I thought I would. I love Randi, he’s a great speaker and an all around cool guy, so I thought I’d enjoy the book. But I just didn’t find it all that interesting. The book basically debunks a bunch of different woo things like ESP and UFOs and the Bermuda Triangle — you know, National Enquirer stuff. And, I guess there’s a place for that and all, but I find the whole thing rather tedious. To me this is like debunking Cinderella or Superman, I guess there are people out there who believe it, but I tend to think they’re people who just need a fairy tale of some kind in their life. Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s really retarded (it’s satire!) for people to believe a lot of that stuff, but so long as they aren’t hurting anyone, I don’t really care. Like, homeopathy, that’s something to rail against. The Bermuda Triangle? I just can’t be bothered. Maybe this is why I identify more as an atheist than a skeptic.
40. The Fifth Elephant – Terry Pratchett, read by Stephen Briggs
Stephen Briggs has a much different reading style than Nigel Planer, and I admit I like Planer better. Mostly because I don’t like the voices Briggs uses for the watch in this book. He’s not bad, not at all, I’m probably just used to Planer. I think all the rest are read by Briggs so I suppose I should get used to him. OK, that aside, I did quite enjoy this book. It’s about Vimes, who I like, and it has vampires fighting werewolves. It was strangely not as funny or tongue-in-cheek as most of the Discworld books, it felt like an almost straight detective adventure novel. The plot may be the best constructed of his books so far, though plot has never been the main reason I read his books.
So, the reason I started this 50 books thing was because I had so many unread books that I had obtained in one way or another that I really wanted to read and that I hadn’t made time for. There were, as of January, probably 80 unread books in my house. Due to me being insane, there are now over that, though they’re not all on my reading list. It only has 78 unfinished and unread books (I was guesstimating 55 earlier…), not including stuff I have and have no intention of reading or I’ve forgotten to include.
What follows is a list of everything I’ve read in 2010, what I’m currently at least halfway through or have from the library, and what is on my list for the future. Any thoughts, like if you think a book is awesome or you want to hear my opinion on it so I should read it, are welcome. Mostly, I just made a list and don’t want it to go to waste just sitting in my Google Tasks.
- To Kill a Mockingbird
- Searching for Dragons (library)
- Dealing with Dragons (library)
- 23. Carpe Jugulum
- 22. Last Continent
- 21. Jingo
- 20. Hogfather
- 19. Feet of Clay
- Asimov’s Guide to Old Testament
- 18. Maskerade
- 17. Interesting Times
- 16. Soul Music
- The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ
- A Monstrous Regiment of Women (Mary Russell 2)
- The Beekeeper’s Apprentice (Mary Russell 1)
- 15. Men at Arms
- 14. Lords and Ladies
- 13. Small Gods
- 12. Witches Abroad
- Snow White, Blood Red
- Ordinary Princess
- 11. Reaper Man
- 10. Moving Pictures
- 9. Eric
- 8. Guards Guards
- Tricks of the Mind
- 7. Pyramids
- 6. Wyrd Sisters
- 5. Sourcery
- 4. Mort
- The Porn Trap
- 3. Equal Rites
- 2. Light Fantastic
- 1. Colour of Magic
- Scopes Transcript
- Religious Orgy Tennessee
- The Female Brain
- Freethinkers (library)
- Lyra’s Oxford (library)
- Spindle’s End (library)
- Demon Haunted World
- 24. The Fifth Elephant
- the thousand autumns of jacob de zoet (don’t own)
- A Study in Scarlet (started)
- Law 101 (started)
- Stranger Beside Me (started)
- 25. The Truth
- 26. Thief of Time
- 27. The Last Hero
- 28. Amazing Maurice
- 29. Night Watch
- 30. Wee Free Men
- 31. Monstrous Regiment
- 32. A Hat Full of Sky
- 33. Going Postal
- 34. Thud
- 35. Wintersmith
- 36. Making Money
- The Brethren
- Let the Right One In
- My Life in France
- The Informant
- The Lady Elizabeth
- The God Virus
- The Professor and the Madman
- The Age of American Unreason
- The Family
- Innocent Traitor
- One L
- The Politician
- Julia Child
- Reading the OED
- Virgin Suicides
- Prozac Nation
- His Dark Materials Reread (3 books)
- Asimov’s Guide to the New Testament
- The Mind of the Market
- Emerging Epidemics
- The New Atheism
- Good Natured
- Evil in Modern Thought
- Creationism’s Trojan Horse
- Hitch 22
- Additional Sherlock Holmes (8)
- Works of Jane Austen (6)
- Additional Mary Russell (8, only own 2)
If I somehow got through 58 this year (21 more over the next 20 weeks, which is below my average which predicts 62 total) and do the same next year, without adding any additional books to the list (unlikely as I’m already remembering things I haven’t added and know several coming out that I will have to add), I will have just gotten through all of it.
