Thursday, December 29, 2011

Some books I read this year

Here are some quick reviews for some of the books I read this past year.

I've always got a pile of books I'm working on.  I read most fiction to completion; with most research and political/economics/self-improvment, etc., I tear through the first eighty percent and then out it back on the shelf a year or two later.

  • T.R. Pearson.  A short History of a Small Place. His first novel with his unique turn of the phrase. It brought back some memories for me as I read it a good fifteen years ago.  Louis Benfield is a sentimental young man.  I felt for his mother and the way Pearson helped her express her grief.
  • T.R. Pearson.  Blue Ridge It was a Pearson year.  I'm currently reading Gospel Hour.  Blue Ridge introduces a new setting and new characters.  Sometimes crime-bosses do things with class.
  • Hemingway, The Sun Also Rises I read this about twenty years ago.  This time through, I noticed some good writing about three quarters of the way in, but I think for the most part he was phoning this in.  I have, however, realized some acquaintances remind me of Lady Ashley and Jake Barnes.  It also inspired me to search for some YouTube videos of Pamplona's Running of the Bulls.  Oh, that and the use of telegraphs back in the day was very much like texting.  They drank a lot.
  • Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities.  Makes me want to avoid Paris.  Politics as usual.  Mobs are bad.  I loved the political intrigue but found the love story formulaic.
  • Jack London, The Call of the Wild.  A fun and adventurous read; a view into a place and time most have forgotten.  Told from the dog's perspective. 
  • C.S. Lewis Space Trilogy (Out of the Silent Planet, Perelandra, and That Hideous Strength).  I think I read them this year.  I had attempted them a few times in my past but I was frankly just too young.  Perelandra stands out and shows the battle of evil against innocence.  I shall re-read.  That Hideous Strength takes an unexpected and frightening twist into the evil workings of organizations.  You don't want to meet the Head.
  • Orwell, 1984.  Speaking of evil workings of organizations... Does listening to an audio book count as reading it?  In my case, 1984 had a profound, depressing, and haunting impact on me.  I'm glad I didn't read it when I was younger.  It is intense and timely today, which I consider to be an Orwellian time with a smiley face drawn on it.  Liberty had better overcome.
  • Kazuo Ishiguro, A Pale View of the Hills.  I read The Remains of the Day a long time ago; this has been on the bookshelf teasing me for over a decade.  The main character is confused and troubled by her past and believes it was someone else who did these things.
  • Robert Kroese, Mercury Falls and Mercury Rises.  Rob is a humorous and philosophical writer, software developer, and tweeter (is that the right term?) with the initiative to forge his own path towards success in the publishing industry through hard work and determination.  I came across Rob through his humorous website and have had witty exchanges with him through the years.  Imagine my delight to read his self-promoted and published novels about an angel and a mortal who cut through the heaven and hell's bureaucracies to stave off armageddon.  A few times. Should you enjoy Douglas Adams, Mystery Science Theatre 3000, and non-sequitur style of humor, you'll devour these.  
  • Robert Kroese, Self-Publish Your Novel: Lessons from an Indie Publishing Success Story.  Good advice on marketing and creating an audience for your book.
  • SAP Variant Configuration, from SAP Press.  Hey, you know, professional interest and good bedtime reading.  Knocks you right out.
  • Ludvig von Mises, The Anticapitalist Mentality; The Causes of the Economic Crisis.  Economics is not economic policy. Economics is not a weapon.  Economics is the study of Human Action and how it deals with scarce resources.  Economic chains of events, however, are constantly being set in motion ( as a weapon?) through bad economic policy by governments.  Some of those pulling the levers are compassionate, if ignorant; many pulling the levers are sinister and seeking power at the price of liberty to others.  If you find yourself compassionate yet ignorant, these are good books to educate yourself.
  • Dr. Thomas Sowell, Basic Economics and The Housing Boom and Bust.  Excellent introductions to economic concepts.  Don't let the size of Basic Economics scare you away.  It is written for all to understand... if only more would read it.  It's also thought provoking in Audio Book form.
  • Anna Sewell, Black Beauty.  Like The Call of the Wild; one horse's life from the perspective of the horse.  A happy ending!
  • Mark Frost, The Match.  Golf.  A telling of golfing legend and history.  Would that he had spent twice as much time and space on the book, building up the characters and the drama even more.  I recommend "The Greatest Game Ever Played" first.
That's all I can think of for now. 

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