Tuesday, April 10, 2012

My Book List - 2012

What I've read so far this year. I rated each book according to the standards of its own genre. 5/5 means that everyone who enjoys the genre should read this. 3/5 has flaws, balanced by virtues. 1s and 2s aren't worth your time, but 2s have some redeeming qualities.

  1. Confidence Men - Ron Suskind (4/5). A behind the scenes look at the first two years of the Obama White House. Caused major revision of my idea of the working of a presidential administration. 
  2. A Game of Thrones - George R.R. Martin (5/5). The best fantasy novel I can remember. Martin creates a dense, dark, compelling world drawing heavy inspiration from historical sources. 
  3. A Clash of Kings - George R.R. Martin (4/5)
  4. A Storm of Swords - George R.R. Martin (4/5)
  5. The Great Divorce - C.S. Lewis (4/5). A man travels to the after life, and C.S. Lewis uses the story to highlight some of the more beautiful concepts of Christian theology. 
  6. The Abolition of Man - C.S. Lewis (3/5). Some good points and nice phrases, but ultimately the essay is limited by its structure as a critique and rebuttal of an absent textbook. 
  7. Paradise Lost - John Milton. Only a fool would rate one of the great classics of English literature on a 5 point scale. A dense, epic narration of the story of the fall of man characterized by unforgettable imagery and immortal lines. A tough read for a modern with limited attention span. 
  8. Predictably Irrational - Dan Ariely (3/5). A gentle introduction to Behavioral Economics. The book could use a bit more of a backbone. Most of it is recitation of experimental results in a pleasing informal style. It is at its most interesting in the rare moments when Ariely dares to wax philosophical about the implications of BE.  
  9. How the Irish saved civilization - Thomas Cahill (5/5). A surprising delight. My favorite book of the year so far. Anyone interested in Roman, Medieval, Irish, or church history should pick this up
  10. The Peace War - Vernor Vinge (3/5)
  11. Marooned in Real Time - Vernor Vinge (4/5). These two Vinge books form a series. The second is a murder mystery set 50 million years in the future that grapples with Vinge's theories surrounding the exponential increase of prosperity and the resultant singularity. The first is a decent setup for the second. 
  12. The Hunger Games - Suzanne Collins (4/5). Twilight meets Enders Game. The most brutal Young Adult novel I know of. 
  13. Girl on Fire - Suzanne Collins (2/5). Book 2 in the Hunger Games trilogy. The quality falls off, but  you can keep on reading if you loved the first one.  
  14. Mockingjay - Suzanne Collins (2/5). Book 3 of the Hunger Games trilogy.

Actively in process:
  1. The Bible - New International Version. I've never read it all the way through. It's fascinating to read it and realize how different the ancient values and worldview of the Israelites are from our own.  
  2. The Four Hour Work Week - Tim Ferris.
  3. Songs of Innocence and of Experience - William Blake
  4. Confessions - St. Augustine 
  5. Ecce Homo - Friedrich Nietzsche
  6. The Innovator's Dilema -  Clayton Christensen

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