All of this makes my “50 book challenge” feel kind of pathetic, like so what if I’ve accomplished it, I’m approaching an obviously Sisyphean task. The books are judging me, I can tell. It will never be enough for you people!
It is the fate of all banisters worth sliding down that there is something nasty waiting at the far end. — Terry Pratchett
We are coming to the end of Week 24/52 and I’ve read 30/50. I suspect it will be even slower from now on, I may start posting individually when I finish books so I don’t forget.
26. Soul Music – Terry Pratchett, read by Nigel Planer
I wanted to like this book more than I actually did. I quite like the main character, Susan the granddaughter of Death, who eventually becomes a sort of badass Mary Poppins. I liked her character, but the rest of the book was just sort of OK. I’ve found I don’t actually like the Death centered books that much. Anyway, I saw the Hogfather BBC movie and I really enjoyed Susan et al there, so I’m looking forward to getting to it.
27. Interesting Times – Terry Pratchett, read by Nigel Planer
The return of Rincewind, haven’t heard from him in a while. I didn’t much care for this book, it wasn’t terrible or anything, it just wasn’t terribly compelling.
28. Maskerade – Terry Pratchett, read by Nigel Planer
I think how much you like this book is dependent on your relationship with the Phantom of the Opera, which is to say if you are both familiar and mildly contemptuous of it, while retaining a special place in your heart for it, then you’ll very much enjoy this book. I think this is a book you could very easily read independently of the series without losing anything. Have some quotes that will explain this to you.
After you’d known Christine for any length of time, you found yourself fighting a desire to look into her ear to see if you could spot daylight coming the other way.
“Well, basically there are two sorts of opera. There’s your heavy opera, where basically people sing foreign and it goes like “Oh oh oh, I am dyin’, oh, I am dyin’, oh, oh, oh, that’s what I’m doin'”, and there’s your light opera, where they sing in foreign and it basically goes “Beer! Beer! Beer! Beer! I like to drink lots of beer!”, although sometimes they drink champagne instead. That’s basically all of opera, reely.”
29. Asimov’s Guide to the Old Testament – Isaac Asimov
Oh my God I finally finished this. It took ages. It’s nearly 700 pages of historical analysis of the Old Testament. It’s very well written, it’s just that some parts of the Old Testament (aka the early bits) are way more interesting than the other parts (the prophets). I really enjoyed what I learned, but after I got through the fun stories it was a bit more difficult. Still, I enjoyed reading the explanations of all the prophecies and how they were related to the history of the local civilizations.
Since there are some stories attached, I’ve now got a decent timeline in my head of Syria, Assyria, Babylonia, Persia, and anything else ending with ia that I’m forgetting. I guess I’m one of them atheists that likes to be able to know holy texts better’n the religious and since I live where the Judeo-Christians dominate, the Bible is what I like to be able to tear apart.
Also, as a complete political junkie, understanding the very earthly political motivations driving a lot of what is said in the book is very enlightening. I recommend this for anyone looking to be literate in the historical study of the Bible, but who doesn’t like boring people. Because, even when the material is dry, Asimov has an enthusiasm and sense of humor that makes it readable. And, at 700 pages, it really is exhaustive. Plus, lots of maps.
30. Feet of Clay – Terry Pratchett, read by Nigel Planer
I know this list is mostly Terry Pratchett, but the Asimov book took me some weeks and I wouldn’t allow myself any other readable books til I got through it. This is the best one of the bunch, I think. I really really like the guards stories, and if you’re into Dirty Harry, crime solving, hijinks, or really like Severus Snape, I would recommend the guard books in the Discworld series.
16. The Ordinary Princess – M.M. Kaye
This is a children’s book and a great deal shorter than most of the other books on my reading list. I say it makes up for those Asimov books which are long and dry. Of course, I haven’t finished those yet. This is sort of similar to Ella Enchanted. It’s about the youngest princess in the family and her fairy godmother grants her the gift of being ordinary, and so she’s not as pretty, or blond, or dainty as the other princesses and she runs away and has adventures and falls in love with an ordinary king. Love it 🙂
17. Snow White, Blood Red – Edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling
This is a collection of stories that are re-tellings of fairy tales, but fairly adult. I read them originally when I was pretty young, 14ish, and it was the first thing I read that was at all naughty and grown-up. There is a retelling of Rapunzel in here that had morphed and grown into something totally different in my mind, it was interesting to go back and read it over a decade later. My mind version is better, by the way.
18. Witches Abroad – Terry Pratchett, read by Nigel Planer
One of my favorites, I love the witches. This is a send up of all fairy tales sort of mashed into one, plus some voodoo and New Orleans style magic. A very fun <del>read</del> <i>listen</i>.
19. Small Gods – Terry Pratchett, read by Nigel Planer
This one was OK. I found myself having to make a very concerted effort to pay attention. It’s not that I didn’t like the ideas, and parts of it were quite good. This is set many, many years before the main events of the discworld series, and in that sense it was interesting. But it’s basically a buddy movie of a guy and his pet God.
20. Lords and Ladies – Terry Pratchett read by Nigel Planer
Back to the witches yay! This may be my favorite book so far. The story is more fully realized and well-plotted than the others. The characters are just as well done as before, but the story is strictly fantasy, there’s no technological invention driving it. It’s spoofs Midsummer Night’s Dream a bit, and it’s basically a reflection on youth, age, and lives not lived. But… it’s Terry Pratchett, which is to say it’s done so with a lot of jokes, and people who can’t be having with that sort of nonsense.
OK, so this is now caught up to where I am. It’s week 21, and I am currently reading books 21, 22 and 23, so I’m in a good place. Since there are 52 weeks in a year, there’s basically 2 weeks of buffer built in, and I’d like to get to the place where I’m 2 weeks ahead anyway, because it’s going to take me a long time to get through both those Asimov books. They’re not just long, they’re dry!
Build a man a fire, and he’ll be warm for a day. Set a man on fire, and he’ll be warm for the rest of his life. — Terry Pratchett
11. Tricks of the Mind – Derren Brown
Amazing book. Derren Brown, and you really should look into him if you’re unfamiliar, is sort of the British version of Penn & Teller. I say sort of because his tricks are less illusions and more mentalist, but he is super skeptical and very honest about the fact that it’s all tricks. He’s also the best cold reader I’ve ever seen. And I hate that stuff when it’s played for serious, but he plays it as memory tricks and intuitivity and he’s kind of a dick.
12. Guards! Guards! – Terry Pratchett, read by Nigel Planer
I really liked this one, I think if you were just starting the series this would be one you could start with. It stands alone quite well. It delves into a lot of characters that I quite love the Librarian, who is an ape, Vimes, who is Dirty Harry basically, Sybil Ramkin, who is one of those crazy, not terribly attractive, flawed and delightful women characters, and the Patrician, who is evil in an efficient and good sort of way. The Patrician was originally intended to be played by Alan Rickman, in Mr. Pratchett’s mind, but was ultimately played by Jeremy Irons. We find that this suits our Gruber sensibilities.
13. Faust Eric – Terry Pratchett, read by Tony Robinson
Didn’t really care for this one.
14. Moving Pictures – Terry Pratchett, read by Nigel Planer
This is a really good one if you’re into movies. A lot of what the Discworld books do is introduce modern technology into a magical world, and that technology is based on magical innovation rather than technical innovation. In this one, someone discovers how to magically record moving images, and the rise of Hollywood happens in a few weeks, culminating in the epic film about the civil war “Blown Away”. I enjoy all the references to things that are familiar with slightly bizarre names. Banged Grains instead of Popcorn, Clicks instead of Flicks. Also stand alone, if you’re a movie person looking to get into the Discworld series, start here.
15. Reaper Man – Terry Pratchett, read by Nigel Planer
Not my favorite. I like Death a lot, but there was something less than compelling about his story.